Last night I heard a few sound bites in Obama's State of the Union Address that brought to mind what I hear from sales and marketing folks daily. So here are a few interpretations had the president been talking about Demand Gen.
"We do not give up. We do not quit. We do not allow fear or division to break our spirit."
This is about Sales and Marketing Alignment. Without constant attention to this challenge, marketers will continue to struggle. Don't just live with division of goals; create a contract with what both parties expect from one another -- a formal Service Level Agreement (SLA). Tie incentives to it. Measure it.
"For every success story, there are other stories, of men and women who wake up with the anguish of not knowing where their next paycheck will come from"
Have your lead gen teams wake up and understand that pay-for-performance is what their jobs are about. One hundred fifty years ago in this great country, factory workers were paid for the parts they manufactured. Today, in demand gen, we need to get paid on the leads generated and appointments set. Let's go back to basics and get paid for performance.
"But remember this: I never suggested that change would be easy or that I could do it alone."
Times have changed in the world of outbound marketing. Prospects pick up their phones less. They use email more. They sometimes don't even have a desk phone. As demand gen experts, we have to change. Use the tools available to us. Use the numerous online data sources at your disposal (Jigsaw, Netprospex, Google, LinkedIn, Inbound Lists!). Dial more strategically. Specific times per day are important. Don't just bang the phone like a stamping machine. Work the prime time with tools like autodialers and ConnectAndSell.
"... after two years of recession, the economy is growing again."
I hear "woe is me" time and time again, but if it's any indicator that things are changing, our business tripled in 2009. Since our business is all about growing the top line, the future of companies' bottom lines looks promising. We hear fewer objections that "the economy has us on budget hold." If you get one, turn it around with "I understand, but it really is turning. Most of the prospects I talk with are actually in rebound mode and researching new ideas for when the budgets free up again." Frankly, this is most likely a brushoff anyway. Overcome it.
"We have to seek new markets aggressively, just as our competitors are."
Don't get fat and happy in the areas you've been successful in. Keep them healthy and growing, but get creative and look for other expansion areas. A client of mine, very successful selling to software developers at the enterprise level, got a surprise order last year from a device manufacturer and realized its tools were just as applicable to an iPhone software developer and a medical device manufacturer as it was to a Salesforce.com developer. The client opened up the market with an aggressive appointment setting campaign and and an inbound lead gen effort of whitepapers, blogs and webinars. Now it is forecasting that 30% of its revenues this year will come from that sector. Listen to the market, and listen to your frontline eyes and ears ... the inside and outside sales team and your outsourced demand gen teams. They hear it all day.
Sales or Marketing, we all have the same goals -- lead gen, pipeline, and revenue. Let's get unified, both inbound and outbound, and close some business.
Hear any quotes that resonated with you?
Dialing the phone all day is a task. I have one guy who calls it panning for gold. He'll say he just swished the phone 20 times, found 4 shiny objects and none were gold. Then an hour later he'll yell "Eureka!" when he does successfully set an appointment.
I presented these 5 Outbound Calling Best Practices last week at Papa Razzi in Burlington at the AA-ISP meeting (American Association of Inside Sales Professionals).
These 5 points may get more Eureka's out of your outbound marketing efforts:
- List Hygiene - Keep lists clean and ready at all times for prime calling. Track things like Time Zone, Direct Dials, Admin Names, Dialing Tips (press 0 for the operator), etc. Validate lists prior to dialing. Remove bad contacts, or research and replace them. Don't dial until the list can be worked top-to-bottom in one sweep without a struggle.
- Functional Tools - Fill the toolbox with tools, and know how to use them: Jigsaw, NetProspex, InsideView, LinkedIn, Google Alerts and Google Search, LeadLander, others... Use them to work smarter. If you find they get in the way when you are in power-dial mode, clean the desktop (next tip).
- Clean Desktop - When it's prime time to dial, cluttered desktops and browsers can bring things to a grinding halt: Instant Messenger, Email, Browser Windows, etc. (that means Facebook and ESPN too). Close everything that is not pertinent to dialing.
- Don't Dial - Still dialing with fingers on a number pad? Don't. Get a click-to-dial, auto-dialer or predictive dialer. Or get on steriods with ConnectAndSell. The productivity increases are phenomenal.
- Prime Time - Don't be power dialing at 10:20 am. This is the most common time of day for prospects to be in a meeting. They are more likely to be at their desks and willing to talk in the early morning, at the top of the hour (from 10 minutes to the hour until 5 minutes after, they are between meetings), at lunch, in the late afternoon, in the early evening, on Monday holidays. Check out the article I wrote, Take 3 Hour Lunches, which discusses the day in detail and backs it up with data.
Just the tip of the iceberg here. What outbound calling tips can you offer? If they are tip-worthy, I'll add them to the growing list of lead gen tips.
Thursday I did a webinar with NetProspex (Slideshare below) and in it I referenced 10 experts that I rely on for B2B Demand Gen knowledge and insights. They are listed below, and you can find them in my twitter list: http://twitter.com/damphoux/b2b-experts-list
ps. Webinar Tip of the Day: Other than the person speaking, make sure all Panelists and Moderators have their phones on Mute. We had an echo for the first 6 minutes. Frustrating.
* I added Scott and Mark because I referred to them several times within the webinar, so technically speaking, they should have had the on screen credit anyway.
We've recently started working closely with NetProspex as a list provider to augment the work we do. Once we started working together, the folks there realized that I always have an opinion, especially as it pertains to Demand Gen. Most of my recent discussion has been about Unified Demand Gen(sm) -- the philosophy of blending inbound marketing and outbound marketing to maximize your lead generation activity.
Join us for a webinar Thursday at 2:00 ET, 10 Tips for Improving Your B2B Demand Gen Program with Inbound & Outbound Marketing
Hope to see you there.
Yesterday I was using ConnectAndSell as a training tool and had one of our BDRs (Business Development Reps) live and working a list and three others listening in and critiquing. (This, btw, is one of the many benefits of ConnectAndSell. You can train with 5-10 pitches in an hour versus 1 or 2. You can see the Smashmouth ConnectAndSell product review here.)
During the session, we connected with the Chief Information Security Officer of an extremely large pharmaceutical company. He was the perfect target for the client we were working on, but he was reluctant to keep the conversation going. He had objection after objection. "Not interested," "Send me a datasheet," "We already do that." You name it, he tried to bail out, but my rep was relentless in a completely calming way. He would agree and acknowledge the objection, then segue to another topic or solution. He kept him talking. Then after 5 minutes or so, the prospect accepted the meeting and offered to bring two of his direct reports.
I closed the training session with a quote from Yogi Berra; "It ain't over 'til it's over." We've all heard it, and this conversation proved it. I would say a majority of insides sales reps may have bailed on this call after the second objection.
Anyway, it got me thinking. Was Yogi Berra hip to outbound marketing? Did he have other words of wisdom we should listen to?
"All pitchers are liars or crybabies:" Don't pitch, have a conversation. If you pitch, you aren't conveying sincerity ... you aren't having a conversation. Bring value.
"If you ask me anything I don't know, I'm not going to answer:" Believe me, this has value. Don't provide sales drivel in a conversation. If you don't know, tell a prospect you don't know. What better reason to keep the conversation alive than "actually, I may not be the perfect person to answer that. Can I line up a conversation between you and Mr. Sales Guy?"
"It was impossible to get a conversation going; everybody was talking too much:" How true is this? Just stop selling and listen to your prospects. Ask open ended questions -- leading questions. Get them to keep talking and pay attention to where they are going. The more they talk, the less you can get in trouble.
"If you don't know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else:" What is your goal of your lead gen activity? Are you appointment setting? Are you trying to gather intelligence? Are you trying to do qualified lead gen? Know the purpose of every email, every dial, every conversation, and then stick to your purpose. If you are setting meetings, make that your goal.
What is your goal? What other quotes can you tie to lead gen tips?
Just a quick note to everyone who might be spending the next few weeks planning for the new year. Don't take your eye off the ball. January, along with June and October, are the biggest Demand Gen months for Green Leads, and it may be for you as well.
Three years of production data shows that on a per-rep basis, January produced 35% more appointment setting and qualified lead generation than the worst month, August.
What was the best month? June.
What was the most suprising month? December - we set an all time record for weekly production in the first two weeks of December. So much for those clients that ask us to put programs on hold between Thanksgiving and New Years...lots of missed opportunity for them. The last two weeks do taper off, but December still came in 6th for the year.