Smashmouth B2B Blog: Sales & Marketing Demand Gen

Fantasy Football Builds Stronger Inside Sales Teams

Posted by Michael Damphousse

Fantasy Football and Inside SalesMy good buddy and best man, Dave, has been commissioner of the same Fantasy Football league for over 12 years and a few years ago asked if I was interested in taking one of the empty slots.  My obsessive-compulsive, statistically driven, multi-scenario-challenged gaming mind was intrigued.  Could I possibly put together a team that could beat other experienced teams week in and week out?  Even if the matchup is one-sided on paper?

Sounds simple, but here's the deal.  I'm more of an owner and less of a coach, so I did what I do best. I hired Lenny, a co-worker at the time and a kick-ass coach, and learned from someone who knows more about Fantasy Football than I do and still enjoy the results.  Now three seasons later, Lenny is gone and I won last year's season.  This year opened with a tight match against Dave, and it came down to the last two players--he crushed me.  But I'm a coach.

Tips to learn from Fantasy Football when building awesome inside sales teams:

  • Be a coach. Understand your team and their challenges, week in and week out.
  • Understand the rules. If you know what scores you points you'll make better decisions.  Ask the commissioner (your boss) if it's unclear.
  • Learn from the pros.  We read Fantasy blogs; we also read B2B sales and marketing blogs.
  • Look for raw talent that requires the least maintenance.
  • Find the studs that, head to head, will overperform every week.
  • Think about your deficiencies and hire accordingly.
  • If your team needs adjusting, make the shifts.  It might mean cutting a player, or drafting a new one, or moving someone up from the bench. Think big picture.
  • Don't fall in love with a lineup.  If you need to let a player go, cut your losses.
  • Track the stats.  Every stat -- even the ones you aren't sure are valuable. They will be someday.
  • Think Superbowl.  Don't forget the long-term play is to win.
  • Lastly, have fun.  Every day.  Have fun.  If you and your team are enjoying your jobs, you'll always make the playoffs and be in a position to win!

ps.  I do have Tom Brady in both my leagues this year.  Maybe I should take some lessons from Belichick?

Tags: sales, b2b, inside sales, b2b marketing, appointments, appointment setting, tips, tv

Appointment Setters Beware! Google Hangout Just Hijacked Your Meeting

Posted by Michael Damphousse

Google has figured out a neat way to take over the conference call industry.  They just added their Google Hangout invite link to EVERY Google Calendar invite that you schedule.  It's listed above the meeting notes, so if your not paying attention and you've got GoToMeeting or WebEx or Join.me bridge numbers and links in the body of your invite, expect a few people to click the Hangout link and ignore the rest.  I've done it twice in a week!  

Your cancel and reschedule rate will soar through the roof!

Appointment Setters Beware Google Hangout

There is a manual work around and an admin level work around.  The manual work around is simple, just remember to click Remove as you are creating the meeting.  The admin level fix is that they can disable this feature through the calendar settings page in the Admin console. 

Note: Hangout video calls are only added if the event creator has an active Google+ profile.

Don't get a No Show or Cancel or Reschedule if you're using Google Calendar.  Pay attention and click Remove, or switch your meetings over to Google Hangout.  Either way works for me.

Tags: b2b sales, demand gen, inside sales, appointments, appointment setting, tips, meetings, b2b appointment setting, google hangout

In The Summertime - Mungo Jerry Lead Gen Tips (tap your feet)

Posted by Michael Damphousse

I just listened to Mungo Jerry's "In The Summertime," and it made me smile, tap my feet, rock my head, especially with the banjo player huffing and puffing into the jug.  Love it!

...then BOOM! The song is over and I remembered all the times I heard inside sales reps complain that "It's summer, nobody's working."  

Folks, that's one of the biggest myths in lead gen.  In fact, it's so twisted that some hidden benefits of summer are shrowded.  Let's take a look.

Yes, most people take vacation time in the summer.  I do to.  That said, how many vacations can one take?  They can't be gone all summer.  In fact, some very important things happen because of vacations:

  • Desk time - Most people planning vacations plan some time in the office (ie: not travelling) prior to and immediately after so that they can get their ducks in a row and return hitting the ground running.  That is more time for them to be at their desks picking up calls, or paying attention to an email inbox that is organized.  Take advantage of it.  
  • Responders - "I'll be out of the office until Monday, July 21.  In an emergency you can call my cell ###-###-####, otherwise, you can contact June, my assistant at ###-###-####, or John, my senior team member at john@emailme.com".  Nuggets: The prospect's cell number, the assistant's name and number, and his trusted underling's email address.  Use them.
  • Scheduling - It can get dicy trying to pick a date, sure, but use it as an opportunity to book a meeting in close -- to set some urgency.  
  • Lighten the mood - It's always a challenge to find the common thread in a call to make the prospect feel comfortable listening to the business end of a conversation, what better common thread than "Oh, vacation, I just got back from the Cape, what are you planning?".  People buy from people.
  • Attitudes - Let's face it, we're all a bit happier.  Happier = Approachable.  

"We love everybody, but we do as we please
When the weather's fine
We go fishing or go swimming in the sea
We're always happy"

Enjoy the video, and take Mungo Jerry's tip to heart: "Go out and see what you can find"!

Tags: sales, b2b, b2b sales, demand gen, inside sales, cold calling, lead gen, tips, life, video, b2b appointment setting

Inside Sales Blogs From AA-ISP Speakers

Posted by Michael Damphousse

Inside Sales BlogsI'm at the AA-ISP conference in Boston today (American Association of Inside Sales Professionals).  There are ideas and tips flowing faster than the coffee and ice water.

Everytime I visit a conference I like to check out the speakers' blogs.  I figured you may find value in a compilation of the speaker blogs from today (or the blog of their company):

Trish Bertuzzi, The Bridge Group, Inside Sales Experts 

Tom Scontras, Glance Networks, The Upside: Killer Sales Tips

Steve Richard, Vorsight, Inside Sales Tips

Gary Ambrosino, TimeTrade, The TimeTrade Blog

Koka Sexton, InsideView, B2B Sales Productivity

Cliff Pollan, VisibleGains, Visible Gains Blog

Dan Hughes, Broadlook Technology, The Official Broadlook Blog

Antarctic Mike, Selling at 90 Below Zero, Antarctic Mike's Blog

Lori Richardson, Score More Sales, Score More Sales

Patrick O'Mally, 617-PATRICK, Social Media Super Blog

Mark Ruthfield, Zoominfo, Zoominfo Blog

Ken Krogue, InsideSales.com, Ken Krogue

John Baker, The Asking Formula, The Asking Formula

Sam Richter, SBR Worldwide, Know More Blog

Todd McCormick, PGI, PGI Blog

Ken Jisser, ConnectAndSell, Sales Singularity Blog 

Mark Roberge, HubSpot, Inbound Internet Marketing Blog

 

  and then shameless self promotion (I am one of the speakers)...

Mike Damphousse, Green Leads, Smashmouth B2B Blog: Sales & Marketing Demand Gen 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: sales, b2b, b2b sales, inside sales, cold calling, b2b events, outbound, outbound calling

Sales Ready Leads: Quality vs. Quantity

Posted by Mike Damphousse

apples oranges

The topic of Quality vs. Quantity in demand gen has been a constant debate. Whether it's inbound marketing or outbound marketing there are costs associated with a lead, there are costs associated with the time and effort needed to convert that lead to an opportunity, and there are costs tied to the quality of those leads and how that impacts conversion rates.

As David Greenberg, Sr. Director of Marketing at Jive Software shares with us, "With the focus we all have right now on building pipeline that will convert to revenue, quality leads are called for. We just don't have the time to waste managing anything but."

In this example, with b2b appointment setting and pay-for-performance vendors, it is a very straight forward study as the costs per appointment are fairly standard and as SiriusDecisions and IDC have discussed, the rates of production and conversion are uniform over time.

Executive Summary: Lead gen programs that manage to Quality metrics provide sales ready leads that result in an overall higher ROI. Whether an internal team or a third party vendor, if the reps are incentivized to produce Quality appointments, the cost per pipeline opportunity can be as high as 14% more effective. In an appointment setting program, this is due primarily to cancel rates, rejection rates, and the overall quality of the meeting. Other costs to consider are the costs to manage the vendor relationship, and the cost to the sales team for attending low quality meetings.

The Numbers: In order to remain somewhat statistic-neutral, we have asked our clients to provide stats based on their experience with other appointment setting vendors and ourselves (ok, so a bit self-promoting, but stick with it). The percentages used were calculated by evaluating 5 clients' stats comprised of 1100 meetings set by Green Leads and over 2000 set by 3 other appointment setting firms. The numbers showed a significant difference in cancel/reject rates as well as pipeline conversion. The percentages used for calculation were:

  Quantity
Vendor
Quality
Vendor
Cancel/Reject Rate 20% 12%
Conversion to Pipeline Rate 31% 36%

Typical Appointment Setting Program Stats:

  Quantity
Vendor
Quality
Vendor
Meetings Set 100 80
Canceled/Rejected 20 10
Completed/Billable 80 70
Convert to Pipeline

25 25
Cost ($750 per Completed Meeting) $60,000 $52,500
Cost per Opportunity $2,400 $2,100

The Quality Vendor resulted in a 13% better investment per opportunity.

Your Checklist: Your vendor choice is obviously the most important factor in determining how your program is going to play out, so below are some things you can do to screen your vendors and aid in making a good decision. It's not a litmus test, so look for trends and patterns:

  • If they keep talking about LOTS of meetings and production - beware
  • If they won't let you interview their reps - beware
  • If they pay their reps to SET meetings as opposed to COMPLETE meetings - beware
  • If they are squeamish about discussing detailed stats, or if they don't track detailed stats - beware
  • If during a reference check you ask the client about stats and they don't match what the vendor told you, or the client doesn't know - beware
  • If they over-promote their call counts, talk time, or other non-results oriented stats - beware
  • If when you ask them what their confirmation and scheduling procedures are they don't have convincing answers - beware
  • If their rejection policy is too loose or has gray area you don't like, ask for and document specific examples. If they won't do that and you're still not understanding the policy - beware
  • If they have a short period of time by which you have to notify them of a rejection, cancel or reschedule (or the meeting is automatically billed) - beware

Also look at reputation. When asked formerly for a reference, they will probably send you to their friends. So listen when they mention client names off the cuff during conversations. Then you check them out with your network. It's a small world--find out who you or your colleagues know at those companies (use LinkedIn). Then make some of your own inquiries.

Trish Bertuzzi of The Bridge Group shared, "Mike, what a great checklist for vendor selection. There are literally dozens of vendors in this space both domestically as well as off shore. People need to understand that picking a vendor is picking a PARTNER. We wrote a blog post Third Party Vendors for Lead Qualification on this very topic. Here are some questions your readers may want to add to their list:

  • How many years have you been in business?
  • What is your attrition rate?
  • Who are your 4 largest clients? What is their size? and How many employees do you have dedicated to their project?
  • Do you provide web based reporting?

This is just a sample but you get where I am going...you have to ask the vendor as many questions about their business as they should ask you about yours."

Tags: marketing, sales, b2b, b2b sales, demand gen, outbound marketing, siriusdecisions, inside sales, social media marketing, lead gen, appointment setting, Quality vs Quantity, SMM, b2b math, idc

LinkedIn Lead Gen Tip: When a Face Makes the Difference

Posted by Michael Damphousse

Guest Post from Gareth Morfill, Inside Sales Blackbelt at Green Leads.

If you were talking to a prospect face to face, do you think that would make you pitch any differently?  More confidently?  We feel that it absolutely does. The simple act of having a real person to look at while you are having the conversation makes the building of rapport much easier.  

If they have a photo in their LinkedIn profile, look at it.  You may even be able to click on it and enlarge it.

Cold Calling Faces to Names

Science backs this up. Physiological studies show interesting correlations between perceiving and responding to eye contact, a salient social signal of interest and readiness for interaction. And although the response to a picture is less than to a live face, there may be an impact.  Our reps have been practicing it and the general consensus is, Put a Face to a Name:

  • Improves the ability to quickly build rapport
  • Personalizes the conversation
  • Humanizes the typical "cold call"
  • Make dialing all day a bit less mechanical
  • Looking at the photo means you have to look at their LinkedIn profile first -- scan it

Smile!  

...ps: If you're an Inside Sales Blackbelt, we're hiring.

Tags: sales, b2b sales, inside sales, cold calling, lead gen, linkedin, outbound calling

Inside Sales Managers: 4 Ways to Motivate Your Team

Posted by Chris Snell

Sales Managers MotivateYou'd think that in today's economy, a steady paycheck would be enough motivation to get the best out of people, right?  Not always the case, nor should it be.  Part of any manager's role is to make the people around them better.  Whether it's mentoring someone to take over your role when you ascend the corporate ladder, or taking a rep with just enough potential under your wing, ultimately, the job of a manager is to improve his or her team.  The Sales Manager is always looking for better performance from a team, and in order to get that, you've got to give a little.  Here are four things you, as a Sales Manager, need to give your team if you want to get more production out of them:

1.  Give them goals that aren't impossible to reach - You remember what it felt like at 12 years old, when you realized that "dunking" a basketball was an offensive point scoring option, yet you couldn't do it?  That's what having impossible sales goals are like.  CSO Insights, in their 2010 Telemarketing/Inside Sales Optimization report, cites that 47% of inside reps did not meet their quota last year, yet during a webinar with Gerhard Gschwandtner, Jim Dickie (Managing Partner at CSO Insights), shared that 86% of companies are raising their sales quotas.  If we have reps that aren't hitting their current goals, and management is continually raising them, at some point something has to give.  Putting goals that make our reps stretch, not snap, is one way Sales Manager can motivate their teams.  They'll feel supported, and a supported rep is a productive rep.

2.  Give them constructive criticism - There's a difference between criticism and constructive criticism.  If you're a sales manager and you want to motivate your team, make sure that when you're correcting behavior or when you're giving feedback, you do so out of good intentions.  All too often people, who are not skilled at giving constructive criticism, do more damage than good.  You don't want to lose sales reps that may have great potential because they aren't there now, and you've just torn them a new one because of x, y, and z.  Give feedback constructively so that reps can learn, move on, and produce more.  Start with something they're doing right, what they're lacking or where they need improvement, and something else that they do right, like a criticism sandwhich.  Believe me, it works!

3.  Give them opportunities to improve their skills - Whether it's training or seminars, or bringing speakers to them, if you give your sales reps a chance to improve their skills, they're going to be more motivated.  On top of that, if you can put them in front of someone they respect, that's even better.  Again, you're giving something to get something.  You're giving your team valuable insight and a chance to hone their craft, and from that you're going to gain more effective sales reps.  This is an area that many sales managers can improve upon.  Even if all you do is put together a lunch-and-learn series, do something for your team in terms of skills development.

4.  Give them SPIFF's they're excited about - Remember, not every one of your reps is motivated by money.  Sure, we all need it, but when it comes to a SPIFF, sometimes it's good to make the prizes different.  Whether it's time off, a trip, or a Nintendo Wii, put the effort in to figure out what it is that gets your reps excited.  If you can dial in to what your reps hold dear, and then put that in front of them on top of their commission, the team is going to have fun and perform.

What are some ways that you keep your teams motivated?

Photo Credit:  Brother O'Mara via Flickr

Tags: sales, inside sales, sales managers, managing, team improvement

28 Questions to Ask B2B Appointment Setting and Lead Gen Vendors

Posted by Michael Damphousse

There are so many demand gen vendors out there, and if you are a demand gen professional in sales or marketing, we've probably called you.  Outsourcing some or all of your appointment setting or lead generation activity to a third party vendor is a task that shouldn't be undertaken by responding to one cold call.  

Words of wisdom from two industry leaders:

trish bertuzziTrish Bertuzzi, Inside Sales Expert, @bridgegroupinc: "Hiring a third party lead gen vendor is like dating… the chemistry is either there or it is not. When you are interviewing vendors you have to get a sense that they are smart, interested in the same things that you are and passionate about what the future looks like."

craig rosenbergCraig Rosenberg, The Funnelholic, @funnelholic: "If they charge less, be more skeptical – Believe it.  I believe this across lead gen: the most important thing to look at is cost per opportunity not cost per lead.  Cost per lead is a narrow look at the success of a program.   A higher cost lead (if justified) will convert better with sales.  Oh and by the way, here is the thing with outsourced lead gen as well: these are leads that go directly to sales guys.  My suggestion is to pay whatever price it takes to keep them from hating you."

Below are some questions to ask the vendors you are considering -- and don't forget to ask me.

  • What quality controls do you have in place?
  • What type of reporting do you do and can I see samples?
  • How many reps do you have?  How many managers and non-reps?  (look for heavy overhead)
  • What is your annual attrition rate for reps and managers? (use LinkedIn Company Pages to see for yourself)
  • What is the average tenure of your reps?  
  • What is your reps' experience in general outbound sales?
  • What is your reps' experience in your industry ?
  • How do you pay your reps?
  • Are they incented for Quality or Quantity?
  • Can I talk to your newest rep and longest serving rep?
  • Can we come for a site visit?
  • During the site visit can I just sit on the floor for an hour and listen?
  • What technologies do you use? CRM? Autodialers? Power dialers?
  • Do your reps use email?  If so, how?
  • How do you help your clients measure the success of the programs?
  • Where do you get your lists?
  • Who are your closest competitors?
  • Can I have an example of a project that failed, and why?
  • Can I have an example of a project that has succeeded?
    (After hearing the two examples, ask for references at both companies)
  • How do you manage client calendars so that appointments are set during available times?
  • What is your pricing model?  Pay for performance?  Monthly fee?
  • What is your lead acceptance criteria, what makes a billable meeting, how do we reject a meeting and why would we?
  • How do you manage east coast/west coast time zones
  • Do you outsource or offshore any of your work?
  • How do you create your messaging?  Do you work from scripts? 
  • What is your startup process?
  • When do we see our first leads?
  • When we get a lead/meeting, what do we get?  Can you provide us a sample?

What would you ask that we missed?

Tags: b2b, demand gen, inside sales, b2b marketing, appointments, lead gen, appointment setting

Inbound Marketing Gurus -- Where's All The Outbound Marketing Goodness?

Posted by Mike Damphousse

Outbound Marketing Advice

Inbound Marketing is all the rage these days, and why shouldn't it be?  It works, right?  At least, that's what HubSpot clients are saying (and we're clients, so I can vouch for it).  Inbound Marketing's goal is to pull potential customers in by all different methods, whether it's compelling content, savvy SEO execution or community interaction via social media. 

While inbound strategies are effective, augmenting them with outbound marketing strategies can add to that success.   Where do you turn?  Be it appointment setting, lead qualification, or email marketing, where's all the goodness at?  Here are some sites that share top-notch practices:

The Bridge Group's Inside Sales Experts Blog - Trish Bertuzzi and the team over at The Bridge Group are the gold standard when it comes to advice on making your inside sales team greater than it already is.  Add to that their annual Inside Sales Metrics and Compensation reports and Bridge's Inside Sales Experts LinkedIn group, and you've got yourself some really fine resources to improve your team.

NetProspex's NetProspex Blog - The verified contact list-building behometh's blog is filled with far more than information on data.  It advises on building pipeline, improving messaging and better ways to market to your prospects.  There's a lot of information in this blog, so make sure you take the time to peruse the several years' worth of articles.

RainToday's RainMakerBlog - The folks from RainToday have been offering some great information and ways to improve sales reps, much of which can translate to your outbound marketing teams.  In particular, they've been sharing some interesting thoughts on how to improve the actual art of the "sales conversation."  Definitely worth checking out.

Craig Rosenberg's Funnelholic Blog - Craig is one of the demand gen gurus from Focus.com who consistently publishes great content that ranges from marketing to sales, inbound to outbound.  Great stuff.

Vorsight's Inside Sales Tips Blog - This one is special because Vorsight and Green Leads are technically competitors, but we both have mutual respect for each other's work and would call it more "co-opetition".  Solid tips.

---

These last two are interesting additions because some people put email marketing in the category of "inbound" when in reality it is originally an "outbound" technique -- the action item is an inbound lead.  That said, two great blogs:

Marketo's Modern B2B Sales Blog - Marketo, the marketing automation company, has several blogs, but its Modern B2B Sales blog hits the mark.

Constant Contact's Constant Commentary Blog - Constant Contact's blog provides some great tips and tactics on how to better use email as an outbound marketing tool, but its also dabbles in social media and list-building advice as well.

There are a lot of other great blogs and resources out there, so this list is by no means complete, and of course, bookmark or subscribe to our blog as well.  Where else do you go when you're looking for great advice on how to do inbound marketing and outbound marketing more effectively?  Let us know!

Photo Credit:  laughlin via Flickr

Tags: outbound marketing, inbound marketing, inside sales, appointment setting, netprospex, marketo

B2B Lead Gen Numbers Do Improve With the Nintendo Wii

Posted by Michael Damphousse

Wii Bowling will improve your lead gen numbersI 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

Contest

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.

b2b demand gen numbers

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.

Tags: sales, b2b, b2b sales, inside sales, b2b marketing, drivel, math, lead gen, appointment setting, tips, cartoons