Items from June, 2010
In this blog post, I sat down with Marcia Yudkin to talk about the issue of unqualified leads. This case study focuses on a company that markets and sells financial brokerage solutions for over 10,000 systems of leading Fortune 100 brokerage and financial institutions, a high-profile audience. The entire podcast interview can be heard here.
The problem they presented
The VP of Marketing had been recently hired to manage the company’s overall market strategies for product and brand management, which included driving lead generation, primarily through market awareness programs. When we first met, he explained that considerable time and money had been spent over the prior year on a company rebranding project driven from a recent expansion & retooling process. Though much progress had been made in the company and product makeover in terms of new messaging and positioning, new collateral, new product packaging, etc., the sales team was not seeing these activities driving more qualified leads into their pipelines. The result: A contentious relationship between the VP of marketing & the sales team.
What was the real problem?
Upon further inspection and interviews, I discovered a number of symptoms pointing to a much bigger problem.
Senior Executives were stuck in a 90’s software industry model that believed that buyer behavior was strongly influenced by market awareness. The marketing budget was funding traditional marketing and client acquisition tactics: lots of trade shows, extensive public relations campaigns, advertising and industry article placement. The VP of Marketing noted that these methods weren’t getting positive responses from the sales force. Sales felt existing leads weren’t worth the follow-up effort. Although marketing was developing press stories & populating the website, there was no target audience outreach program except for tradeshow attendance and direct responses to news & press releases.
There was no closed-loop lead generation process whatsoever. Once prospects were captured at events (i.e. business cards, electronic tapes, website hits, etc.), they were immediately passed onto sales—without any qualification process. These leads were dumped haphazardly into Salesforce.com with little or no follow up. We found thousands of leads that had been captured from various shows, events, etc.—just sitting there, without any focus or lead management process to cultivate the initial interest. Without people, process and technology to automate the lead to sales process flow, there was no accountability for the program. All they knew, as the CEO put it, was that “we’re spending lots of money and this isn’t working!” And he did not know who to blame.
Given the skeptics in the house (senior management) and lack of alignment between sales and marketing, the new program needed to be cost-effective—and value had to be quickly demonstrated to both management and sales. We broke it down into a 90-day program, constructing two initial campaigns with the idea of quickly showing success with the leads that had been sitting there, untouched—and targeting beyond just trade shows and the like. We identified the top three problems, the content that they already had, which spoke to the banking/brokerage issue. We also noted the pool of qualified contacts in their SalesForce.com database. We focused on a theme-based approach that focused on the brokerage industry and account-opening, believing that to be the most relevant issue of the day. We pulled together the existing content (white papers, trade publications, articles, client success stories), packaged them and setup using the “Live in 45” (days or less) process. We ran the first digital outbound campaign 40 days from project kickoff, with the objective to find several sales-ready opportunities from the pool of “dead leads” that were sitting on SalesForce.com.
The results were nothing short of fantastic:
- The quick-start program yielded several A-sales ready deals, valued at over $100,000, closing within 45 days. These were opportunities from “dead leads”.—showing management
- The previously-unbudgeted marketing program had delivered 3 times the ROI from the total investment—in less than 90 days.
- Success immediately motivated sales team members to load previously dead leads into the new campaign and execute them. Over the next 90 days, their commission-based sales contacts doubled, with the sales pipeline growing over 150% in the next six months.
- During a 90-day recap meeting that was scheduled the morning after the company’s holiday party, the entire sales team was there—along with the CEO, CMO, VP of Marketing and VP of Sales. Previously skeptical about the success of any new efforts, they were now eager to understand what went into the program and what they could do to get quality sales ready leads like the ones their teammates received.
When new strategies and program execution are introduced in order to bring about change, it’s never going to be easy. And you can have a strategy that’s workable—but if the sales organization doesn’t buy into or believe in it, it’s not going to be embraced or have a lasting impact. Marketing needs to understand that their #1 customer is sales and getting their attention comes from putting deals in their pipeline. Also, a quick strike approach that delivers results for sales in the 1st 90 days gets positive attention from sales and the management team for longer term support and budget for client acquisition strategies and tactics that deliver results that make a difference.
Listen to the complete podcast now.
Tags: case study, qualified leads, unqualified leads
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