Smashmouth B2B Blog: Sales & Marketing Demand Gen

C-Level Prospects - Make the First Appointment By Phone

Posted by Mike Damphousse

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:

  • Respondents:
    • 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.

Tags: marketing, sales, appointments, lead gen, sales2.0

The Flaw in Calculating Inbound Marketing vs. Outbound Marketing Cost Per Lead?

Posted by Mike Damphousse

cost per lead

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?

Tags: marketing, b2b, demand, appointments, lead gen, SEM, SEO

Thought Leader With A Value-Added Opinion

Posted by Mike Damphousse

Just got an interview published on Craig Rosenberg's funnelholic blog. I'll share the intro here, and you can get the rest of the article on the site. Craig is publishing a series of Thought Leader articles and thus far they have been great reading for B2B Marketers. You can find all his articles on his site.

Thanks Craig! Enjoyed doing the interview.

"Having worked with Mike Damphousse over the last couple of years, I can tell you this: He has a value-added opinion on anything and everything. Check out his blog and you’ll believe me. He is the expert in one of the hardest things to do in lead gen: Getting an appointment for the sales rep."

read more...

Tags: marketing, socialmedia, demand, appointments, blogs, interviews

First Appointment = First Date

Posted by Mike Damphousse

We get asked all the time, "how good will the appointments you set for us be?" It's a good question and the answer relies on many variables. One thing for b2b sales execs to remember though is that an introductory appointment, as long as it's with the right person at the right company, is exactly that, it's an introductory appointment. Some will be good, some will be great, every once in a while there will be a complete dud. I tell them to treat the first meeting as if it were a first date, and make the goal of that first date to be a second date (if there is a mutual fit). Typically, if you have 10 introductory appointments, a handful of those will move on to follow-on activity. That's your goal. Get the second date. Of that handful, there will be some deals. It's a numbers game just like the dating world -- "there are lots of fish in the sea."

- Sell yourself. The prospect doesn't expect to make any business decisions in that first meeting. Spend the majority of your time gaining rapport with them and educating them. Forget the pitch. Would you ask someone to marry you on a first date? Do some research on your date. Five minutes on LinkedIn and you will know enough of his background to be able to ask some interesting questions. "I was watching that BC game Saturday, did you see that?" "Of course I did. I'm a BC alum, you know."

- Keep it short. Match.com fanatics, of which I know one well, live by the premise of meeting someone for a coffee or one drink. If it's going well, make it two drinks, if not, head out. Set the expectation up front. "I'm in your area on Thursday and would love to meet with you, but I only have 30 minutes before I have to head to the airport. Could we meet across the street at Starbucks for a quick intro?" Who doesn't have 30 minutes in their day, and who doesn't want to get a latte? Get to know them a bit, and set the second meeting up.

- Listen to them. Now this is just like a date. Don't turn on your "all about my product/company" drivel. They may act as if they are interested, but what they really want to do is to have you hear what they have to say. Give them a tiny bit, just enough for them to tell you why they even took the meeting with you. Then prod them to share more. "I had heard you guys got a thumbs up in that Gartner report. We have an issue similar to the one in that study..." Make the meeting about them, not about you.

- Bring value. How many dates would you go on if the person had nothing to talk about or wasn't interesting. Most buyers don't want to pour over reams of data sheets or specs. They don't want to have to figure out why you want to meet with them again. Tell them that you would like to meet again to share something with them that they will find valuable. "John, we have a great energy study that shows how software virtualization can save you money. Could we set something up to review the study and see how it applies to your company?"

- Close for Meeting 2. This is your only goal. Get the second meeting. Get a commitment to bring more value to them. Get them to bring along some friends (the old dating trick). Set it in stone, set some goals. Then start selling.

In our industry,appointment setting, we can only promise to put you face to face with the executive you ask us to target. In fact, we guarantee that we'll do it. After that though, it's all up to you. But don't blow your opportunity during the first meeting. Make your only goal to get the second date. From there you have a shot.

Tags: marketing, sales, appointments

Smashmouth Review - ConnectAndSell, Off to the Sales 2.0 Races

Posted by Mike Damphousse

If new clients for your business is a pure numbers game, then you have to look at ConnectAndSell. This is one Sales 2.0 offering that I have to rave about! A friend of ours recommended CAS a year ago and at first were reluctant. It seemed like a predictive dialer/call center offshore mashup and didn't resonate and for the price seemed like it would be questionably worth it. But then over the summer a good client of ours told us they were achieving results with it (thanks Char!). So we finally gave it a shot.

ConnectAndSell is what we thought, an autodialer on steroids, topped off with humans guiding it. It's actually like an outbound sales control room with prospects popping up every couple of minutes for a pitch. It's INTENSE and I don't recommend more than a 2 hour session at a time.

What kind of results are we achieving? It's all about "connects", so let me define it. A connect is when the CAS system delivers a prospect you have targeted for a live phone call where you can start with "Hi Joe Prospect, this is Steve the Sales Guy, how are you?"  Think about how many true connects/pitches one of your outbound sessions might yield today. Two or three an hour with a full hour of dialing? Well, the CAS community brags about hourly connect rates of 8-10 connects per hour (CAS humbly promises less than that, but they know you get more). This results in 10 pitches an hour with prospects you want to be pitching. How long do you think it takes one of your sales executives do 10 pitches? Ask them, you might be suprised at the answer.

Basic ROI study: from one of our clients outbound telesales projects selling $1200 maintenance and support licenses for an open source IT analysis tool that is downloaded freely. They typically connect with an average of 23 targets per day, send 6 quotes out (25% interest rate) Close 1 of the 6 over time (16% close rate). So an average week's production is 92 connects, 23 quotes, 3-4 deals per week for $4800 in revenue. By adding just two CAS sessions a week to this rep, the production is increased to 167 pitches per week, 42 quotes, and 7 deals per week's effort for revenue of $8400. Less the additional management cost and service fees to CAS, it has resulted in a net increase of $2400 per week.

Knowing a good thing when we saw it, Green Leads decided to tune the CAS system and do one better. We fed the machine with validated lists from our research group, which are all direct dials and nearly 100% accurate. We have actually achieved hourly connect rates as high as 22 connects. Need I say more? We've been doing it to augment our production and have even been hired to just take over CAS sessions for clients. ConnectAndSell has been a great addition to our arsenal and I'm sure you can use it to your benefit as well. If you have an inside sales team or outside reps that do outbound calling and the law of large numbers is factored into your ROI model, then reviewing ConnectAndSell has to be on your to-do list.

Read more about how it works in great detail at this blog post by Arron Ross, ConnectAndSell: 100x ROI in generating pipeline!? (p.s. I really like Arron's posts, seems to be on a little hiatus, wish he would come back).

Tags: marketing, sales, demand, appointments, sales2.0, reviews, meetings, tech