Smashmouth B2B Blog: Sales & Marketing Demand Gen

The ROI of Conference Calls vs. Face to Face Meetings

Posted by Michael Damphousse

b2b appointment settingEver wonder if your enterprise sales team should be on the road heading to an introductory first meeting with a prospect?  I was recently in the UK for business and saw sales reps investing a half day or more traveling for 30-60 minute meetings.  Do the results differ if they were to have taken those introductory meetings by phone?  Many would say yes, but the data begs to differ.

Green Leads measures the sales outcome of our client's b2b appointment setting programs.  We do this to gain an immediate measure of the program as opposed to waiting out long sales cycles to show true ROI.  By measuring this immediate outcome, it brings short term metrics to the program.

We measure sales outcome of the meetings in three ways:

A) Immediate Sales Activity: the meeting results in immediate sales activity (proposal, trial, second meeting, addition of other decision makers to the process, etc.)

B) Nurturable Activity: the meeting was with a prospect that had the right decision maker profile, and it has potential, but needs nurturing over time.  A portion of these will convert to sales activity over time.

C) Not a Fit: the meeting was with a prospect that had the right decision maker profile, but one or both parties decided there was not a fit, the lead is closed out.

With 5 years of data, the overall distribution of meetings is roughly a third, a third and a third:  

Phone Meetings vs Face to Face ABC

It's marginal, but the resulting outcome between phone meetings and face to face shows that phone actually has a higher percentage of immediate sales activity. 

Don't get me wrong, the value of face time is huge, but isn't the value of having an active sales process more important?  Things to consider:

  • Sales reps can conduct more meetings if using phone, and more meetings converting at an similar rate to face to face means more efficiency.
  • Reduced travel costs impacts the budget with phone meetings.  
  • With the advent of technology, web meeting capabilities, and trends in time management, more prospects are inclined to take introductory meetings by phone (poll results).  This may result in sales reps being able to have more conversations with prospects they might otherwise not have been able to.

One drawback to phone meetings, they are more likely to blow you off.  It's easy to miss a phone call, it's harder to say no to someone sitting in your lobby.  Our data shows that phone meetings reschedule/cancel 20% more than face to face. 

Me?  I would much rather have a sales rep prove to me in a 20 minute phone call why he should come visit and use my face time.  You?

Tags: marketing, sales, demand gen, b2b marketing, appointment setting, sales2.0, b2b polls, introductory meetings, b2b math

The Demand Gen Capital of the World: Andover, MA

Posted by Michael Damphousse

BAO CompetitorsLead Generation is an "industry" in New England, going back to the early days of the Route 128 Technology Highway.  At one point some entrepreneurial soul spun off from one of the big companies, such as Digital or Wang, and there you have it -- the 1st leads of an industry were generated.

Now there are over 1500 third-party lead gen employees in the area, not to mention all the companies that have based their outbound efforts in the area. 

The following competitors all call New England home.  We know most of our competitors and consider many of them friends:

A Better Call, Inc.

AG Salesworks

By Appointment Only        

Call Center Services

Chameleon Group

eCoast Sales

Good Leads

 

 

Green Leads

Impole

LeadSpark

Mansfield Sales Partners

Marketing Connections

1stLeads

TSL Marketing

WhiteSpace Strategy Partners

(If I left one off, leave me a comment and I'll add them to the list)

We were confident at Green Leads that setting up shop in Andover, MA was a good decision.  It's a beautiful town, 20 minutes north of Boston, has a T (rail) station, fantastic reach to the lead gen talent pool ... and Linda and I live here.

Half of these companies are located in the Merrimack Valley, with Andover in the center of the map.  Does that make us the demand gen capital of the world?  It may have been debatable, but now that we've heard rumors that the largest of the appointment setting clan, By Appointment Only, is moving across the street, I guess that may seal the deal. 

Andover is now undisputably the demand gen capital of the world. 

So if you are looking for BAO competitors, just look over your shoulder.  There are plenty in the area, and specifically Green Leads is in the next building, where the parking is better -- and we were here first!

ps. The Shawsheen Luncheonette is our turf

Tags: b2b, b2b sales, demand gen, inside sales, b2b marketing, lead gen, appointment setting, Quality vs Quantity, introductory meetings, meetings, work

Can Your B2B Appointment Setting Team Stand the Heat?

Posted by Michael Damphousse

B2B Appointment Setting, Can You Take the HeatSo, 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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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!

Tags: sales, b2b, b2b sales, demand gen, outbound marketing, inside sales, b2b marketing, drivel, appointments, appointment setting, tips, introductory meetings, meetings

Lead Gen Tip for Q2: Face Time

Posted by Michael Damphousse

Measuring the effectiveness of lead gen programs is always at the top of a demand gen expert's list of priorities.  One of the gating factors happens to be out of their control -- what does the sales team do with a lead once they start working it?

In a previous blog article, I shared poll results showing C Level prospects being more than willing to take their first introductory appointment by phone.  Of their initial meetings with vendors, 58% were by phone and of those, 69% were "effective."

lead gen tip for Q2: Face TimeIn general, it is becoming more the norm to begin a relationship by phone.  But what happens next? The outcome of meeting number one should be to have a follow-on sales activity.  What should be the goal for meeting number two

For myself, I made it my goal over the past six months if an introductory call was going well to ask for a face-to-face meeting.  The next step in the sales process may be to present a quote or meet other decision makers, but by insisting on a face-to-face meeting, I was able to put my best foot forward and start building rapport at a level beyond what a second phone call could provide.  No hard stats to back it up, however: In Q1 of 2010 we closed the same amount of business as Q3 and Q4 of 2009, and in 2009 we grew by a factor of 3X.  

Questions this raises: 

Should that first meeting have been face-to-face?

I think not.  Of the appointments I took, roughly 4 in 10 resulted in that second meeting.  A third resulted in nurturing activities, and the remaining meetings were discarded as unqualified.  Making the first appointment by phone allowed me to avoid travel and time investment in the 60% that didn't result in immediate sales activity.

Should I have handled meeting number two by phone?

I've done it before; in fact, a majority of 2007 through 2009 was spent effectively selling with phone relationships. That said, I think that my best selling is when people get to meet me, in person, and can feel the integrity and passion that I bring to each project.  

Should you add "meeting two should be face-to-face" to your demand gen SLA with sales in order to increase the effectiveness of the leads you generate?

If you are in a sales environment that eventually end up in face time, then I recommend it.  Have a qualfied criteria that defines which opportunities move to the face time requirement, but definitely consider adding it. The Internet and increased communications tools could be holding back your conversion rate.

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Have you seen our webcast replay of The 10 Pillars of an Ideal B2B Demand Gen Platform on Focus.com?

Tags: sales, b2b sales, demand gen, outbound marketing, b2b marketing, lead gen, appointment setting, tips, introductory meetings, meetings

Lead Gen Companies Should Not Dictate Your Pace

Posted by Michael Damphousse

Demand Gen ExpertsOn a recent sales call, the prospect told me he is working with a pay-for- performance appointment setting company like Green Leads.  The difference, and the reason for the call, is that he wants more meetings per month, but the other vendor is "dictating the pace" at which he gets them.  Was I dreaming?  Did I hear that right?  

If you are paying for performance after the meeting takes place, isn't the vendor incentivized to deliver the exact number of meetings you ask for?  Frankly, by not delivering the requested run rate of appointments, the vendor is (a) disappointing the client and (b) leaving money on the table. 

Whether you have an internal team or an external team, whether it is pay for performance or retainer based, here are a couple of lead gen tips for you:

  • You -- the demand gen specialist -- should dictate the production you are seeking. 
  • Establish and manage to a Service Level Agreement (SLA).  If you want 20 meetings a month, then you should get 20 meetings a month.  Vice versa, if you are to supply inbound leads or lists, you deliver, too. 
  • Vendors, as well as inside teams, are all about headcount, and that is what they are juggling -- production per person.  That's their problem, not yours.
  • Understand why you are not receiving your request.  Is there a skill issue? A headcount problem? A list issue? Reschedule/cancel rates? Messaging?  You may not own their issue, but you can understand it and help solve it.
  • If you don't get what you want, make changes.  It can be as drastic as replacing a vendor or laying off some deadwood, but don't live with mediocrity.  You own the budget and are measured on your results.

Tags: b2b, b2b sales, demand gen, inside sales, b2b marketing, lead gen, appointment setting, tips, Quality vs Quantity, introductory meetings, meetings

15 Demand Gen Thoughts - Make Your Q4 Numbers

Posted by Michael Damphousse

We had a prospect ask this past month to give her 10 reasons to work with Green Leads.  It was an interesting request, but we took it on with a twist.  We delivered not 10 reasons, but 15 thoughts to ponder.  Thought I'd share it.

My favorite: social media techniques augment cold calling - warm calling converts more of your prospects into qualified opportunities

Tags: b2b, outbound marketing, inbound marketing, b2b marketing, appointments, appointment setting, sales2.0, tips, Quality vs Quantity, introductory meetings

Lead Generation Tips - Don't Be An Expert

Posted by Mike Damphousse

There was a LinkedIn Question today that I answered. It is such a valuable tip, I thought I would cross post it here.

Question: If the goal of a call is lead generation and appointment setting for my sales engineer, how should I handle a prospect when they ask a tough technical question I can't answer?

Answer: First, don't let the question drag you into a black hole or throw you off your game. Use the question as an opportunity to get what you are looking for -- a meeting.

A prospect challenging you with a technical question is a perfect segue to asking for the meeting. I'll give you an over-simplified example:

  1. Know it's the right prospect (by title, by some basic questions, by what they say)
  2. Once you know they are the right prospect, and you've given them a very high level pitch, then focus on the appointment, not the sales pitch
  3. The prospect then asks some technical question you can't answer. "Does your solution support XYZ (technical buzzwords here)?"
  4. Reply: "I'm somewhat sure we do, but I would rather you get a solid answer. The right person to talk to is Mike. He can address all your technical issues. Are you available for a short call to talk with him?"

Don't let the prospect drive you into a place you can't recover from. Maintain control of the call, and stay on target. It's an opportunity, not an obstacle. As Jeff Ogden, the Fearless Competitor, says about lead generation: "Stop complaining, take action now."

What other appointment setting tips do you have? Do you have something that unlocks an executive's door? Want me to write on a specific topic? Leave a comment

Tags: marketing, sales, b2b, b2b sales, demand gen, outbound marketing, inside sales, social media marketing, lead gen, appointment setting, tips, introductory meetings, SMM