Smashmouth B2B Blog: Sales & Marketing Demand Gen

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:

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

Typical Appointment Setting Program Stats:

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 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

NetProspex Product Review: Powerhouse for Lead Lists

Posted by Michael Damphousse

netprospex product reviewAs many of you would expect, Green Leads consumes prospect lists at a rate that far exceeds most outbound marketing efforts.  With over 30 clients running their appointment setting programs through us, having volumes of accurate contact names is essential to our business.  As a result, we've got licenses with Jigsaw, OneSource and NetProspex, and we use LinkedIn and other contact discovery services.  We love them all and use them all in parallel.

netprospex product review

NetProspex recently shined when we heard about the new addition to their service. Users can search on meta-data of specific attributes at companies such as what software system their organization is using, for instance, NetSuite or Oracle.

This is such a HUGE addition to the world of data services.  I asked NetProspex what the future is for additional attribute data like this.

"We've always been a big proponent of metadata. NetProspex has the most job title meta-data in the industry so that instead of only being able to target broad categories like 'Marketing,' you can get really granular and target specific job categories like 'Advertising' or 'Product Management.'  We are also investing heavily in social media and our future plans have it front and center. We launched SocialStep -- the first social media prospecting and appending service earlier this year. The interest level -- from customers, the media and even the general public -- has been greater than for any product we've ever launched," shared Mark Feldman, COO of NetProspex.

netprospex product review lead listsGeneral NetProspex highlights:

  • User-contributed data
  • In-house data verification ensures high accuracy
  • Customizable list-building tools where users can manage multiple projects and list variations
  • Job title search that is based on more than department and keywords -- there are 100+ functions to help you zero in on the specific function you are looking for. See the breakdown to the right just for Marketing contacts.  This is much more granular than the competition.
  • Pricing is similar to the other services.  You can trade contacts for credit, or purchase credits, and there are corporate licenses available. 

Smashmouth Rating: Thumbs Up!

What features, tips and best practices can you share?

Tags: marketing, b2b sales, demand gen, b2b marketing, demand gen data, Quality vs Quantity, reviews, lead lists, netprospex, product reviews

Lead Gen Tip: Review The Basics, Even For Veterans

Posted by Michael Damphousse

Green Leads Company Photo 2010 09 30

pictured left to right: front row: Lisa, Linda, Cheryl, Amie, Stacey (holding Louie), Kathy, Josh, John T. second row: Kerry, Sarah, Gill, Mira, Bill, Gareth, Anna Marie, Mike S., Mike D. (me), Lenny, Levi. third row: Sam, Dawnia, Coleman, John V., Chris.  missing: Janelle, Tim, Ursula, Olivier, Vanessa, Ian and Joe.

Some of the folks you see above have been appointment setting for over 10 years.  You would think that they've got it down pat, but there is always room for improvement, or even just a refresh.

Today we had a get together for the team members local to Andover, and went over the basics -- everything from how to save a reschedule to improving opening lines.  It's been a great day so far.

At the moment, we have a tag team competition going on with 14 active ConnectAndSell sessions going at one time.  Individual and Team prizes for connects (list quality) and meetings booked.  The Flatlander team is just two meetings ahead of the Great White North.  Should go down to the wire.

ps.  The use of ConnectAndSell for the contest is basically saving us the production that we would have lost had we done training without it.  So our contest actually has an ulterior motive.

Tags: sales, b2b, demand gen, lead gen, appointment setting, tips, Quality vs Quantity, work

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



Mansfield Sales Partners

Marketing Connections


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

Sales 2.0 Strategies: Demand Gen Lessons From the iPhone

Posted by Michael Damphousse

Sales 2.0 iPhoneNot sure I'm going to pick up the new iPhone just yet. I'm hearing about issues with the antenna, but I'm sure I'll have to make a decision when one of my daughters drops her phone into the pool this summer and I need to sacrifice my current iPhone as a replacement. It's been a tried-and-true pattern the past 3 summers.

The iPhone 4 brings Apple customers a nicely improved design and several new features: the ability to make video phone calls, to record (and edit!) HD videos and true multi-tasking, just to name a few. What this means to me (and you) is its connection to Sales 2.0.

It's all about the evolution and use of technology -- I feel as if Apple values prospects and customers and wants to bring them value.  The nature of technology is that it has to evolve, and the technology we have today is astounding. The cool part is that it's only getting better!

Sales 2.0 is all about evolution as well.  It's about changing the way sales and marketing do our jobs and adapting.  Sales 2.0 means that we have to evolve.

Here are three ways we can keep that evolution going:

  • Improve our prospect's interactions with us - These interactions make or break the sales process. Got a poorly designed website? You and I both know that if you do, your prospects aren't coming back. Got a content-rich, informative website? Chances are they'll keep coming back even after they purchase. Is your marketing value embedded within the content prospects see as valuable? Does the sales team have the tools and information it takes to make prospects feel they are gaining value and in control of the buying cycle? Prospects want what prospects want, not always what we want.
  • Better qualify MQL's - We've evolved how we bring value to prospects; now we've got to do a better job at qualifying them as MQL's (marketing qualified leads). Evolve the Quality vs. Quantity. Apple doesn't market the new iPhone to kids and teens in hopes that they will be prospects walking in to talk to an Apple Genius. They market to adult users who can afford the premium phone/service. Salespeople want the same kind of leads. Whether you do this through appointment setting, teleprospecting or lead scoring, make your sales reps want to thank you for every lead.
  • Accelerate word of mouth marketing (WOM) - How many of you bought iPhones because someone let you hold it?  Testimonials and referrals (word-of-mouth marketing) is one of the best -- if not the greatest -- source of new prospects for most companies.  Is this Sales 2.0?  Optimizing it and helping sales and marketing teams take advantage of it certainly is. Create tools, buzz and reasons for customers to bring you prospects.

Have you bought an iPhone 4? What do you think of the changes?

(Side note: what do you use it for as it pertains to sales and marketing?  Me ... I've loaded Salesforce, LinkedIn and even a link to my presentations should I meet a prospect on the road.)

Tags: sales, b2b, b2b sales, demand gen, b2b marketing, lead gen, sales2.0, Quality vs Quantity, iphone

B2B Demand Generation Boot Camp: Next Gen Inside Sales Training

Posted by Michael Damphousse

Lead Gen ExpertsOver the past four months Green Leads has been starting new reps on the first Monday of each month.  Inside sales seems to be like that, growth and replenishment. 

In our case, we have pretty stringent criteria for success since we are a performance-based appointment setting company.  We have to have our reps deliver.  So here is what typically happens if we hire four reps, train them, get them on the floor and keep coaching them. Over the next 4-8 weeks one leaves, one never quite makes it to full production and two are long term performers (keepers).

Our goal: Get to three keepers out of four.

How do you train your inside sales recruits? Us, well, here's our modified training plan.   It's focused on skills, performance and retention.

  • Green Leads Culture - People fitting in is a big part of our success strategy.  If the whole team doesn't have chemistry together, we won't thrive. The team has to also understand our Quality vs. Quantity standards, and the ethics that go along with them.
  • Demand Gen Basics - Yes, we specialize in appointment setting, but we are in the industry of Demand Gen and appointment setting isn't just about dialing the phone any more.  Inbound Marketing, Outbound Marketing, Marketing Automation and Social Media are all brought to the introductory level so that our reps become marketers, not just sales reps.
  • Research 101 - Gone are the days of just dialing a list top to bottom.  Our reps need to be educated snipers that make every dial count.  This session turns them into detectives.  They can still work machine gun style or sniper style, but understanding when to use each technique is important.
  • Conversational Selling - Boiler rooms don't have conversations, and Green Leads is no boiler room.  The problem is that newbies come in with a pre-programmed desire to want scripts, pre-written voicemails, etc.  We de-program them so that they become human again.  We remind them how to have a conversation with confidence.
  • Times Have Changed - This session is one of the most important.  Buyers don't get sold to any more; they are sophisticated and want to control their buying decisions and process.  Prospects communicate with vendors differently.  The changes are subtle, but having our reps understand them is key to their ability to play in the executive level prospect sandbox. 
  • Toolbox - It used to be that inside reps had their own Hoovers account and looked up main numbers.  Times have changed here too.  With unlimited data licenses at four vendors, search tools that didn't exist just four years ago, autodialers, power dialers, Google alerts, social media and other techniques -- this business is a specialized trade now and the new skills need teaching.
  • Mentor System - First, each newbie is assigned longterm to a performing veteran.  Second, along the same lines the newbies are rotated with at least four other mentors for a day-at-a-time shortterm experience.  They get to see different styles and techniques.  We don't double jack them all day, but we sit them next to each other and the mentor keeps the knowledge flowing.  We also comp the mentors on the newbie progress to becoming appointment setting experts performance during the first month just to keep their heads in the game.
What are some of your inside sales training techniques?  Have you revamped the way outbound lead generation is done?

Tags: sales, b2b sales, demand gen, outbound marketing, lead gen, appointment setting, Quality vs Quantity, work

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

Pay For Performance Demand Generation, Appointment Setting & Leads: Got Green Leads?

Posted by Michael Damphousse

Produced this presentation for LinkedIn/Slideshare.  Green Leads 101.


Tags: b2b, demand gen, outbound marketing, inbound marketing, greenleads, appointment setting, Quality vs Quantity, Product Information

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