When I was recently at the Sales 2.0 conference, I had several conversations and debates about the value of Face-to-Face meetings versus Con-calls/Web-meetings. Being that b2b introductory meetings is Green Leads' business, we have noticed a trend over the past several years. With the advent and popularity of web conferencing and the price of travel, most executives are accepting con-call/web-meetings as a standard way of doing business - especially introductory meetings. It has become pervasive, and respected, to do business this way. As some of you know, Green Leads also has a research arm where we conduct market research for clients. We used this team to target a pool of 600 companies (200 F1000, 200 $100M-$1B in revenue, 200 $50M-$100M in revenue). We were able to gain responses from 260 executives (C/VP/Dir). We questioned them on the topic of Face-to-Face vs. Con-call/Web-meetings. These are the results:
- 15% C Level, 31% VP Level, 42% Director, 11% Other
- 37% IT/Technical, 24% Sales/Marketing, 16% Finance/Operations, 23% Other
- Question 1 - What percentage of the introductory meetings you take with new vendors or partners today are done Face-to-Face vs Con-call/Web-meeting?
- 42% Face-to-Face
- 58% Con-call/Web-meeting
- Question 2 - Do you see an increase in the number of meetings taking place by Con-call/Web-meeting?
- 62% Definitely
- 16% Somewhat
- 22% Not really
- Question 3 - Are these meetings satisfactory for the purposes of introductory discussions?
- 69% Definitely
- 26% Somewhat
- 5% Not really
- Question 4 - Do you get more from a face-to-face meeting vs. a Con-call/Web-meeting?
- 32% Definitely
- 17% Somewhat
- 51% Not really
- Question 5 - What does your company do when they need to initiate an introductory meeting with a prospect or partner?
- 64% Con-call/Web-meeting
- 32% Face-to-Face
- 4% Video conference
- 3% Tradeshows
- 1% Other
The data seems to show that Con-call/Web-meetings are becoming more common, and more acceptable as a way to start a business relationship. A strong indicator is the last question where the majority of respondents indicated that their own companies are moving towards more Con-call/Web-meetings.
If during the appointment setting, it is the wish of your prospect to conduct the first meeting by phone, don't shy away from it. Take the opportunity and make the best of it. A couple things to consider:
- Con-call/Web-meetings have a higher rate of cancellation/reschedules/no-shows. This is just the nature of the commitment. It's easier to cancel or move a meeting when a prospect knows there are no plane tickets involved.
- For Con-call/Web-meetings there is a trend of delegating to lower-level staff prior to secondary/follow-on activity.
- Con-call/Web-meetings must be treated as formally as a Face-to-Face meeting. A casual phone call is not appropriate. Setting up a bridge number, having an online presentation, and additional attendees (Applications Engineer, Manager, or other supporting attendees) can help improve the quality and acceptance of the meeting.
- Some prospect executives simply won't take face-to-face meetings. If the prospect is the proper target with the proper role, it is recommended that this be respected and a Con-call/Web-meeting take place.
- Face-to-Face meetings do still seem to have a higher level of success due to the personal commitment and interaction. When at all possible, do Face-to-Face meetings. Despite your preference for the style of meeting, be understanding when a prospect asks for one over the other. Unless there are travel/scheduling conflicts, we recommend abiding by the prospect's wishes.
- Make the goal of any introductory meeting to get a second meeting. Don't over-sell.
In conclusion, if you want to have meetings 2.0, then take them any way your prospect wants them.
We've all seen it, more than web publishers would like. That dreaded 404 Page not found error. A couple months ago, someone wrote to me regarding my company site saying they got an external link back to my site and received a 404 error because the linker mistakenly referenced the URL. It happens. Then one day I stumbled on Smashing Magazine's article that showed creative 404 pages. I hadn't even known that using the 404 error to go to a specific page was possible. But now that I did, I was determined to use it to my advantage, and I recommend you do the same with your site.
We created a simple 4 panel video with some Green Leads messaging about appointment setting. It's sweet, short, and conveys what we want to convey in 15 seconds. Now that's a good use of someone's typo mistake.
To see it work, you can type any url address at www.green-leads.com that may not exist, like http://www.green-leads.com/missingpage.html or yourname.html, whatever. The missing page will redirect your browser to our video. Try it. Type in anything you want after the ".com/" and it will work.
You can learn how to create your own custom 404 page here.
I woke up this morning to these three tweets relating to @nivenor1's recent market2lead blog post titled: The SCOTSMAN vs. BANT for Effective Lead Management
nivenor1: New post about BANT vs. The SCOTSMAN on our blog http://blog.market2lead.com/, now its off to Guatemala for 10 days! Ahhhhh
brianjcarroll: Read post by @nivenor1: SCOTSMAN vs. BANT for Effective Lead Management asserts "BANT" isn't enough. Do you agree? http://bit.ly/HEPrZ
mark3803: @brianjcarroll BANT is so sales 1.0 - Sales 2.0 is all about the Buy Cycle not the Sales Cycle.
damphoux: @mark3803: @brianjcarroll a sales guy waiting for high BANT score is losing opportunity. Good sales people can help create BANT.
The Bridge Group's twitter response:
bridgegroupinc: part two. Qualilfying for BANT is like asking to see a W2 on a first date.
It's all timely based on a call I had yesterday with a prospect/CMO I was speaking with. That conversation and these tweets inspired me to write the following Blog Article.
I was on a sales call yesterday where a CMO said to me "We used to only want to pay for C/VP meetings that scored a high BANT rating." BANT is an acronym that has been used in sales for years that stands for Budget Need Authority and Timing. He then continued, "the problem is that we've realized we are missing opportunity because we were lead scoring ourselves away from deals." This CMO is in an emerging technology market marketing to b2b audience. Many times their targets don't even know they have a Need, let alone a Budget.
Andrew Gaffney writes in a blog article, When BANT Becomes AINT: The New Realities Of Buying Requires Scoring Refresh:
However, in the current business climate, many executives I’ve talked with indicate that very few projects have been given the final budget stamp this year. Instead, investments have been labeled “pending” or “postponed.”
A good sales exec will tell you that their best selling takes place once they are face to face with a prospect. Haven't you ever heard a sales person say that they created an opportunity? The following are four situations where you can throw BANT out the window and just sell.
Get face-to-face and then start selling:
- BUDGET - Bad economies. Prospects haven't budgeted for projects, we have to show them solid ROI
- AUTHORITY - A CFO is a CFO. If you have a decision maker in your hands, sell. Authority is implied, not measured
- NEED - Emerging technologies. Prospects don't know they have a Need, we must educate them
- TIMING - Tomorrow is too late. If prospects haven't budgeted, don't know they have the need, then the timing is NOW to start selling
Does all this mean throw lead scoring out the window? Absolutely not. If you can bypass the early stages of lead scoring by identifying and meeting with a prospect you would normally not have engaged with, and get them to create a BANT score, you've hit a bonus sale.
To use a sports analogy, it's like putting your 10th man into a basketball game and he hits a 3 pointer while drawing a foul for the extra point. You just gained 4 points that you didn't have prior to the action you took, and from someone that you wouldn't normally have rated as having the potential. Don't leave opportunity on the sidelines just because you're playing by your playbook.
Next article: What makes a good non-scoring BANT prospect?
The following are what I thought were the top 20 take home tweets from the Sales 2.0 conference. Ok, 22 of them, but they are all worthy. Thanks to all that contributed, there were hundreds of tweets each day of the conference and it became all the buzz. Even to the point on the second day where a whole panel discussion was dominated by twitter talk.
annekeseley: "sales 2.0 is not the answer. It is a question." #sales20
jepc: Gerhard Geschwandtner: "Trend 6: customers create companies instead of companies creating customers" #sales20
damphoux:@IDC "companies that reduce their investment in sales in 2009 will be gone in 2010" #sales20
greenleads: "Sales 2.0 combines customer focused processes with Web 2.0 productivity technologies" David Thompson, Genius.com #sales20
damphoux: Rich Blakeman, Miller Heiman "If the sales cycle is long and the funnel is narrow, the funnel will turn into a straw" #sales20
thedailyanchor: David Satterwhite of newScale quoting Larry Ellison: "If you're not a sales rep and you're not an engineer, then you're overhead." #sales20
insideview: Listening to Cliff Dorsey, VP Sales @ LivePerson Veritable lovefest for ConnectAndSell (I've seen a demo, it's pretty darn cool) #sales20
damphoux: Brett Wallace, @forrester - the key to a good engagement is starting with a solid introductory appointment #sales20
ForceBrain: #Sales20 - "When the tide goes out, you know whose been swimming naked!" -Warren Buffet
karlgoldfield: #sales20 is apparently being blocked by twitter we want to Tweet
jillkonrath: Video in newsletters increases clickthroughs by 40% - per Mark Wilson, VP, Corp. Mktg at Sybase. That's an eye opener! #sales20
damphoux: Gail Ennis, Omniture Just used the term, "Marketing 2.0" #sales20
damphoux: Mark WIlson, Sybase - HBR post on Provocation Based Selling #sales20 http://bit.ly/R7C7w
milesaustin: Mark WIlson, Sybase (from ad) "your risk esposure changes by the second. but your data is hours old. Analyze That." #sales20
damphoux: Brett Queener, salesforce.com - Sales 2.0 is ensuring nobody sells alone #sales20
tmccleary99: Major theme at Sales 2.0 - Marketing and Sales working TOGETHER in near realtime. Touching the customer from EVERY possible angle. #sales20
damphoux: Tom Barrieau, IDC demand generation / lead qualification largest segment of budgets right now #sales20
annekeseley: #sales20 Tom Barrieau of IDC just stressed the importance of inside sales in boosting sales productivity.
damphoux:Tom Barrieau of IDC admitted he has twitter envy. lol #sales20 benefits of social networking are internal to a company #sales20
damphoux: Tom from IDC: twitter seems more relevant to marketers, not sales. but @annekeseley "marketing & sales are merging in #sales20"
sbell22: #sales20 moderator to me: "enough with the Twitter, already!" :)
To those that might comment on the fact that many of the quotes are mine... You live-tweet it next year and earn the right to publish your posts. Besides, I think I captured a great deal of the goodness.
Lastly, my most memorable post because it reminds me of all the memorable people I met during happy hour:
damphoux: #sales20 god the wine taste good
This past week I was reading HubSpot's study on the state of inbound marketing, and understandably, with HubSpot being in the inbound marketing business, the study showed that the marketing spend on inbound marketing is rising. It also determines that the price of an inbound generated lead is 3x less than the price of an outbound generated lead, $84 versus $220. (Inbound: SEO, SEM, Blogs. Outbound: Telemarketing, Email, Events).
I accept that, and I truly believe there is a place for inbound marketing in all of our marketing budgets. I do, however, challenge the value of that inbound lead versus the value of the outbound lead, and that was not discussed. What is the equity value of those leads - the lead equity? In simple terms, how far along is each of those generated leads in the pipeline and what is the value of that lead against the amount you have invested in it so far? Even at 3x the cost, it's not apples and oranges.
The question we should ask ourselves is how many $84 leads does it take to get to pipeline, an active sales opportunity, and how many $220 leads does it take to get to pipeline. In my own business, where we do about equal billing on inbound/outbound spending, we have found that the increased quality of the outbound leads justifies the expense. For argument's sake, let's just say it takes 10 inbound leads to get one pipeline opportunity, and 3 outbound leads to do the same. That's $840 for inbound, $660 for outbound. We attribute it to the fact that the outbound work does much of the screening and vetting and sometimes even the first steps of selling, thereby increasing the quality of the lead.
We would never operate without the inbound activity though. The leads are at the highest point in the funnel, but we find opportunities that we would never have found with traditional outbound activity. To top it off, they raised their hand.
This may explain why the Goliath companies are spending more on outbound lead generation. HubSpot's survey, made up of companies of all sizes, shows that in 2008 the average marketing spend from b2b companies on outbound telemarketing efforts to be 12%. SiriusDecisions reports a different number though. Their study covers a much wider spectrum of b2b companies and sizes, and reports 21% invest in similar outbound efforts in 2008. In fact, they expect that in 2009 the spend on inbound efforts to drop while outbound efforts will rise. This being attributed to the focus on pipeline deals versus the top of the funnel.
Will the smaller, mid-sized companies follow this trend? Will David follow Goliath?
Ok, fair warning. If you are here for a two paragraph good marketing tip, you're in the wrong place. I'm deviating from my normal article style and getting down to some math. Geek Time!
Back in November I posted an article, Poker Equity and Marketing - Lead Equity. The topic got resurrected this week with the posting of my interview on the Funnelholic site, when a question from @chadhorenfeldt from Eloqua caused me to bring up Lead Equity. It lead to me reposting the original article, and then to my responding to several questions by email asking me to elaborate. So I figure I would write the missing part of the original article...the math behind the terms. Instead of thinking about the obvious success of a program, you will start thinking about the value of a lead as it contributes to the company. Let me explain.
Poker, for math geeks, is more of a science than a game, a gamble, or an art form. There is definitely the human aspect, just like in business, but a majority of poker decisions can be accurately made by simply understanding the math behind what you are investing and why you are investing it.
So how does this apply to lead gen/demand gen? What is Lead Equity? It is a mathematical application that helps explain why you should invest or pass (check, bet, or fold) on certain marketing programs, or how to compare one program to another. Your Lead Equity is, in simple terms, the amount of the average deal size that has already been earned by a specific lead. Using equity becomes an easy and intuitive way to make decisions in marketing, just as in poker.
Say for example we have a lead that has worked it's way from a purchased list, to a whitepaper campaign and they have requested a whitepaper. Total cost per lead at this point has been $150. You know that your average deal size is $20k, and with this type of lead you've measured historically that 5% over time convert to opportunities, and your sales team closes 25% of those deals. So your current lead equity is 5% x 25% x $20k, or more simply, $250. So this program has already earned $250 for a $150 investment. Good program. This measure makes for a nice KPI to add to your reports. Obvious and logical.
It's good to know our value of a lead at all stages in the funnel. But how should we incorporate this information into the management of a demand gen program? The reality is that you will never know the true outcome of moving a lead through the pipeline. But based on historical data and run rates, you can make reasonable assumptions that can be used to your advantage.
Let's look at a more detailed example. In this situation, a recent campaign is generating leads, but some of them (all from the financial vertical), according to the sales reps, are "terrible". Should you kill that vertical? Should you expand this campaign into other verticals? Should you invest into the markets where the reps stay happy?
Don't take the situation at face value.
So this program has leads being generated from multiple buyer types in different industries. The Technical Buyer from a the non-financial industry can be classified as Use Case A, and the Committe Buyer from the financial Industry can be classified as Use Case B (in poker, hand A and hand B).
Use Case A - This sales cycle is short. This type of lead converts to an opportunity 20% of the time. The opportunity has a close rate of 25% from the pipeline, and the average deal size is $75k. Your programs look very successful. The pipelines are full. Everyone is happy. Good rewards fast.
Use Case B - This second type of deal has a completely different outcome. Typically only 10% of the leads convert to an opportunity and the close rate is a miserable 15%. The projects go out to bid with RFP's. Decisions can take over a year. The decision makers are more committee driven. However, the deal sizes are large, they average $300k. From a high level, the lead conversion is a chore: the rep is always getting pressure because these deals get stuck in pipeline, are not as active, they never seem to close, and it appears to be not worth the effort.
From the outset, it seems as if the financial vertical is a bad investment. Your conversion rates don't look as good. The reps don't like the leads. Deals take way too long, they don't convert as frequently, and the reps would rather not work on them. In fact, one sales director repeatedly says "the financial leads should be trashed" on the weekly management call, which makes you feel as if you are not performing. It's a very unrewarding campaign. But let's look at the Lead Equity:
Lead Equity A - is 20% x 25% x $75k, or $3,750.
Lead Equity B - the runt of the marketing program litter, is 10% x 15% x 300k, or $4,500.
In the case of lead equity, the industry that your company thinks provides the hot leads are worth less overall than the bad leads. As in poker, sometimes the hand that looks like the dog is actually the hand you should bet on. You should expand that financial industry program. Could you change the whitepaper topic to still cover the same technical issues, but change the client reference to a financial client? This may resonate more with financial buyers and will increase the outcome even more. In poker, this is called "selling a hand".
ROI studies, how many months does a program take to pay for itself, may show a slightly different outcome. All KPIs can show different outcomes. Think about some other influences on your programs. Do you take pipeline momentum into account? Or how reps will react to the higher deal sizes being closed? Do prospects react differently to different messages or techniques? I could elaborate in this example as to the human aspect of the pipeline, but this really starts to tie in another aspect of poker and math into the equation, game theory. Blog article Part 3?
Green Leads has recently been doing a team micro-lending project. Our employees can donate on a regular basis, we match dollar for dollar, and then we decide as a team what Kiva borrower to invest in. It's a great cause, and in the current economy, a great way to push from the bottom. One of the best parts of doing this is getting updates from our borrowers. Finding out that the boat someone purchased is now harvesting fish for the fish market. It closes the loop and makes a good thing a human thing.
Kiva has just added video to their site for borrowers to provide updates and enrich their profiles. What a fantastic addition to an already impactful concept.
Posted on Kiva's blog this week: Video on Kiva Borrower Profiles
"Kiva's engineering team has been working on an experiment for the last few weeks to see how we can bring borrowers and lenders closer. In the past, we've seen that photographs have been one of the biggest ways for our lenders to feel connected to our borrowers.
We decided to take that a step farther by experimenting with a new medium: video!"
I survived the first day of doing live twitter coverage of the Sales 2.0 event in San Francisco. If you want to follow it on twitter, use hashtag #sales20. When I first proposed doing live twitter coverage to Gerhard Gschwandtner, the publisher of Selling Power and the co-host of the event, I figured it would be an interesting thing to do, provide some value to the conference, and create a little marketing. I never imagined it would have taken the energy and time that it did.
Luckily I don't have to write more about the experience tonight, because Jep Castelein of the Leadsloth blog did a quick video interview with me after the event.
Mike Damphousse on Using Twitter to Cover the Sales 2.0 Conference from Jep Castelein on Vimeo.