Reporting on Demand Gen: Thought Leadership Interview #19 with Andrew Gaffney of the Demand Gen Report

Today we have a colleague of mine from the Lead Generation Blogosphere, Andrew Gaffney — the editor of DemandGen Report — The Scorecard for Sales & Marketing Automation. It’s a must-subscribe for anybody in the “game,” and I am really excited to get him to join in on the Thought Leadership fun.

Gaffney also heads up G3 Communications, which specializes in helping B2B organizations develop custom content for thought leadership and lead nurturing campaigns. Translation: Like me, he doesn’t just write about it, he lives it.

Enjoy the interview.

1.    What are the three trends you see emerging in 2009?
The first and most prominent would be more emphasis on lead nurturing as companies look to maximize their marketing investments. When the economy was still in a growth mode, it was easy for B2B marketers to keep paying for more new leads to feed the funnel. Now, as efficiency has become the rule of the day, companies realize they can’t afford to let valid contacts waste away in their database.

The second trend I’ve seen is more focus on lead progression and the conversion of leads through the various stages of the marketing and sales funnel, ultimately increasing the number of opportunities the sales team is trying close.

Finally, I would point to the increase of new media and new tactics to engage prospects. Whether it is social media, viral video, e-books, podcasts or other types of content, B2B marketers are realizing they need multiple touch points in order to stand out from the crowd noise.

2.       What are the biggest challenges for 2009?

Buyers are clearly pulling back and really looking for reasons not to invest. Companies have to have a fine-tuned demand generation engine in order to connect with contacts at the top of the funnel and then have a compelling ROI and competitive advantage story in order to progress prospects to close the deal and make an investment in this climate.

3.       What are three metrics that B2B marketers should care about and why?
As I mentioned earlier, I think conversion rates at each phase of the funnel from inquiry to qualified lead and then handoff to sales will be critical to success. Marketers are going to need to benchmark their progression rates against established best practices and establish goals to improve at each phase. Ultimately that will pay dividends in the revenue and closed deals. There are probably four to five different metrics specific to the funnel  I’d suggest looking at, rather than only three.

4.      What are the top oversights marketers are making regarding lead generation?
One of the most common mistakes I see is overlooking the importance of the contact database. The old phrase “garbage in, garbage out” is especially true in lead generation. If you don’t have a solid data base of current and accurate contacts who are the right demographics for your solution, you’ll get a lot of email bounce-backs, your telemarketing will cost you a lot more and your results will suffer.
5.       What will you prescribe to marketers to carry out effective lead generation?
Micro-manage as much as possible. Focus on data hygiene with your contact database and then look at the progression rates of each phase of the funnel to where your messaging may be missing the mark.

6. What  three Web 2.0 applications,  cutting-edge technologies, or lead-generation sources do marketers HAVE to consider to be successful?
I think we’ve gotten to the point where a marketing automation system is a must-have. I have seen too many examples where high-growth companies have a significant lead over the pack because they have more intelligence on prospect behavior and they know the optimal path to progress prospects through the funnel.

There are a lot of intelligent database tools I would recommend — such as Demandbase, ZoomInfo and Reachforce — which really enable marketing and sales to have smarter touches with prospects. These tools have proven to really accelerate the engagement process in B2B.

Then I would suggest looking at any ROI tools, such as calculators or assessment tools, which help in the later stages of the funnel.

7.    What do you hope for in b2b sales and marketing for the new year?
I’d like to see the maturity and skill sets around demand generation continue to progress. Sophisticated companies are realizing it’s no longer just about getting random contacts to complete registration forms, its aligning sales and marketing processes to accelerate the buying cycle of targeted prospects.

And I’d love to see the economy start to turn so budgets loosen up and we can all start focusing on growth again.

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

Happy Holidays: 7 Gifts for the Stocking from the Funnelholic

Economy be damned, I’m in the Holiday spirit. I thought I would share my Christmas list for b2b sales and marketing around the world.

Here is what I hope b2b marketers find in their stocking:

  1. A lead-nurturing system and process: The marketer’s Nintendo. Next year you gotta nurture, you’re SOL next year if you don’t . You can have Santa stuff an Eloqua or Marketo in your stocking or you can outsource it.  Either way, gotta do it.  If you already have it and are using it, Christmas came early.
  2. An aggressive marketing plan: Santa doesn’t give you this, the CMO and Exec Board does. Hiding will lead to failure. Yes, you have to market smarter next year, but that doesn’t mean not market at all. Pipeline doesn’t come out of the blue, it comes from you. I have seen two types of organizations:  1) those that want to cut budget and hide (you’re dead) and 2) those who know that next year more than ever, the organization needs them to serve pipeline for Christmas dinner. Note to self: Be number 2.
  3. Budget: See above, but Santa needs to give you some dollar bills.
  4. Your job: Not to be flip on something so negative, but let’s call it like it is. I don’t want to lose your job, lord knows lots of people are.
  5. Happy sales guys: Envision the sales team singing Christmas carols at your front door. Next year will be hell for sales team, so here’s to hoping you can help enough so they’ll recommend you for the “nice” list over the “naughty.”
  6. Pipeline: Well, isn’t that why we are all here?
  7. Closed Business: See above – we gotta keep the lights on folks.

And a partridge in a pear tree.

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

Making It Work in 2009: 6 Quotes from Martin Scorcese Put Things in Perspective

One of the young guys I work with asked me the other day how I come up with blog posts.  The truth is, they typically come to me throughout the day regardless of whether I am working with clients or at home watching television.  An idea will pop in my head, and I realize I can blog about that.  Conversely, when these epiphanies don’t pop in my head, I am completely screwed.

Here is what you need to know, I am wholly focused on helping marketers improve what they do in general and put the strategies and processes in place to make it through the economic storm that is in full swing.  The other thing you need to know, is that I want to be irreverent and fun in the process.  So, I was sitting there watching “Good Fellas” this weekend (for the 20th time), and a couple lines stuck out to me as bloggable.  I decided that I should take a whack at some Martin Scorcese lines in my next blog post.  Now, here we are.

1. “Every man … every man has to go through hell to reach paradise.” — Max Cady (“Cape Fear”)

I had to start with this one. Who knew that Scorcese’s psychopathic killer in the horror movie “Cape Fear” would make the list.  The quote just resonated with the times that we face today.

I wonder if there is a silver lining to the world’s current chaos. Nothing forces people to improve than adversity.  In good times, efficiencies are just good ideas.  In bad times, they become necessities.  For one, this applies to anyone in marketing. All the things on your list must get done: Marketing automation, ROI tracking, quality control, effectiveness, and payback in all your marketing activities. Now more than ever, marketing departments need to eliminate waste and become efficient, optimized machines. Doug Pepper from Interwest told me two years ago: “We believe marketing is the last place in the organization where there is opportunity to optimize their processes,”  He’s right, and now the pain is more acute than ever.

Your marketing should reflect this ideology as well.  No matter what  you are selling, you and your organization are trying to help companies and people make it out of the downturn.  Don’t talk. Make your processes better to win when every one else is losing.  Those fun little features aren’t interesting anymore.  We need companies to understand in times of extreme pain, it’s time to change, and my solution is the way you get there.

2. “I got some bad ideas in my head.” — Travis Bickle (“Taxi Driver”)

Direct mail with little return, “sexy” campaigns built with your ad agency that look good but bring no return, physical trade shows, tchotchkes… These are bad ideas.  These are antiquated marketing vehicles that marketers did so that they could show their boss something tangible, but now the boss wants tangible results.  Cut the “cute.”

By the way, this does not mean you shouldn’t try no ideas, but just keep in mind, that these should be focused on results not the overall sizzle factor.

3.  “In the casino, the cardinal rule is to keep them playing and to keep them coming back. The longer they play, the more they lose, and in the end, we get it all.” — Ace Rothstein (“Casino”)

Great quote, something I wish I would remember at 2 in the morning in Vegas when I am even or up.  This quote conjures up one thing: lead nurturing.  I am a broken record on this one, but I can’t get over the  idea that 80 percent of leads deemed unqualified end up buying anyway.  In 2009, we have to stay in our prospect’s faces.  Budgets will open up and when they do, you need to be there.  And you need to make sure you are fighting for the few budgets that are left.  The case for lead nurturing is strong. Take it from Ace: you’re job is to keep them in the casino.

4.    “You put my money to sleep, I’ll put you to sleep.” – Nicky Santoro (“Casino”)

Marketing in 2009 is going to about real cost-savings and real return on investment.  No one will buy anything next year because they want it, it will be because they need it.  The way you achieve that is developing real stories with real numbers about how your solution will either save them money or make them  money.  And here is the challenge: they don’t believe you anymore.  Terms like ROI, cost-effective, and so on that have been part of your marketing and value prop for years are old news.  The trick is to market real stories of real cost savings with real people.  Studies show that more and more buyers turn to their peers when deciding on a solution.  What this means is  get real customer stories with numbers they can understand and show them how spending money with you makes them money in the long run.  Simply put: you lose if you don’t.

5.   “ … the guy’s gotta come up with Paulie’s money every week no matter what. Business bad? F**k you, pay me. Oh, you had a fire? F**k you, pay me. Place got hit by lightning huh? F**k you, pay me.” —  Henry Hill (“Good Fellas”)

Sorry for the profanity, but here is the message to marketers:  this is how sales guys look at the world.  The way sales is measured is so much easier to quantify than almost anywhere else in the organization, “F**k you, pay me.”  Welcome to their world people. ROI is the name of the game here.  If you have read my stuff before, you know that I believe that marketing ROI should be judged by opportunities and pipeline created.  That being said, you have to actually achieve these goals.  Do not spend money on anything that does not pay out … and remember, no excuse will work, management wants to get paid.

6. “Lennon said, ‘I’m an artist. You give me a f**king tuba, I’ll get you something out of it.’   The point I’m making with John Lennon is – a man could look at anything, and make something out of it. For instance, I look at you and I think ‘what could I use you for?’ ” – Frank Costello (“The Departed”)

I will follow this up with Donald Rumsfield: “You go to war with the army you have, not the army you want.”  As an ex-consultant and third-party “listener” to what’s going in marketing, all I hear are complaints about the constraints on their job: “product sucks, sales sucks, I have a small budget, I need resources to get it done.”  None of this will help you in 2009.  You have what you have and you need make the most out of it.  You are marketers, you should be able to take the product and “make something out of it.” Your job is to to sell ice to Eskimos.  That’s right, we used to say that only about sales, but that falls on the marketer too.

So there you have it, Martin Scorcese’s marketing tips.  And I had fun writing it …

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

Another Webinar I Can Really Get Behind: My Own!

I am speaking at a webinar on Thursday, November 13 at 4PM EST. The webinar centers on providing practical tips to help organizations actually use their CRM to do “marketing automation” and to do it quickly. As we enter into uncertain economic times, marketers need marketing automation more than ever. I hear the following all day: “I know we need marketing automation, I need to get on it.” TIME’S UP.

Hopefully, I can help marketers squeeze everything they can next year, even if they can’t get a off-the-shelf marketing automation system.

Look forward to seeing everyone there! Register here to watch me in action.

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

When the Blood Flows on the Streets, It’s Time to Buy Real Estate

At Sherpa last week, I met one of my readers. She said in essence: “I love your blog, but lately you have been bumming me out.”  She’s probably right. I am trying to make the blog reflect what I feel and am thinking at a given time.  Looking over my posts, you can see I’ve gone from irreverent, cocky, and sometimes funny to gloomy, dark, and fear-inducing in a fairly short span of time.  For me, the most important thing is that, as sales and marketers, we deal with REALITY and be as proactive in our adjustments as we can. If I write about sunshine and roses, how is that going to help us get through this?

Speaking of getting through this, when times get tough you have two choices; Lay down or fight.  I have seen a couple marketing departments “lay down” recently and I am really disappointed.  Yes, the world is going to hell, but guess what, your job is to survive and advance.  I look forward to watching which organizations make the adjustments necessary to come out on top in the next couple years.  I especially like those organizations that view negative times as opportunity.  Organizations see blood on the street, and go for the jugular.

Here is a fighter: Netsuite.  Let’s be honest, we know of Netsuite because of Larry Ellison’s early association and because they went  public.  We have NOT seen them putting themsleves out there and aggressively marketing.  Guess what, now they are coming hard, and it’s exciting.  I got the email below from them and while you may see a promotional email, I saw a company sending the proverbial first shot over the bow.  And guess what, they are taking on a Goliath — Salesforce.com.

This is what we need, we don’t need technology companies riding their installed bases, instead we need companies engaging in true hand-to-hand combat.  This is the American way.  A CRM war is just what the doctor ordered, and I hope more and more categories start to play.  (P.S. my boy Chris Bucholtz from InsideCRM has got to be excited about this).  I see more and more of Netsuite out there, and I like it.

So, you wanted something positive?  I am absolutely positive that the real winners of this crisis are the ones who dig their heel in and battle.

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

Dead Men Walking: What Gets Cut from the Marketing Buys for 2009

The year 2009 is going to be painful for a lot of businesses, but it should also be really interesting to see what marketing departments do to adjust. Next year will be the year you earn the big bucks.

Here are the givens:

  1. Sales cycles will increase
  2. Your buyers’ budgets will be cut drastically
  3. A lot of your current contacts will be fired or will move
  4. You won’t have the money you did this year to get what you want to get done
  5. You want have the same amount of people you did this year in your organization either.

So what do you do? The flight to quality has begun and a couple “old school” marketing techniques may be finally put to rest in 2009.  Here they are:

  1. Direct mail: Admit it, do you really still do direct mail?  The direct mail business is a relic of the past, and 2009 may be its end.  My buddy does marketing for an online dating site and it works for him, but I can’t find any b2b buyers who can quantify or justify their direct mail spend. It’s finally time to make choices. That choice should be to move online.
  2. Trade shows: Speaking of moving online, say good-bye to the trade show. People are not going to attend shows unless they are local. The cost of travel is unjustifiable when you can educate people online.  Old-school trade shows at the Mandalay = dead.  Online events such as virtual trade shows, webinars/webcasts, and moderator-led chat sessions will prevail.  Come on, it makes sense.  There’s little you can’t do on the Web. And that’s where your prospects are. Now I’ve stood by tradeshows over the past couple years because frankly they are great places to meet customers and partners, but not because they are quantifiable lead-generation vehicles.  I’m sorry to lose the networking opportunity, but organizations will adjust with webconferencing and potentially telepresence. I just sat through a presentation at MarketingSherpa’s B-to-B Demand Generation Summit event and exhibitors are saying they are starting to see a 20 percent cancellation rate, up from single digits.
  3. Print ad spends: Need I say more?  The size of tech rags has gradually shrunk and nuclear ’09 may finish them off.
  4. Radio and TV ads: Leave those to the B2C guys.

The theme is the same, I believe that we will see a move online.  Yes, the online movement began years ago, but direct mail and trade shows refused to die.  Now, thanks to today’s unique economic environment, say goodbye to your old friends as they enter the history books.

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

Beyond Thunderdome: 5 Myths You Can’t Believe in the Coming Economic Depression

There is no way to sugarcoat this, world economic markets are screwed. It’s one thing to have fun with The Funnelholic, but I can’t ignore what is happening right now. All of us in the B2B marketing and sales media need to band together and provide tips to one another on how to keep be successful and even keep your job in these hard times. I have already begun — see 3 Changes Marketers Must Make to Survive in This Post-Apocalyptic World.

We will figure out what to do, but we can’t live in fantasyland. We won’t be able to make the necessary adjustments if we don’t swallow the reality. And by the way, we should assume the worst and create a plan that we can execute confidently. My buddy Steve puts it simply: “Mad Max” time.

It’s on the forefront of our minds, and I am not sure any of us has the answers. I certainly don’t. Here are 5 myths you will hear in today’s Mad Max landscape and why you can’t believe the hype:

  1. “Everyone always needs leads”: It’s what the lead-gen guys always turn to for comfort, but it’s not entirely true. If this really is a depression, more and more companies will go out of business, more and more will not spend money, and you will have less and less sales guys and thus need to spend more and more on leads because there are fewer leads available.
  2. “Target the CFO. He has the purse strings”: Not this again. I went through this with startups I was advising in the 2001 debacle. Guys, the CFO doesn’t want to talk to you unless you are IBM, Oracle, or (insert gigantic blue chip here). You are wasting money and personnel trying to reach this Holy Grail. In ’01, I had security startups asking for CFO leads. (I had to pick myself up off the floor every time). Realism is the key here: I know the CFO carries the purse strings, but time and money is your enemy here. Putting this restriction on your lead definitions is not the right decision. Sales guys need to identify pain and need and work their own way into the CFO office.
  3. “Prosperity is just around the corner”: If you know anything about history, Herbert Hoover is reviled for his many quotes in the face of the Great Depression. The best way for all of us to do our jobs the best we can is to understand reality. Hope is one thing, but to market and sell effectively in these times, we have to make the proper adjustments. You can’t just find ways to figure out how to get someone to buy your product, but in some cases you will have to find a way to get them to buy at all.
  4. “Marketers have to quantify their ROI to keep their jobs”: This is controversial, so let’s see if I can explain it. When this economic disaster really hits, you are not going to want to see the ROI numbers. ROI can be difficult to quantify for marketers because they can’t control what happens in the sales cycle. Despite the coming apocalypse, marketers need to be judged on their JOB: the number of opportunities and opportunities created, not what happens downstream in the sales process.
  5. “Now more than ever you need qualified leads”: Ok, this is true but it depends on the qualified lead definition. Lead definitions actually need to EXPAND a bit as organizations cut budgets, so your classic definition of budgeted project becomes harder to find. Your sales guys will be sitting on their hands. You will need to evangelize and sell economic benefit regardless of whether there is a budget.

Look, I want to be reassuring. Scaring people is not the idea here. Grounding our ’09 strategies in reality is.

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

3 Changes Marketers Must Make to Survive in This Post-Apocalyptic World

The economy is the pits, and things are looking to get worse.  I can’t get up on my pedestal and convince everyone why, but I can say that when every investment bank on the street falls on its face, we have a problem. And these aren’t small players, by the way. These are institutions.

We can’t play dumb, we have to be proactive. What’s incredible is the forthcoming list is not much different than my previous posts. They’re just more vital, and if you haven’t considered these already, get with the program now.

The Funnelholic list:

  1. Retarget: I am already hearing around The Valley that companies are making big changes in “who” they are trying to sell to. Companies whose revenues were tied to selling things to Wall Street and financial powerhouses have new targets in their sights.  Evaluate your market, because things are about to change.
  2. Remessage from “nice to have” to “have to have”: In an earlier post, I commented on the difference between selling steroids (the nice-to-haves) vs. pain-killers (the have-to-haves). During the recession, you have to solve problems. Forget about trotting out exciting new technologies. The term “ROI” is losing its allure as a selling point. You have to dig deeper. Figure out what the real pain points are and be the pain killer.
  3. Redefine: The qualified-lead definition will have to change.  I remember in ’01, the sales guys were still saying: “I only want budgeted projects with decision makers,” yet there were no budgets and  decision makers were all getting fired.  Recessions mean it’s time to evangelize and SELL.  The first reaction from buyers is to tighten those purse strings. You need the magic touch to open them.  Selling becomes harder.  One of our clients who sells to SMBs is telling me what used to take 1 guy and 3 phone calls to make a deal, is now taking 3 guys and 10 to 15 phone calls to sell.   Open up the lead definition to let more people in.

I only have one thing to say: “It’s on.” Your life is about to become exponentially harder. Retrench so you’re ready for the Brave New World.

The Argument for Thought Leadership: Crude Oil and the Cult of T. Boone Pickens

Marketers ask me all the time the benefits of thought leadership, and I have only one thing to say: “Make it happen.”  When it doesn’t work, it’s often for a number of reasons:

1.    Poor execution.
2.    Not enough effort. In b2b, there really is no such thing as over-exposure.
3.    Poor choice of superstar – a.k.a., your thought leader. The one who is going to fill the house, put butts in the seats and pretty much make your brand the equivalent of a household name.

Masters of thought leadership include:

1.     Wall Street (the latest happenings not withstanding). Think Mary Meeker and the cult of Alan Greenspan.
2.    College Basketball and football coaches – remember, these dudes have even written books that smart people actually read! At least we are led to believe they actually wrote the books.
3.    Politicians – duh – for the most part.

And they can come and go. Witness Henry Blodgett.

But my favorite master of the thought leadership game is T. Boone Pickens.  In a nutshell, T. Boone is a wildcatter who made billions in the oil game.  Since 2001 until earlier this year, T. Boone could move the crude oil markets like no other.  He was always the thought leader du jour on CNBC, “The Wall Street Journal,” and you name it with his oil price predictions.  He always brought data to his commentary and was the first person to call  for the $100 barrel of oil.  What people were never told was that he was the single biggest holder in oil futures on the Nymerc (where oil is traded).  Pure brilliance: An oil speculator from Oklahoma, looked upon as the oil expert, who every time he got on tv made tens of millions for himself and his beloved Oklahoma State University (he donated $60 some-odd million to their athletic department).

Check out this Bloomberg article from ’07:

Boone Pickens, chairman of Dallas- based BP Capital LLC, told financial news network CNBC that crude-oil prices will rise to $100 a barrel, perhaps before the end of this year. “It could come this quarter,” Pickens said today on CNBC. “Within a year, you’re going to see $100 oil.”

Guess what this “genius” is doing now?  Selling alternative energy.  Guess what that means? He started selling his oil contracts at $150 a barrel and could be going short.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2bOug1d20c&w=425&h=344]

What’s the moral of the story?  I used to giggle at PR folks, but the reality is, companies need to create superstars in their industry.  I am not saying it’s easier in the b2b world, but there is a massive desire for content and b2b organizations need to take advantage.  Here are my tips:

1.    Think like a political strategist or Hollywood PR machine: Make sure the message, ideology, and goals are clear and well fleshed out.
2.    Pick the right superstar: its usually a CEO, but it can be a resident “smarty-pants.”
3.    Blog, panel and speak: Get in front of the masses.  Keep in mind, all three are realistic.  How many trade show companies send out requests for speakers?
4.    Pictures: Learn from the best, the face works.
5.    Leverage the other thought  leaders:  get yours in the loop with other bloggers, columnists, writers and talking heads.  These are the guys who will turn to your guru for quotes.

Take it from T. Boone, the thought leader can move the market in your direction.

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