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

26 Reasons Your Leads Aren’t Converting into Opportunities

I got the band back together: Tom Scearce (aka @TLOTL) and Chris Jablonski (aka @cjablonski). These are my partners in crime when creating long(er) list posts, and they certainly helped me here. We have put together a list of 26 reasons your leads are converting, and, as usual, we had some fun with it.

Before you read on, I want to make one point. There is typically one major issue to overall lead conversion: lack of lead management, also known as passing raw leads/MQLs directly to sales reps. I have yet to find an organization with legit lead management processes that can’t convert leads. They can convert co-reg, content syndication, you name it — because they have built an always-on lead management process to convert leads or inquiries into qualified leads.

One other point, this assumes you are producing at least reasonable leads/inquiries/MQLs.

With that in mind, here are the 25 reasons your leads aren’t converting:

  1. You’re passing them directly to the sales team without an intermediate step or two (i.e., lead development or lead nurturing).
  2. You don’t have dedicated resources (i.e., lead development or an inside sales team) connecting with and qualifying leads.
  3. You haven’t tried to optimize what the lead development team is doing to convert your leads.
  4. You aren’t leveraging scoring.
  5. You aren’t leveraging nurturing.
  6. You haven’t created a unified lead definition with the sales team (the term “unified lead definition” was coined by Brian Carroll @brianjcarroll).
  7. You don’t have an SLA with your sales reps for what they guarantee they will do when you pass them a qualified lead.
  8. Sales doesn’t care about you anymore and won’t follow up on anything you send.
  9. You’re considering the wrong metrics when looking for optimization.
  10. You don’t look at metrics at all.
  11. You look at too many metrics.
  12. You think your job is to get the most leads and the lowest CPL (cost per lead).  Right answer: your job is to create the highest conversion at the most efficient CPO (cost per opportunity).
  13. You don’t have “conversations”— optimization sessions with your lead vendors.
  14. You don’t have “conversations” — optimization sessions with the sales team.
  15. You dump leads from different sources into an identical lead development path (@cjablonski).
  16. Your shotgun marketing approach gives you a lot of quantity at the expense of quality (@cjablonski).
  17. Sales disqualifies leads because they deem the leads too early in the sales cycle (@cjablonski).
  18. Your value proposition is diluted, unreinforced, or at worst, forgotten as the prospect moves from inquiry through nurturing to sales follow-up (@cjablonski).
  19. Marketing has no process for filtering raw inquiries and disqualifying those that don’t fit (at least closely) the ideal customer profile (@cjablonski).
  20. Your sales team already has so many good leads on its plate, and sales reps would rather close those leads than sift through your mixed bag of suspects and prospects (@tlotl).
  21. Your leads are going to inbound contact-center sales reps, and answering the ringing phone is always more important than calling out on your Web-captured “handraiser” leads (@tlotl).
  22. Your leads were captured at a trade show two months ago and haven’t been nurtured or called since (@tlotl).
  23. The first 100 leads tagged with campaign code “XYZ” were unreachable, unqualified or not ready to talk to a sales rep, and now any lead tagged with that campaign code is effectively blacklisted in the sales team (@tlotl).
  24. You haven’t educated your leads with vendor-agnostic, third-party-sourced content that validates your solution in the marketplace (@tlotl).
  25. You’ve purchased a targeted list of contacts or names, didn’t market to them and delivered them to sales — under the (false) pretense that they are actually leads (@tlotl).
  26. Your leads are great leads, but they’re best suited for a product that your sales team is not properly trained, compensated or experienced enough to qualify. For example, your sales team is world class at selling a point solution, but you’ve delivered them (expensive) leads for a bundled offering (@tlotl).

Are there more?  We’d love to hear yours.

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

The Marketing Hipster Dictionary, Part II: 53 Definitions Every Marketer Should Know

Here we are again. If you missed Part I, make sure to read it first. Once again, before we begin, I need to introduce the members of the band:

On the guitar, Tom Scearce (@TLOTL), and on the electric keyboard, Chris Jablonski (@cjablonski).

I can say this, we had a lot of fun. Check out numbers 37-49. @TLOTL has some great ones.

25.  Cold calling: I really have no idea why I put this on here. It’s pretty simple: You pick up the phone and call someone who has no idea you are calling. In today’s day and age, this is best left to professionals — a.k.a., outsourced.

26.  Contacts: Just names. The contact movement has been brought upon us by breakthrough companies such as Jigsaw, demandbase and NetProspex. These are not leads, even if these companies market them as such. Contact purchasing is a critical component to push marketing (see below).

27.   Leads: A lead is a person who has opted in for an offer (see below). As mentioned above, a contact is not a lead.

28.   Offer: An offer can be defined as “something” someone has opted-in for. These can be discrete offers such as white papers, webinars and podcasts. They can also be an appointment with a sales person.

29.   Lead generation: Activities designed to create leads.

30.   Demand generation: All the activities designed to create demand. Not just lead generation, which is part of it. Everything — including things like PR, speaking engagements, advertising, discounts or special offers and so on and so on. BTW, this is an interesting point of conversation — check out some of the answers to this on Focus.com.

31.    Lead nurturing: A process that uses content (offers, tools, white papers, etc.) and distribution tactics (email, phone, Web, etc.) to market to leads over time until they are measurably ready to engage. This one was hard. I got some terrific definitions from experts on Focus.com.

32.   Remarkable content: You need to develop this every day, and you know it’s remarkable if people can apply it right away. You need to deliver on three characteristics: 1) value: create substantive, meaningful and high-quality content and 2) efficiency: package for simplicity and ease of consumption; 3) relevance: target buyers and address their specific challenges. (@cjablonski)

33.   Push marketing: “Knocking on someone’s door.” In other words, using outbound marketing tactics such as email, phone and direct mail to market to contacts in order to create leads. Examples are outsourced appointment setting and email campaigns to a list.

34.   Pull marketing: As opposed to push marketing, “getting people to walk into your store.” Pull means you are using SEO, paid search, etc. to attract people who are searching for something you offer. It also includes getting people to look at your products in other stores through online media and white paper syndication, for example. Because not all buyers are walking into your store, you need to make sure you are represented in other stores that attract your type of buyer.

35.   Landing page: A Web page with a call-to-action to download an offer, such as a webinar, a white paper, and so on. In order to download the offer, the user has to fill out a form. (@cjablonski)

36.  Direct mail: The act of sending a marketing offer via the U.S. Postal Service, FedEx, and so on. This is a dying lead-generation tool. NOTE: there are marketers who believe direct mail still works despite the cost and low conversion rates. My suggestion is that, if you don’t do it now, don’t start.

37.  Return on contribution: Anyone who takes the time and energy to create remarkable content needs to also invest time in managing return on contribution. This can mean several things: 1) crowd-sourcing the content to leverage the friends and followers of the contributors for added distribution; 2) syndicating your content through targeted media properties; 3) engaging in online conversations where your content can be delivered in a relevant context ; and 4) leveraging your content across multiple campaigns, including lead-nurturing programs. (@TLOTL)

38.  Micro-marketed content: The opposite of mass-marketed content. An unmediated, free-flowing discussion among genuine experts in a niche category (e.g., this discussion on Focus.com) is often more relevant and helpful to buyers than a banner ad or an industry trade publication. (@TLOTL)

39.  “Multi-channel, multi-touch”: The mantra of any successful pipeline/revenue generation program. Email, Web and phone are all integrated and response-measured (scored) using marketing automation services. (@TLOTL)

40.  The “three legged stool”: In direct marketing, results are usually, ultimately, a function of the:

  • List (or audience)
  • Offer
  • Creative

Underperform in any one of these areas and the stool falls over. (@TLOTL)

41.  The revenue/sausage factory: A useful metaphor for helping the uninitiated understand how the marketing and sales team work together to drive the top line. The factory can include “upstream” suppliers like Google, direct mail programs or demand-gen agencies. And it can also encompass post-sales “revenue recognition” functions like professional services and account management. (@TLOTL)

42.  Pipeline erosion rate: Your sales team converts your leads into pipeline deals. They win some, they lose some. Some deals roll into next month/quarter. Some don’t. The erosion rate measures the lost pipeline value that must be replaced through incremental demand-gen efforts and budget. (@TLOTL)

43.   Rotting lead rate: The percentage of leads that go untouched by sales (no email, call or voicemail) before they start to “rot.” Keep in mind that the goal is not necessarily a 0% “rot-rate.” In some cases, it’s totally ok for sales to let leads “rot.” If sales has warmer leads to work, marketing can take back the leads that would otherwise rot and nurture them until they are ready. (@TLOTL)

44.  Funnel jockey: The demand-generation expert in every successful marketing department who understands his or her funnel well enough to hard-wire the entire revenue manufacturing process, from marketing spend, to lead gen, to pipeline creation and booked revenue. This person is one of the Excel users in the marketing department who is most likely to have a working command of functions like VLOOKUP, GETPIVOTDATA, SUMPRODUCT, and RAND. (@TLOTL)

45.  Campaign Sorcerer: Describes a marketer who can quickly articulate and illustrate campaign concepts with a unique and integrated skill set that includes design aesthetics, copywriting/storyboarding, program logistics, and schedule visualization. A Powerpoint/Keynote Magic User proficient in spell-casting with SnagIt and Photoshop. (@TLOTL)

46.  Market whisperer: The agency-side marketer who can, in 30 minutes or less, figure out the essence of a client’s marketing and sales challenges, with minimal to no briefing from said client, consulting only Twitter, Google, WordPress and Michael Porter’s Five Forces model. This marketer is more likely than his or her peers to get away with wearing ironic tee shirts or quirky, comment-worthy eyewear/accessories. (@TLOTL)

47.  Tweeps: Twitter + Peeps = Tweeps. (@TLOTL)

48.  Product myopia: Outdated marketing thinking still practiced by many who engage with prospects and clients through the lens of their own solutions. (@cjablonski)

49.  Trapping the chicken in the courtyard: A semi-obscure “Rocky II” reference/metaphor describing the relentless and often frustrating pursuit of repeatable marketing and sales success. “I feel like a Kentucky Fried idiot.” — Rocky Balboa (@TLOTL)

50.  Buyer engagement: Your goal anytime a buyer comes into contact with you. To get their full attention and immerse them into a brand experience, make sure everything you do is valuable and differentiated. (@cjablonski)

Below are SiriusDecisions definitions I have included because they have done an amazing job of getting marketers to use their methodology and lingo. This is for the other marketers who aren’t Sirius trained and want to talk the talk (I chose the three most used terms)

51.  MQL (Marketing qualified lead): Prospects defined by your marketing and sales organization as someone ready to pass to sales. They’re instrumental in calculating lead gen metrics, such as marketing qualified lead rate (# of MQLs/# of total marketing contacts).

52.  SAL (Sales accepted lead): A lead that has met the basic tenets of qualification and that sales has agreed to engage. (@cjablonski)

53.  SQL (Sales qualified lead): A prospect confirmed by sales as a true revenue opportunity and entered into the pipeline. (@cjablonski)

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

The Marketing Hipster Dictionary, Part I: 53 Definitions Every Marketer Should Know

Drumroll, please … Another ambitious post here: The Marketing Hipster Dictionary. When we started, I just wanted to create a post with some definitions of terms used in this blog and in the marketing space in general. Then we started having fun with some “originals.”

Before I go on, I must introduce my band. (Side note: I love when the lead singer introduces the band at concerts. I don’t know what it is — but I get excited.) On the guitar: Tom Scearce (@TLOTL). Tom is a brilliant marketer who understands marketing from brand to process. Follow him on Twitter. And on the electric keyboard: Chris Jablonski (@cjablonski). Chris can do anything. Period. And he does do everything, but he is not a dilettante. He does them all really well.

Ok, so here is the deal, my guitarist Tom wanted me to break this into a series. I prefer the big bang, so we compromised: The dictionary is broken into two: Today is the first 24. We will release the next 26 on Thursday. If you want to have fun and send in some, we may add it so send it over.

1.    Marketing hipster or hipster marketing: The new bleeding-edge marketer. One of the first terms I’ve made up for this blog post but that I like a lot. If you’re doing some of the activities I’ve described below, you are a marketing hipster.

2.    Lead qualification: People (with headsets), automation (CRM and marketing automation – yes, marketing automation) and process dedicated to contacting leads and qualifying them before passing them to sales. If you actually generate leads, you should do this. (See every other post on the Funnelholic.com). People can build this process for you like @bridgegroupinc or Stu Silverman (SalesRamp), or you can outsource qualification (numerous folks, I can’t even mention). Look, this is “old school” stuff, but it works. I sell leads, and what we’ve seen from our data is that companies with lead-qualification (and lead-nurturing) processes convert better than anyone else and, ultimately, buy more leads.

3.    Conversion rate: The rate at which a prospect advances in your marketing process. I included this because everyone assumes conversion rate means landing page conversion. That is not true. Conversion rates happen across the life of a lead: Traffic to registration conversion, registration to lead conversion, lead to opportunity conversion, opportunity to sale conversion. Conversions happen all day in your process (I hope). Track them and watch them.

4.    Lead scoring: Seriously, make it simple: the process of determining which leads are better than others. Don’t make it bigger than that. Use data you have now to start – this isn’t hard, then use marketing automation to implement, optimize and refine. Scoring seems so daunting, but it really isn’t when you finally tear down what it really is. The humans in your “conversion chain” score all the time in their head: They call certain leads more than others because they know they will convert.

5.    Conversion chain: I just made that up in the previous definition, so I figured I would make a definition. The conversion chain is your series of conversion points you track from the top (e.g., Google, white paper syndication) to close. That’s a cool term. If it catches on, you heard it here first.

6.    Metrics: Numbers generated via reporting that tell you something about your current processes. Yes, it can be called reporting or just “numbers,” but remember you want to be a b2b marketing hipster, so use the word: metrics. Here’s a tip: Choose three metrics to look at every day. Look at the rest once a week.

7.    Pay-per-lead lead generation or performance-based lead generation: This is how marketers roll today. If you haven’t jumped on the PPL bandwagon, you should. You can get performance lead generation from media companies (such as the one I work at, Tippit) where you provide some sort of content such as a white paper in exchange for registration information. The media company will determine the number of leads they will deliver and a price. You can control your CPL metrics and organize around particular quantity numbers. This is good for marketers. You can also do this with appointment-setting vendors such as Green Leads, a firm led by one of the most active mavens on the market @damphoux.

8.    Targeted email/email blast: Email is not for spam anymore. As marketers have gotten more sophisticated, they have gotten much better at outbound email. We have seen a big jump in email blasts to our database. You can blast to a third-party database (check out Marketfish for an amazing new targeted email application).

9.     Trade show: Ah, the trade show. Let’s define a tradeshow as a broad industry event (e.g., Interop for IT), with a variety of different talk tracks, trade show booths, etc. Trade shows aren’t dying, they are just never going to be the same again. In ancient times, there were lots of tradeshows with lots of people and lots of vendors. Those days are gone. The trade shows that work are:

a.    Raging parties: CES
b.    Real education value: Sirius Decisions in marketing is a perfect example. They really focus on the content instead of pretending to help buyers, but peddling their own goods.

10.    Live seminars: These can fall victim to the same symptoms as trade shows. The time commitment to travel ratio is minimized and the focus (not trying to be something for everyone) is compelling.

11.    Lunch and learns: These are the same as live seminars but are shorter and with less content. Lunch and learns are small local, lunch events typically put on by vendors. They get 10 people, so the ROI is debatable.

12.    Maven: Two years ago, I admit I had to look this one up. Here is the best technical definition: “A maven is a trusted expert in a particular field, who seeks to pass knowledge on to others. The word maven comes from the Hebrew, via Yiddish, and means one who understands, based on an accumulation of knowledge.”  A number of factors have made the role of the maven uber-critical in your life:

a.    The role of third-party/thought leadership content in effective marketing practice.  In other words, take a look around and you will find the best marketers incorporating the work of thought leaders and mavens instead of product sheets and data sheets.
b.    Social media: the maven has gone from obscurity (only writing books and speaking at seminars) to global popularity with social media (Twitter in particular) and blogging. When I am doing research in my field, I go to my favorite mavens such as @ardath421 or @brianjcarroll in marketing (there are more obviously, but I need to restrain myself)

13.    Maven marketing: I just made this phrase up too, and I’m hoping it sticks. Today’s marketer does two things with mavens:

a.    Courts and/or works with mavens to create helpful buyer materials that don’t necessarily ever mention their product – that’s right. Mavens get more downloads than you and are TRUSTED. Today’s buyer trusts two people: their peers and their mavens. Those two groups far outweigh the vendor.
b.    Creates mavens from their organization. Here’s one for all those people with social media budgets. Start by creating an internal maven. Here’s an example from the marketing industry: Mike Volpe (@mvolpe), VP at Hubspot, has 15,872 people who follow his every move on Twitter. They read him, respect him and re-Tweet him. That’s hipster marketing.

14.    Marketing automation: This is an emerging software category offered by a plethora of vendors intended to consolidate, systematize and improve your marketing efforts. For some it’s nothing more than an email tool on steroids; for others, it’s delivering on the promise. Check out @cjablonski for more.

15.    Content marketing: An Internet-spawned phenomenon embraced by B2B marketers. It has unleashed a torrent of information intended to build vendor thought leadership by way of educating the customer until sold on the brand. See @cjablonski.

16.    Social media marketing: The marketing trend du jour with vendor outposts proliferating across social networking sites as they join communities and conversations in the effort to build awareness, drive sales and get people to talk about them. See @cjablonski.

17.    Sales 2.0: I grabbed a technical definition from InsideCRM.com: “Sales 2.0 brings together customer-focused methodologies and productivity-enhancing technologies that transform selling from an art to a science. Sales 2.0 relies on a repeatable, collaborative and customer-enabled process that runs through the sales and marketing organization, resulting in improved productivity, predictable ROI and superior performance.” What matters to you is that there are killer tools that make sales better. An example is Connect and Sell which is a new-age auto-dialer that guarantees sales connects. Why does that matter to a marketer?
a.    It’s a great tool for your lead-qualification team.
b.    The biggest lag on your conversion rates come from sales connecting with your leads. Offering them tools to be more effective is a win for you. Period.

18.    Thought leadership: In a world full of information and “me-too” solutions, you need to differentiate and boost your signal-to-noise ratio through the delivery of expertise and original knowledge that your audience cares about. Tap your mavens for this. See @cjablonski.

19.    White paper syndication: Your marketing assets reside on your Web site, but you can get a lot more mileage out of them if you make them available from relevant sites across the internet. Vendors like Tippit can get your content into the right hands to help spread your message and build the top of your funnel. See @cjablonski.

20.    BANT (Budget Authority Need Timeframe): A qualification methodology, or information that must be gathered or agreed to before passing a lead to sales. BANT is an age-old tradition that is coming back in vogue (big-time). Note to self: BANT is not something you achieve in lead generation (don’t put timeframe on forms) but in lead qualification.

21.    Personal branding: This concept is not new, and not unique to marketing. But every marketer needs to understand it and practice it. Interacting with the world through a well-defined “brand of you” gives you a unique perspective on how people engage those other brands that you are paid to promote. See @TLOTL.

22.    Mass expertization: A rapidly growing population of people, typically with commercial or status-driven agendas, publishing original content drawn from their experience, for the consumption of peers and/or prospective business partners. See @TLOTL.

23.    Webcast, Webinar or Web Seminar: A webcast is a presentation delivered over the Internet so that prospects can watch instead of read. Webcasts are typically an hour long and involve a PowerPoint presentation. Webcasts should not be confused with video. Yes, you can use video, but that is not your typical use-case for a webcast. Webcasts are great vehicles for education, lead nurturing, thought leadership and quantifiable lead generation.

24.    Optimization: Overused marketer term but critical nonetheless. Every element of your demand-generation process has hidden pockets of opportunity to improve. Don’t think so? Hire a consultant or design thinker to review your content and your strategy and listen in disbelief. See @cjablonski.

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

210 B2B Marketing Tips for 2010

Drumroll please …  I present the 210 B2B marketing tips for 2010. Let me tell you, this was quite an adventure, one that I will certainly do differently in the future.

Basically, the sequence of events went like this:

  1. Decide on topic: 210 tips for 2010
  2. Start writing them off the top of my head
  3. Get to 65
  4. Still determined, decide to ask for help
  5. @scottalbro, @cjablonski, @tlotl, @mschmier and @damphoux come to the rescue

Much of what you see below is attributed. Some, however, like the input from @scottalbro, were fed to me conversationally through stream of consciousness, so I didn’t attribute them. He is a great writer and would not be crazy about my translation.

So, without further ado, here they are. I hope you enjoy them.

  1. Contribute to the conversation (@tlotl)
  2. Create remarkable content (lots of it) (@tlotl)
  3. Distribute remarkable content (@tlotl)
  4. Evolve beyond managing CPL (@tlotl)
  5. Bring data to Sales management (@tlotl)
  6. Talk to in-market prospects (@tlotl)
  7. Close the buyer loop (@tlotl)
  8. Talk to people who have bought/customers (@tlotl)
  9. Talk to people who chose a competitor (@tlotl)
  10. Sit in on a sales call once a week
  11. Sit in on a prospecting call
  12. Create a lead scoring system
  13. Implement a lead scoring system
  14. BTW, if you are just starting on scoring, don’t get too extreme. Scoring means deciding which leads are better than others.
  15. Implement a lead nurturing program
  16. Judge lead nurturing progress via the conversion rate after 1 month metrics
  17. Buy a marketing automation platform
  18. Implement a marketing automation platform (no shelf-ware)
  19. Create a unified lead definition
  20. Get the unified lead definition signed off by sales
  21. Don’t agree to restrictive BANT criteria without considering all the people you won’t have sales talk to (if you think about it, they probably do)
  22. And if you are in a hyper-targeted market (e.g., are focused on managed service providers only), your unified lead definition should be only: the right person with interest. Anything more restrictive means one lead a month, and your organization in trouble
  23. Meet with sales weekly/bi-weekly for anecdotal closed loop feedback
  24. Make a decision based on metrics
  25. Make lots of decisions based on metrics
  26. Over-rule a metrics-driven decision with a decision made from the gut
  27. Basically: Balance metrics with intuition
  28. Oh, and track everything you can
  29. Oh, and yes, the numbers will never be perfect, but they should be enough to help you make decisions
  30. Follow the top marketing mavens on twitter
  31. Read content from top marketing mavens on twitter
  32. Ask a question you want answered on Focus.com (OK, you can ask it on LinkedIn, too)
  33. Create a lead management plan that starts from the top (lead generation) to a passed lead (P.S., based on your unified lead definition)
  34. Read your competitors marketing materials
  35. Fill out a lead form on your competitors site and see how they qualify, convert and nurture you
  36. Do a at least one webinar a month
  37. Make the webinar focused on business pains and issues, NOT a demo for your product
  38. Leverage experts and thought leaders in your industry to speak
  39. P.S., have those same experts create white papers, blog posts, etc. for you
  40. Think of webinars for ALL aspects: quantifiable lead generation, lead nurturing, education, thought leadership
  41. Create a lead qualification organization (dedicated phone-based team focused on following up on leads)
  42. Optimize your lead qualification organization
  43. Read scripts, emails etc.
  44. Send an email to your clients that doesn’t sell them anything but instead helps them do their job
  45. Then send these helpful emails monthly
  46. Then use the marketing automation system you bought to track efficiency
  47. Don’t forget your current customers, or to put it another way, market and foster goodwill with your customers
  48. Update your social media profiles for completeness and marketability even if you aren’t looking for a job (LinkedIn, Focus.com, Facebook)
  49. Start a blog
  50. Update your blog weekly minimum
  51. Don’t write about yourself, your company, etc. on the blog, except once in awhile
  52. Put marketing, lead generation blogs into your Google reader
  53. Allot 22 minutes a day to reading industry-related content
  54. Respect every single lead (@cjablonski)
  55. “Systems design” your programs (@cjablonski)
  56. Make calculated risks routinely (@cjablonski)
  57. Delight the most loyal (@cjablonski)
  58. Surprise your customers (@cjablonski)
  59. Be your target audience (@cjablonski)
  60. Rip and replace your strategies (@cjablonski)
  61. Manage your brand symbols (@cjablonski)
  62. Nurture as if you meant it (@cjablonski)
  63. Cleanse your sales pipeline (@cjablonski)
  64. Be authoritative
  65. Track your metrics based on opportunities created and opportunities
  66. Get everyone on CRM (seriously — Its 2010)
  67. Get a sales 2.0 tool
  68. Increasing connects increases conversion
  69. Don’t complain about what sales is doing with your leads
  70. Don’t complain about sales in general
  71. Urgency. Just be urgent
  72. Call your lead generation vendors and optimize the program with real data
  73. Post your content on third-party Web sites to capture traffic not going to your Web site
  74. Get tweetdeck, hootsuite or something to manage your twitter content
  75. Re-evaluate your Web site. Chances are it sucks
  76. Clearly define what your product is and the use case it solves for in buyer language on your Web site, in materials, etc. — how many Web sites do you go do and you can’t figure out what the f*** the vendor does?) (@mschmier)
  77. Optimize your landing pages for conversion
  78. Considering pulling fields OFF your landing pages to get more people to download
  79. Go to one of the following trade shows: Marketing Sherpa or Sirius Decisions.
  80. Stop going to industry trade shows that don’t work
  81. However, don’t think about immediate conversion, judge the show by important meetings had (could be with customers) and the “right” people. If you are looking at short-term conversion rates, you will cancel them all.
  82. Test a new lead generation source whenever you can (or you’ll never know what works)
  83. Not sure what to do about Facebook — if you can get business there, write me back for next year
  84. Read the book: eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale by Ardath Albee
  85. Read the book: Digital Body Language by Steven Woods
  86. Buying a list is not a lead generation strategy
  87. Buying leads is not a lead generation strategy
  88. Instead, figure how to convert leads, then buy leads or lists — if you know how to convert, you can buy till the cows come home
  89. Remember: white paper leads are the start of a conversation, not the end of the conversation
  90. Try new things, always (I think I already said that)
  91. Channel partners are terrible at following up on leads; if you pass them leads, run them through a lead qual team first or buy appointments
  92. Replace “always be closing” with “always be helping”
  93. Map and understand how your buyers make decisions
  94. Re-evaluate your target buyer persona.
  95. Confirm the target buyer persona and tell everyone in your organization till they tell you to shut up (it’s that important that they know)
  96. Make your written content one page. Buyers are busy
  97. Consider simplifying your message — bring back “simple as 1-2-3” messaging
  98. Buyers love lists, they just do. Lists are easy to read and set an expectation with the reader that it will only be “X” number of points in the offer
  99. Create a diverse mix of content (webinars, white papers, podcasts)
  100. When following up on leads, combine phone and email
  101. Optimize everything about the phone and email process: scripts, emails, sequencing
  102. Meet with sales leadership and get them on board. Act like a sales person. They will barf on you at first, but don’t quit — get buyoff
  103. Spend some time and money, and you WILL make more money
  104. Metrics aren’t just cool, use them to make you better (and look better!)
  105. Warning on all this: Sales will always be from Mars, and marketing will always be from Venus
  106. Consider all the touch points in a campaign not just the messaging — message, landing page, follow-up, etc.
  107. When considering, draw a process map to represent the various touch points
  108. Create metrics for each touch point
  109. But pick three overall metrics you will look at every day
  110. Did I mention social media? Have a twitter strategy, use LinkedIn too
  111. Do things on social media, but if you move money away from pure demand generation for social media, that is bad, because …
  112. Social media is not a “down the funnel” lead generation strategy, measure social media buy link-backs and traffic, not people ready to buy tomorrow
  113. Oh yeah, and if you’re judged only by finding people ready to buy tomorrow, warm up the resume
  114. Run a VITO campaign. They still work if you combine phone follow-up with the marketing portion
  115. Throw your hands in the air and wave them like you just don’t care.
  116. Talk to your CEO more than the VP of Sales does
  117. Talk to your prospects using case studies
  118. Peers are the most trusted source of information for other buyers — leverage your customer network via webcasts and references to re-enforce your value proposition (@mschmier)
  119. Online vs. offline is very 2009 (@scottalbro)
  120. Online AND offline is very 2010 (@scottalbro)
  121. Create a list of 210 tips for your target buyer
  122. Do email campaigns — they still work.
  123. I know I mentioned podcasts earlier, but don’t do them. They don’t work
  124. Choose someone in your company who will be your voice online
  125. Stop advertising in trade magazines
  126. If you are fortunate to sponsor a big sporting event, make sure you get tickets as well because you should at least get personal ROI
  127. Make sure you provide a demo. The self-service buyer craves it (this falls under “down the funnel” content)
  128. Understand your competition and give sales real competitive language, not high-level outdated, irrelevant stuff (everyone considers more)
  129. Where are your users online? Figure out where your users are online and create a strategy as appropriate. Hint, most SMB buyers probably aren’t tweeting all day. (@mschmier)
  130. The phone is still the most important tool for conversion to opportunity.
  131. Go to sales training — if you can sell, you can market
  132. Read a sales book, see above
  133. Try emails using the exact opposite of best practices
  134. Oh, and send an email on Sunday morning. People will open it
  135. Social media is not a panacea (@cjablonski)
  136. Improve field-to-headquarters information flow (@cjablonski)
  137. Research your industry buying cycles (@cjablonski)
  138. Deliver on your intent, daily (@cjablonski)
  139. If you don’t believe in your value proposition, rewrite it (@cjablonski)
  140. If the average person can’t understand your value prop, rewrite it
  141. Social media is WOM on steroids (@cjablonski)
  142. Keep emerging submarkets on your radar (@cjablonski)
  143. If you pay for impressions, then you will get impressions(@cjablonski)
  144. Give away your best content for free (@cjablonski)
  145. Learn your company’s elevator pitch (@tlotl)
  146. Write your personal elevator pitch (@tlotl)
  147. Claim your area of unique expertise (@tlotl)
  148. Challenge any assumption more than 9 months old (@tlotl)
  149. Learn how to (effectively) explain social media to executive management (@tlotl)
  150. Don’t let the bastards drag you down (@tlotl)
  151. Don’t get defensive
  152. Append your house list. Why wouldn’t you?
  153. Be the first to develop a Google Wave marketing strategy (@cjablonski)
  154. Throw your hands in the air and Google Wave them like you just don’t care
  155. If you spend more money on promotional items like t-shirts and pens than you did on demand gen, then shame on you
  156. Facilitate conversations between experts (@tlotl)
  157. Create content for every buyer persona you create (business users want something different than technical)
  158. Consumer marketers are light years ahead of B2B marketers. If you want to know what’s cutting edge, it’s them.
  159. Don’t overvalue title filters with content syndication; identifying organizational interest is the goal.
  160. P.S., Directors and VPs don’t download white papers online.
  161. Keep voicemails under 30 seconds
  162. In voicemails, don’t sell the product, sell the next step (e.g., just ask them to read your email), because …
  163. You should send an email after you leave a voicemail. You will get an exponentially higher open rate.
  164. Speaking of which, in lead gen and marketing, you should sell the meeting, demo, or next step not the product
  165. If you throw a party , invite the neighborhood — don’t filter webinars
  166. Keep marketing and generating demand in December, or you’ll end up with no pipeline in January.
  167. Understand common prospect objections and help attack them in your collateral.
  168. Assess the ROI of your fixation on ROI (@cjablonski)
  169. Elevate your marketing database hygiene (@cjablonski)
  170. Shoot for viral when you have the talent (@cjablonski)
  171. Make a contingency plan for your guerilla marketing idea (@cjablonski)
  172. Don’t write off direct mail (@cjablonski)
  173. Work with “frenemies” to serve the community (@cjablonski)
  174. Don’t hire someone to write your blog (@cjablonski)
  175. Be interesting by being interested (@cjablonski)
  176. Help make sales people be trusted expert advisers(@cjablonski)
  177. Don’t begin a survey with demographic questions (@cjablonski)
  178. Have conversations not sales pitches (@cjablonski)
  179. Create versatile content: Can you use this content in a white paper, webinar, blog post, etc.?
  180. Marketing is either a critical advantage against your competitors or nothing at all (obsolete, ineffective, etc.). Think like sales when you build your marketing strategy — build it to compete
  181. When considering everything you can do in 2010, remember you will be judged by pipeline created for sales
  182. Knowing the above, when trying to figure out whether to put money into lead gen or branding and you can’t afford to do both, I think you know the answer now
  183. Repurpose old content (@damphoux)
  184. Measure CPO (Cost per Opportunity) (@damphoux)
  185. It’s not a sales process, it’s a buying process (@damphoux)
  186. Interview candidates from competition (@damphoux)
  187. Ask prospects which competitor you lost a deal to (@damphoux)
  188. Ask them why (@damphoux)
  189. Pounce on a Web lead if they abandoned their visit on the Contact Us page (@damphoux)
  190. Make the goal of the first sales call to get a second (@damphoux)
  191. Different sales reps at the same company can benefit by different leads (introductory appointments for one, qualified leads for others) (@damphoux)
  192. Not all sales people know what’s right for them — think of them as teens and give them what you think is right for them (@damphoux)
  193. Log into your webinar platform an hour early and get all presenters set up early (@damphoux)
  194. Do demand gen programs targeting your existing and past clients (@damphoux)
  195. Never pay a lead gen team by the hour, pay for results (@damphoux)
  196. Spend a day with your lead gen team or vendor (@damphoux)
  197. Teach your sales team the best practices of handling the leads you worked so hard to generate (@damphoux)
  198. Learn how to use a tweet scheduler, but still be personal most of the time (@damphoux)
  199. Your most important landing page is your home page (@damphoux)
  200. One of the highest converting forms is the Subscribe to Blog by Email form (@damphoux)
  201. Selling doesn’t start until sales is talking with a prospect. Set introductory appointments for them (@damphoux)
  202. Do AB testing with a simple 3 line email, instead of a formal email marketing piece (@damphoux)
  203. Read the Pounce, Pause, Nurture or Wait debate (@damphoux)
  204. You spend thousands, if not millions of dollars building your contact database, so invest a little bit to maintain it with dedupes and validation (@damphoux)
  205. Attend a tweetup (@damphoux)
  206. Create a simple slideshare presentation and make every marketing and sales member of your team loads it into their LinkedIn profiles. Stagger them so they continually go live (@damphoux)
  207. Favorite, Like, Retweet people promoting your offering (@damphoux)
  208. Build a twitter “List” (@damphoux)
  209. If you see business cards lying on a sales rep’s desk, get them entered into a spreadsheet/CSV for free (@damphoux)
  210. Never try to do a list over 10 by yourself (especially 210)

Thanks, @scottalbro, @cjablonski, @tlotl, @mschmier, @damphoux.

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

Eating Nails for Breakfast: 2 Weeks with Sales and How It Made Me a Better Marketer

Tip of the day for marketers: Do “ride-alongs” with sales as you consider your marketing plans. I have spent the last two weeks heavily involved with our sales team, and I learned a ton. Getting feedback is helpful but watching the every-day pain a salesperson endures is eye-opening. If you really want to add value as a marketer, you have to  identify the “have-to-have’s” for your customers, the sales team. The best way to do it, is to see for yourself.

Follow the entire from lead to close.  Here is what I recommend:

  1. Watch and listen to lead conversion conversations and day-to-day lead follow-up “agony”: If you have a lead development team, sit with the good ones and watch them go through their paces. Listen to conversations, watch how they figure out who to call, watch what their screen looks like when they do call, watch them handle objections, listen to prospect reactions, and so on. It’s humbling – and so helpful it hurts. If you don’t have lead dev, sit with one of your sales reps as he or  she goes through their day.
  2. Sit in on a couple value prop presentations: If you can watch this face-to-face, you can see the prospects’ reactions. Go again with only your best reps and see how they’ve probably altered your message and preso based on what they feel works or doesn’t.  You can see what’s really effective on the street and what they care about.
  3. Sit in on executive meetings: The decision maker/executive messaging is so critical to sales getting the deal done. Watching and listening to this interaction is beyond instructive. Even the questions they ask alone will tell you a lot about how to message and what sales tools are essential to success.
  4. Talk to some customers: You can use a market research firm for this to get bigger feedback numbers, but you should at minimum talk to a couple yourself. Find out why they bought, what their impressions were of competitors, and so on.
  5. Talk to some sales you lost: Sales guys never give these up, but this could possibly be the most helpful of all. Why did we lose the deal? Followed by, what can I do in marketing to make it better.

The ride-along will help you do your job better and, as a result, help you provide real value to the company’s bottom line.  So eat some nails with the sales team and your marketing plans will get applause not boos.

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

Building a Successful Lead-Development Program Part 2: Managing Your Team

In last week’s post, “Building a Successful Lead Development Program,” I focused on Part 1, the people making up your team. This week I want to focus on how to manage your group. I’m going to save marketing automation and CRM for a post of its own. Instead, I want to talk about how department management should work with your company’s lead developers to support their success.

First, I want to once again pound into your heads the difference between lead development and lead qualification:

  • Lead qualification is the process of taking inbound requests and qualifying them before sending them to sales.
  • Lead development is the process of taking leads attained from avenues such as white papers and convincing registrants to hear more from your organization and then qualifying them.

Lead development is a challenge, but one of the most critical functions in the-lead generation supply chain. A lead-development group has unique needs, you as manager must feed them the right food.

Essential Reading: The Funnelholic’s 5 Management Essentials to Lead-Development Success:

1. Pass out “Hang on the Wall Materials”

I can tell a good lead-development process by what the lead-development reps have hanging on their cube walls. When we talk about “hang on the walls” materials, these have to be simple one-page documents. The “product marketing”-created sales training materials should be on the bookshelf. What the team needs from you is simple and easy to understand. Here are some must-haves:

  • A call script, which includes an opening two- to three-sentence value proposition
  • A qualification script
  • Objection handling
  • A product grid. Provide one that is simple with a high-level value proposition and the types of buyers interested in these products. But remember this caveat: you really DON’T want the lead-development team getting too far down pitching-product road. You have to train them on how to use this document so they can clinch a meeting. The prospect should know that your company is equipped to help them, but the pitch and scope should land squarely in the hands of your bag-carrying sales rep.

2.  Optimize script and objection handling

  • Everyone should use the same script and do the same things.
  • Optimize the script on the basis of feedback. Discuss the objections the lead-development team is receiving. The objection-handling document should be a living, breathing, evolving document.
  • Keep in mind that lead qualification is totally different from lead development, so these meetings should not be combined so the staff isn’t confused.

3.  Develop call campaigns
Control the variables. You need to develop lead-development campaigns for your reps: when to call and how many times, when to send an email, and how long a lead should stay open. Here are some important factors to consider when developing your approach:

  • The first 24 hours are critical.
  • The law of diminishing returns starts after 24 hours. Don’t give up because people are busy and can’t always be reached immediately, but your connection rates are higher earlier in the process.
  • Establish an email template for your reps. They shouldn’t waste precious time on email, unless they are personally responding to a contact. Instead, focus on establishing standard emails that look personal and sound personable. Optimize the content in the email and free up the rep’s time for calls.

4. Set simple goals for each interaction

  • Initial voice mails and emails should be designed to connect. Reps don’t necessarily have to sell the company. They just need to make a connection on the phone. They simply qualify the contact and sell them on talking to a sales rep.
  • As a lead-development rep, they need to remember their job is to sell the meeting, not the company.

5. Live by a unified lead definition

  • Make sure your sales team and your lead-development team are on the same page. No arguments. They should agree on definitions and expectations. And I can’t emphasize this enough — keep things simple.
  • There has been so much written having the same lead definition, and I could harp on and on about this, but I’m just going to stress its importance. If both sides have don’t have the same lead definition, you’re doomed.

Stay tuned. The next topic is automation. Remove your teeth from your nails …

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

Don’t Scare the Buyer Off on the Reg Form: 3 Things You Don’t Ask on a First Date

More and more, marketers are trying to “qualify” leads through their Web registration form.   I don’t believe in this practice.  I am believer in “business card” information and geo and company targeting. Geography is a common question (thanks, though, for the thousands of leads from Kazakhstan, but I have no sales presence there), and I understand company size. I don’t believe this information causes pause for users.

What I don’t get is the “qualification” questions about budgets and projects. As Web users, we fill out plenty of forms. Do you really want to tell a company you have a project in the works? And that you have a budget? That’s basically chumming the water for the sharks, and users know that. So, essentially you are scaring prospects away, thus hurting conversion rates or in the case of the user actually filling out that form, creating fake data. Or catching the smallest fish in the organization who needs to be thrown back.

There is an easy rule here: Don’t ask anything you wouldn’t ask on a first date.

Here are the three most important questions:

  1. How much money do you have (or, at least, the range)? Do you have budget? If so, how big is it?  Guys, get real. The budget question is inappropriate. It’s a judgment call whether it’s even appropriate on the first call.  You need to establish a relationship and common interests and ensure the person likes you before you can ask that. Jumping into the budget question right away makes you look desperate. It makes you look like you are worried about who’s going to pay for dinner.
  2. I don’t know you, but I’m concerned about the following potential problems you might have. Please choose one so I know how to approach the rest of dinner. These questions are usually phrased empathetically in terms of “pain,” “what keeps you up at night” or  “what problem are you trying to solve”? And, presumptuously, your issues are pre-selected and served up a la carte in a drop-down menu.  Dude, this one is incredible. Don’t fake concern. They don’t know you yet, so why would they trot out their character flaws?
  3. How long will it be till we sleep together? (In case you’re missing the connection here, these are the reg form timeframe questions.)  This one’s worth a shot because you really have nothing to lose if you’ve gotten this far. But no one really answers this question honestly and most want to avoid it altogether. They know you will call them, but they may not be ready to get serious so soon.

The bottom line is:  It’s noble to try, but don’t use reg forms to do the job of your lead qualification or sales team.  You are scaring great prospects off, and are hurting conversion too little benefit.  Use your reg forms to confirm interest, target your market, and get their info.  Gather more data on your second date or your third when you’ve both invested some time.

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

Building a Successful Lead-Development Program Part I: The People

If you have read any of my previous posts or heard me talk, then you know how I feel about the importance of building a lead-development team.  But you can’t build a strong lead-development team if you don’t know the distinction between lead qualification and lead development:

  • Lead qualification is the process of taking inbound requests and qualifying them before sending them to sales.
  • Lead development is the process of taking leads attained from avenues such as white papers and convincing registrants to hear more from your organization and then qualifying them.

Today, you may have a lead-qualification team.  If the volume justifies it, keep the lead-qualification team.  However, if you want to succeed with third-party-generated leads (such as white paper or webinar leads), it’s time to build a top-notch lead development team.

There are many aspects to the process. First, let’s concentrate on the people.

Lead development is essentially a sales vehicle, so the people involved in this process have to be able to:

  • Face rejection. Remember, the average third-party white paper converts from 4 percent up to 20 to 30 percent.  That means that a large number of these leads will not convert. Your lead-development reps have to be ready for a healthy amount of rejection.
  • Overcome objections. See above. Just because you’ve been rejected doesn’t mean you should give up.  You’ll likely never receive the response “I want to be sold by You.” A good objection-handling strategy (see below) can help handle these contacts.
  • Be engaging. Nobody buys anything from people they don’t like.  Plain and simple. The core trait of great sales reps is their ability to convince someone to do something they don’t want to do without their realizing it.
  • Dial, Dial, Dial. The best sales development teams manage their reps by output.  Tailor them to your organization, but watch your numbers.  Work backwards from “passed to sales rep.”  How many connections does it take before passing a lead to a sales rep? Ideally one. How many attempts does it take to connect? You need to have quotas, and those making the calls need to be overtly aware of those quotas.

Where do you find these people?

  • The “straight-out-of-college” model. I like this model a lot.  The lead-development team can be a farm team for your sales force.  The key to success here is training, training, training, as well as a real understanding of the “type” of person that will be successful. You need to follow your gut, because they usually lack tangible experience.
  • The “stay-at-home mom and dad” model. This model is hot.  A lot of the outsourced lead-generation vendors are going to this model.  A number of my customers have built rock-solid teams using stay-at-home folks.  The key here is you can get lots of experienced reps.  I do not think this is the best model for low ASP (average sales price) or fast sales-cycle type sales, but more for larger deal size, enterprise type sales.
  • Outsourced. People ask me this all the time: Outsource or in-house?  Outsourcing can work,  but it is not plug and play.  You have to put in the same amount of effort you would if you are building it in-house.  And it won’t work initially, you will need to come out of the gate slowly, but you can make it work over time.

Stay tuned for the next step: Process

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.