Lead management webinar
I've just finished pulling together a webinar for my client GuideMark called "Five Tips for Improving Sales."
Full disclosure: this IS a lead generation vehicle for my client, who sells CRM systems, however, a large chunk of the presentation is based on my lead management philosophy and rating model. My posts here on these topics have received a number of comments, both public and private, so given the apparent interest, I figured I'd let you all know about it.
Here's the pitch:
One of the most important things you can do to improve your sales is to close the gap between your sales and marketing teams. One salesperson or fifty, one marketer or a whole team, they often have diverging views of the task at hand. This gets in the way of growing your business and increasing your profits. This webinar will help you get these two critical teams working together toward the same goals. Topics include lead management and a brief demo of GuideMark's SalesDRIVE CRM.
The content is about 2/3 lead management, 1/3 CRM. I go through a lead rating model step by step, so if you're interested in how this works, you might want to listen. Bonus if you are also interested in getting a CRM system :-)
one hand, other hand: why companies need CRM
July 7, 3:10pm EDT: Inbound telephone call from what must have been a monster.com call center or telemarketing vendor since the area code shown on caller ID was Broward County, Florida, not global HQ in NY nor the local (Maynard Mass.) office. Caller wondered about my business recruiting needs, was getting ready to do the pitch for monster. Fair enough. Everybody has to make a living.
I currently have an ad running on monster.com for a marketing/pr assistant. Which my caller did not know. Hmmm.....
Now to be fair, we do have two businesses operating from our lovely Hudson headquarters, GetGood Strategic Marketing and my husband's computer consulting business, Active Oak LLC. We share the phone number, which was of course in the ad listing :-)
The monster.com telemarketer had to dial my number somehow, but even if it was a call list generated using a random number generator versus a directory, there is really no excuse, in my mind, for failing to check the numbers against the monster client list. Especially current advertisers :-)
All that said, I am extremely happy with the responses to my ad, and am willing to forgive monster this slight lapse in business acumen. But.... were it a service that I was less happy with, and I got an equally clueless telemarketing call, I would be far less likely to let it go.
Lesson: if you are doing outbound prospecting or even customer service calling, you should be using an enterprisewide CRM. There is no excuse for a telemarketer not knowing someone they are calling is already a customer.
Blog recommendations for sales people
Since PR is apparently passe (link found on Burningbird) and marketing is a dirty word, I figured I go for broke today and write about the third topic area of this blog, sales. Because, hey, sales is probably the only corporate function that gets dumped on more than PR and marketing :-) As they say, in for a penny, in for a pound.
Right now, I am working on the first issue of a newsletter of sales/marketing tips for my client GuideMark. GuideMark specializes in CRM for banks. Central to the value proposition for CRM is that it will help the bank improve its sales process. The newsletter is an additional tool in the toolkit (or weapon in the arsenal if you prefer the Art of War metaphor). It will be distributed to our clients' sales people as well as prospects and anyone else who chooses to sign up on the Website.
The newsletter is written for the line of business sales person. It must be short, so they'll read the first issue, and value laden, so they'll read the second. Sales people are busy folks -- on the road, meeting prospects, solving customer problems, closing business. They don't have a lot of time to spare for business reading unless it directly helps them get the job done.
It also looks like they don't spend too much time writing blogs either. A Technorati search on the tag 'sales' delivers mostly marketing and PR blogs, including this one in 8th place. Now, I'm barely a Technorati blip in my main business areas of marketing and PR. There are lots and lots of marketing and PR bloggers, and since I don't worry too much about my ranking, I don't expect to be terribly high.**
The fact that this blog ranks that highly for 'sales' is a clear indication (to me) that there are not too many folks blogging about sales issues. Lots of Websites selling sales training and professional development but not many blogs. Combining this little bit of data with what I already know about the sales process, I will guess that there aren't too many sales folks reading business blogs either. But there is a lot of information in blogs that really could help our mortgage account executive and small business banker clients. So we are going to have a regular feature that covers valuable free online resources. And rather than just a list of resources, or a blog description, we are going to link the reader directly to a specific post or page that will provide immediate value.
Here's the first article:
Online Resources that Help You Sell
Let’s face it. There is a lot of sales “stuff” online, and much of it isn’t worth the time it takes to read it. Or it is just trying to sell you something, and you don’t have time for that. You need to be on the phone, on the road, talking to customers, closing business.
So we’ll help you cut through the clutter. Every issue, we will introduce you to some online resources worth your time. And if you have a site or a blog that you find useful, please send it our way.
This issue, we have two blogs to tell you about:
Guy Kawasaki’s Bona tempura volvantur. One of the original Apple evangelists, Kawasaki is now a venture capitalist and author of a number of well known business books. His blog is fairly new, and chock full of advice, some taken from his previously published works, some new. All useful. One recent post worth checking out: The Art of Sucking Down. How to get people on your side, for the reservation, the upgrade, the access to your prospect. Follow his advice and your life will get easier.
Selling to Big Companies blog, by Jill Konrath. Even though Konrath’s focus is on the high ticket sale, her advice is good for most B2B sales situations. One of her most useful posts, from last December is Why this voicemail failed. She gives some great tips on how to leave a voice mail that just might get a call back.
And on the topic of voicemail, if there is a decent chance that the person you are calling might actually remember you, leave your phone number in the very beginning part of the message. “Hi, this is Susan Getgood from GuideMark 978-555-1212…” and then proceed with the rest of the message. That way, if the person is busy and doesn’t have time to listen to your whole message, she quickly has your callback number and can delete the message.
I'd love your feedback on this feature as well as any recommendations for blogs we should cover.
** Special note to my readers and commenters: I may not have quantity in my readership, but you guys are definitely quality. Thanks!
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Grab bag: Good Marketing Stuff
And for the final grab bag entry this week, a few posts that caught my eye:
Toby Bloomberg on 5 ways to combat negative blog comments. I particularly liked this reminder:
"One of the benefits of a marketing blog is the opportunity to dialogue with customers, prospects and stakeholders. Sorry y'all, no comments does not make a conversation. It's called a monologue. [...] One person takes center stage with no opportunity for direct feedback. For my money, a blog without comments and trackbacks is an on-line newsletter. And that's not a negative comment."
She's absolutely right (that's why she's the diva) -- there are places for both sorts of things, blogs and blog-like newsletters without comments.
The way I see it, companies just have to decide which thing they want to have and make sure it fits their culture and yes,their marketing plan. If you REALLY can't handle the comments, don't put up a blog with comments and then selectively delete the ones you don't like. You WILL get caught out, and you would have been better off doing a monologue.
I have commented in the past that I (like Toby) do not recommend turning off comments. Rather, use the comments on a blog to have a conversation with the reader. Even negative comments. As we all well know, your BEST customer often is the formerly unhappy customer who you turned around. Of course... you DO have to be willing to do what it takes to turn the customer around....
If you use TypePad, archive this post from Neville Hobson on how to republish and back-up your blog.
Two thought provoking posts from John Wagner: Open your eyes to the next wave of PR bloggers and Can the big agencies be thought leaders in a changing marketplace? John has links to commentary by Shel Israel and Trevor Cook among others. Start from his post and follow the trail. I think John is on to something. It is very hard for the big guns, in any industry, to open the country club doors and let the "rest of us" in. The minute they do, they have lost the cachet of their leadership position. They aren't "special" any more. However, more disturbing to me than the old school leaders having this "club" attitude is when I see similar behavior cropping up in the blogosphere.... Isn't it a bit soon (and contrary to the spirit of the blogosphere) for there to be authoritative voices on anything? To identify anyone as "So and So, the voice of X in the blogosphere" strikes me as odd.
Just my .02.
A great post by Jill Konrath on the Selling to Big Companies Blog: Why this voicemail failed. Follow her advice and I'll bet you'll have more of your calls returned.
And finally, from Elisa Camahort at Worker Bees (one of my must-read blogs by the way), some additional commentary on conferences. We've both noted a trend where conferences are becoming less about the content and more about the contacts. Which may be okay for dot-com millionaires and folks who don't pay their own way to these things, but as a small business owner who funds myself (whether I am a speaker or an attendee), I need to find value in the program as well as the people. I can't afford to attend a conference where I already know most of the content and my only takeaway is to have a few meals with people I already know. And much as I'd love to submit my name as a speaker for some of these things, well, I'm not as well known as others in my field, and can't afford to pay my own way (or take the time out from billable work) to the extent that others can, so I guess I'll remain not as well known. So it goes.
And, yeah, I guess I'll be staying home a lot too!
That's it for the grab bag. Next up for the marketing plan series of posts are some words about channel marketing.
Marketing Plan: Trade Shows
Hope everyone is having a spectacular holiday season, whichever holidays you celebrate. We will now resume the regular programming that was interrupted by puppies and Christmas.
Puppies and Christmas... wasn't that the call to arms issued by a favorite television character a few years ago.... mmm. I know at least one of my readers will get this pop culture reference :-)
But I digress. Today's promised marketing plan topic is trade shows -- how and when DO they fit into a marketing plan? When I began my career 20+ years ago (ouch), big annual trade shows were a large part of the plan. One big event per quarter (sometimes two), where you pulled out all the stops, booth, giveways, contests etc., was not unusual. This is still true in some industries, particularly business to consumer products on a regional basis, but for many B2B marketers, the trade show is far less a fixture in the plan than it used to be.
Why? Unless your product REALLY needs to be seen and is too cumbersome to ship out for trial -- for example capital equipment like printing presses -- trade shows often are not as cost effective as other tools at our disposal. With the Internet to provide pre-purchase information and all the options for fast shipping if a product does need to be sent out for physical trial, signing up for a big expensive trade show is far less attractive. If the product can be delivered through the Internet itself in a form acceptable to the buyer, trade shows are a very hard sell. In my opinion, that is one of the reasons for the demise of big computer shows like Comdex, and why I don't think Internet World ever caught on. Too much money, too much investment of human capital and far too little return.
Now there are some exceptions to this phenomenon, even for computer products. Trade shows can still be an attractive venue if they are associated with an association meeting/convention. And I mean a real association meeting, with an active membership and a real education program that provides tangible value to the attendees. Big trade shows that stand apart from a real convention, even if they have the trappings of one, will not attract attendees the way the real thing does. Comdex. It started as a dealer show, morphed into an end user show, and eventually died (and IMO it was code blue for a few years before it was called.)
So trade show rule number one: unless a trade show is still the only option you have to show your product to potential buyers and dealers, make absolutely sure a BIG show is associated with an association meeting that will truly attract the attendees. [BTW, for these big capital products, the most popular trade shows do usually meet this criteria. Budget is ALWAYS an issue. In order to attract the big equipment manufacturers for whom drayage is a BIG BIG BIG expense, shows really need to pull the attendees, or the companies would find another way.]
Word of caution: affinity is not enough (example: Macworld) to develop a sustainable "big show." In my opinion, you must have an actual association connected to the show to guarantee the attendance, year in, year out.
In addition to the "really big show," there have always been a number of smaller shows, meetings and conferences to consider. Often held on a regional basis. These have proliferated in the past few years, even as the big big shows have somewhat declined. These may or may not be affiliated with an association meeting, and given that the investment is much less, it is much less critical as well. I prefer events that are affiliated but I have seen some good independent ones as well.
Here affinity and solid programming are often enough to get the audience necessary for a decent ROI. Your display, if any, is a tabletop that can be staffed by a couple of people. Sometimes, it is just a sponsorship -- coffee break, tote bag etc. -- with a corresponding lower total cost.
The audience may be small, but is usually highly selected. So the challenge here is to pick carefully, and sign up for the conferences that will actually deliver YOUR prospects. Don't do a conference aimed at C-level executives if your principal buyer is an IT director. Yes, you want to talk to the C-level guy, but guaranteed, the conference isn't the most cost effective place for you to do it. The president of the prospect company may be interested in meeting your CEO, but she doesn't want the sales pitch.
So my trade show rule number two is look for these smaller, more targeted events. If you can find the right audience for your value proposition and you have adequate staff to work the show, they are an excellent addition to the marketing plan. However, no matter how cheap the event is, if you can't give it sufficient resources, both promotional and staff, I still say, don't bother. It is not worth doing if you aren't going to do it right.
And that is our final rule: whatever you decide to do about integrating trade shows into your marketing plan, make sure you allocate sufficient resources to do it right. It is better to stay home and figure out another way to reach your targets than to go to a show and look like shit.
Lead Gen with Seminars
Part 2 of the content from my recent lead generation workshop
Seminars are a great way to educate your prospect about your product, can be a great offer/action for your direct mail program, and are definitely productive venues for meeting prospects. They tend to work better for products and services that can be complex – B2B and B2C – like computer products and financial services, or products/services that can be demonstrated effectively and/or taught in groups - gardening, wood working, cooking.
Typically, the goal of the seminar is to move the prospect along the sales cycle, and closer to trial or purchase.
I’m not going to go into the logistics of setting up a seminar. There are a lot of options, from setting up your own live seminar series, to webcasts, to offering your content to associations and the like. Run ii yourself, you have more control. Participate in someone else’s, you have less control, but less overall responsibility for logistics and audience as well.
What I really want to focus on is the content of the seminar.
People will not attend a seminar that is a thinly disguised product demonstration with little added value. If they are going to take the time to attend your seminar, whether IRL or virtually, the session has got to address a REAL problem they have and put your product in the context as part of the solution.
An example. My business is marketing consulting. When I give seminars or speeches, it is imperative that I give the audience value it can use, whether or not they ever engage a marketing consultant. If all I did was talk about the problems, and then said, to solve this, you need my product… I’d have an unhappy audience and I wouldn’t be asked back.
It is perfectly fine to talk about what you do… as long as the workshop has independent value as well. So, when you start down the seminar route, look for the independent value to your audience FIRST, and then add your product or service to the program.
A bit about direct mail
Lots of work lately, and little time to blog. Which I guess was fairly good timing on my part, given the problems Six Apart apparently has had the last week or so. If I had been trying to post, I would have been irritated. As it was I didn't even know until I got the explanatory email last night.
Anyway, about 2 weeks ago, I gave a lead generation seminar at our local Chamber of Commerce, covering the tactics of direct mail, seminars and blogs. Reviewing my notes, the direct mail and seminar sections are new content that I haven't covered to death in the blog already, so I've decided to post them in two parts. Here's the direct mail section:
In my opinion, direct mail is by far the most cost efficient marketing method for presenting an offer directly to the prospect. These days it can be direct snail mail or direct email – each has its place. But you have to have an offer of some kind. A direct mail flyer sent out with information but no imperative rarely registers with a prospect. The offer doesn’t have to be time sensitive, but it helps. It also does NOT have to be a discount – it can be all sorts of things: free or reduced price education/training on a product, a premium, a white paper, added value to the product for a limited time. Etc.
It is a simple formula:
Present the problem… quickly.
Identify the solution… your product.
Make the offer
Deliver three solid benefits… WIIFM.
Call to action.
You close with the call to action, and you typically start with the problem. The order of the other elements varies, depending on the product, program, promotion etc. You use the order that stands the best chance of getting the prospect to take the action.
You can offer two choices of action, but preferably no more than that – too many choices is confusing for the recipient. Example: have sales person call and send more information. One is a strong call, the other is the back-up for milder interest and helps build your database for prospect nurturing and conversion.
The form of your direct mail package is very important. You should do the highest quality package your budget can stand. If you can justify the standard (and most successful) package of 1-2 page letter in a #10 envelope, with an included informational brochure or flyer, response card and lift note (the last chance message) by all means do it. But if you can’t do it well, ratchet back your piece so you can deliver a high quality package. A well written letter with a strong call to action on good quality paper will get you a lot farther than 3 xeroxed pages or a cheaply printed brochure. Yes, the package is important, but the marketing is in the MESSAGE not in the paper stock and color inks.
A word about that call to action – define success metrics in advance and clearly communicate expectations to the sales force regarding the next step. Don’t let a disconnect develop between the promise made in the marketing piece, and the sales process.
A few final points;
- Mail with a first class stamp is more likely to get opened that mail using franking or bulk rate
- Lists are better with odd numbers than even. 3,5,7. The top 3 reasons to.... The 5 things to do for X... 7 ways to improve network security...
- Self mailers can be effective, although they are rarely my first choice. They work best when the audience already knows it has the problem you solve. Can also be a good choice for customer upsell promotions.
Marketing Roadsigns newsletter
Yes, I too have decided to launch a monthly newsletter. Since it will be a companion piece to the Roadmap, it will be called Marketing Roadsigns. You can sign up here on the Roadmap and on my website www.getgood.com
First issue will be sometime this week, and it will be archived on the website.
Update: July 2005 issue posted.
Adrants on the promotion campaign for the John Twelve Hawks' book The Traveler. Program includes a character blog, and as I said in my comments on Adrants, I've long believed that fans of books/tv/film will embrace well written character blogs. This is slightly different, as it is promo for a new book, not a build-on to an existing franchise, but it will be very interesting to watch this play out. From my quick glance, the program looks very well done, and there is certainly no subterfuge.
Amy Gahran over at Contentious has a great idea for a unique gift: the gift of conversation.
From Creating Passionate Users, Featuritis vs. the Happy User Peak Main takeaway: give the right features and make them usable as well as useful. Don't provide a feature just because you can. Make sure it is something that your user actually wants.
Finally, from Jim Logan, some thoughts about CRM -- CRM is an attitude and a set of processes, not a piece of software Main takeaway: Focus on doing active customer relationship management, using whatever software tools you want, versus on a piece of software as savior.
It is hot... damn hot ... here in Massachusetts. I cannot wait for the hardwood pollen season to end so I can go out of my house again for more than 10 minutes at a time.
Random rant on: We all know it is possible to simultaneously love and hate a tech gadget. Today it is my iPod that I despise. Why? Because through an initial operator error (mine) followed by what I will call bad software design, the laptop (empty library) wiped out about 20 hours of music on my iPod. Including four CDs which I just can't find, and rather than tear my house apart, I just re-ordered. Which means of course I will find them the day after the Amazon order arrives... All compounded by the fact that I have first generation iPod with the crappy battery, and all Apple offered in the class action settlement was $50, which could not be used at iTunes. Hmm. Anyway, suffice it to say that my iPod no longer automatically synchronizes.
So should I just scrap it, use the $50 bucks toward a new player for my music and just use the old one for podcasts? Advice most welcome.
Two quick items, and more later:
Check out Bob Bly's blog-- great question about whether the Internet has killed writing and reduced literacy.
And as always, don't miss the Revenue Roundtable. Jill Konrath is lead poster this week.
UPDATE: Well, okay, Apple is on my s*** list this week, but here's the latest. First, I have 2 CDs that for some reason my CD drive can't read, but my husband's can. Bizarre-o, but you know that's where I am with this these days. So I go to the Apple iTunes store just to see if they have these 2 disks -- maybe it will be easier to just buy the damn things again than deal with all this crap. So, I need to update my info in the Apple records, and (caps intentional) THEY REJECT MY VALID AREA CODE FOR MY CELL PHONE NUMBER BECAUSE IT DOESN'T MATCH MY HOME PHONE NUMBER. So I type in the same area code as my home phone, which is wrong, and they accept it. Whoa Nelly. This is not good practice, people. Somebody needs to fix an algorithm....