1. 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...
  2. Another Case for Marketing and Sales Collaboration

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    We have to be careful not to take words too literally. Consider the idea that marketing delivers sales ready leads to sales. By doing this, marketing has moved the buyer X% (30% -70%?) of the way through the sales process, right? Well, maybe, but maybe not. Let’s look at what has to happen with that “lead” on the sales side. (Reminder, we’re talking complex not transaction oriented sales here.) In most B2B sales processes 4-15 stakeholders are engaged. (A top technology company selling a multimillion dollar solution has 30-50 people on their People Map). When we say marketing has delivered a sales ready lead, do we mean the 4-15 stakeholders to a specific opportunity, or a single individual? Obviously, waiting for marketing to get an entire buying team to sales ready status introduces serious risk factors of being late to apply the critical sales professional resource. After all, people progress individually...
  3. 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...
  4. Sales VPs CEOs and the New Revenue Engine

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    Our business partner, Marketo, has been articulate promoting a shift in thinking in B2B selling organizations from a sales engine to a new revenue engine. This is an important read. The key impacts of this shift include: Lower Customer Acquisition Costs Reduce Wasteful Spending –(reducing cold calls, direct and email blasts –IDC estimates 25% of sales time is spent on unproductive prospecting) More Predictable Sales Forecasts Greater Pipeline Stability After many years of listening to the diatribe about the “marketing and sales disconnect,” it’s refreshing to hear solid discussion of a collaborative marketing and selling process that is focused on the common goal of revenue growth, aligned around the customer buying process, and addressing the questions customers must answer in order to solve their business problems and make a buying decision. In the past I was among those from the sales side of the equation who thought “marketing didn’t get...
  5. (Inside) Sales Needs Visual Support for Key Conversations

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    In the B2B complex sale, more selling is occurring over the telephone than ever before. This ups the ante for effective visual support that makes it easier and faster to communicate important points. But visual support also helps customers convey those points to colleagues, usually without sales rep assistance. Whether part of a formal inside selling function, or as direct sales people working in the early stages of the customer engagement process, phone meetings and conference calls are the norm, not the exception. Phone-based sellers can dramatically impact their customers and their sales effectiveness by delivering visual support to voice conversations either just before the call through email, or with live web meeting technology. For a decade we’ve heard from companies like Webex and Citrix that web meetings can give sales people a better way to conduct sales meetings without travelling to meet with customers. Well, maybe, but I find myself...
  6. 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,...
  7. 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...
  8. Sales Enablement — Revisited

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    I was on vacation when Gerhard’s blog came out on July 29 “Is Sales Enablement just Lipstick on a Knowledge Management Pig?” I just saw it this past weekend and feel compelled to comment now. Having read the post numerous times I’m not sure what the primary point really is: to denigrate the label sales enablement (why?), to criticize the “hype” of systems vendors, or to question the integrity of the analysts? (“Do you trust what analysts are saying about this concept?”) And what’s with the non sequitur about the “delay economy” and Twitter and the “real-time economy”? I like the concept, but how does that fit with a rant about sales enablement? I think the blog comments were more useful than the blog points. The premise of the post perpetuates the problem of an over pre-occupation with technology. Let me explain. Gerhard’s comments exhibit a tool obsession. Isn’t that what “Sales...
  9. 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...
  10. 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,...
  11. 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...
  12. 7 Ways to Generate More Sales Revenue with Marketing Automation – Webinar Executive Summary

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    As part of the Marketo Revenue Masters Series, Mac McIntosh, Founding Partner of AcquireB2B and Jep Castelein, Founder of LeadSloth co-presented “7 Ways to Generate More Sales Revenue with Marketing Automation.” This is an executive summary of the 7 ways. Nurture your leads to get 3 out of 4 sales opportunities that come from prospects with longer-term needs Marketing automation can help drive sales revenue by nurturing leads so that sales opportunities come from customers with the right level of needs. Research conducted by Founding Partner of AcquireB2B Mac MacIntosh, has shown that approximately ¾ of sales revenue comes from long term opportunities over six months. The purpose of these lead nurturing campaigns is to move buyers from awareness, to inquiry, to consideration and finally to purchase by appealing to different audiences in different stages of the buying process. Those customers in the beginning stages of the buying process require...

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