As regular as Halloween and football, this time of year Green Leads usually hears the following questions from both new and existing clients. "Why should we do appointment setting during the holiday months? Plus it's Q4, who has time for introductory appointments anyway?" Here are some points to ponder and they are relevant to all marketing programs, not just to appointment setting. The general message is to maintain momentum and take advantage of the time of year, not to shy away from it. Play offense when everyone else is in the huddle.
- We'll get to it in Q1: Why wait? Q4 is a great time to lay the groundwork for next year's sales activity, never mind the possibility that you may find a deal in the rough that wants to close before the end of the year. Should sales momentum ever be paused?
- Prospects aren't available during the holidays: Prospects aren't traveling. They are working and planning for next year. They are thinking about new ideas. It's a great time to introduce your company. The holiday months are GREAT for cold calling. Many senior level executives are actually at their desks instead of on airplanes and at meetings.
- My sales team is too busy in December: No sales team is ever too busy to take on more new prospects. Show me a sales guy that says no to an introduction in December and I'll show you his resume next year. Introductory appointments are a change of pace during the hectic end of year for most sales executives. Take a couple of hours for a webex or even a day out of the office to meet that elusive target executive you have been wanting to see.
- This time of year it's all about the bottom line: The only response to that comment is that if it weren't for the Top Line, there wouldn't be a Bottom Line. Don't let the bean counters get in the way of a good marketing program. Prepare ROI studies, sell your programs internally, and get full year commitments to your budgets. Unless it is about pure survival, don't let panicky Q4 finance teams freeze your programs.
Don't let up on your demand generation activities just because it is the end of the year. Use it to your advantage. Go into offensive mode. Market with Courage!
Recently we conducted a poll on LinkedIn where we asked: Inbound Marketing & Outbound Marketing - What is your mix for lead gen?
- Mostly Inbound
- Mostly Outbound
- Both Equally
- Inbound Only
- Outbound Only
The target audience was Sales & Marketing job functions, from the industries of Computer Hardware & Software, Internet, IT and Tech Services, Marketing & Advertising. We used the LinkedIn Poll Application to conduct the study, as well as the free distribution of the poll to our network. It is not the results of either poll separately that are interesting, we expected the Outbound mix to lead, but the comparison of both the public (random marketing and sales execs) poll to our private network (heavily demand gen focused professionals) shows a clear trend that those of us that focus on demand gen have more of a balanced mix with “Both Equally” leading the pack at 43% in our network.
The experts balance Inbound Marketing with Outbound Marketing. So the random sales and marketing execs may want to pay attention to a few points:
- Most companies rely on a mix of Inbound and Outbound Marketing
- Outbound Marketing seems to have a larger portion of the marketing mix in general
- Demand Gen specialists balance their mix of Inbound and Outbound 30% more than generalists
- The mania of Inbound Marketing taking over the marketing mix is either just that, mania, or it is still in its infancy. Don't get caught up in the hype just yet.
- A balanced approach seems to be the mix of choice with a slight favor to Outbound activities
As a side note, a regular feature of my Smashmouth Marketing blog, which is focused on BtoB marketing and demand gen, are product reviews. So below is a mini product review of LinkedIn Polls:
The application is extremely easy to use, and the ability to promote it free to your network or paid through LinkedIn's systems provides incredible flexibility. We highly recommend using the paid LinkedIn poll feature for two reasons. First, it can be targeted to specific demographics. Second, it randomizes responses in a manner different than if you were to share the poll with your network. One feature missing though, is the ability to embed the poll on other pages (such as a blog, or corporate site). Having this widget capability would be huge.
Been a busy few weeks with conferences. The CMO Club Summit and Sales 2.0 Conference were just a couple weeks ago, and this week is MarketingProfs b2b Forum in Boston. I'll be doing some live tweeting from the conference with hashtag #mpb2b, just like from the other two (you can look at conference tweets here: #cmoclub and here: #sales20). Thank you to MarketingProfs and Anne Handley (personal blog) for what should be a stellar event.
Just thought I would highlight the conference schedule, which is so chock full of marketing value, I wish I was bringing a whole team of Green Leads' folks to attend them all. Unfortunately, I'll have to do my best to attend the most relevant sessions on my own.
- Eight Secrets to Delivering Top B2B Demand Gen Results
- Tie between: The 2009 Economic Impact on B2B Marketing Budgets & Practices, and a concurrent session, Create a Winning Targeted Accounts Strategy
- Make Every Investment Count: The Measure of Marketing
- Putting Measurement into Action to Improve Leads, Conversions & ROI
- Tappas Tweetup - (find me and say hello)
- Email Workshop
- Using a Multi-Touch Approach to Engaging and Nurturing Sales Prospects
- Creative Rules for Integrated Campaigns that Get the Attention of Your Prospects
Looking forward to meeting lots of new folks, sharing great thoughts, and seeing some old friends. More later.
We thought it might be interesting to augment our thought leader interviews with some demand gen product reviews. We are keeping the reviews independent--actually using the products/services, and then critiquing them.
I had heard about LeadLander from a competitor (surprisingly, not all competitors are enemies..that's another blog post). It touts the ability to provide to you all the standard website visitor stats, along with one huge differentiator - the names of companies that visit your website. They can't figure them all out, and you can filter all those Comcast and Verizon visitors, but they provide enough to bring additional value to a web stats application such as Google Analytics.
They meet their promise. I'll leave you to explore all the details of what the product does, and I'll give you a real world example of how to use it.
The following took place in the last 3 days.
Day 1. Installed LeadLander on both our company website, www.green-leads.com, and on the Smashmouth Marketing blog.
Day 2. Published a blog interview with Joe Galvin of SiriusDecisions. Promoted it on Twitter, on LinkedIn, and through other channels.
Day 3. Reviewed the LeadLander Reports:
- Site traffic was up 45% for the day.
- Companies that visited were listed (Oracle, SAP, and a sizable list of other companies I haven't heard of).
- Realized that the fact that Oracle and SAP visited is cool, but we can't really take targeted action on it since they have hundreds of individuals we could target.
- Then we looked at the "other" companies, many of which were small to medium sized, some recognizable. We checked the companies out with the LeadLander Jigsaw link, and were able to identify 2-3 marketing contacts per company. Presto...Leads!
We were able to contact 2 of the companies that visited that day by phone and were able to set appointments
with both for further discussions (yes, we use our own service). The remaining prospects will be pursued by phone and email. Not bad for 3 days work. As for Oracle and SAP - they're always on Green Leads
So some benefits we found outside the obvious Lead:
- You can see what pages they visited during their session. Seeing a trend in what pages a company visits gives you specifics on their interests
- You can see what search terms they used to find the site.
- You can see when your competitors visit.
- You can see what referring page they came from. This was valuable as we identified that the referring site for the Oracle visit was their intranet site from their weekly sales call. Nice to know someone there is sharing our information.
- The LeadLander search function, where you can search by strings in URLs is valuable as you can use it to track specific links. We did this by using one link for Twitter, one for LinkedIn, and one for an email blast. Measure the effectiveness of campaigns.
- The Jigsaw link is very nice, especially if you have an unlimited Jigsaw license, like Green Leads. With one click you can see all the contacts at the company that visited.
Pricing starts at $160 per month for small companies and goes up from there depending on your company size, website usage, etc. Definite ROI for our 2 appointments (3 days for $15, 2 meetings, $7.50 each, the additional leads are a bonus).
This marketing/sales approach to website stats is extremely useful. Kudos to LeadLander for dissecting web traffic and presenting it in a manner that the demand gen user can benefit from.
Smashmouth recommendation: Thumbs Up
End of independent review.
I was able to catch Mike Schon, CEO at LeadLander, and asked him "What differentiates LeadLander from traditional web analytics services like Google Analytics?"
He shared with me "LeadLander was designed to turn traditional web analytics statistics that benefit marketing staff into reports that benefit sales staff, by providing specific information about the companies and people visiting web sites. You'll never see a sales person using Google Analytics, the data is just not significant enough from a sales perspective."
[nice blog comparison of LeadLander and Google Analytics]
Schon continues, "In contrast, LeadLander is used by thousands of sales people, because LeadLander gives them specific, relevant information about their leads and prospects. So we don't look at one system replacing the other -- in fact, we use both Google Analytics and LeadLander within our own company since they serve two different organizational purposes. Our philosophy with LeadLander is to put valuable lead and prospect information into the hands of sales people as quickly, simply, and cost-effectively as possible without the requirement to spend time and effort on implementation, administration, and other services."
This past week I was reading HubSpot's study on the state of inbound marketing, and understandably, with HubSpot being in the inbound marketing business, the study showed that the marketing spend on inbound marketing is rising. It also determines that the price of an inbound generated lead is 3x less than the price of an outbound generated lead, $84 versus $220. (Inbound: SEO, SEM, Blogs. Outbound: Telemarketing, Email, Events).
I accept that, and I truly believe there is a place for inbound marketing in all of our marketing budgets. I do, however, challenge the value of that inbound lead versus the value of the outbound lead, and that was not discussed. What is the equity value of those leads - the lead equity? In simple terms, how far along is each of those generated leads in the pipeline and what is the value of that lead against the amount you have invested in it so far? Even at 3x the cost, it's not apples and oranges.
The question we should ask ourselves is how many $84 leads does it take to get to pipeline, an active sales opportunity, and how many $220 leads does it take to get to pipeline. In my own business, where we do about equal billing on inbound/outbound spending, we have found that the increased quality of the outbound leads justifies the expense. For argument's sake, let's just say it takes 10 inbound leads to get one pipeline opportunity, and 3 outbound leads to do the same. That's $840 for inbound, $660 for outbound. We attribute it to the fact that the outbound work does much of the screening and vetting and sometimes even the first steps of selling, thereby increasing the quality of the lead.
We would never operate without the inbound activity though. The leads are at the highest point in the funnel, but we find opportunities that we would never have found with traditional outbound activity. To top it off, they raised their hand.
This may explain why the Goliath companies are spending more on outbound lead generation. HubSpot's survey, made up of companies of all sizes, shows that in 2008 the average marketing spend from b2b companies on outbound telemarketing efforts to be 12%. SiriusDecisions reports a different number though. Their study covers a much wider spectrum of b2b companies and sizes, and reports 21% invest in similar outbound efforts in 2008. In fact, they expect that in 2009 the spend on inbound efforts to drop while outbound efforts will rise. This being attributed to the focus on pipeline deals versus the top of the funnel.
Will the smaller, mid-sized companies follow this trend? Will David follow Goliath?
Ok, fair warning. If you are here for a two paragraph good marketing tip, you're in the wrong place. I'm deviating from my normal article style and getting down to some math. Geek Time!
Back in November I posted an article, Poker Equity and Marketing - Lead Equity. The topic got resurrected this week with the posting of my interview on the Funnelholic site, when a question from @chadhorenfeldt from Eloqua caused me to bring up Lead Equity. It lead to me reposting the original article, and then to my responding to several questions by email asking me to elaborate. So I figure I would write the missing part of the original article...the math behind the terms. Instead of thinking about the obvious success of a program, you will start thinking about the value of a lead as it contributes to the company. Let me explain.
Poker, for math geeks, is more of a science than a game, a gamble, or an art form. There is definitely the human aspect, just like in business, but a majority of poker decisions can be accurately made by simply understanding the math behind what you are investing and why you are investing it.
So how does this apply to lead gen/demand gen? What is Lead Equity? It is a mathematical application that helps explain why you should invest or pass (check, bet, or fold) on certain marketing programs, or how to compare one program to another. Your Lead Equity is, in simple terms, the amount of the average deal size that has already been earned by a specific lead. Using equity becomes an easy and intuitive way to make decisions in marketing, just as in poker.
Say for example we have a lead that has worked it's way from a purchased list, to a whitepaper campaign and they have requested a whitepaper. Total cost per lead at this point has been $150. You know that your average deal size is $20k, and with this type of lead you've measured historically that 5% over time convert to opportunities, and your sales team closes 25% of those deals. So your current lead equity is 5% x 25% x $20k, or more simply, $250. So this program has already earned $250 for a $150 investment. Good program. This measure makes for a nice KPI to add to your reports. Obvious and logical.
It's good to know our value of a lead at all stages in the funnel. But how should we incorporate this information into the management of a demand gen program? The reality is that you will never know the true outcome of moving a lead through the pipeline. But based on historical data and run rates, you can make reasonable assumptions that can be used to your advantage.
Let's look at a more detailed example. In this situation, a recent campaign is generating leads, but some of them (all from the financial vertical), according to the sales reps, are "terrible". Should you kill that vertical? Should you expand this campaign into other verticals? Should you invest into the markets where the reps stay happy?
Don't take the situation at face value.
So this program has leads being generated from multiple buyer types in different industries. The Technical Buyer from a the non-financial industry can be classified as Use Case A, and the Committe Buyer from the financial Industry can be classified as Use Case B (in poker, hand A and hand B).
Use Case A - This sales cycle is short. This type of lead converts to an opportunity 20% of the time. The opportunity has a close rate of 25% from the pipeline, and the average deal size is $75k. Your programs look very successful. The pipelines are full. Everyone is happy. Good rewards fast.
Use Case B - This second type of deal has a completely different outcome. Typically only 10% of the leads convert to an opportunity and the close rate is a miserable 15%. The projects go out to bid with RFP's. Decisions can take over a year. The decision makers are more committee driven. However, the deal sizes are large, they average $300k. From a high level, the lead conversion is a chore: the rep is always getting pressure because these deals get stuck in pipeline, are not as active, they never seem to close, and it appears to be not worth the effort.
From the outset, it seems as if the financial vertical is a bad investment. Your conversion rates don't look as good. The reps don't like the leads. Deals take way too long, they don't convert as frequently, and the reps would rather not work on them. In fact, one sales director repeatedly says "the financial leads should be trashed" on the weekly management call, which makes you feel as if you are not performing. It's a very unrewarding campaign. But let's look at the Lead Equity:
Lead Equity A - is 20% x 25% x $75k, or $3,750.
Lead Equity B - the runt of the marketing program litter, is 10% x 15% x 300k, or $4,500.
In the case of lead equity, the industry that your company thinks provides the hot leads are worth less overall than the bad leads. As in poker, sometimes the hand that looks like the dog is actually the hand you should bet on. You should expand that financial industry program. Could you change the whitepaper topic to still cover the same technical issues, but change the client reference to a financial client? This may resonate more with financial buyers and will increase the outcome even more. In poker, this is called "selling a hand".
ROI studies, how many months does a program take to pay for itself, may show a slightly different outcome. All KPIs can show different outcomes. Think about some other influences on your programs. Do you take pipeline momentum into account? Or how reps will react to the higher deal sizes being closed? Do prospects react differently to different messages or techniques? I could elaborate in this example as to the human aspect of the pipeline, but this really starts to tie in another aspect of poker and math into the equation, game theory. Blog article Part 3?
Just got an interview published on Craig Rosenberg's funnelholic blog. I'll share the intro here, and you can get the rest of the article on the site. Craig is publishing a series of Thought Leader articles and thus far they have been great reading for B2B Marketers. You can find all his articles on his site.
Thanks Craig! Enjoyed doing the interview.
"Having worked with Mike Damphousse over the last couple of years, I can tell you this: He has a value-added opinion on anything and everything. Check out his blog and you’ll believe me. He is the expert in one of the hardest things to do in lead gen: Getting an appointment for the sales rep."
Social media is all the rage right now, and it should be. It is shaping how people communicate, how companies and people brand themselves, how we educate ourselves and how we grow our network. Lead generation in the world of b2b can be enhanced by social media, especially with early adopters, techies, and the net-gen crowd. However, many of us are trying to sell to the highest level decision makers, C and VP level executives. Some are using twitter and LinkedIn, and some have great staff members who are passing the value up the chain. The question is to reach that senior executive, especially in non-technology fields (where you get less of the geeks and trend setters), how do you reach a C/VP level target?
Call it Lead Gen 2.0, but in my opinion it is just traditional lead generation, demand creation and marketing with some new twists. Add social media to the mix, but don't get over-hyped about it and forget some of the proven lead gen techniques that work. What would be some priorities for the end result of putting your sales rep in front of a C/VP level target?
- Good Lists - There are lots of sources for lists out there, and the best solution is to pay for the better product. The best lists we've seen for the money are from Jigsaw hands down. Frankly, I wouldn't waste a nickel on those other companies that have been around for a decade or longer (D&B, Hoovers, even OneSource). The data is outdated, inaccurate and incomplete. You can go the next step too, even with a good Jigsaw list, by doing list validation and cleaning. These services are available or your own inside team can do it.
- Bring Value - More executives have stated that they tend to buy from vendors that bring value to them in the marketing and sales process. Don't just throw your logo out and send a promotion, use Whitepapers, use Webinars, publish an informative blog, bring value. Great place to use twitter to share valuable information or LinkedIn Answers. Have someone dedicated to providing value to the market. Call it nurturing, call it education, the point is if they don't see that you are bringing value, they may not be interested in bringing value to you.
- Collect Them - Yes, definitely, use SEM and SEO to gather the hand raisers, make it part of the mix, but be cautious not to rely too heavily on it. I have a client that is in the inbound marketing industry, and they still rely heavily on appointment setting to build their pipeline. Look for more focused lead broker solutions, whitepaper sites, vertical market education sites. Most are backed up by some form of lead collection/screening process and the leads are for sale.
- Target Them - We can't just wait for the inbound leads to show up. If you find a great opportunity in a certain industry or build a valid use-case for a certain type of buyer, then target them. Research those markets and aggregate the information so you can target them. Plan targeted campaigns.
- Encircle Them - Find their communities. See if you can find out where they hang out. Some will list these organizations in their LinkedIn profile. The communities may be live, may be online. But when you find them, get your executives involved, add value to the organization. Most have social media presence, get piped in there as well.
- Reach Them - Don't wait for them to learn about twitter or find you with a google search, find them. You've invested in a good list, get your inside team, your reps, or an outsourced vendor to work it. Don't just call and sell though. Do what you can to get face to face with them. Engage in a conversation. I've managed hundreds of sales reps in my day, and from my experience they do their best work sitting across from a prospect.
- Use Experts - Don't assume that you, your marketing team, your inside sales team, and your sales reps can implement everything. Give me a marketing or sales technique or discipline and I can give you a third party expert that offers the service. Ask your colleagues for recommendations. Use LinkedIn and twitter to get recommendations. But don't be afraid to hire specialists.
- Don't Settle - Working the influencers at the lower levels is still worth doing, but don't settle for an influencer. If you are going to invest in a lead, a truly valuable lead worth dedicating real budget to acquiring, then go for the C or VP level prospect. You will work your way down and around all the directors and managers anyway, if you can start at the highest levels, then the staff come willingly.
- Get Results - Whether it is an internal service provider such as inside sales, or an external provider such as a consultant or other marketing services firm, try to pay for results or at least incent them for results. The day of the monthly retainer fee is gone. This is marketing budget 2.0. (ok, last over-use of 2.0 in this article).
Did I totally trash Social Media, Search Engine Marketing and other new methods of lead gen? No, I've added them to the mix. Just be cautious not to over-estimate your C and VP level targets. They don't have the time it takes to work the web the way some of us do, so augment your traditional, proven methods with the newer ones, use technology to your advantage, and use service providers that have honed their expertise.
Several readers and fans have asked before, what is with the "Green" in Green Leads? What does b2b lead generation have to do with being green? Other than the obvious connection between green and money, the real inspiration for the name Green Leads was to build a marketing services company that was conscious about our community, the environment, our clients and people, and unlike other marketing services companies, operated in a sustainable model. Employee turnover and client retention is a huge issue in our industry and Linda and I wanted to combat those issues head on. Responsibility and quality was key to this decision, and it all stemmed from our practices of green living.
On the surface, an appointment setting company has little it can do to be green, but if you look under the hood, there are lots of things our company does that are positive decisions, practices, and beliefs that do not negatively impact the environment in ways that traditional companies do. There is a partial list on our website.
This post isn't about Green Leads though, it is about Green Marketing and how markets react to it. We've all seen it, the use of "environmentally conscious" messages to sell, brand, and market numerous products and services. It is obvious with products that have primary impact (cars, computers, energy, food), but there is also the not-so-obvious such as what we do (virtual office, recycled computers, carbon offsets, tap water). The question I raise, and I believe I've seen answered over the past few years, is "does the market react to green marketing in a social way, as a movement, in a way outside their traditional behaviors?"
A couple points from recent experience, which in the most part is b2b:
- One of our largest projects last year came to us because the client had a massive investment in their own green initiative and wanted to make choices along the same lines. The directive came directly from their CEO.
- A survey we conducted in IT departments asking about green computing initiatives in IT show that 70% of IT executives consider environmental issues important, and 48% have active programs or budget allocations promoting green initiatives.
- My green blog posts have higher traffic patterns than my marketing posts.
- Most people we talk to that find out about our philosophies want to engage in a conversation about green issues. Is the topic alone enough to cause positive impact on society?
- The Green Gap seems to exist between those that have completed higher education and those that have not. Those with higher educations seem to have the interest in green and the economic ability to make green spending decisions. Also, most b2b buyers do have higher education backgrounds.
- Green is a topic of conversation. It is trendy to be green. The topic comes up in business during normal conversation, it comes up in social settings. Green is in.
- Obama and McCain both brought green issues to the forefront of their campaigns, right behind the economy. And talk about a social movement - Obama followers were acting as a social organism, not just a population sampling.
- Beware of Greenwashing. Have a solid plan with proof of your strategies and practices. Create materials that document your green work. Copies of certificates, offset purchases, internal plans and procedures, vendor choices, etc.
- Recruiting and employee retention has been impacted by green practices. In our case, we have only lost 1 employee of their own choosing in three years. For the b2b lead gen industry, that is unheard of.
My verdict lies in the fact that we have gained clients due to our green practices and messaging. We have made some impact through the socialization of our messages. Our community of employees, contractors, clients, and vendors have recognized the practices as important to them. The market seems to react in a way not traditional with typical b2b marketing tactics. There is an upswell, a desire, and an interest in green. Clients want to work with companies that are doing the right thing. It is a deeper desire and behavior than a product evaluation or price decision. It breeds loyalty and market growth, and ultimately contributes to the branding, growth, demand creation, and generation of new and repeat business.
A few articles worth reading:
The Environmental Leader, a green briefing for executives, states that more than 70 percent of directors at U.S. publicly-traded companies said they believe sustainability is important to profitability.
The Ecoprenuerist's Megan Prusynski wrote an article that introduces Sustainability in Business Planning.
Business of Design Online's Jess Sand wrote about How to Find Green Vendors.
's recent blog post, Your Lead Generation Methods Have to Change
hits on a topic that we all need to be reminded of:
The new lead generation shifts your methods as a marketer from “talk about your dumb product” into “empower the users.”
(That, by the way is the nugget of this whole piece.)
The lead process used to be “beat people with information until your sales person closes them.” Now, it’s a little bit more about relationships with products and companies. Look at Dell’s Digital Nomads. They are all about helping out a certain niche of prospect. They’re not selling. They’re equipping. It’s perfect. It’s exactly what I’m talking about.
I'll add to this with one comment. Sales people talk about bringing value to their prospects, becoming "consultative sales people". Marketers need to make a similar shift. Prospects would rather google up a solution and issue a PO than be called on by sales people. The latter will never go away, but the former can be enabled in a much better way. Great post Chris.