54 Things to Do when Building a Lead Qualification Team

I hesitated to write this post, because Marketo’s Jon Miller has already written quite possibly the best, as-close-to-definitive guide to lead qualification.

OK, now that I have led you off my site, let’s get back to business. I decided to write this because I continue to believe in my heart of hearts that one of the single biggest levers a revenue-focused organization can pull is to have a dedicated phone qualification team. Also, I was cleaning out old paperwork and found some of my old notes from my days at SalesRamp.

First, some clarifications: I’m talking about a multichannel process that includes dedicated phone-based resources and automation designed to determine whether or not a lead fits the agreed-upon qualified lead definition and is deemed ready to speak with sales. Or CliffsNotes-style: There are people on the phones who qualify leads or inquiries before handing them to sales.

There are a number of different names for this: inside sales, sales development, lead development, telebusiness, lead qualification, and so forth. No matter what you call it, there’s a buttload of things to do when building an LQT (lead qualification team). I can think of at least 54:

  1. Establish a business plan.
  2. Create definitions; in particular, your qualified lead definition (more on this later).
  3. Determine your “value-chain,” starting from revenue the organization needs to generate then go in order from there: a) Opportunities: How many opportunities do we need to hit the revenue number?; b) Qualified leads: How many qualified leads do we need to hit our number?; c) Leads or marketing-qualified leads (MQLs): How many leads do we need to hit our qualified leads number?
  4. Draw the value chain from top of the funnel to the bottom.
  5. Create metrics for each step in the value chain.
  6. Determine your leads’ needs (demographics and so forth).
  7. Determine lead/inquiry generation flow (what are the sources, etc.).
  8. Figure out how leads will be entered into the system.
  9. Establish the merged/purged database process.
  10. Develop a list of prospects/customers not to call.
  11. Develop a definition of a qualified lead. I know I mentioned this earlier, but it is the most critical definition — what criteria must you uncover in order to pass this lead to sales?
  12. Sales has to agree to the definition, or nothing on this list will work.
  13. Get a commitment from sales to follow up on the qualified lead. Some might call it an SLA (besides Dan Waldschmidt).
  14. What is the deliverable to sales? Is it an appointment? Demo? What is the information provided?
  15. What’s the closed-loop process? Sales needs to provide feedback on the qualified leads; try to do it using your CRM.
  16. Create lead stages just like sales stages, but make them mimic the phone qualification process.
  17. Develop the quota of qualified leads (as my old boss Stu Silverman called it, “The ‘keep-your-job’ quota”).
  18. Develop a commission plan for the LQ reps. It should be a qualified lead number with a bonus for revenue generated.
  19. Develop a commission plan for the manager.
  20. Determine how to track calling statistics. Yes, sir (or madam), you need to do this. (P.S. You may or may not be able to do this in the CRM.)
  21. Tie your qualified lead flow with the overall sales forecasting process.
  22. Establish the territories for the lead qualification reps.
  23. Develop “hang-on-the-wall” materials: value propositions, call guide including voice mail, qualified lead definition, competitive comparison guide, list of customers and partners, diagram of the field organization, buyer personas.
  24. Set content-delivery strategy – what should be sent when.
  25. Create scoring (this is if you don’t have marketing doing scoring). You should score on lead source, demographic info that hits your sweet spot (title, for example), and so forth.
  26. Score will determine level of effort and time spent.
  27. Create a “connect-strategy” that includes phone and email — a series of calls and emails over time.
  28. Determine the number of voicemails you will leave (if any; some people don’t).
  29. Create a web-researching strategy. Allot a certain amount of time to research each account. Provide an application to do research such as Inside View.
  30. Create a process for inbound calls including call routing. (P.S. Here is to hoping you get inbound calls!)
  31. Get senior executive staff to buy into the LQT.
  32. Write all of this down in a strategy document. Not just to look cool, but for your own good.
  33. Develop automation strategy, customizations, reports.
  34. Choose a CRM system if there isn’t one. Figure out how to support your process if there is one.
  35. Ensure you set up CRM to make lead qualification reps’ lives easier. They need to live in it.
  36. Write an automation cheat sheet. Lead qualification reps should hang it on their walls.
  37. Establish a process for tracking qualified leads.
  38. Develop a lead source report — goodness of sources and goodness of follow-up.
  39. Make sure leads are seamlessly entered into the system. Make sure lead qualification reps are alerted when they enter the CRM system.
  40. Train, train and train: industry, buying personas, market, technology, product, company, your new lead qualification process, the automation, the message, objections.
  41. Sit with the lead qualification reps; it’s the best way to help them.
  42. Determine headcount.
  43. Create job descriptions. Copy other job descriptions of like jobs to make sure you are thorough.
  44. Advertise on craigslist, it works for this position. And send out word to your network. After you get one or two, pay for referrals. The average age will be young for this position, and the young’uns like working with their friends.
  45. Manage the group toward hitting its goals.
  46. Monitor calling. Use a splitter. It sounds invasive, but it works great.
  47. Continually communicate goals and results to management. They don’t always get it.
  48. On second thought, continually communicate to the entire company.
  49. Have a closed-loop meeting with sales. It should be weekly. Accept feedback and do something about it.
  50. Have a closed-loop meeting with marketing. It should be weekly too.
  51. Have marketing listen to calls of their leads so they can see what is working/not working live.
  52. Constantly optimize.
  53. Expect a year to 14 months of maximum output from lead qualification reps.
  54. Wake up do it again (think Groundhog Day).

Craig Rosenberg is the Funnelholic. He loves sales, marketing, and things that drive revenue. Follow him on Google+ or Twitter

Being a B2B Buyer Sucks – Let’s Change That

I am currently trying to buy a couple pieces of technology (true story). I won’t tell you what kind of technology (to protect the innocent). But I will tell you that I am learning how much it sucks to be a b2b buyer. I wrote a little about my experiences and recommendations on the Savvy b2b marketing blog.

It’s really eye-opening to go through the process of trying to buy something in a comparable industry. As I live through my pain, I will chronicle our experiences. (I am including my partner-in-crime Lori Janjigian as she helps me in the buying process and is supplying me with her observations, aka complaints, about the process.)

Here are some important points:

  • “The biggest innovation Marc Benioff made was to allow b2b buyers to buy complex software with a credit card.” (via Scott Albro) I have a couple of witty quotes from Scott on the issue of “ease of purchase.” This is so true ‑ think about how hard it was to buy enterprise software before the Salesforce.com/SaaS cloud revolution. It was big and complicated, and still is for many companies. Now, many “smart” companies make their pricing transparent; you can order without a salesperson or if you do, it’s easy. Here’s one: I just talked to my buddy who works at at a major software vendor where he sells business applications. He told me that he has to wait for legal to approve his contracts and it can take 30 to 60 days. Not exactly “easy to buy”
  • Create “buyer-helpful” content, but don’t forget people also need to be able to actually buy your product. I am the biggest advocate for content that buyers want ‑ particularly third-party content. If you have read this blog in the past, you should know this. On the other hand, the goal here is sell people stuff (sorry, it is). A tip that you can act on right now is to ask yourself one thing: “If someone wants to buy from us, what do they have to do?” I know everyone is going to say “but b2b is so complex.” Sure, but most products are going the other way. Google Apps costs something like $50 per year per user. Pretty complex? I don’t think so. Guess what, there are times when we want to talk to the sales rep and we want to know that this part of the process will not be painful.
  • “A perfect example of a complex product made simple is automobiles.” (via Scott Albro) Scott likes to say, “There is more technology in cars than a data storage box.” He’s right. Consumer marketing is so refined that it’s both marketed and packaged so you and I can understand what it is we are going to buy. Consumer sales is such that I can walk in and walk out with a car in a couple hours, even though it is a gigantic piece of technology and engineering.
  • Oh, and the “contact us” box sucks. I see that, and I just think black hole. The dropdown you provide doesn’t make me feel like I am going to go in the right direction. When you walk into a good store, someone asks, “How can I help you today?” How about taking that methodology to the “front door” of your buying process? As you consider what it’s like to buy, “How do I get started?” is a good question to answer.

Let’s call this my take-away: If someone wants to buy your product, what must they do? Remember that this is not a question about downloading content and so forth, this is about buying. Is it frictionless, easy to understand, easy to find, easy to figure out? That is the question. More on this in upcoming posts.

Craig Rosenberg is the Funnelholic. He loves sales, marketing, and things that drive revenue. Follow him on Google+ or Twitter

HubSpot and the Phone: A Recap of My Weekly Adventures

I just moderated the Focus Roundtable: How Important is the Phone to Growing Revenues, and it was off the hook. Lori Richardson put it together, and what was really cool is she brought people together from two camps: the “calling” camp (herself and Trish Bertuzzi), and the “content” camp (Ardath Albee and Kirsten Knipp). You should listen to the MP3 file when you get the chance; meanwhile, here are my top take-away messages:

HubSpot generated 40,000 inbound leads last month (via Kirsten Knipp). What the hell? Dude, when I heard that I fell to the floor. That is the definition of “eating your own dog food.” Here is your Funnelholic tip of the day: Copy them. Period. Whenever people ask me for advice, the one thing I always suggest is to find someone else (a competitor) who is performing exceptionally and copy them. For some reason, that concept is really hard for b2b folks. The b2c guys do it all the time. They copy landing pages, whatever. Why wouldn’t you? Oh and BTW, HubSpot tells you how they do it. Their content is their playbook. They want you to copy them. Those lead numbers are absurd.

The Phone is not dead ‑ it’s more effective than ever. Speaking of HubSpot, they call people to sell them s#!*. That’s right. We had another Roundtable, Inside Sales Tune Up, with Chad Levitt. Mike Damphousse was the moderator and the big point is: To convert prospects from lead to opportunity and from opportunity to sale, you have to call them. Inbound marketing is not defined as “sales that fall in your lap.” They are leads that require the leveraging of outbound sales skills to convert.

Phone Pt. II: It’s never been easier to reach prospects over the phone (via Trish Bertuzzi). There is a hidden benefit to the inbound marketing craze: The phone has been freed up. Trish believes because organizations are “sitting back” and waiting for people to come to them, that it has never been easier to get people on the phone. It’s a great quote, but more importantly, what a great opportunity! This doesn’t mean to call stupidly. Make sure you are relevant (which takes research) and professional (which takes training). There is a great conversation on Focus.com on the topic.

Net-net: you want inbound leads,  copy Hubspot because you can. And if you want to turn leads into revenue — call them.  It’s it and that’s that.

Craig Rosenberg is the Funnelholic. He loves sales, marketing, and things that drive revenue. Follow him on Google+ or Twitter

The Power of the “Tweetable Moment”

Background: I just did my annual “You Bought a List, Now What?” webinar with Netprospex. Literally, spur of the moment, I made up a phrase: the “tweetable moment.” More background: Part of the presentation includes ways to create remarkable content. At Focus, we ask our writers include “aha!” moments when creating content. Well, I’m changing that to “tweetable moment.” PS, that got tweeted. I used it again tonight in my preso at the Sales 2.0 Conference, and then Lisa Gschwandtner brought up the term “tweetable moment” a couple times afterward. I realized: It’s on. Write that down.

Webinars, PDFs, blog posts, social media, guest posts, videos, slide share presos – the overall content itself can be shareable, but are you creating “tweetable moments”? Definition: Sound bites that are begging to be re-quoted in 140 characters or less – memorable and consumable. Frankly, I don’t think about and devise sound bites, and I am not sure the true master of the tweetable moment does either; truly tweetable moments come out naturally. At any rate, a “tweetable moment” is like adding a dash of Tapatío Hot Sauce to your content. Shake well and season to taste.

Craig Rosenberg is the Funnelholic. He loves sales, marketing, and things that drive revenue. Follow him on Google+ or Twitter

The Mechanics of the Outbound B2B Campaign

I present a webinar with Mark Feldman of Netprospex titled “You Bought a List, Now What?” that over the years has been one of the more popular presentations we have done together, as 1000s of people typically sign up. We are doing it again on Wednesday, March 2 and Thursday, March 3 at 11 a.m. PT (2 p.m. ET).  I have made some updates to the webinar and have new rantings on the topic (thus prompting me to write this post).

First, allow me to get on my soapbox. What we are talking about is outbound vs. inbound, or push vs. pull. The vast majority of chatter in the marketing blogosphere is about content marketing, earned media, inbound marketing, and so forth; in other words, everyone is advocating for pull. One of my good friends Adam Needles basically called outbound email “stupid s#!*” in our Focus Roundtable together. I am a gigantic advocate for pull marketing as well. I believe in the tenets of inbound marketing. Hey, who doesn’t want someone to walk into their store? But it’s just not realistic all the time. Sometimes you need to put out the sandwich board and entice people to come into the store, and if it works, why wouldn’t you do it all the time?

Random thoughts on why the Outbound b2b campaign lives on:

  1. You have to go outbound for targeted prospects. If you are trying to reach a particular buying persona, you have to push/outbound. If you want to wait for content to get you the leads you need to feed the beast, you will be sitting on the unemployment line. This does not mean you don’t create remarkable content and develop long-term trusted content relationships with prospects. It means you figure out whom you want to talk to and reach out to them via phone, email, and so forth so you can get to them today instead of tomorrow.
  2. You don’t have time. A blog post or even months of blog posts won’t yield the number of conversations you need to fill the pipeline. I get bummed when I hear the startup VP of Marketing talk about his/her plan for content marketing over the next nine months, and it doesn’t include generating leads now. It’s not their fault; they read the blog posts and are doing the right thing.  The problem is, if you don’t have a plan for near-term pipeline, you’re in trouble.
  3. Sales reps are doing it right now instead of waiting for you. I asked one of my favorite sales experts Tibor Shanto what topics resonate most with sales folks and he said “prospecting.” In other words, sales needs leads. Actually, I did a webinar awhile back with Jill Konrath, and she said the same thing: “What sales needs right now is leads.” So, marketing: Is our answer to write some more blog posts and get more tweets? No, it’s to drive pipeline, and that necessitates action.
  4. You can do both (push/pull). Until the content marketing machine can drive the numbers you need from the right people, you have to do something. In most cases, that means outbound or paid media.  But do both; the long-term win of having a content marketing/nurturing strategy is the right thing to do.

In my preso, I try to break the essentials for successful outbound activity into simple components:

  • Planning: It sounds simple, but people just buy names and don’t flesh out what they want to do next.
  • Persona building: Determine “who” you want to target, understand what makes them tick, and then the message works for them.
  • Content/offers: Content marketing is a big deal in the outbound campaigns. What you offer people is extremely important. This should be driven by buyer personas (for examples, an executive may want one thing whereas managers may want another).
  • Multi-channel targeting: Successful outbound requires a mix of different ways to reach out to the prospect. The most common and most successful is a combination of phone and email. This also includes nurturing and social media.
  • Metrics and optimization: This should be standard operating procedure in this day and age, but it isn’t, so I have to remind you.  Figure out what you need to know and make your programs better.

If you have time, join us here for “You Bought a List, Now What?” on Wednesday and Thursday of this week 11 a.m. PT (2 pm ET).

Craig Rosenberg is the Funnelholic. He loves sales, marketing, and things that drive revenue. Follow him on Google+ or Twitter

Confession: I Am a Marketing Automation Fanboy

OK, after all that mid-life crisis talk about moving beyond marketing, here I am with a marketing automation post. Oh well. David Raab gave me a sneak peek at his new marketing automation study and subsequent tool. Initially, I was hesitant to write about what David shared with me since I don’t pimp, and I just made a big, melodramatic case for The Funnelholic to move beyond marketing. But I decided, what the hell? I am who I am, so bring the marketing automation tool on!

Truth be told, I am an unabashed fanboy of marketing automation. I am also an unabashed fanboy of the word “fanboy.” I primarily use it as an insult, so note my self-deprecating sense of humor remains intact. I love the concept of marketing automation. Marketing automation is the bomb. (For all my older readers, that is a good thing.)

We just asked a question on the benefits of marketing automation on Focus. There is great stuff there, but for me it’s pretty simple: Every part of the organization has an automated platform to run on and to optimize their business. Finance, sales, supply chain, HR – everyone but marketing. Frankly it was embarrassing. Yes, there are flaws with marketing automation, but there are flaws with ERP and CRM systems. This is about having a platform to manage, organize and measure. You may think this is backward, but failed marketing automation implementations are good for the business. It has spawned guys like Carlos Hidalgo, who is focused on helping marketing organizations lay the groundwork for a process that happens to be managed by marketing automation. That is good for the marketing department.

In my job leading the Focus Experts Network, I am meeting a lot of independent analysts. Technology guys like Michael Krigsman, Richard Stiennon, Bob Egan are go-to thought leaders for end users and vendors who need to understand their respective technology landscapes. Marketing automation doesn’t have many of these folks, but David Raab is one of them. David, along with Adam Needles and Carlos Hidalgo, wrote the awesome Focus Definitive Guide to Marketing Automation, and when we needed an Expert to talk about making the marketing automation decision in an upcoming webinar, we chose David. Most marketers I talk to know they need something if they don’t have it. The next step will be to figure out the right fit for their organization, as there are a lot of vendors. And for that, I think David’s vendor selection application is a must-have for buyers in the consideration phase, and the price makes it a no-brainer.

Because, yes, I want you to buy marketing automation. Full disclosure: It does nothing for me. Seriously, I own no stock, nor am I an analyst, nor does Focus benefit at all. I want this for you, not for me. That, my friends, is what fanboys do. Viva marketing automation!

Craig Rosenberg is the Funnelholic. He loves sales, marketing, and things that drive revenue. Follow him on Google+ or Twitter

Mid-Life Crisis Averted: The Funnelholic Is Here to Stay

What an amazing couple of weeks it’s been since I wrote my midlife crisis post, “Should I Stay or Should I Go,” and asked the question, “What should I do with my industry-specific blog now that I want to create different content?” on the Internet love of my life, Focus.com. Besides blog comments from friends and strangers, my angst went global (I got email from Sweden – Daniel Wood, who is a great sales and motivation blogger).  I spoke to people at length. Just yesterday, I was talking on the phone about my midlife crisis with Gary S. Hart, who is a sales blogger as well. The consensus is to keep The Funnelholic brand. Whether you delivered the message via phone or Web, thanks to everyone who gave your input.

Here is what I decided: The Funnelholic stays, and I will write about whatever floats my boat.  The entire process became a real awakening for me about why I blog. It’s because I love it. If I lose some readers, I have to live with it. If I started writing about things I don’t care about, then The Funnelholic would fail anyway.

Here’s what I’ve learned from the whole episode:

  1. If you have no passion, then your blog will suck. It was cool to discover that people really like reading The Funnelholic. I have loved creating content for this blog, and I continue to love writing on it. That may be the most important thing I learned: people can feel your passion.
  2. If you have no passion, your “social-media” presence will suck. The comment above is also true about your social media bearing. As Focus.com builds, you can see people who love what they are doing answering questions with gusto. If it pains you to write or talk about it, find a new career path. You’ve lost your passion.
  3. Writing helps you solidify your ideology. I have all this stuff in my head about business, marketing, sales and so forth. Writing about it – on The Funnelholic, as a guest blogger elsewhere, on Focus.com – helps me coalesce my thoughts and properly organize my beliefs.
  4. The personal online brand revolution is on. I built a brand, and the brand has a following. That was cool – and it’s something I shouldn’t start again from square one. Steve Woods and I talked about this idea years ago. He said: “There will be a new type of talent, an Internet free-agent superstar.  In some cases, companies may hire because they want that person associated with their brand.”  Interesting. I am not Chris Brogan, but I’ve got something.

Thanks to everyone for their kind words and thoughtful advice.

I remain (and will continue to remain) yours sincerely,

The Funnelholic

Craig Rosenberg is the Funnelholic. He loves sales, marketing, and things that drive revenue. Follow him on Google+ or Twitter

Enemy Mine: Why Everyone Needs a Rival

When we were starting Tippit (soon to be Focus), a gentleman named John Luongo was an observer in our board meetings. He had a storied career at Oracle and then was the CEO of Vantive. He had lots of advice for us, but one thing in particular that he said has always stuck with me: “You really need to pick an enemy.” I actually mentioned this concept in an earlier post on the marketing automation market.

Here is what John meant: Management should declare an enemy and rally everyone in the company around beating this enemy. Sales will want to outsell the enemy, product will want to produce a better product than the enemy and so forth. John described how, in his early days, Oracle obsessed about beating Informix (which Oracle did handily). Sure, you could simply say, “Pick a goal to strive for” — but that doesn’t play on primal, competitive instincts. I love this concept, and I see at least five distinctive benefits:

1.      It helps everyone focus: Having a rallying cry gives teams a reason to come to work each day. It also can help you make decisions on where to put your energy.

2.      It motivates: See above.

3.       It serves as a scoreboard: Scoreboards work.

4.       It fosters our natural mean streak: That’s always a good thing.

5.       It can provide a ‘measuring stick’: Take a reference point like a competitor’s product and say, “We will beat their functionality (or even their website).”

No, obsession is not healthy, but having an enemy makes so much sense.

There are some great examples of this, but by far my favorite is University of Colorado football. In 1982, Bill McCartney took over as head coach of the Colorado football program; at the time, the team couldn’t win a thing (in 1980 the team was 1-10; in 1981 the team was 3-8 — you get the picture). One of the first things McCartney did was name Nebraska as Colorado’s primary rival. Nebraska was a perennial powerhouse, had defeated Colorado 14 times in a row, and could care less about Colorado. Honestly, anybody following college football at the time would tell you McCartney was crazy. That’s why this is the perfect example: McCartney made the best team he could their measuring stick for success. His “enemy” was perfect for the team to aspire to, and it set a bold, “hairy” goal for his program to achieve.

Here is what happened next:

  • Four years later (1986) Colorado beat No. 3-ranked Nebraska 20-10.
  • In 1990, Colorado won the national championship.
  • In all, McCartney created a national powerhouse of a program.

You might ask me if this is the first article in the “business-aholic” stage of my life. Maybe, but the decision to declare an enemy is something even department and organizational heads can do. In other words, this concept is still very “Funnelholic.” As a marketer, I love to have an enemy. If I had to decide on my marketing plan, I would use my enemy as my measuring stick. I would want to create a better website, blog, social media presence, content, advertise where they are and so forth. All of this makes my program better and, for me at least, makes it more fun — I get to keep score and compete.

Choose an enemy, you’ll be better for it.

Craig Rosenberg is the Funnelholic. He loves sales, marketing, and things that drive revenue. Follow him on Google+ or Twitter

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Is it time to close (or perhaps rename) this blog? This question has been in the back of my mind for the past few weeks. I tried to create a provocative title for this post, but the real question is: What should I do with The Funnelholic? The issue at hand is that I believe I have a lot to offer beyond just the sales and marketing funnel. Here is an example: I have learned a lot about the startup business from helping build Tippit and now Focus – I want to share these tips. Moreover, with my new role at Focus, I have been reading a ton of customer service, HR, and business-building content that I want to discuss and share. Is The Funnelholic capable of expanding beyond the funnel?

Here is another scenario I thought of: What if, for my next job, I want to be hired as a CEO (for example). Would being The Funnelholic help me or hurt me?

Just so everyone knows, I have written about how I came to the name this blog on the Annuitas Blog awhile back. In a nutshell, my CEO Scott Albro came up with the name. I had wanted “Funnelnomics,” but it was taken by my friend Suaad Sait . Scott said, “You need something that represents you, more fun and loose, it should be something like ‘The Funnelholic.’ I bought the domain name that day, started blogging, and it was on.

It was a great name: totally memorable and well-suited for my personality (irreverent, a bit edgy). Just the other night, I went to the Content Rules awards dinner, hosted by Eloqua at Foreign Cinema, and met Ann Handley for the first time. I said, “I’m Craig Rosenberg.” No reaction, no recognition. Then I said, “The Funnelholic.” “Ooooh!” she said. Like it or not, The Funnelholic is my brand.

But is it my brand, or have I typecast myself? I feel like a television star trying to break out of his medium to make it in the movies. What do I do now that I want to talk about more? I want to talk about business, not just demand generation and marketing automation. This whole “soul-searching” process has led me to these questions:

1. What should I do with The Funnelholic? Now that you know what you know, what is your recommendation? Should it stay or should it go? At the Content Rules dinner, I asked my table-mates the same question. My table had PR people (but primarily knowledgeable social media-ites) Mandy Mladenoff, Abigail Snyder, Jesse Noyes, Tyler Willis, and Lisa Loeffler. They thought I was crazy (literally). Their vote was that the brand stays and the writing can evolve. What do you think? Please submit your opinion.

2. What is the best practice for naming a blog? Should you use your name, or should you give the blog its own unique name? Could I have avoided typecasting had I gone with my name? Give me your input.

The real question is: Now what?

Craig Rosenberg is the Funnelholic. He loves sales, marketing, and things that drive revenue. Follow him on Google+ or Twitter

2011: The Year or Living Boringly (I Hope)

I promised myself I wouldn’t make predictions, year-end lists, Christmas wish lists, New Year’s resolutions and so forth. Then I was forced to answer the question: “What do you see for b2b marketers in 2011?” I was asked twice: in an interview with Maria Pergolino from Marketo, then while considering predictions about b2b marketing trends for 2011 on Focus.com.

Here is my 2011 sound-bite: Live boringly.

From 2008 to 2010, it was basically a “content bubble” for marketers. All of us in the blogosphere have been riding high; talking about lead scoring, lead nurturing, content marketing, social media, sales and marketing alignment. So much sizzle and sexiness, it’s been a fantastical ride as marketers ate it up. Everyone in the world of marketing had endless new toys to talk about, and talk we did. But now, marketers must live boringly. Not to be a sensationalist, but our survival is at stake.

How to Live Boringly

Focus on execution and how to get it done, or said another way: Stop talking about it and just do it. I love this article by Carlos Hidalgo (Funnelholic all-time fave) on marketing automation. As Carlos mentions, in the case of marketing automation, less than 25 percent of us have implemented marketing automation to its full potential. In other words, a lot of hype and nothing to show for it. Create simple goals for next year, let sales and the C-suite know what they are, and hit them. Just as a VP of Sales must hit his or her metric, marketing does too. All the social media, lead nurturing and so forth are means to an end. An example of a metric might be pipeline-created qualified leads, appointments or revenue. I don’t care, but all the really “bright shiny things” have to align with achieving goals that the organization cares about.

Do This, or Else

Do you really want marketing to end up back where you started before the Marketing Content Revolution? The marketing automation vendors are trying to help you now. Look at market leaders Marketo and Eloqua. Their marketing has switched from tactics and techniques to revenue. Marketo’s Jon Miller likes to say, “More marketers are getting a seat at the revenue table.” This may be true, but that seat is hot. The revenue table is a “you’re-either-helping-or-you’re-getting-in-the-way” spot. If you’re helping, you get to stay. If you’re in the way, you are gone and won’t be back.

So, take my advice and live by my 2011 mantra: Live boringly.

Sincerely,

The Bore-aholic

Craig Rosenberg is the Funnelholic. He loves sales, marketing, and things that drive revenue. Follow him on Google+ or Twitter