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?
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?
Guest post by Paul Simon, Sharper Content, @paulcontentman
We all form instant impressions when meeting someone new. Guess what? The same thing happens when we read something from someone we don't know - and the proliferation of social media puts an awful of "new" people in front of us.
As Michael Damphousse says, "Good content creates value. Value creates trust. And, yes, trust creates leads."
On the Internet, it's all about content, whether you have a product to sell, service to offer or leads to pursue. The best content is clear, concise and compelling, creating a bond and a relationship with the reader. Can poor writing, misspellings and grammatical errors interfere? You betcha.
A few days ago someone in a sales group on LinkedIn posed this question: "Love reading and participating in this group, but I could not help noticing all the blatant spelling errors in our posts. Do you think it reflects negatively on our attention to detail and professionalism not to re-read our posts before we hit the send button? "
Intriguing responses followed, some dismissing an occasional error in a group comment as inconsequential and others characterizing them as a general lack of professionalism. Here are a few of my favorite comments:
"Numerous mistakes indicate a lack of attention to detail. If I am thinking of hiring someone to take care of my business, I want someone who is brilliant in their field AND cares about the details..."
"If one person, someone who is important to you, forms a negative image of you because of something you've written, doesn't it make sense to be more mindful? I would hate to think that I was shut out of an opportunity because I failed to take a few extra minutes to ensure that my spelling and grammar were up to snuff."
As someone who makes a living writing and editing other people's copy, I've often wondered about the same thing when I see a lot of errors. I've made my share of typos in rushing out an email here and there, but it does seem that a business communication rife with errors really gets you off on the wrong foot.
Can you afford to take a chance? Are your content marketing efforts going to impact demand gen? You owe it to yourself to pay attention.
You want to talk about improvements? You know what needed improvement? The Boston Celtics, that's who. If you're a fan of basketball, or maybe even a fan of rivalries, maybe you, like me, watched the Boston Celtics crumble last Thursday night (June 17th). Two storied franchises, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics, both vying for the NBA Championship in a Game 7 match. Winner takes all, losers go home with their heads hanging low. For Celtics fan, it was a great game - up until the 3rd quarter. Spoiler alerts here, folks: The Celtics blew it. The Lakers tied the game and then went up and never looked back. It was a bad night for the Bean's Green, and their play in the 4th quarter certainly needed improvement -- minute by minute improvement -- constant improvement.
What about your B2B sales and marketing blog, though? I read 20-40 of them a day, do they need improvement? Are you on the verge of "blowing it" and driving prospects to competitors, or losing your industry leader status? Chances are, it could use some constant tweaking (I'm speaking to myself, too). Here are three ways, as we head into the second half of 2010, that you can improve your B2B sales and marketing blog:
- Revisit your blog's goals - When you first started writing your blog, you had a goal in mind. Maybe it was to establish your organization as a thought leader, maybe it was to bring awareness of your services or solutions, and more than likely, it was to create interest in your prospect audience. Somewhere along the line, maybe you've moved from one of those goals to another. That's not a bad thing, but maybe you've confused your audience. Go back and revisit what you intended to do when you first started. If that goal is still a worthwhile pursuit, resolve yourself to stick with it. If not, make the changes necessary to make your blog into what you want it to be. In my case, I had two goals, and I'm sticking to them: establish a leadership role in the b2b demand gen space (demand gen blog tag here), and to promote without being too self serving, the appointment setting and outbound marketing services offered by Green Leads. Not to mention SEO and Lead Generation.
- Write from a place of passion - This one really should go without saying. If you've lost passion for writing about your services or solutions, it's time to pass the torch onto someone else who may have some. That doesn't mean you can't pick it back up later when your batteries are recharged, but if you're not excited about what your writing about, neither will your audience be excited to read it. If you've got a "corporate" type blog, look for someone else who may have an interest in writing and encourage them to share their talents. And keep the passion regular -- be it once per week, or twice a day, maintain your article publishing consistency.
- Don't be afraid to stir the pot - While I don't necessarily subscribe to the belief that nice guys finish last, I do believe that nice guys are free to disagree with whomever they want, and then blog about it. The following two controversy articles were two of my highest traffic articles to date:
Web Leads: Pounce, Pause, Nurture or Wait
Lead Generation Tips: Take a 3 Hour Lunch
What I'm getting at here is that you shouldn't be afraid to use your blog to disagree with ideas or create controversial ones. It's a great way to get some good dialogue going with your audience. Remember, there's a good way to go about airing controversy, and there's a wrong way. We're all adults and professionals, so let's act like it. Don't hurt your brand.
What are some of the ways you go about improving your blog?
*Photo Credit: The Game Is On via Flickr
So, for a few days last week in Boston and her surrounding suburbs, it was extremely hot. I'm not talking "spring time" hot, like in the upper 70's. I'm talking about temps in the 90's!
I'm a big guy, and I can tell you this -- I can't stand the heat. I hate it. Some days I think the only reason I stick around the Northeast is for the sports, and there are days when they make me cringe, too. There are days when I think,"Boy, the Eskimos sure have it nice." Okay, maybe that's a little too far, but it got me thinking -- what's the temperature like for my appointment setting team? Are they hot, cold, or lukewarm? If they're hot, great, but how do you keep them there? If they're cold or lukewarm, what can you do increase the temperature?
Let's talk about what you can do if your team is cold. Surprisingly enough, this isn't the worst place they can be; that would be lukewarm, but we'll get to that in a bit. If your team is cold and they're not producing like you'd like them to, here are couple of things you can do right now to heat things up:
Competitions -- I don't care if it's number of appointments set in a day or in a week, or number of conversations with prospects, but build competitions into your reps' workday. You'd be amazed at what people will compete for. Put a prize in front of it and watch your productivity climb. Movie tickets, cash, a DVD, it doesn't matter, because the very nature of the competition will heat things back up in your bullpen.
- Evaluate -- Are the right people doing the right job? Did you build the team too fast? Are some of them better suited for other roles? Take some time to evaluate and move folks around if you have to. You may find that the right person is doing the wrong job, and the right job for that person is just begging to have some added support. Good people are hard to find, so put them in positions that suit them.
If your team is lukewarm, I'd say you've got bigger problems. You know what lukewarm says to me? It says, "Meh." It says, "Eh, okay." It says you've got a team that doesn't really care about what they're doing. They're just a bit better than cold, and nowhere's near hot, and harder to tell the differences If your team is lukewarm, here are couple of ways to get them on fire:
- Clean House -- Yup, you read that right. Chances are, there is someone on that lukewarm team who is ready to move on to the next part of their sales career, and they're begging you (sometimes without even knowing) to let them go. Take a look at your team and see who that person is. I think the term to coin here is "addition through subtraction." Removing a lukewarm player may be just what the rest of your team needs to heat themselves back upm especially if that person is a negative drag on everyone else. You know who I'm talking about.
- Management? -- If your team is just so-so and lukewarm, maybe it's how they're being managed and motivated. Take some time and really evaluate yourself as manager here. Are you doing everything you can from a leadership perspective to help your team? Is there anything you could be doing better to help your team increase their production? If there is, get on it, and fast, before someone above you decides to "add" by "subtracting' you.
If your appointment setting team is hot, and they're on fire, keep it up. "Keep what up?" you may ask. Whatever it is you're doing to help them stay hot -- but don't leave without sharing how you're doing it with the rest of us!
Since I was spouting all about LinkedIn at Chris Brogan's New Marketing Experience last month, he has recently been on a LinkedIn crusade to find all the tips and tricks burried inside. Although I love taking a little credit, his recent articles have been full of LinkedIn Goodness.
Use LinkedIn Effectively
Your Network News
Keep LinkedIn Clean
With all the momentum, I thought I would share another LinkedIn tip, use Google to search the public profiles. If contacts aren't in your network, they will still show up!
Google using the site:linkedin.com parameter. For instance, looking for Mike Damphousse,
google: mike damphousse site:linkedin.com
Not only will it find my profile, but it will find answers I have provided and comments in groups.
Let's try another one. Looking for companies in the field of Demand Gen that work with Appointment Setting?
google: demand generation appointment setting company site:linkedin.com
Trying to find a lead at a company that has a specific title, try something similar to this example where I'm trying to find someone at the director or VP level responsible for network security at company.
google: "network security" (dir OR vp OR vice) companyname site:linkedin.com
You think you can find some quality leads through LinkedIn now?
Most sales people today have found that using LinkedIn as a research tool to identify specific prospects has been a fantastic way to find the needle in a haystack of potential leads. However, LinkedIn doesn't always show you all the names of the individuals your search produces:
So how do you find this specific person's name? Just three more clicks according to Green Leads' BDR Mira.
- Click on the Title, which brings up the full profile.
- Remember the Title, and look to the right where it says Viewers of this profile also viewed... Once there, find a contact with a similar title/company -- In this case, Gerardo (hard to see).
- Now while remembering the title/company of the prospect you want "Research Engineer Intern at VW Electronics Research Lab", click on the name of the person with the most similar title/company that we found above, Gerardo.
- Up pops Gerardo's profile, now look to the right again, and find a contact with a similar title/company to Gerardo in the "also viewed" section -- this is most likely your prospect. So Tanya, expect my call.
If you have any LinkedIn tips, or Lead Gen Tips in general, please share them.
Last week, I was out with the team at Focus.com and enjoying "bourbon and proteins" with Craig Rosenberg (The Funnelholic) when the subject of campaigns came up from his point in a recent post to "forget campaigns, build a factory." We agreed completely that marketers that think in the world of "campaigns" are shortchanging their results.
Marketing programs need
- Staying power
It may be that campaigns seem normal because our needs change, strategies are modified or budgets are handed out piecemeal, but the most successful clients both Craig and I work with all treat marketing programs as ongoing efforts.
- Budget for ongoing activity - Treat it like headcount. Would you hire good talent and then shut them off 60 days later?
- Remain committed to the effort - Most common example here is when a marketer gets gung-ho to start blogging to boost inbound marketing and then stops publishing regularly.
- Results take time - In the world of B2B, sales cycles can be long. Don't try to measure pipeline results in just months. Give it time and commitment.
- Measure what you can measure - If you can't wait a year to measure revenue impact, measure tangible results: Did the introductory meeting result in a second meeting? Did the email sent result in a clickthrough?
- React - Make that adjustment -- but adjust, don't start and stop. If you see something that needs a tweak, stay productive while you are tweaking or have your vendor/team work on something complementary to the project while you make that quick adjustment.
- Conserve Costs - Lastly, consider the cost impact of starting, stopping and switching gears. There always are considerable startup and adjustment efforts and ramp-up costs. Optimize your budget by creating programs with power.
Measuring the effectiveness of lead gen programs is always at the top of a demand gen expert's list of priorities. One of the gating factors happens to be out of their control -- what does the sales team do with a lead once they start working it?
In a previous blog article, I shared poll results showing C Level prospects being more than willing to take their first introductory appointment by phone. Of their initial meetings with vendors, 58% were by phone and of those, 69% were "effective."
In general, it is becoming more the norm to begin a relationship by phone. But what happens next? The outcome of meeting number one should be to have a follow-on sales activity. What should be the goal for meeting number two?
For myself, I made it my goal over the past six months if an introductory call was going well to ask for a face-to-face meeting. The next step in the sales process may be to present a quote or meet other decision makers, but by insisting on a face-to-face meeting, I was able to put my best foot forward and start building rapport at a level beyond what a second phone call could provide. No hard stats to back it up, however: In Q1 of 2010 we closed the same amount of business as Q3 and Q4 of 2009, and in 2009 we grew by a factor of 3X.
Questions this raises:
Should that first meeting have been face-to-face?
I think not. Of the appointments I took, roughly 4 in 10 resulted in that second meeting. A third resulted in nurturing activities, and the remaining meetings were discarded as unqualified. Making the first appointment by phone allowed me to avoid travel and time investment in the 60% that didn't result in immediate sales activity.
Should I have handled meeting number two by phone?
I've done it before; in fact, a majority of 2007 through 2009 was spent effectively selling with phone relationships. That said, I think that my best selling is when people get to meet me, in person, and can feel the integrity and passion that I bring to each project.
Should you add "meeting two should be face-to-face" to your demand gen SLA with sales in order to increase the effectiveness of the leads you generate?
If you are in a sales environment that eventually end up in face time, then I recommend it. Have a qualfied criteria that defines which opportunities move to the face time requirement, but definitely consider adding it. The Internet and increased communications tools could be holding back your conversion rate.
Have you seen our webcast replay of The 10 Pillars of an Ideal B2B Demand Gen Platform on Focus.com?
I've been participating with Focus.com as one of their contributing Focus Experts. The site is a community destination for business leaders to find and produce industry information, research, whitepapers and webinars. The content value is huge, and the knowledge generated is phenomenal and growing daily. If content syndication and webinars are part of your demand gen mix, you should explore Focus in more detail.
What's' behind the curtain? I'm conducting a webinar for them this week, The 10 Pillars of an Ideal B2B Demand Gen Platform, and having done many webinars -- and being a demand gen marketer myself -- I've been utterly impressed with the process and the team putting the event together.
I've shared webinar tips before in Lead Gen Tips: How To Produce A Successful Webinar, but one thing Focus added to the agenda for preparation was to run through the mechanics of the webinar-hosting software. We did a practice session where each presenter used the platform to push slides to the audience, comment between moderators, and deal with Q&A. I've done enough webinars to have seen most of these functions before, but the simple task of reviewing them for 15 minutes beforehand was helpful.
Also, kudos to the ON24 staff for sharing best practices. My favorite: Use the mute button as a caugh button only; don't stay on mute as you may forget to unmute yourself when it's time to talk. I've fallen victim to that before.
Join me and Craig Rosenberg, the Funnelholic
, Tuesday March 2, at 10AM PST / 1PM EST. You can register here: The 10 Pillars of an Ideal B2B Demand Gen Platform