A few weeks ago, one of my BDRs, Peter, came to us and explained that he and his wife were organizing a drive to raise money to provide gifts and a holiday party for homeless/displaced families that live in a local Extended Stay Hotel. There are 36 kids there that were going to have to spend Christmas in a hotel.
Green Leads offered to match any money that the employees donated and we also ran a contest where we added another $5 for every appointment set by our BDRs over two days.
Peter was able to provide gifts, pizza and read The Polar Express to them last week.
I've recently been on the conference circuit, speaking and tweeting whatever sales and marketing goodness I can find. One topic that came up at each conference was the quality of the content presented by the various speakers. Some sessions were brilliant; some were nothing more than veiled commercials.
The key as an attendee is to be able to pull the brilliant content out of the commercials.
The key as a presenter is to avoid the commercials and present brilliant content.
Let's face it. It doesn't matter if you're at an analyst-sponsored event or an industrywide event with multiple sponsors, the companies buying the hors d'oeuvres and beer want to deliver their messages. And as attendees, we kind of owe it to them to listen. That said, we want to hear value.
Vendors can deliver their message themselves, or they can put customers or industry experts on stage to do it for them. Either way, as we b2b demand gen folks know, it's all about the content, so let's provide it. I challenge all the vendors -- bring value to the audience.
Tips for earning respect as a vendor:
Consider using industry experts and/or customers to present your message.
If you're going to use one of your own executives, make them tell a compelling story.
Keep the commercials to a minimum. Talk about real issues and real solutions.
Invite conversation, questions and provocative thought. Engage the audience.
Entertain a tiny bit. Conferences are hard to sit through. So while delivering valuable content, make the crowd smile.
Just remember -- when someone is done listening to your 45 minutes of fame, do they walk away thinking, "I got some great nuggets from this appointment setting tips session. And hmmm ... he uses Green Leads, I might check them out" ?
I got a bit carried away recently with my niece and nephews' Wii Bowling game. Even when I thought I had done my best and had enough, I would take a breather and come back and SWING! I would put up better numbers. It was addicting.
I wanted to beat my best score, and
I wanted to beat their best scores
It was all so gratifying, and it was all about the numbers!
Outbound sales, lead generation and demand gen in general are all about the numbers, too: forecasting good numbers, hitting those numbers and then pushing those numbers to new levels. We're all compelled to come back to the Wii console multiple times in order to improve our all-time best, and we are also compelled to come back and beat our peer's best scores. It's addictive. It's energizing. Heck ... it's just plain fun.
We should all apply this same energy, interest and compelling drive to our jobs.
One thing our jobs have that the Wii doesn't is that our consistent performance and high scores get compensated with better revenue, pipeline and paychecks. What the Wii has that we might need in our jobs is great graphics, stats and instant reward. Do you know your stats by the week? day? hour? Do you have dashboards that track your lead generation and pipeline activity? Learn from the Wii and even if you just need to track your high scores on a piece of paper, track them, know them and always be trying to put up a better score.
And just like the Wii records the stats and records that let you know how you are progressing and are relevant, make sure that the things you measure are the right ones. Measuring the wrong stats can incent bad behaviors!
I venture to say that there may be thousands of fast-talking, smart teens out there in their basements with Wii high scores who might some day make fantastic inside sales professionals and fill our appointment setting jobs.
Lastly, the Wii session inspired a contest at Green Leads this month. We decided to have our appointment setting teams compete to win some electronic goodness, and beat each other's scores. Being that we are a company that focuses on Quality and Quantity, the contest assigned 2 points for every meeting completed and accepted by our clients, and 1 point for every meeting set. The winning team was The Flatlanders with a 20% lead over the rest.
Flatlander Winners (picking gifts in a yankee swap fashion): Levi, JT, Anna Marie, Gareth, Chris, Lisa, Gill and Sarah (with the highest score). Congrats to all! Check out the booty below. Missing is the xBox Kinect, which just got released last night at midnight. It's on the way.
Clockwise from top: Wii, Slingbox, Sirius Radio, Nikon Camera, iPod, iHome, missing (xBox and remote Car Starter) ...and yes, that is a poker table the gifts are on. Green Leads has fun too.
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!
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.
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?
When we started Green Leads we set out to build the perfect Virtual Call Center. We accomplished it, and other than not seeing people face-to-face every day (they still are required to come in a few days a week), the way we work is identical to a traditional call center. We can see people's dials, what CRM records they modify, listen in for training, etc. Of the many benefits, here are but a few:
Working from home
Distributed resources for disaster recovery (this happened with last year's ice storm)
Flexible hours, allowing for a better work/life balance
Reduced overhead of an office
The use of "work at home" as an incentive for performance
No commute adding an hour or two to people's personal lives
All the environmental beneifts -- no new computers, no commute, less waste
There were some issues, though. We lost two employees who wanted more of a team community. We lost another because he and his wife were unable to be home all day in the same house. We lost some borderline employees who we may have been able to save with better coaching and training. All that said, we grew 4X over three years. Things are booming. But we wanted to resolve these negatives.
The solution: a Virtual Hybrid. We built out an office with the "hotel" concept. We still use all the same cloud technologies, but if you want to call a desk home for a day, the office is available and it's got all the comforts of home.
Each person has a box to store personal belongings in (see photo). A picture of the family, a coffee mug, a special mousepad ... we even have someone storing his own flavored coffee creamer.
What has worked better than expected is the impact on new hire training. They can stay in-office for all the coaching and training we can give them. We can even use the work-at-home goal as an incentive to ramp up to speed. On the other hand, we've asked our veterans to schedule regular "in-office" days a couple times a month for project meetings and mentoring.
Increased team community
Faster training and ramp-up
Continued virtual benefits
Reduced overhead cost (facilities, and use of virtual technologies)
A place to meet visitors
Centralized location for the management team, who require more interraction
Ultimately, just during month one -- a holiday month to boot -- December's weeks have seen the highest appointment setting rates of the year. Linda and I drive a hybrid car...now we work in one.
A while back, I read an article by Chris Brogan that discussed 19 chores we could each do daily to help us maintain an online presence. I was already doing a majority of the list, but then it got me thinking. What if I had my browser setup so when I wake up in the AM all my daily tasks for maintaining my social media prowess were just lined up waiting for me to get my coffee? Here's my Lead Generation Tip for today.
I've never been one to clutter up toolbars in a browser, but this seemed like a great reason to do it. So I bookmarked the following links and turned on the bookmarks toolbar. This allows me to wake up, sip my Greenest Bean coffee (organic, locally roasted), and make my presence known. I come back to it during the day when I need a break and hit them again.
HootSuite - been using this since I uninstalled tweetdeck for locking up my system every day. I've got it all decked out with columns, tabs, subjects, friends, you name it
Google Reader - still the easiest RSS reader going. Read up, schedule the best for tweets on HootSuite with Send Later. Comment on a few relevant articles
Hubspot Dashboard - finds daily chores for me to do around blogging, keywords, search rankings, etc.
LinkedIn Q&A - to maintain my top Lead Gen Expert status and to accept invites and other LinkedIn goodness
Personal Facebook - post some drivel
Company Facebook Fan Page - post some value
Fast Company Blog - share an article
Smashmouth Marketing Blog - write an article
FriendFeed - check out friends thoughts
SocialOomph - vet my new twitter followers
During the process, I usually digg or stumble a few articles as well.
ps. Look at the other top experts in the Lead Generation section of LinkedIn. I'm in good company!
What other daily tasks do you do to keep yourself in the frontlines? Leave a comment
It started one night with Craig Rosenberg of The Funnelholic as we ate Thai food and imbibed several hoppy beers in San Francisco. As a matter of fact, it was the night before the first Sales 2.0 conference, so maybe it was meant to be.
"So last question...what is your preference, green, red or yellow curry?"