Case Study: The Quick Strike Program to Convert “Dead” Leads into Deals in 90 Days

Written by Rockannand on June 21, 2010 – 7:03 am -

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.

The Solution

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

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.

Lessons Learned:

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.


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Case Study: Conquer Unqualified Leads by Becoming an Industry Thought Leader

Written by Rockannand on May 13, 2010 – 8:10 am -

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 on-demand transportation management software to very large CPG shippers such as P&G and Quaker Oats. The entire interview can be heard here.  

The problem they presented
Management wanted to know how to generate more qualified leads, and mistakenly thought it was just a matter of producing more webcasts, white papers and thought leadership content and relying on a number of key media channels to deliver that content. Their lead qualification processes were mostly manual and were being performed by the sales team without automated tools. When any type of suspect inquiry occurred, marketing would handoff the inquiry directly to the sales team to qualify sales-readiness.

What was the real problem?
Upon further inspection, I discovered a number of symptoms that pointed to a bigger problem.

First, when prospects opted-in for their content, they could not tell if they were interested in them or just the topic. For example, when they downloaded a white paper, they had no real tracking methods to determine whether or not these were qualified leads, other than calling them directly.

B2B industry stats indicated that less than 10% of the leads were sales ready, but they were spending significant time to determine which were sales-ready and which were not. They had no lead nurturing process for the 75-80% of the inquiries that were qualified (right company/right contact), but not sales-ready. We called these leads “qualified contacts”.

Second they lacked tools to measure the various media outlets they used to deliver their content via sponsored webinars and white paper promotions. For example, they used Aberdeen to promote white papers, but had no way to determine the quality of the leads they were getting from the downloads and how Aberdeen stacked up against other firms such as ARC, AMR and industry-specific media players.

Finally, the company’s sales team consisted of extremely industry-knowledgeable reps when it came to logistics, who weren’t that adept at closing sales. They were good at educating prospects on the problems they solved, but more often they would get stuck educating those who were not real buyers yet. The process of moving these “qualified contacts” to qualified, sales-ready opportunities was labor-intensive and time-consuming. The company was spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in marketing programs, but was not optimizing the return on the marketing budget.

The Solution
In the podcast I break down a couple of implemented strategies involving process (lead management vs lead generation) technology (permission-based marketing automation) and people. The new marketing automation solution allowed them to execute multi-touch, multi-channel campaigns that filtered the sales-ready leads from those needing nurturing using existing marketing admin resources. The leads they were receiving from the sponsored webinars and white paper downloads were now channeled into monthly email campaigns that automated the previous manual process of filtering and qualifying leads.

The Results
The results were impressive:
• In just one year, their qualified contact database grew threefold to over 12,000.
• Their large “house” database allowed them to produce their own webinars at a savings of $10,000+/webinar with great attendance (over 800/webinar).
• They were able to hire sales reps who were not necessarily industry experts now that marketing was delivering large numbers of qualified leads to the sales force.
• Over 3 years, revenues grew 3-4 times.
• Marketing staffing stayed constant, while sales reps were added and the marketing budget as a % of revenues dropped significantly.

Lessons Learned:
We followed a strategy built on people, process and technology (in that order). The company was able to tap into their number-one strength, industry knowledge, and market it in a way that allowed them to firmly establish their reputation as such. They became the trusted advisor and market leader.

Listen to the complete podcast now.


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