Linkedin Lead Nurturing for Sales People

Over the last three weeks, I have viewed someone’s profile and they have sent me a note within a day. I clicked on one woman’s profile I haven’t spoken to in months. BOOM, hours later, I got a Linkedin message: “How’s business?” I love it. The idea here is very similar to what you do with marketing automation, ie, a prospect you have been pursuing or you haven’t seen in awhile starts spending time on your web page and you can see that is happening and you reach out. You can do this on the biggest b2b site in the world and you should. Think about it, you have someone who just took the time to click on a description of YOU.

Use cases are endless:
1. Inbound marketing – people find you via your keywords, etc and you see that aka “awesome”
2. Prospecting — trying to get a person on the phone, include your linkedin profile in your email. You will see them check you out and when you do…shazam.
3. Customer Nurturing — Avoid “checking in”. You see someone looking at your profile, they are thinking about you, reach out. The “How’s business” message I received falls into this category.

Click the “who has viewed your profile” link:

Boom, you can see who is “checking you out”.

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 3 Absolutely, Positively “Must-Haves” for Successful Lead Nurturing, Featuring an All-Star Cast

I don’t publicize all the Webcasts I am in, even though I should. That being said, I am really excited about “3 Must-Haves for Successful Lead Nurturing”  on December 8 at 10 a.m PST / 1 p.m. EST.

Here are the reasons I’m keyed up about the Webcast — and you should be too:

1. It’s about lead nurturing, but better. Like you, when I see a link that says “lead nurturing,” I click on it. And I, like many of you, are often bummed about the content, which can be redundant, basic, conceptual and sometimes stupid. We strive to provide the opposite — content that is fresh and innovative and complete with concrete action items.

2. It captures the core of what we in sales and marketing really need to know. We are talking about nurturing’s three essential elements:

  • Content
  • The “human touch”
  • Marketing automation

3. We are presenting an all-star cast consisting of three of the biggest, smartest players in the business:

  • Ardath Albee (@ardath421): A CEO and B2B marketing strategist of a notable consulting firm, Marketing Interactions Inc. She is one of the most respected B2B marketing experts in our space, and if you don’t follow her content, get on the stick. And read her book, eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale.
  • Brian Carroll (@brianjcarroll): The 800-pound gorilla in the demand-generation and lead-nurturing space, who is without a doubt the most famous blogger and speaker on those topics.
  • Scott Mersy (@smersy): A rising star. Pay attention, and see what we are noticing — more and more of Scott’s smart, insightful and helpful content on the Internet.  As vice president of marketing and products at Genius.com, he’s an expert on what it takes to succeed at lead nurturing.

So, sign up and check out our Webcast: Tuesday, December 8 at  10 a.m. PST / 1 p.m.  EST. Register here.

See you there!

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

The 6 common, completely annoying, yet easy to overcome, pieces of feedback you receive on leads

Most B2B marketers don’t always realize that the initial follow up on your leads can make or break your conversion rate and ultimately your ROI.  The B2B marketers that do realize this have adjusted – they either own lead qualification, work extensively with the sales-lead lead-qualification team or outsource to a tele-vendor who qualifies leads before they pass them to the sales-lead lead-qual group.  Just generating leads or managing CPL, and so on means nothing if you aren’t optimizized for what happens after you generate the lead.  FYI: the biggest and best marketing organizations have already solved this and continue to do so.

So, as a person who has been providing leads to organizations for 10 years, I can say I have heard them all. Not just from the person on the phone following up, but from the marketers who gather feedback from sales.  This “feedback” is from the front line of leads.  If this is the feedback you are getting, sometimes fixing the follow-up first makes all the difference.  Remember, if Sirius Decisions is right, 80 percent of the leads that sales disqualifies end up buying within 24 months. So those leads that “suck” many not be that bad after all.

Before I go on, I do want to say one think I have learned: many times all “frontline” objections are solved by three things:

1.     Being clear about what the goal is of the call.  In most cases, its two-fold:  Figure out whether you should keep talking (score) and, if so, get them to the next step in the sales process (demonstration, appointment, and so on).  This is where follow-up fails: Lead-qual reps think their job is to sell the product (bad call), figure out if they have read the whitepaper (hilarious).  Every objection can be answered by the question “Are you the person involved in …?” Seriously.

2.    Training and management – repeat after me: training and management.

3.    Marketing automation and lead nurturing.

So, here they are the 6 common, but easy to overcome, yet honestly, completely annoying pieces of feedback you receive on leads*:

1.     “They don’t remember downloading the whitepaper”: Yes, I know.  Since the advent of online whitepaper syndication, it has been the new buyer objection. Suckers get derailed from this objection. Seriously, why do you care?  YOU know they did, so leverage that knowledge to keep on fighting.  How about, “no problem, are you in charge of…?”

2.    “They won’t call me back”: That’s right, because buyers (even when buying) can’t wait to call back someone so they can be subjected to BANT qualifying questions. Don’t just leave “checking in and seeing if you have any questions” voicemails of the early 90s.  The buyer’s job is to NOT call you back or email you back (even when they LIKE you). Winning organizations have the following:

  • Coordinated call/email campaigns designed to get people to connect.
  • Outbound dialing service like Connect and Sell www.connectandsell.com
  • An understanding that not everyone will answer their phones in 3 weeks, so nurture.

3. “They don’t know who we are”: Now this one CAN be solved to an extent with the lead sources that you are using, but again, is that the ultimate opening question?  Who are you? Don’t mind if I do.

4.    “They don’t have a project”: Sorry that they don’t have a project today, but seeing as this is the right person who is requesting information about your market, you may want to talk to them. Just to note, from  our marketing programs at Tippit, we have one simple lead definition, “Right Person, Right Interest.”  We will pay for that.  We know over time, they will buy. Just get us started.

5.     “They aren’t the decision maker”: I know, I know, you need to talk to the CEO or VP.  Well, they aren’t going to download things on the Internet.  I understand why we need to get to the C-suite at some point, but that’s not going to happen with industrial grade, lead-generation machinery. Particularly with companies that want to do LOTS of business.  If you want to hit the C-suite, put together a VITO campaign leveraging execs, make sure you have experienced outbound callers on the project and be happy with a couple leads. But don’t expect your lead machine to punch out CEO’s.

6.    “They have a project but…”: You can’t have it both ways from lead gen. The perfect project ready to buy in one month with no warts attached is just NOT going to happen. If you do get projects, be happy you did. These are still leads. Here are some of my favorites:

  • “They fit our employee parameters, but they only want a small amount of licenses”
  • “They are already down the road”

Note:  This is primarily related to leads and inquiries, depending on what you call them (not BANT scored).

*This “feedback” means there is a problem with expectation setting, process, and so on and can always be made to go away.

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

The Definitive Lead Nurturing Playbook with Tony Jaros, Sirius Decisions

I am doing a great webinar with Tony Jaros from Sirius Decisions on Lead Nurturing.  I just want to get a couple things straight about why I legitimately think you should come:

1. There is actionable advice  —  there is a lot of lead nurturing content on the Internet, none of them as good as this.  Tony will give attendees a playbook so that they can go out and do something about this.

2. Lead nurturing is the most important thing you will do this year, and you have no idea how to get it done effectively. This is a repeat of #1, but it’s true.  Lead nurturing is not just a buzzword, it’s mission-critical.

3. Tony Jaros is one of the smartest dudes in the business – folks, he is really good.  And I have seen the deck.  This will be really good stuff.

4. There will be zero selling, only educating – I like that myself.  Now, I will sell myself and Tony of course, but that’s ego and not for commercial reasons.

I look forward to people coming to the webinar, and I hope for lively conversation.  Please join us and please pass along word to your friends.

Click here to join The Definitive Lead Nurturing Playbook with Tony Jaros and The Funnelholic.

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