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?
My good buddy and best man, Dave, has been commissioner of the same Fantasy Football league for over 10 years and asked if I was interested in taking one of the empty slots this year. 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 kick-ass coach, and now I'm going to learn from someone who knows more about Fantasy Football than I do and still enjoy the results.
It's now been two weeks since the draft and our first week was a win. Lenny was able to look at the bigger picture and make great decisions. He examined our weaknesses and filled them in on each draft round, and now after week one he's made some adjustments. He's constantly tweaking.
It just so happens Lenny also manages Green Leads' team of appointment setting ninjas, and he and the rest of our crew handle our drafts, waivers and adjustments the same way.
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 such as Inside Sales Experts.
- 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 a new hire. 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. Lenny, can you explain to me again why drafting a suspended Roethlisberger for our bench is a good thing?
photo credit: The Perfect Sign
When I was in college, one of my roomates used to watch The Baseball Bunch. It was designed for kids, but I loved it. You had Johnny Bench, All-Star Hall of Fame catcher for the Cincinnati Reds, teaching a group of young kids how to be better players, and each week they also got professional tips from guest ballplayers like Jim Rice, Pete Rose, Cal Ripen, Jr, and even Ted Williams! Add to that, Hall of Fame coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Tommy Lasorda, as “The Dugout Wizard,”and the San Diego Chicken, and I’m telling you, any kid who loved baseball was glued to the TV when that show was on, even the older "kids".
What I loved most about the show, though, was the advice that each guest shared with the team. I felt like I was getting a one-on-one coaching session with an All-Star right in my dorm room.
What does all of this have to do with B2B sales and marketing? Well, I’ve had the pleasure of working with a lot of Business Development Reps over the years, and I wanted to share with you some of their “All-Star” outbound calling tips. Rather than just spout off to you a dozen or so tips that I’ve gathered over the years, I thought it would be much more beneficial for you to hear from them.
Special thanks to all of those BDR’s who helped put this together. They really are, in my opinion, the best and the brightest in the industry:
Lenny - When calling a list rather than starting at the top with the "A" companies, work the list in reverse starting with companies that begin with "Z". That way you most likely will hit the companies that get called the least.
Mira - Repetition has its benefits. However doing the same things over and over again can make you stale. This stunts growth! Listen to your peers and change things up a bit. Break out of your old routine and try something different.
Jessica - It's really just a numbers game. The more you hear no the more you hear yes. Be aggressive but nice, quick and to the point. People are busy. They want to know what you want and don't want the BS. Be yourself, have personality, and be a straight shooter. And don't be afraid to ask! The worst thing that can happen is they say "no". Be persistent, be confident, and go into every call knowing you can close.
John - When dialing high (C-level or VP) pick times to dial when the gatekeeper would be on a break (best times are 7:45am-8:00am, 10:45am-11:00am, 12:45pm-1:00pm and 4:45pm-5:00pm, in each timezones). When you do speak with an admin, and they give you a referral, ask them politely to transfer you to the referral you get.
Todd - Always have a good strategy for overcoming objections. Prospects are always going to have objections, so if you can handle the initial objections with relative ease, it will go a long way to getting an appointment for your sales team. Simplify it into a playbook. List the objections, match up the ways to overcome them. Then have those techniques memorized and natural.
Meghan - Make sure you are calling the right contacts/targets. Simply ask the prospects. Ask admins and operators. Don’t waste time calling the wrong people!
Aaron - Don't let failure stop you from pressing on. Cold calling is a numbers game and you are going to fail. And because it is a numbers game you have to press on to get to the success. Every dial is a new dial, and every smart dial is a better dial.
Bill - Make sure you let the prospect know that an admin referred you. This is a great way to add credibility to your call.
Tim - Remember, don't get discouraged with hang-ups! Everyone has a bad day once in a while! Give them some time, and try them back.
Andy - Your job is to make each prospect that picks up the phone want to learn more about your product. Your job is not to teach them about your product -- that's the sales guy's job. In otherwords, listen to their needs, and focus accordingly. No one cares about the technology you're hawking if it doesn't make their life easier, or make them more money.
Coleman - Be yourself. Though you may be selling something, if you push through the call not treating the prospect as a person, you might as well hang up the call. When you are yourself, you are able to meet the prospect at their level, and can guide the conversation.
Some good stuff, right!? What about you? What outbound calling tips can you share with the rest of the Smashmouth crowd?