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

@HubSpot Eliminates 2 Billion Cold Calls (from #Inbound13)

Posted by Michael Damphousse

inbound marketing summary 2013 resized 600

Just prior to Seth Godin stepping on stage, for what was an entertaining and thought provoking keynote, HubSpot CMO, Mike Volpe, announced that "We saved the world from 2 Billion cold calls!"  And they did.  I personally may have benefitted by 1 or 2 a day.  

HubSpot Orange Kool Aid

Inbound marketing techniques continue to evolve, and HubSpot is the pioneer for Inbound.  The tribe they've created in the past few years is amazing.  Almost 6,000 attendees to this year's Inbound conference were gathered for lots of marketing goodness, not just the orange kool aid.

In the world of sales, selling doesn't start until a conversation starts with the prospect.  Getting that conversation going has been revolutionized with Inbound Marketing.  The prospect is typically educated more than an outbound generated lead, they are thinking about the topic that your product or service addresses, and the time is fresh to start the conversation.  In short, they may be further along in the funnel (waterfall if you're a SiriusDecisions follower).

The top outbound marketers have embraced inbound marketing, not shied away from it. Compared to a purchased list or even a list of prospects warmed up with other marketing assets, an inbound list is the cream of the crop.  However, unless your inbound lead comes in the form of a calendar invite, date, time and phone number booking one of your sales reps for a appointment, there is still work to do.  The outbound function assigned to these leads is typically referred to as Inbound Response.  

Things to remember:

  • Scrub the data. Have a data team do list hygiene to correct and/or append needed data fields.  Or use tools such as DemandBase to dynamically append data.
  • Know your history.  Use tools such as HubSpot, your CRM, or other tracking systems to know how your company has interracted with the prospect in the past.
  • Intel.  Research the prospect on LinkedIn, Google, Social Sites.  The more you know, the warmer that lead.
  • Score your inbound leads. Don't assume they are all orders ready to be had. Don't waste your time on
  • Pounce!  Once you have your ducks in a row, call them.  If they don't answer, email them.  The effective value of leads deteriorates every hour after they submit a form.

I just tested the above with a lead that came in through our HubSpot system within the hour.  It took me 2 minutes to correct their missing title, see that her colleague talked to us at the SiriusDecisions conference in May, add her LinkedIn url to her profile, note that we're connected by 8 people, and she visited 5 blog articles today.  Reviewed and scored -- 2 minutes.

Create great content.  Socially surround your market.  Optimize all conversion techniques.  Gather these inbound leads, then follow the process above, and your ROI will go through the roof.

Let's get back to the 2 Billion cold calls saved.  Inbound marketing certainly does reduce the number of cold calls an outbound marketer has to make to get the conversation started.  It streamlines the process.  The blended approach of Inbound and Outbound will increase the top line faster than any other methods available.

Is that lead an Innie or an Outie?

(took restraint not to post a pic of a belly button)

Tags: marketing, sales, b2b, b2b sales, demand gen, outbound marketing, inbound marketing, cold calling, b2b marketing, social media marketing, hubspot, appointment setting, tips, inbound, linkedin, outbound, lead lists, outbound calling, b2b appointment setting, demandbase

Be a B2B Tweeter, Not a B2B Twit

Posted by Mike Damphousse

Huh?Sometimes I think George Lucas just didn’t “get it” when he made the Star Wars prequels.  You know, the “other” Star Wars movies?  He had made the greatest trilogy in the world in Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi.  For years, with fans clamoring for more movies, Lucas said that either he wasn’t ready to make them or the technology in cinematography just wasn’t ready.  Then stars aligned and he was ready to make the rest of his story; three movies to be set before Episode IV (1977), to tell the story of how things led up to where they did.  To fans of the original trilogy, Lucas fell woefully short with Episodes I-III.  He didn’t get that what made the original movies was story, not special effects.  Sure, the newer movies had better effects, but the end result was miserable.

If you’ve spent any amount of time on Twitter, specifically in the B2B Sales and Marketing arena, you’re sure to see some people on there that deliver fantastic information.  This is information that I’m very thankful for, as are my colleagues in the industry.  However, with all of the good, there are still some on Twitter who just don’t “get it.”  I’d like to share with you some ideas on how you can “get it” and keep yourself from becoming a Demand Gen Twit:
  1. Remember, it’s not always about you -- If there’s one thing that burns me up about Twitter, it's the people who are shameless self-promoters.  SHAMELESS.  Twitter is a great self-promotion tool, however, it’s an even better word-of-mouth tool.  It’s one thing to tweet about something you’ve done or your most recent blog entry, but it’s another if someone else does it for you.  What does that mean for you?  It means you’ve got to be writing great content.  Keep in mind what Chris Brogan says:  “[promote] the heck out of others

  2. Start the conversation -- One of the best parts about Twitter is the ability to have long-running conversations with a bunch of people.  That’s a great way to share new ideas (and get some, too) while keeping in mind my first point. Get involved and get people talking.  A number of people do this well; and for a great example, check out Mack Collier’s blog chat (#blogchat) that occurs most Sunday nights.

  3. Learn -- If there’s one thing that I love about Twitter, it’s that for the most part the folks that “get it” share a wealth of new information -- new information that is relevant to you because others finding and sharing it have similar interests to you.  The opportunity to have great content and data at my fingertips, throughout any part of my day, is exciting for me.  The more you read, the more you’ll be able to share, and the more you share, the more you’ll keep yourself from becoming another Twit.
There are a lot of ways to be a better B2B tweeter, and these ideas are for me as much as they are for you (maybe even more so).  So, help me keep the conversation going, and share with the rest us some other ways we can keep from being a Twit.

Photo Credit:  PhotoJonny via Flickr

Tags: marketing, b2b, b2b sales, b2b marketing, socialmedia, twitter, social media marketing

B2B Demand Gen Letter to Google: Real Time Search

Posted by Michael Damphousse

If someone has already written about this, forgive me.  But twice in the past few weeks the discussion of real time search came up and how it might touch b2b demand gen. Today, unless someone is searching in multiple places -- Google, Twitter Search, Facebook Search and others -- they will never find the trending topics that people are talking about.  When someone goes to Google and types "appointment setting," don't you want your organic results on the left and your real time social media posts on the right?  I do.

Dear Google,

Please blend Organic Search and Real Time Search on one page.  Better, create algorithms that will show real time results from people "like me," not just from topics that sound or look like I'd like them. Personally, I'll love it.  Professionally, I can see demand gen goodness for inbound marketing all over it.  It will allow my prospects to find me in multiple different ways, and allow my real time content to be as valuable as my static content -- even if those searching aren't into Twitter or Facebook.


Smashmouth Marketer

Google Real Time Search

(credit: Google and Scoopler)

Tags: b2b, b2b marketing, socialmedia, twitter, social media marketing, lead gen, SEM, SEO, blogs

MarketingSherpa Marketing Summit, Richard Fouts of Gartner talks Social Media and Communications

Posted by Mike Damphousse

In the fourth of a series of Thought Leader interviews for MarketingSherpa's 6th Annual B2B Marketing Summit 2009, we talk to Richard Fouts, research director at Gartner, Inc., an information technology research and advisory company. Fouts presented yesterday in Boston.

Mike: You're presenting on the use of social media in communications. (I'm assuming you are talking Marcom?) I've noticed lately that if you have the right media contacts connected with you on Twitter and Linkedin, you can almost get your word out through those channels as opposed to the standard techniques. Are traditional media outlets dying?

Richard: It's not just marcom, rather all communications ... corporate communications, employee communications, PR, and investor communications. But to answer your question: If I had a dollar for every time someone predicted the death of traditional media -- for example, print -- I'd be rich. Michael, do you know the invention of the bicycle actually predicted the death of the book industry? Yes indeed, one view is that we'd all be riding our bicycles instead of reading books. There's no question that as dollars move toward electronic media, they move away from traditional media at the same pace. But things go in cycles. Amazon still sells plenty of books, and BW, Harvard Business Review, and the Economist still sell lots of magazines and journals (especially when they do special editions on things like social computing). I tell clients all the time, "There's a lot less noise in print right now ... and the rates are lower. So you'll actually get higher ROI in print today than you did before -- due to less noise, and less competition for eyeballs, at lower cost." Besides, we all know from experience that the best campaigns engage prospects over time, with multiple media. And from what I can see, traditional media outlets aren't dying, but they are adapting. Every television commercial for IBM tells you to go to their web site. The web site shows their TV ads ... or tells you to watch for their ad campaign on television, or to watch for them at an upcoming trade show. PR is being aggressive in its use of social media in their traditional reputation management services. Many events in the physical world, like meetups and house parties, start with Twitter. It's old media meets new media - not a question of what's surviving and what's dying - rather how things are evolving, converging, and maturing.

Mike: Blogging seems to be the communications platform of the future. In fact, our new site's press section will basically be a blog. Our focus with blogging, though, is to spread prolific content about demand gen and appointment setting. It brings value to our readers and credits for SEO. Are there other benefits?

Richard: Sure, there are a range of benefits to blogging that inform all phases of what we at Gartner call the marketing activity cycle. New media and Web 2.0 are changing everything, but the fundamentals of marketing haven't changed. You still need to study and research the market, develop products, plan, execute, communicate, and evaluate. Blogging, like many social and professional interaction platforms, informs all of these phases, not just the communication phase. For example, blogs help us solicit input about new products ... and they help marketers and salespeople have conversations, not just engage in one-way messaging. Press sections today don't have mechanisms for people to respond to a press release, to ask questions. By making your press room a blog, you open up robust and informational conversations, not just one way messaging that ends in a vacuum. You're able to make more informed decisions. You reduce the guesswork because you know more .. and you know it faster.

Mike: What should we look out for when combining social media and communications?

Richard: Look out for "herding cats syndrome" because as a communications professional, you'll never herd all the cats who are wandering around the great social media chessboard. You need to accept the fact that you're relinquishing control, at least the kind you've become accustomed to. This is the toughest thing for communications people to hear. Their entire discipline has been turned upside down because they no longer create and shoot one-way messages to stakeholders. And they aren't the only originators of the message. Dell for example, woke up one day to a crisis situation due to an angry blogger named Jeff Jarvis, who lambasted Dell for its lousy customer service. Within hours, boatloads of consumers sympathetic to Jarvis' arguments posted comments on his blog as well as their own, creating a firestorm of negativity through the blogosphere. It took awhile, but Dell executives finally joined the online conversation and began to slowly rebuild the company's tarnished image. Dell learned a valuable lesson from this experience. It launched its own blog and put it to good use when another potential crisis erupted - that it nipped in the bud -- over a battery recall. Dell's chief blogger, Lionel Menchaca, addressed the issue in a straightforward, no-nonsense manner and let customers freely comment. Later, Michael Dell launched and begged customers to give his company advice (and he still gets plenty of it, which he welcomes with open arms). The proof is in the pudding: metrics show that Dell's customer service rating has risen significantly. So the message is, don't try to herd the cats -- become part of the movement. In some cases you may even feel like you're part of the chaos, part of the noise, but you need to just go with it. Let it play out. Transparency is everything these days, and if you fight it, you're done. PR people learned this long ago when they realized the words "no comment" would brew even more suspicion.

Mike: If you had just 5 minutes with someone and they asked you for the takeaways from your presentation, what would they be?

Richard: The chief takeaway is simple: Don't forget the fundamentals of marketing in your desire to understand social media and its game changing, revolutionary qualities. Sure, social media changes everything but there's no substitute for good marketing. You still need to respond to the gaps in the market and exploit your competitors' weaknesses. And social media can help. But you can't wait. You need to join the movement, make some mistakes, learn from them, and go on. This isn't one of those "wait and see" things where you think you can let other people make mistakes for you, then join in with the perfect plan. You need to experiment, you need to engage in the conversation, learn the beauty of crowdsourcing, tweeting, blogging, and listening to your Facebook fans, both the good and the bad. Customers don't want you to market to them, they want you to market with them.

Mike: OK, last question, the B2B Marketing Thought Leaders Curry Poll. Do you prefer red, yellow or green curry?

Richard: That's easy: Green

Tags: sales, b2b sales, b2b marketing, social media marketing, b2b events, thought leader interviews, lead nurturing, curry, marketingsherpa

Inbound-Outbound Marketing with Jeff Ogden/Mike Damphousse

Posted by Mike Damphousse

The Fearless Collaborator, Jeff Ogden and I sit down for a discussion of optimal marketing through a combination of inbound and outbound techniques.

Tags: b2b, b2b sales, demand gen, outbound marketing, inbound marketing, b2b marketing, social media marketing, thought leader interviews, podcasts

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

Inbound Marketing and Outbound Marketing, by Tony Soprano

Posted by Mike Damphousse

Tony Soprano:"Every decision you make affects every facet of every other #?%!% thing."

ok, the Tony Soprano thing was just a late addition after I read some hilarious quotes from the show on IMDB last night, and realized they had some ...ahem... relevancy -- just a little fun ;)

For years the world of b2b marketing has used outbound marketing as a source of lead generation. Many companies also operate inside sales departments, and there has been an industry built around supporting these efforts and providing superior service to clients. Services such as appointment setting, lead generation and list development are pervasive and a very common tool in the demand gen arsenal.

Then there was the Google. Studies have shown recently that most buying decisions start with a Google search. Although I don't totally agree with the statement (especially as it pertains to emerging technologies), I will agree that it's Google that sits on most people's desktops all day long and is a tool we use constantly. Our goal as marketers -- get the buyers to find relevant content, then find links to vendors, then capture their name as a lead (eventually). Classic inbound marketing.

Tony Soprano: "Hey, You want that, it's a phone call away."

In order to capitalize on this, there's been a rush to successfully implement inbound marketing strategies so that we can capture the leads that are out there stumbling on our sites from various sources. Search engine marketing (SEM), search Engine Optimization (SEO), blogging and social media strategies all contribute to solid Google rankings.

Marketers have been considering their strategies in two budget line items. Inbound marketing and outbound marketing. Some have even gotten passionate about which strategy is the ultimate demand gen horse to ride, the majority seem to be implementing both inbound and outbound marketing equally. What many have overlooked is that most inbound leads don't just jump into the boat with a purchase order. Raising their hand for an ebook shows interest, and coming back to the site several times for more content raises their interest (and hopefully your lead score), but when are they going to jump in the boat?

Tony Soprano: "A wrong decision is better than indecision."

This is where the alignment of inbound marketing and outbound marketing come together. Over the past several months I've visited several companies that specialize in inbound marketing (if you follow my blog or twitter, you'll know who they are). I've been to lead nurturing companies, marketing automation companies, SEO companies, SaaS companies offering solutions for inbound marketing, etc. One thing they all had in common was a sizable outbound marketing component to their own marketing efforts -- large inside sales teams, outsourced lead gen companies, and appointment setting programs. There always has to be someone to give the pitch and ask the questions.

Tony Soprano: "Oh, poor baby. What do you want, a Whitman's Sampler?"

Any good outbound program starts with names. The names can be purchased from Jigsaw, Onesource or other data sources. They can be identified or researched. They can also be somewhat warm from inbound activity. In fact, those warm ones have the highest lead scores in most systems. But getting that human being that's raising their hands to talk with you is the ultimate challenge, and inbound marketing certainly makes outbound marketers more effective in this task.

I'm not slamming inbound marketing whatsoever, in fact Green Leads is investing heavily in it for our own benefit as well as combining inbound services with traditional outbound services in order to maximize our efforts (see: Hubspot, LinkedIn, twitter, Facebook). What I'm advocating is for Demand Gen Alignment. Maximize the investment in both inbound and outbound.

As Tony Soprano may have said if he were a marketer: "There might be an inbound mafia and an outbound mafia, but together, the family can be stronger and produce."

Tags: marketing, sales, b2b, b2b sales, demand gen, outbound marketing, inbound marketing, inside sales, social media marketing, hubspot, lead gen, appointment setting, sales2.0, SEM, lead lists, SMM

B2B Appointments, A Third of C/VP Execs Delegated Down - POLL

Posted by Mike Damphousse

At one time or another, I've been asked by demand gen folks, Green Leads' clients and prospects, "So you set b2b appointments only with C/VP level executives?" So a LinkedIn Poll was in order.

A C Level meeting is the holy grail of outbound marketing, everyone wants to hear "Yes" and then implement a successful program. That said, the short answer is that if we did set only C/VP level meetings, we would set half as many, the cost to do so would be doubled, and our clients would miss out on half as many pipeline opportunities (sometimes more). Also, some clients are happy with mid-level meetings (do they know something others don't?)

We thought the discussion deserved a poll and some solid stats. We used LinkedIn's paid poll feature to collect the results. Our poll, targeted 500 C and VP level respondents at companies larger than 200 employees:

If your company wants to understand a new vendor's offering, do you meet with them yourself or delegate down (Dir/Mgr)?

delagate poll totals

Executive Summary:

  • 1/3 of C/VP level executives refer new vendors to Dir/Mgr for intro meetings
  • A higher percent of introductory meetings with Dir/Mgr convert to ongoing sales activity
  • Across functional areas of an organization, Marketing delegates more than any other department and Finance delegates less

We always start high, by working from the C/VP level down, but many times when we connect with a senior executive they want their company to learn more about the vendor, but they delegate the meeting to a lower level. In most cases, this is one level down from their title (C refer to VP, VP refer to Dir, etc.).

The numbers didn't surprise us. In fact they match, almost to the percentage, our tracking numbers of what titles we set meetings with. So even when we engage the C/VP level prospect, 33% of the time we will secure a meeting with a lesser title. Does this mean the meetings will be less valuable? Not at all.

delegate abc rating

I've published articles about how we measure appointment setting outcomes, and that the industry average is roughly 1/3 of introductory meetings move on to further pipeline activity. More, if additional marketing programs augment the program. We just sliced the data by title and found that meetings convert to ongoing sales activity slightly more with Dir/Mgr initial engagements, whereas C/VP convert slightly more to nurturing activities.

As an interesting twist to the data. Check out the variation of stats between departments. Finance claims to be more receptive to meetings. I'm sure there will be plenty of sales execs out there that will have differing opinions to that stat.

delegate poll by function

Final side note: Male respondents were 30% more likely to meet with a vendor than female respondents. Whereas females are 2X as likely to suggest a group meeting.

What have you found about the relative value of a delegated meeting versus a face-to-face with an senior decision maker? What makes sales ready leads?

Tags: marketing, sales, b2b, b2b sales, demand gen, outbound marketing, inside sales, social media marketing, lead gen, appointment setting, sales2.0, linkedin, SMM

C/VP Level Meetings - Do You Delegate? POLL

Posted by Mike Damphousse

linkedin poll delegate

Please participate in our LinkedIn Poll this week. We are trying to identify some new shifts we are seeing in the b2b industry as it pertains to introductory appointments.

Weigh in your vote here.

Tags: marketing, sales, b2b, b2b sales, demand gen, outbound marketing, social media marketing, lead gen, appointment setting, linkedin, SMM