Smashmouth B2B Blog: Sales & Marketing Demand Gen

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

Five Content Marketing Mistakes to Avoid

Posted by Michael Damphousse

Everyone is jumping into content marketing. The challenge is not only how to do it, but how to do it well. One of the best things a marketer can do is learn from the mistakes of others. For this post, we asked some of the participants in the upcoming Keys to Content Marketing Virtual Summit on August 14th to share the mistakes they see on the market today.  

Content creation is too narrowly focused on a single buyer.

b2b marketing contentNarrowly focused content tends to be out of step and misaligned with the reality of buying in most companies today.  The biggest drawback is that content then becomes non-shareable since it lacks relevancy to others. The solution: When considering the buyer personas for whom you want to develop content, content producers must consider more than just the single buyer or buyer persona.  This is true when conducting buyer insight research - it is a mistake to interview only those whom you assume are direct buyers.  Buying in organizations today is fluid, dynamic, flatter, and involves more participants. (Tony Zambito) 

Companies create content for themselves not their buyer.

You are not your buyer – get over it bro! Before you create anything – dig in deep with your current client base and your sales staff, they will give you the insight you need to create really compelling content.  This is probably the biggest mistake in content, albeit the most forewarned.  So listen up! (Justin Gray)

Their content voice sounds like a corporate twit.

From our early school days we were taught that formal writing = good writing.  Somewhere along the way marketers found out that this is absolute crap, however the old days of getting slapped on the hand with a ruler for "writing as you talk" are hard lessons to break.  Honestly, it’s the only reason I enjoy content creation in modern sales/marketing, all of the sudden its cool to speak to people like people again. And they're buying it!  I just wanted to start a sentence with "and" there to see if a huge cosmic ruler would hit me. (Justin Gray)

Content is created without any personality. 

Content that is written as an instruction manual will come across as just that, instructions. There’s so much crap content out there and there'is a need for good writers with personality and opinions based on their own experience. That’s what I want to read. (Jason Miller)

Companies are jumping in the raging river of social media and content marketing without a plan or measurable goals.

Social and content marketing are not just hobbies or activities. They are business processes that should be approached with a strategic plan and metrics to measure success. (Don Perkins)

Want to learn more about content marketing? Join us for the Keys to Content Marketing Success Virtual Summit on August 14th by registering below!


Image: KaterBegemot

Tags: b2b, demand gen, inbound marketing, b2b marketing, b2b events, lead gen, webinars, events, content

Out of Office Responses - Lead Gen Tip Gold Nugget

Posted by Michael Damphousse

lead gen tipsIt's summer, and just because your lead is out of the office, does not mean they should be crossed off your list.  When receiving an out of office or away on vacation email response, you get a lot more than just an email you want to delete.  You can get lead gen nuggets.  For example, you just emailed your contact to set an appointment and you get a response similar to this:

Thank you for your email. I am currently away from the office on vacation with limited access to email.  I will return on Monday, June 24. 

For immediate needs, please contact the following:
--With career opportunity questions, please email jobs@acme.com
--With questions regarding Sales Operations, please email Linda at linda@acme.com 
--With other urgent administrative issues, please email my assistant Jessica at jessica@acme.com

Tom Shannon
VP Infrastructure and Operations
978-555-1324 direct
978-555-1212 cell 

You have just received two other contacts that are relevant to your pursuit of the prospect.  You know a responsible person, albeit no title--but LinkedIn can help with that, with Linda.  You have his assistant, great for trying to reach him when he's not responding. And you have his cell number, which you didn't have before.  Contact Linda and Jessica, see if you can't work some magic and drum up a conversation.  Never know what they may share.  "Hi Linda, I've been tryhing to reach Tom and I know he's out this week.  Maybe you can help me..."

Take advantage.  Save this information.  Use it.

And don't forget, when you reach Tom next week, reference your email and ask if he was away on vacation or business.  Get a conversation going because we all know...selling doesn't start until a conversation starts with the prospect.

 

Tags: demand gen, lead gen, b2b appointment setting

BANT is Dead -- Find the Authority

Posted by Michael Damphousse

BANT Budget Authority Need Timeframe ANUMBudget, Authority, Need, Timeframe (BANT) qualification is scrambled and outdated.  Having budget was important in the days of "Our contract is up for renewal next year, we need budget".  But with so many new products and technologies flooding us, from evangelical to emerging to faster and better, Budget not only doesn't exist, many times those with Authority don't even know they have a Need or that they need it now.

Granted, as the sales process advances, you would hope Budget is being allocated so that the decision maker with Authority can solve their Need in a Timely manner.  But read the beginning of that sentence..."as the sales process advances".  There is no place for BANT in a lead gen scenario, it is for later in the sales cycle.  BANT is dead as it pertains to Lead Gen.  I'm singing the praise of Ken Krogue and company at Insidesales.com with ANUM -- it all starts with Authority!

I've been known to say "The sales process doesn't start until a conversation with a prospect does". And in Lead Gen, especially b2b appointment setting, the goal is to get the conversation started.  Finding the decision makers and influencers are half the battle, then getting the conversation started is the other half. Just make sure to identify the proper prospect, one with Authority, and then have a valuable conversation that brings value to that prospect and helps them see the Need you want to fill.  If they have the Need, a real Need, they will feel the Urgency to then justify the decision and get the Money for the project.  

ANUM:

<-- Lead Gen & Research
Authority
<-- Appointments & Conversations
Need

Urgency

Money

Thank you Ken!

ps. Check out the Inside Sales Virtual Summit on June 20.  Never before have I seen so much Inside Sales knowledge flowing for one day.

Tags: marketing, sales, demand gen, lead gen, appointment setting, sales2.0, b2b appointment setting

Social Surround - Social Selling Takeaway from SiriusDecisions #SDsummit

Posted by Michael Damphousse

Social Surround Selling Techniques resized 600

I'm just coming off 19,000 miles, 3 countries, and both coasts of the US (back and forth twice) in a 5 week period.  I met lots of new people, and noticed a trend that interestingly reflected a concept Craig Rosenberg, The Funnelholic, and I presented at our case study session at SiriusDecisions Summit -- Social Surround. 

It's not new, and wasn't coined by us, but Social Surround is the technique of using every social platform available to connect to your colleagues and prospects.  Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Google+, you name it.  The more you connect, and the more you share with them or about them, the more you build that relationship.  Let's face it, a retweet by any means is flattering.

Here's a surround scenario for you:

  • I met the director of Demand Gen for a software company a few months back, brief handshake, intro and card exchange.  There wasn't an immediate need for Green Leads work at the time...nurturable
  • That night I sent an email with the contact info of a mutual colleageue we both knew from years ago that he had fallen out of touch with
  • I then linked to him on LinkedIn
  • From LinkedIn, I found his twitter handle, and followed him. Hopefully he monitors his new followers. 
  • I also followed his company account, learned a bit there
  • Found him on Facebook, and instead of offering to connect, I simply shared Green Leads' facebook page with him.  He liked it
  • I notice his company tweets something retweetable, and give it a retweet.  Maybe he'll notice
  • He's an avid LinkedIn Update poster.  So I liked a post
  • Saw he was on the attendee list of #SDsummit, so sent a "Look forward to seeing you at the event" email

Fast forward to the SiriusDecisions Summit.  Craig and I are in the case study presenting the Social Surround concept, and who's sitting in the middle row smiling?  Yep.  He comes up to me afterwards and told me how he personally experienced Social Surround by me and had come to the conference with the intent of talking with me about a b2b appointment setting project.  Now that he knew the concept had a term and it worked, he was sold--surrounded and sold.

Benefits of Social Surround:

  • Passive branding
  • Ongoing networking
  • Rapport building the social way
  • Non-intrusive to the prospect
  • Multiple touch points
  • Warms up outbound activies
  • Can trigger inbound responses

ps.  What I like the most with Social Surround is that I'm seeing the prospects surrounding me.  That is the ultimate Inbound Lead!

Photo: Christo and Jeanne-Claude's Surrounded Islands

Tags: b2b, demand gen, outbound marketing, siriusdecisions, twitter, lead gen, tips, linkedin, facebook

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

Lead Gen Scripts: They Have to Go

Posted by Mike Damphousse

No bad outbound calling tips!There are a lot of great sources for telemarketing and teleprospecting calling tips out there, and just several weeks ago we brought you some great outbound calling tips from the best BDR's our management team has ever worked with.  That being said, there are some bad tips out there that need to be put to rest.  They just don't work any longer and they're not helping anybody succeed at generating quality b2b leads.  Top of the list:

Stick to the script - There was a time when it was imperative that you stick to your prospecting script.  It had everything you needed to pass a lead or book an appointment with your targeted prospecting base.  If you're dialing consumers selling widgets, maybe, but if you are dialing high level b2b audience, no way. They can read through a script all day long.  Create three guidelines for conversations. Then don't use them verbatim, use them in your own words.

  • Talking points - 4 or 5 high level statements you can work into your conversations.
  • Open ended questions - Questions that bring value to the prospect by getting them to talk and participate in the conversation.
  • Objection handling - As it states.  How to handle the most common "no thank you" statements.

Then keep it natural.  Have conversations.

What other outbound calling tips have you encountered that just need to go?

Photo Credit:  sindesignvia Flickr

Tags: lead gen, appointment setting, outbound, outbound calling

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

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