1. Best Practice B2B Resource Center as a Hub for Relevant Content Delivery & Lead Nurturing

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    A B2B web site resource center is a key hub for any B2B marketer looking to transform their web site from a billboard which prospects view but bounce off – never to return again – to a trusted resource where prospects engage over time as they move through their buying process. This can be an important vehicle for delivering relevant content, and through this capturing useful information about prospects that is used to manage the ongoing nurturing of these prospects in order to accelerate their buying process. We saw an opportunity to develop a best practice framework for B2B web site resource centers by examining existing resource centers from best in class companies such as Marketo, HubSpot and Eloqua; online publishers such as newspaper web sites; and other sites that manage large volumes of content (e.g. recipe sites). With our company’s location in Waltham, MA – we are privileged to...
  2. 35 Days to Great First Sales Meetings

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      35 Days to First Conversation — do the math For prospects who actively engage your content, assuming a two day lag in viewing, here is a possible sequence to your first call appointment (elapse time not work days) (“your mileage may vary”): Day 1 – send initial invitation touch with vmail call Day 3 – prospect views email content Day 5 – send Touch #2 automatically, no call Day 7 – prospect views content Day 14 – send Touch #3 mail, vmail call Day 16 – prospect views content Day 23 – send Touch #4 mail, vmail call Day 25 – prospect views content Days 25, 26, 27 – email & call to request introduction conversation Day 35 – have first introduction call For a detailed, comprehensive explanation of each step, download this document.  
  3. Lead Nurturing and the Inside Sales / Telesales Role

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    We are working with several clients to help them improve their lead nurturing program to deliver a higher volume and quality of sales ready leads to the outside sales team. We have found a tendency on the part of Inside Sales to conduct their work from what I would term a traditional mindset. In many cases they are actively prospecting for new leads from an unqualified list. They may be qualifying, using a BANT process, opportunities that have been created through marketing programs — something one of my partners refers to as “waterboarding to BANT.” Or, they are actively trying to set appointments for sales reps. Telemarketing Study Results This assessment was verified in a recent article about a study of the top objectives and budget areas for telemarketing organizations. “The most popular objective for telemarketing, according to the research, is ‘generating new leads’, selected by 76 per cent of...
  4. Sharing a customer’s story

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    I’m just back from a client review meeting. We assist our customer with lead management and content. This week they started a campaign, here is their story. As a result of our customer’s ability to track and score buyer consumption of content, initially delivered through an outbound campaign, and supported by a content microsite, our customer identified several people whose content consumption behavior indicated heightened interest. This triggered a move of this “lead” in their (Marketo) lead management system from the initial “inquiry” status to “marketing qualified lead” (MQL). The lead scoring algorithm also triggered their inside sales person to conduct an immediate phone follow up. All of this was communicated automatically within their Salesforce.com system, virtually in real time. The “buyer” turned out not to be the actual buyer at all, but the administrative assistant for the President of the company. She indicated they found the content so valuable they...
  5. How long is your sales process?

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    One of the early questions I ask prospective customers with a complex, B2B sale is, “how long is your sales process?” The answer is almost always, “it depends, it can be three to eighteen months depending …” In the past few years we’ve all gained a stronger appreciation for the idea of the customer’s buying process.  Sharon Drew Morgan’s contribution with Buying Facilitation(R) helps us. Ardath Albee’s buyer journey gives us a clear understanding. Automated lead nurturing has forced us to think through the buyer’s journey and how to support it with relevant, compelling content. Sales professionals know the sales process applies to qualified and interested opportunities. Sales participates in the active consideration phase of the customer’s buying journey. Two primary factors determine the sellers sales process: How long it takes to assess an active buyer’s needs, engage all buyer stakeholders, influence buying criteria, configure a solution, deliver a successful proposal and complete...
  6. On Sales Enablement

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    As I listen to the sales enablement conversation, it sounds like sales enablement is a euphemism for training, skill development and knowledge sharing. The conversation is heavily influenced by system vendors. These systems improve access to content that delivers selling knowledge and customer collateral. Reminds me of the old expression, “when all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.” Clearly improving skill and knowledge are part of what drives sales productivity. But I’m hearing two critical elements that have been missing from the conversation starting to emerge. Leads Are Part of Sales Enablement As a sales professional, I think one of the most important elements that enable sales to be more productive is a steady supply of qualified opportunities. Good leads vs. access to content? Give me leads every day. It is now clear that an automated lead management program is a “must have” for B2B...
  7. How I Blew a Sales Layup

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    A layup is the easiest shot in basketball, if you’re not able to dunk. But it’s not unusual for a player to miss a layup. Why is that? Most likely because they overlook fundamentals and fail to concentrate. We recently had a sale not close — neither lost nor won, just won’t close. The customer has a significant and recognized need, high interest in our service, and our sales person has known and worked with the company previously. There was significant and acknowledged potential value from the service. The deal was a “no brainer.” So what happened? We followed most, but not all elements of our sales process. As we performed our opportunity review post mortem I remembered something we had overlooked. We had neglected to perform an Opportunity Flight Check prior to submitting our proposal. Our colleague, Rob Scanlon (www.privatesalescoach.com) has developed a unique and insightful program that assesses sales opportunity risk and...
  8. What does your company do?

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    “It’s Not about the Bike” — the title of Lance Armstrong’s excellent autobiography. Becoming a world class cyclist requires far more than the bike. Strategy, practice sessions, workouts, diet, and mental aspects impact performance far beyond the equipment. The implications of his statement occurs to me every day. For example, too often people think a software system will solve their business problem. Another is the way sales people answer the typical customer question: “what does your company do?” There are two perspectives that can direct the response: the vendor perspective and the customer perspective. Sales people often fixate on their products or services. They think customers are as interested in key features as are they. Customers are actually asking one of two questions. They may be asking the product or service question so they can attempt to self-diagnose. Have you ever heard a customer respond to a product oriented introduction,...
  9. Creating Relevant Content

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    The shift from building content about a company and it’s products and services, to building content that speaks to specific interests of target audiences, raises the issue of content relevance. What makes content relevant? How would we gauge the degree of relevance of a content item? This shift is being driven by new customer buying processes enabled largely by internet availability of information traditionally provided by vendors. As buyers begin their buying process with online research, content becomes more critical than ever before. Content is what helps companies get discovered during this research process. Used properly, content can help companies discover potential buyers before they decide to contact vendors. Search engine optimization (SEO), internet syndicated articles, and marketing automation technology (among others) have changed the marketing game. Buyers are not interested in vendor products and services until quite late in their buying process. At the start, they are primarily interested...
  10. Improve Your Connect Rates

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    I continue to hear from sales people who still try to use email as a prospecting tool. I contend email is no longer a communication tool — especially when unsolicited — it’s primarily a delivery vehicle. Those who use marketing automation to track email open rates know it’s probably on the low end of 1% to 5%. Even if it’s “opened,” unsolicited emails might not be read, let alone have the message internalized. And this is what I mean by communication. In the email solicitations I receive I continually see “selling” in email messages. The objective of a prospecting communication must be to gain attention and to get a referral, meeting or conversation. Period. To accomplish this, the message must be compelling and relevant with a focus on the customer’s problems or opportunities. I know most people read emails on Blackberry and other portable devices. Therefore I have to write differently with...
  11. The Top 7 Signs That You’d Better Fix Your Marketing Automation Setup – and What To Do About It – Signs 4 to 7

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    Last week I published signs 1-3 of the “The Top 7 Signs That You’d Better Fix Your Marketing Automation Setup – and What To Do About It”. This week I continue with signs 4-7. Sign #4: You’re cloning landing pages to create others It’s tempting to clone an existing page to create another landing page.  I don’t recommend it. Why not? You’re going to forget to update information. I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve seen Marketo web pages with the wrong Page Name (top left corner of the browser), because the page was copied and the person forgot to update the page meta-data. That easy to forget because the meta-data is a bit “buried” and not top of mind to update unless you as using a checklist. What to do about it: Rather create a set of typical web page layouts in Marketo, from which you will clone. You can put...
  12. The Top 7 Signs That You’d Better Fix Your Marketing Automation Setup – and What To Do About It

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    Thor Johnson, ex-CMO of Eloqua, told me that he saw oh-too-many customers operating their marketing automation system as a “high priced email system.” And eventually their executive team wakes up and says “What is going on here?” In being in and around many different Marketo implementations the past several years (Yep, I needed to setup a different email address for each login – no duplicate email addresses allowed!), I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly. So I’m here to share the top signs that you’d better fix your marketing automation setup – and what to do about it. It’s based on Marketo although the lessons are applicable to many other tools including Eloqua, Pardot, Act-on, Manticore and others.  You will see some common themes including using a modular and single source asset approach with program scalability and ease-of-maintenance in mind. As the title implies, for each of the 7 areas,...
  13. Marketing Automation – 10 Points on What to Do First

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    I was recently asked – “We have 3 months until we turn on our marketing automation system (in this case, Marketo). What should we do before we set it up?” First off, don’t wait for anything to turn on marketing automation. You don’t want to wait one more day because the moment you turn it on, it’s going to provide you with visibility into who is engaging your web site and you’ll begin building an activity history that will later be associated to an individually named prospect (as soon as they click on one of your emails). OK, so now you have your marketing automation turned on, what’s next? To help you ensure that you fulfill on the promise of marketing automation and meet the expectations of your management team, the below list are must-have components of anautomated lead management and lead nurturing program powered by marketing automation. These are not optional.  If...
  14. “The How” – More effective execution around webinars and event marketing

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    I have been asked to instruct an upcoming Marketo University course on event management as part of Marketo’s Revenue Rockstar Roadshow in Boston. The course will cover how to leverage Marketo’s programs & “my tokens” functionality to best manage lead generation events, both offline and online/webinars. By using a set of database-driven templates to manage all event web pages, emails and rules, you (marketers) can spend less time on event setup and operations, and more time focused on event promotion  — and therefore, getting more out of your events.  And this return on event investments (success rates and new lead acquisition) is rolled up into a single, management report compiled in real-time. Moreover, this approach means you can more easily incorporate best practices into your event and webinar programs.  When it comes to marketing, most of us know what we should be doing, but effectively operationalizing it (and ensuring it sticks) is where most companies fall short...
  15. 5 Things You Must Consider Before Purchasing Marketing Automation Executive Summary

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    As part of a recent Focus Webinar, David Raab — Principal of Raab Associates Inc — presented a webinar entitled “5 Things You Must Consider Before Purchasing Marketing Automation.” Several factors (including the relatively low cost of the software itself) have caused marketing automation to reach a stage where many companies make the decision to buy marketing automation without really knowing why. The purpose of the webinar was to raise certain questions that should be answered before purchasing a marketing automation system. These questions include: 1) What programs will achieve my specific business goals? 2) What do I need to run those programs? 3) How will the programs happen? 4) What can I do already? 5) How do I fill the gaps? This is an executive summary of the webinar and the insights shared by David Raab.  And as Avitage specializes in helping companies take ideas such as these to...

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