My good buddy and best man, Dave, has been commissioner of the same Fantasy Football league for over 12 years and a few years ago asked if I was interested in taking one of the empty slots. My obsessive-compulsive, statistically driven, multi-scenario-challenged gaming mind was intrigued. Could I possibly put together a team that could beat other experienced teams week in and week out? Even if the matchup is one-sided on paper?
Sounds simple, but here's the deal. I'm more of an owner and less of a coach, so I did what I do best. I hired Lenny, a co-worker at the time and a kick-ass coach, and learned from someone who knows more about Fantasy Football than I do and still enjoy the results. Now three seasons later, Lenny is gone and I won last year's season. This year opened with a tight match against Dave, and it came down to the last two players--he crushed me. But I'm a coach.
Tips to learn from Fantasy Football when building awesome inside sales teams:
- Be a coach. Understand your team and their challenges, week in and week out.
- Understand the rules. If you know what scores you points you'll make better decisions. Ask the commissioner (your boss) if it's unclear.
- Learn from the pros. We read Fantasy blogs; we also read B2B sales and marketing blogs.
- Look for raw talent that requires the least maintenance.
- Find the studs that, head to head, will overperform every week.
- Think about your deficiencies and hire accordingly.
- If your team needs adjusting, make the shifts. It might mean cutting a player, or drafting a new one, or moving someone up from the bench. Think big picture.
- Don't fall in love with a lineup. If you need to let a player go, cut your losses.
- Track the stats. Every stat -- even the ones you aren't sure are valuable. They will be someday.
- Think Superbowl. Don't forget the long-term play is to win.
- Lastly, have fun. Every day. Have fun. If you and your team are enjoying your jobs, you'll always make the playoffs and be in a position to win!
ps. I do have Tom Brady in both my leagues this year. Maybe I should take some lessons from Belichick?
Just prior to Seth Godin stepping on stage, for what was an entertaining and thought provoking keynote, HubSpot CMO, Mike Volpe, announced that "We saved the world from 2 Billion cold calls!" And they did. I personally may have benefitted by 1 or 2 a day.
Inbound marketing techniques continue to evolve, and HubSpot is the pioneer for Inbound. The tribe they've created in the past few years is amazing. Almost 6,000 attendees to this year's Inbound conference were gathered for lots of marketing goodness, not just the orange kool aid.
In the world of sales, selling doesn't start until a conversation starts with the prospect. Getting that conversation going has been revolutionized with Inbound Marketing. The prospect is typically educated more than an outbound generated lead, they are thinking about the topic that your product or service addresses, and the time is fresh to start the conversation. In short, they may be further along in the funnel (waterfall if you're a SiriusDecisions follower).
The top outbound marketers have embraced inbound marketing, not shied away from it. Compared to a purchased list or even a list of prospects warmed up with other marketing assets, an inbound list is the cream of the crop. However, unless your inbound lead comes in the form of a calendar invite, date, time and phone number booking one of your sales reps for a appointment, there is still work to do. The outbound function assigned to these leads is typically referred to as Inbound Response.
Things to remember:
- Scrub the data. Have a data team do list hygiene to correct and/or append needed data fields. Or use tools such as DemandBase to dynamically append data.
- Know your history. Use tools such as HubSpot, your CRM, or other tracking systems to know how your company has interracted with the prospect in the past.
- Intel. Research the prospect on LinkedIn, Google, Social Sites. The more you know, the warmer that lead.
- Score your inbound leads. Don't assume they are all orders ready to be had. Don't waste your time on email@example.com
- Pounce! Once you have your ducks in a row, call them. If they don't answer, email them. The effective value of leads deteriorates every hour after they submit a form.
I just tested the above with a lead that came in through our HubSpot system within the hour. It took me 2 minutes to correct their missing title, see that her colleague talked to us at the SiriusDecisions conference in May, add her LinkedIn url to her profile, note that we're connected by 8 people, and she visited 5 blog articles today. Reviewed and scored -- 2 minutes.
Create great content. Socially surround your market. Optimize all conversion techniques. Gather these inbound leads, then follow the process above, and your ROI will go through the roof.
Let's get back to the 2 Billion cold calls saved. Inbound marketing certainly does reduce the number of cold calls an outbound marketer has to make to get the conversation started. It streamlines the process. The blended approach of Inbound and Outbound will increase the top line faster than any other methods available.
Is that lead an Innie or an Outie?
(took restraint not to post a pic of a belly button)
I'm just coming off 19,000 miles, 3 countries, and both coasts of the US (back and forth twice) in a 5 week period. I met lots of new people, and noticed a trend that interestingly reflected a concept Craig Rosenberg, The Funnelholic, and I presented at our case study session at SiriusDecisions Summit -- Social Surround.
It's not new, and wasn't coined by us, but Social Surround is the technique of using every social platform available to connect to your colleagues and prospects. Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Google+, you name it. The more you connect, and the more you share with them or about them, the more you build that relationship. Let's face it, a retweet by any means is flattering.
Here's a surround scenario for you:
- I met the director of Demand Gen for a software company a few months back, brief handshake, intro and card exchange. There wasn't an immediate need for Green Leads work at the time...nurturable
- That night I sent an email with the contact info of a mutual colleageue we both knew from years ago that he had fallen out of touch with
- I then linked to him on LinkedIn
- From LinkedIn, I found his twitter handle, and followed him. Hopefully he monitors his new followers.
- I also followed his company account, learned a bit there
- Found him on Facebook, and instead of offering to connect, I simply shared Green Leads' facebook page with him. He liked it
- I notice his company tweets something retweetable, and give it a retweet. Maybe he'll notice
- He's an avid LinkedIn Update poster. So I liked a post
- Saw he was on the attendee list of #SDsummit, so sent a "Look forward to seeing you at the event" email
Fast forward to the SiriusDecisions Summit. Craig and I are in the case study presenting the Social Surround concept, and who's sitting in the middle row smiling? Yep. He comes up to me afterwards and told me how he personally experienced Social Surround by me and had come to the conference with the intent of talking with me about a b2b appointment setting project. Now that he knew the concept had a term and it worked, he was sold--surrounded and sold.
Benefits of Social Surround:
- Passive branding
- Ongoing networking
- Rapport building the social way
- Non-intrusive to the prospect
- Multiple touch points
- Warms up outbound activies
- Can trigger inbound responses
ps. What I like the most with Social Surround is that I'm seeing the prospects surrounding me. That is the ultimate Inbound Lead!
Photo: Christo and Jeanne-Claude's Surrounded Islands
If you've used an outsourced lead gen company before, you have most likely been asked "What titles within the target companies do you want us to target?" What they are most likely asking, and should ask more clearly, is "What ROLE within the target companies do you want us to identify and target?"
Not all titles explicitly tell you what a job function is. So tasks such as building lists from data services aren't as easy as searching for titles and then exporting the names. If you are looking for prospects with a specific function, or role, then that is where you should begin.
For example, the most common mistakes occur when targeting IT departments. There are 86,087 results when "director of IT" is searched for in Jigsaw. I just randomly sampled 5 of them in LinkedIn. These were their roles:
- IT Security
- Data Warehousing
- IT Security
- Desktop Helpdesk
So if you're selling a network security package, who do you target? Obviously, the first, second, and fourth. But you wouldn't have known that by the title alone.
- Use LinkedIn to identify roles. Some LinkedIn lead gen tips here.
- If you can't get specific roles up front, power dial the list with the goal of identification and research.
- Consider a role based list development project done internallly or by a third party vendor.
Ask yourself, "do we want to target by machine gun or sniper rifle?"
If you've got an inside sales team that is not cutting the mustard with appointment setting, if your internal results aren't there, it's time to think about your department the way a professional appointment setting company does. I surveyed a couple of our best appointment setting BDRs in London
and here are their tips
- Work from good lists. Don't download 5000 names and expect to stay focused. Pick 500 good names--perfect titles. Then set out for focused activity.
- Sharpen the pitch. You've probably only got 10 seconds to say hello, then 30 seconds to get permission to keep talking. Use the next 3 minutes wisely. Don't over-pitch.
- Dials = Meetings. It's been said that the average inside sales rep makes 70 dials a day. Well the average Green Leads appointment setting black belt makes 200. Dials = Meetings.
- Sell the appointment. Never forget the purpose of the call--to set appointments. Don't go for a PO on that first call. Pitch, qualify, then sell an appointment.
There you have it, or as said in a phrase I learned the other night at our pub across the street, The Windmill (pictured here), "and Bob's your uncle!"
We all know LinkedIn is the hidden gem of all sales people, and we're all looking for better LinkedIn Lead Gen Tips. At Green Leads we have a custom button that can query a person's LinkedIn profile with the click of one button. It doesn't hit 100% of the time, but I would say 85% isn't bad for an automated task. We train our reps to not just review the profile, but use it for better selling--especially the public URL. This allows you to find the record again or share the record with others.
Save it. You could bookmark it in a folder called Prospects. But why not go a step further and save the prospect's public URL in your CRM system. It's simple enough to do. We have a field called LinkedIn URL, and we copy and paste it from LinkedIn to the field. This allows our sales reps never research again, it's one click away. It also stores it so that the URL is shared with other reps that may be looking at the same prospect.
Got any other LinkedIn Lead Gen Tips? Send em on.
I've recently been on the conference circuit, speaking and tweeting whatever sales and marketing goodness I can find. One topic that came up at each conference was the quality of the content presented by the various speakers. Some sessions were brilliant; some were nothing more than veiled commercials.
- The key as an attendee is to be able to pull the brilliant content out of the commercials.
- The key as a presenter is to avoid the commercials and present brilliant content.
Let's face it. It doesn't matter if you're at an analyst-sponsored event or an industrywide event with multiple sponsors, the companies buying the hors d'oeuvres and beer want to deliver their messages. And as attendees, we kind of owe it to them to listen. That said, we want to hear value.
Vendors can deliver their message themselves, or they can put customers or industry experts on stage to do it for them. Either way, as we b2b demand gen folks know, it's all about the content, so let's provide it. I challenge all the vendors -- bring value to the audience.
Tips for earning respect as a vendor:
- Consider using industry experts and/or customers to present your message.
- If you're going to use one of your own executives, make them tell a compelling story.
- Keep the commercials to a minimum. Talk about real issues and real solutions.
- Invite conversation, questions and provocative thought. Engage the audience.
- Entertain a tiny bit. Conferences are hard to sit through. So while delivering valuable content, make the crowd smile.
- Carry the conversation to other mediums. Tweet and blog, record videos, post your slides on slideshare.
Just remember -- when someone is done listening to your 45 minutes of fame, do they walk away thinking, "I got some great nuggets from this appointment setting tips session. And hmmm ... he uses Green Leads, I might check them out" ?
I got a bit carried away recently with my niece and nephews' Wii Bowling game. Even when I thought I had done my best and had enough, I would take a breather and come back and SWING! I would put up better numbers. It was addicting.
- I wanted to beat my best score, and
- I wanted to beat their best scores
It was all so gratifying, and it was all about the numbers!
Outbound sales, lead generation and demand gen in general are all about the numbers, too: forecasting good numbers, hitting those numbers and then pushing those numbers to new levels. We're all compelled to come back to the Wii console multiple times in order to improve our all-time best, and we are also compelled to come back and beat our peer's best scores. It's addictive. It's energizing. Heck ... it's just plain fun.
We should all apply this same energy, interest and compelling drive to our jobs.
One thing our jobs have that the Wii doesn't is that our consistent performance and high scores get compensated with better revenue, pipeline and paychecks. What the Wii has that we might need in our jobs is great graphics, stats and instant reward. Do you know your stats by the week? day? hour? Do you have dashboards that track your lead generation and pipeline activity? Learn from the Wii and even if you just need to track your high scores on a piece of paper, track them, know them and always be trying to put up a better score.
And just like the Wii records the stats and records that let you know how you are progressing and are relevant, make sure that the things you measure are the right ones. Measuring the wrong stats can incent bad behaviors!
I venture to say that there may be thousands of fast-talking, smart teens out there in their basements with Wii high scores who might some day make fantastic inside sales professionals and fill our appointment setting jobs.
Lastly, the Wii session inspired a contest at Green Leads this month. We decided to have our appointment setting teams compete to win some electronic goodness, and beat each other's scores. Being that we are a company that focuses on Quality and Quantity, the contest assigned 2 points for every meeting completed and accepted by our clients, and 1 point for every meeting set. The winning team was The Flatlanders with a 20% lead over the rest.
Flatlander Winners (picking gifts in a yankee swap fashion): Levi, JT, Anna Marie, Gareth, Chris, Lisa, Gill and Sarah (with the highest score). Congrats to all! Check out the booty below. Missing is the xBox Kinect, which just got released last night at midnight. It's on the way.
Clockwise from top: Wii, Slingbox, Sirius Radio, Nikon Camera, iPod, iHome, missing (xBox and remote Car Starter) ...and yes, that is a poker table the gifts are on. Green Leads has fun too.
pictured left to right: front row: Lisa, Linda, Cheryl, Amie, Stacey (holding Louie), Kathy, Josh, John T. second row: Kerry, Sarah, Gill, Mira, Bill, Gareth, Anna Marie, Mike S., Mike D. (me), Lenny, Levi. third row: Sam, Dawnia, Coleman, John V., Chris. missing: Janelle, Tim, Ursula, Olivier, Vanessa, Ian and Joe.
Some of the folks you see above have been appointment setting for over 10 years. You would think that they've got it down pat, but there is always room for improvement, or even just a refresh.
Today we had a get together for the team members local to Andover, and went over the basics -- everything from how to save a reschedule to improving opening lines. It's been a great day so far.
At the moment, we have a tag team competition going on with 14 active ConnectAndSell sessions going at one time. Individual and Team prizes for connects (list quality) and meetings booked. The Flatlander team is just two meetings ahead of the Great White North. Should go down to the wire.
ps. The use of ConnectAndSell for the contest is basically saving us the production that we would have lost had we done training without it. So our contest actually has an ulterior motive.
I was fortunate enough to be asked by Gerhard Gschwandtner, of Selling Power to speak this week at his Sales Leadership Conference in Philadelphia. The highlight of my day was listening to Seth Godin, blogger and author on topics b2b sales and marketing folks devour.
One part of Seth's talk was on building a tribe. Not sure I've got the quote verbatim, but basically he was saying "marketers that build tribes of loyal prospects and customers will win." He cited the Apple tribe -- all of us who rush out and buy new apple products just because. I happen to be a member of that tribe.
It got me thinking, though. How can b2b marketers, especially those who DON'T have audiences of millions or hundreds of thousands, build a tribe? How can upstart, small- to mid-sized companies build a tribe? How can even large companies with very specific offerings build a tribe?
I was bouncing the topic around with my friend and colleague, Tim Dempsey (@tdempsey) of Elastic Brands, and he shared, "First and foremost, you have to define and articulate your tribe’s essence or mission. A tribe is not a random pack of individuals – a tribe shares a bond, whether that’s around design and usability, like Apple, or around a technology like an open source project. Tribe members are joining something. Before going out to build your tribe, identify what it is that will bind your tribe members together. And repeat that message throughout your communication with prospects and members."
- Bring value to tribal prospects who aren't customers yet. Give away lots of relevant info through blogs, twitter, industry events, etc. Just follow the HubSpot marketing machine for how they spread the Orange Kool Aid and built a large and loyal tribe of inbound marketers.
- Gather, grasp and retain every prospect or client, every user or remote individual who touches your company and bring them together virtually. LinkedIn Groups. Build an online community.
- Create buzz. Recruit those who create buzz for you and reward them through rebuzz or other methods. Most buzzers love to be pumped up socially. Retweet. Quote them in blog articles. Write success stories with them. Prop them up. Thank them for buzzing.
- Encourage buzzers and tribe members to share stories. As soon as you find out a tribe member has a blog, find a way to help them with a blog article. Get them to interview your CEO or Evangelist.
- Make it cool to be in the tribe. Be different. Create awesome reasons for people to like you. Be hip. Youtube videos. Viral fun. Send fun gifts to known tribe members.
- Network. Introduce tribe members to each other. Host tweet-ups, or networking events. Build that online community.
- Be genuine. If you find yourself trying too hard, your audience will sniff you out. Don't look like you hired an agency. I recently saw a Fortune 500 company do this and, whadda ya know, 55 unique twitter addresses tweeted the exact same text at the exact same moment (sounds like an ingenious agency idea to me).
- Lead with leaders. Find the leaders of your tribe and get them to lead by example. Encourage them to step out in front of you occasionally. Trust them.
- Create cool. Be it a t-shirt or cap or stickers or water bottles. People like cool. SxSW is filled with hip tribal attendees who would give their right arm for the coolest t-shirt of the week.
- Invite two friends. Every time you run anything, make your tribe members bring two friends. Grow exponentially.
- Share. Make it easy for your tribe to share ideas. Be it Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn Groups, or your blog. Sharing spreads the word.
What thoughts do you have for tribe building in a smaller universe than companies such as Apple?