I recently was asked to participate in Ambal Balakrishnan's (@ambal) ebook, to be published at year'd end and then available from her blog, Connect the Docs. She asked a bunch of B2B marketing experts for their predictions for 2010. Being one of those tweeps who always barks by mid-January that "if I see one more predictions blog article, I'll puke," I chuckled as I sat down to write.
For the full text, you'll have to check back with Ambal, and I'll promote it as well. Until then, I give you more thoughts to ponder than predictions:
- Are marketing's goals aligned with sales? Do your bonuses share quota?
- Are you shoring up those marketing techniques that are tried and true?
- Are you adapting to new areas that need adapting, such as Social Media?
- Are you measuring everyting? Cost per lead? Cost per opportunity? Leads per marketing event (blogs, tweets, whitepapers)?
- Are you combining inbound marketing and outbound marketing and maximizing unified demand gen techniques?
- Are you going to take time to reflect on what's working, what's failing and make changes?
I'm sure there are some "marketing gurus" out there who still are investing 70% of their marketing spend on Google Adwords and the rest on PR. Too bad ... old-school mix. So reflect on 2009. Hit the ground running in 2010.
What are you going to think about or adjust?
About 18 months ago, Green Leads embarked on an aggressive plan to increase our inbound marketing activity. We focused first on content and blogging and then decided to dig deeper into SEO best practices. Along the way we started drinking some Orange Kool-Aid in the form of Hubspot's inbound marketing educational materials. We weren't looking for a content management system at the time, but they had so many valuable pieces of content on their site that we soon became Hubspot junkies without even being a client. Eventually, we jumped in headfirst and signed up.
We were able to get the site migrated and up and running in less than a month. The first lead came in during the first six hours of going live. Here's the process we went through; I recommend you pay attention to the "homework" parts:
- Pre-Project Education -- We went through all sorts of webinars, videos and documents on Hubspot's site. Knowing the basics was key to the planning of the project: Understand SEO. Understand the value of Content. Understand the basics of online lead gen. Know how moving forward will impact your site and resources.
- Migration -- Hubspot's conversion team takes your existing site and migrates it to their platform. I recommend that you don't peek at the work in progress until it gets a good deal of the way there. You'll want to tweak things and until the team is complete, you'll probably throw wrenches in the works.
- Expert -- In parallel to the migration, your Hubspot Inbound Marketing Consultant will book some sessions to go over best practices. Be religious about doing the sessions and doing your homework between sessions. Hubspot is about education more than it is CMS. If you educate yourself and you implement their methodologies and best practices, you will be successful. (our expert, @kylejames, rocked!)
- Content -- At every trade show I've attended in the past year the mantra "content is king" was heard over and over again. If you want to be successful with SEO, you have to have people visiting and people linking to you. The only way to do that is through content. Make a commitment to yourself that this is a top priority and an ongoing effort. Don't start/stop. Budget time and resources to create content constantly.
- Conversion -- In the end, it's all about capturing the visitors and converting them to leads. Don't lose sight of that. When you are laying out your pages, spend as much time on calls to action as you do content. Make them click on those compelling offers. Then make your landing pages convert.
- Go Live -- I almost made the mistake of holding off my go-live date until I perfected every page. Huge mistake. After a few weeks of tweaking and working on content, Kyle said "Go live, man!" I just turned off the public view of the pages that weren't ready yet and made the switchover. Six hours later the first lead came in. Within a week, the fact that it was live forced us to fix the loose ends. It was up and running.
- Focus -- Once you're live, it's time to start working on your keywords, rankings, content, and ultimately ... leads. However, you can lose sight of the short-term successes by going too wide. Example: Green Leads' obvious keyword that we want to own is "appointment setting." But there are already tons of people ranking high on that one, so we put our initial focus on some other keywords that were easier to own. It worked. In just one month, we had five major keywords that are now on the top of Google's search results. We're still focusing on "appointment setting", but it's not the holy grail.
- Action -- Don't just watch the leads pile up. If the call to action was appropriate for a sales follow-up, then take it. If they did multiple visits or multiple page views (Hubspot tracks this), increase the lead score and contact them. Treat inbound leads as the ultimate prospect lists. Just because they raised their hands doesn't mean they want to buy. You still have to reach out to them and ask for the introductory appointment or the presentation. That lead produced by inbound marketing now turns into an outbound marketing pursuit. Dial the phone. Send the emails. Close the loop. Engage with that prospect, then get the sale.
et-Net. Don't just drink the orange Kool-Aid, savor it. Buy into the methodology, not just the license fee. Invest the time and effort to implement the program exactly the way Hubspot teaches you to. You will be handsomely rewarded.
A more detailed product review coming that will focus on some key features and benefits. Stay tuned.
How many business cards do you have laying around in one of the current states?
1. On your desktop in a pile
2. Wrapped in a rubber band
3. In a ziplock bag
4. Distributed in the inside pockets of four blazers
5. In the bottom of your computer bag
If you answer is more than 10 cards, then you have leads laying around that are going untapped.
Green Leads has just introduced a new complementary service where the sales reps we support from our appointment setting clients can have up to 100 business cards a month entered into a spreadsheet for free. All they have to do is send them to us. A week later, they get a spreadsheet with all the data -- perfect for importing into Outlook, Salesforce.com or other CRM systems.
- Send business cards to Green Leads, wait a week
- Leads are returned in spreadsheet format
- Leads can be imported into Outlook, LinkedIn, Salesforce or other CRM or Marketing Automation systems
- Business cards are returned or recycled
To celebrate all the networking, business card exchanges and great relationship building that will happen at Dreamforce this week, Green Leads is offering a limited version of the service to non-clients for FREE. Send us up to 100 of your Dreamforce business cards and we'll send them back to you in a spreadsheet. The only catch ... you subscribe to our B2B Blog: Smashmouth Sales & Marketing.
Get instructions now >> 100 business card leads.
Produced this presentation for LinkedIn/Slideshare. Green Leads 101.
I had the pleasure today of participating in the Richardson Connect webinar series. Nigel Edelshain of Sales 2.0 and I were both panelists discussing:
Linked, Tweeted, and Profiled:Using the Power of Social Media to Generate Sales Leads and Expand Client Relationships
Despite a minor glitch from the webinar hosting provider during the first minute, the event was successful due to Richardson's impeccable planning process. This sales training company is all about preparation, execution and communication -- which led to a great event. Let me outline that procedure ramping up to a webinar, focusing not on presentation tips but on the production of the webinar itself.
- Initial Planning - Identify speakers, topics and goals of the webinar
- Messaging - Get all participants and constituents together to brainstorm messaging, expectations, schedule and action items
- Content Creation - Three weeks prior. Involve all participants in the content creation process and solicit comments constantly.
- First Review - Two weeks prior. Participants walk through the slide deck, talk about what each can contribute and what cues might be used for transition.
- Dry Runs and Rehersals - Use the actual webinar hosting software so that everyone involved is familiar with operations.
- Dry Run #1 - Week prior. Casual run-through with some designated critics that are not intimately involved with the content. Feedback as needed during the dry run. Edits.
- Dry Run #2 - Three days prior. Formal run-through with critics, refined content review and attempt at real-time flow and timing. Feedback after the dry run. Final edits.
- Dress Rehersal - Day prior. The whole presentation, as it will play out. No stops. Feedback after. OK, more final edits ;)
- Prep - 30 minutes prior. Get presenters to log in early. Test everything for going live and use tech support if necessary to fix any glitches.
- Go Live - At start time, announce that the webinar will begin shortly. This gives stragglers a couple minutes to log on. Then jump right in.
- Q&A - Make sure to allow enough time for questions, and then after the event answer any open questions in an email to the participants.
- Followup - Send a prompt followup with calls to action and link to the replay.
The number of reviews and dry runs might seem like overkill. In fact, this presenter originally complained it was too much, but Jim & Lori ... I take it back. This level of preparation was perfect.
Thanks to Richardson for producing a great event and inspiring this contribution to the Smashmouth Lead Gen Tips collection. As always, thanks to Nigel for being a great sidekick and colleague. The two of us are never at a loss for words.
Any other webinar tips you want to share? Add them as a comment.
Today's B2B University, sponsored by Silverpop, was a great turnout. My estimate was 150 or so. Great networking and information sharing. Glad to have met everyone I met. If we didn't meet but you wanted to...shoot me a message.
During the session (despite the wireless being up and down all afternoon) I collected what I thought were the top 20 tweets from the crowd:
: Joe Malony, Conselltants: Do you work for the VP of Sales & Marketing or the VP of Marketing & Sales? priority? #b2buniversity
abneedles: The room at #B2BUniversity Boston is seriously packed. Awesome, guys. http://pic.gd/1d57d0
We hear this one at every conference:
And the light hearted tweet of the day (and yes, I'll take credit):
While recently updating our training materials for new hires, I was digesting all the valuable info from our friends at The Bridge Group on inside sales benchmarking and inside sales training. One particular article captured my attention because it stated some basic principles that many sales professionals sometimes fail to heed.
The article, Sellers & Marketers: Have Them at Hello! by Matt Bertuzzi, shared four points that can make the difference between a sales pitch and a sales conversation:
- Be clear & concise
- Be remarkable
- Be honest
- Be relevant
When I do our training, I add a fifth point:
You can be honest, clear, relevant and remarkable, but if you're in a conversation, don't forget to listen. Your prospects want you to be interested in them and their issues. Ask questions. A conversation is more valuable than a pitch. In fact, I recommend to our appointment setting experts that for every couple of value statements presented, try and ask an open-ended question:
"...it's different than traditional lead gen. Appointment setting done in a pay-for-performance basis provides you with predictible ROI. What are some of the measures you look for in your demand gen programs?"
Showing respect and understanding for prospects' needs and pain
points not only allows you to tailor your sales style, but also
shows them that you bring value to the conversation and are not just a
"Just one more thing..." What's the best Columbo question you use?