5 Stats Every Good Lead Nurturer Should Know

Written by Rockannand on May 17, 2012 – 6:47 pm -

I must admit, I’m a bit of stats nut when it comes to forming an argument and making my case for something, like whether the Celtics can win it all this year, or saying its time to break up the Red Sox and start all over.

Rethinking the DemandGen Process: Quantity or Quality?

But when it comes to B2B sales and marketing, I am going to get on my soapbox and tell all it’s time to rethink the entire demand generation process. Why? Because looking at a variety of stats from some of my favorite authorities like Gartner, Forrester, Marketing Sherpa and Sirius Decision tell a very dark story about current practices that still plague the B2B industry and have a big-time drag on revenue and profitability growth. These stats represent some of the worst practices that are a carryover from the way we did things in the good old days when buyers actually took your calls and read your email. They also point to an obsession with lead quantity rather than lead quality.

Sales-Ready vs. NOT Sales-Ready

Let’s start at the top. Basically, today when someone hits your web site for the first time and registers for something of interest, only 10-15% of those folks are sales-ready. Most of the rest, 70% or more are not ready to engage beyond this initial opt-in for that white paper or webinar. So going all Lady Gaga and calling all those people who downloaded that cool info-graphic you just published or who dropped by your booth at Info-Mania Marketing World Expo is impressive, but a waste of time. Its not hard to figure out the ones that sales can work on, but that 70+% group will be quickly discarded by your sales team. 

What Happens to the 70+% That are NOT Sales-Ready?

The latent demand ones typically just fall by the way side. And that is not only a shame, but a HUGE waste of your leadgen dollars. That is something your CEO or CFO will remind you of come budget review time because 3 out of 4 of those leads will end up buying sometime in the future. More damning though is stat #3 from the worst practice hit list: 9 out of 10 of those who buy, do so from someone other than who started things off initially. Think about that one for a moment. Let it roll around in that rational analytical mind of yours before you start reaching for the bottle of Tequila.

“You Tawkin’ to ME?”

Point #4 speaks to buyer behavior today that is driven to total distraction with Smart Phones and texting and tweets and stop-by workers and bosses. With B2B buyers bombarded by 3-5,000 messages daily, it takes 11-13 proactive outbound communications to interrupt those ADHD buyers. That’s a lot of emails, phone calls and banner ads loaded with supposedly juicy content before that target buyer asks, “you tawkin’ to me?” and pays attention. It’s not necessarily that the content or the offer or the call-to-action is irrelevant or weak. You have to be committed, be persistent and keep trying.

What’s the Payoff for the Shift to Quality?

Finally, though we have painted a dark and hopeless picture here with the state of things in B2B lead management behavior, the real message to deliver to your sales team and your bosses is that doing it right will make a huge difference in revenues and commissions for everyone. Sirius Decisions annual study of the B2B market repeatedly report that the best-in-class sales and marketing teams generate four (4) times the number of closed deals than average team from the same number of leads.

If that doesn’t get your bosses’ attention when you make your case for making some changes in your lead management practices, then you have a different problem to deal with friends.

 


Posted in B2B Marketing, Content Marketing, Lead Management, Lead Nurturing, Lead Quality, Uncategorized | No Comments »

“Among the Blind, the One-Eyed are King”, and other Musings from CRM Evolution 2011 Conference in NYC

Written by Rockannand on August 25, 2011 – 10:31 am -

The Rock Annand Group has hit the conference speaking circuit again after a (too long) hiatus. My 3 favorite cities to visit for conferences are San Francisco, New York and Boston and I hit all 3 in August and September, starting with New York two weeks ago for the CRM Evolution 2011 annual event, hosted by CRM guru Paul Greenberg.

While this conference is not one of the biggies when compared to Dreamforce 2011 (I’ll be there next week) or the Inbound Marketing Summit and Hubspot User Group-HUGS in Boston (I’ll be there too mid-September), I will say it is no less relevant and substantive. There were some great speakers and panel discussions about what’s working and what’s not in CRM and social CRM with some impressive companies telling their stories.

So what’s behind the provocative title?
Well it comes from something my old boss Dave Simbari,  currently CEO of SupplyPro, always says when talking about sales and marketing execution. “Henry, don’t get wrapped around the axle, or boil the ocean when you do this. Keep it simple and follow through and things will turn out fine.”

Translation: most of the pack is too busy trying to define the perfect strategy or building the perfect program and never get anything done and fail to execute. They are blind, so by focusing on the basics, what I call the fundamentals, you can develop and execute sales and marketing programs, supported by CRM, that deliver results even a CEO with ADHD will love.

A Social Business is Just GOOD Business
That simple message could be found in countless sessions the week of August 8th. Even though the conference organizers attempted to dress things up by putting the word “social” in front of the somewhat tired and old CRM acronym, the presenters stayed away from the hype and buzz of social media as something new to try and stuck with the reality of the social phenomenon.

This point was best brought home by R “Ray”  Wang, principle analyst and CEO at Constellation Research, when he said, “a social business is just GOOD business.” What Ray was saying is that being social has always been the key to building relationships and winning business. Businesses and buyers have always conducted conversations about their problems and how they plan to solve them. The difference now vs 5-10 years ago is that they are carrying on their conversations online with peers in a myriad of communities and discussion forums. The question is whether today’s businesses want to listen and participate in those conversations.

Listen and Observe More, Talk Less
The reality is the vast majority of businesses ARE blind (and deaf) to what’s being said about them and their competitors online. Tell me what sales rep would not want to know what their best customers and prospects have said about them or their competitors before their next sales call?

Today’s CRM solutions and the multitude of sales enablement plug-ins allow companies to know so much more about their target audience then ever before. Countless examples were shared (Volvo Trucks) showing how B2B marketers have opened the eyes and ears of sales and executives with more qualified deals.

Ray Wang’s 5 Rules to Adopt to Become More Social
My question is why companies continue to turn a blind eye to what’s happening in their buyers’ world? As Ray Wang  so correctly stated, “We are using disruptive technologies at home and we need to figure out how to bring them into the enterprise. How can IT become more social?” Ray went on to identify 5 rules that businesses need to adopt to become more social:

  • Trust is the new currency.
  • Social is a cultural shift for the enterprise.
  • Building community is the goal.
  • Person-to-person (P2P) is today’s reality – not B2B or B2C – frictionless commerce is where its at.
  • A social business is just GOOD business.

Amen Ray. And I don’t mean Ray Charles ;).

Listen to our 8/11/11 Webcast:

 Create a Winning Lead Strategy in 90 Days


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Posted in B2B Marketing, Lead Generation, Lead Management, Marketing Automation, Marketing Automation Monday | 2 Comments »

Lead Nurturing: Tips from Marketing Automation Monday in Boston on 1/31

Written by Rockannand on February 7, 2011 – 8:27 am -

Marketing Automation Monday snuck in between snow storms and came to Boston on January 31st on the campus of Wentworth Institute of Technology. A hardy group ignored the storm threats to share their ideas and best practices on the topic of lead nurturing. Below is a quick review of what was discussed.

Attendee Company Profile
Similar to the December 6th meet-up in NYC, we had a very diverse group, with each attendee representing a kaleidoscope of business and marketing expertise and experience. For example, our group had representatives from public relations, B2B strategy consulting, academia (continuing education) and applied market research among others. All had experience supporting clients and working for businesses with a primary focus on sales and marketing organizations and processes. Needless to say this was a VERY experienced group with impressive resumes.

With that in mind, I started the discussion by focusing on some questions that business leaders and marketers need to ask themselves as they begin to develop their lead nurturing programs:

  • What tactics work best to “connect” to your target audience?
  • How do we stay engaged with our audience as they move through their stages of the buy cycle?
  • How do we conduct the “conversation” to stay relevant and build credibility with buyers?
  • What content/events “convert” our target audience when they are ready to buy?

Tactics That Work Best
Webinars continue to be a staple of most of the attendees. Though it was noted that webinars were a bit more effective in the 2000-2006 period, the key still seems to be having great guest speakers, such as a prominent analyst or recognized industry expert, as well as real customers. Those using that approach routinely see 100’s of registrants and listeners. The important point is that for lead qualification purposes, those that register and attend are considered far more qualified than those that simply download a white paper (even multiple white papers and/or articles).

For the public relations point of view, PR now is heavily involved in targeting the “influencers” – analysts, bloggers, publishers, etc – using social networking and direct email to pitch stories that have been personalized to the needs of each influencer. What is most interesting, though not surprising, is that marketers and PR specialists are using the 1-to-1 method via twitter, email and phone to pitch the story to increase the odds of breaking through the email clutter of these influencers to get their stories heard and published. This is especially effective with the blogosphere and twitter crowd.

I also noted the use of the tickler file follow up process (all manual) for those that are interested, but not sales-ready. The follow up employed is always a phone call and email to each contact as their numbers for follow up can easily be done via the personal touch.

The Need for Content
The questions above had the group talking about the challenge of having engaging content to serve up to prospects. In one particular and well-related story, we heard how an executive built a very successful consulting services business. The secret was creating a series of low-end/ low cost transactional events, such as white papers, workshops, seminars, national and international conferences. These events and deliverable were tightly integrated in pre-defined sequences that were pointing the way for the prospect (and existing clients) towards larger comprehensive consulting engagements.

There were several aspects of these low-end “events” that were most striking to me:

1.  All of the content and workshops/seminars were developed and delivered by their field consultants who ran the larger consulting engagements.
2.  These consultants and the inside sales reps who did phone follow up to all of the event attendees were comp’d on how many attendees were converted to buy more workshops and consulting engagements.
3.  Their marketing spend through these events and content were paid for by their prospects. Nothing was given away for free. Impressive.

Staying Engaged Over Time
Other aspects of the story related above warrant further treatment. The real key for this consulting firm was to keep their most valuable asset – their consultants – in front of prospects and clients considering more services. As prospective buyers attended the workshops, seminars and conferences, the consultants were able to deepen the relationship and the conversation often times with the same individual and others at the same company over time. This company had developed a number of “assessment” instruments that the consultants could provide buyers to sort of take their temperature and let the buyer evaluate how they compared to others in their industry.

This company clearly understood the stages of their audience’s buy cycle and buyer types and had turned everyone into a sales person, each one being held accountable for lead development, lead nurturing and deal closing. To coin a very old sales adage, “Focus on your ABC’s” … or “Always Be Closing”.

Note: I plan to blog more on this story as the full account of what they did bears repeating for all of us whether we market and sell services, software or industrial products.

What’s Next for MA Monday in Boston?
Our location sponsor, Wentworth Institute of Technology has agreed to host future meet-ups so we will be looking for the next one Monday February 28th, March 7th or March 14th. Hopefully the snow will have melted a little and more folks will join us then.

Requested topics for future meet-ups are (in no particular order):

  • Lead nurturing … continued (we only scratched the surface this week)
  • Leveraging social media in lead management
  • Analytics, metrics and reporting
  • Creating better marketing-to-sales alignment
  • Lead scoring and marketing-to-sales hand-offs and conversion processes
  • CRM integration and sales enablement

Other Resources:
For those who attended in Boston on 1/31 and others who are interested for future meetups, all are advised to join the Marketing Automation Association Group on LinkedIn. Here you will be able to keep up on happenings of the various meetups taking place across the country.


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Posted in Lead Management, Lead Nurturing, Lead Quality, Marketing Automation | No Comments »

Marketing Automation Monday Comes to Boston January 31st

Written by Rockannand on January 23, 2011 – 1:57 pm -

I am pleased to announce that Marketing Automation Monday for Boston is no longer “TBA”. The date is set for January 31st from 6 to 8:30 pm and will take place in downtown Boston across the street from the Museum of Fine Arts. Here is the registration link to reserve your spot.

What is Marketing Automation Monday?
What is Marketing Automation Monday you say? You can get caught up by reading these prior posts last month on the one I led in NYC:

Marketing Automation Monday Comes to NYC
Lead Nurturing: Tips from Marketing Automation Monday in NYC

These meet-ups are the brain child of Jep Castelein and the LinkedIn Group, Marketing Automation Association, he co-founded last year with Saad Hameed. These face-to-face gatherings are addressing a big need for B2B marketers – providing a networking forum where practices, experiences and stories can be shared among the vast community of professionals striving to execute winning demand generation programs and processes.

Background for Boston Meet-up
What has me excited about this one is I found several other passionate marketers like me who have signed on for the Marketing Automation Monday cause. They come from very different backgrounds, representing constituents and followers that span numerous industries as well as the Boston-based academia. They are Ann Grackin of Chain Link Research and Dean Larry Carr of the College of Professional and Continuing Education at Wentworth Institute of Technology.

Ann is a longtime colleague I first met back in the mid-90’s when she worked for the industry research firm Benchmarking Partners, founded by another analyst veteran, Ted Rybeck. I was running marketing at the time for the Swedish Supply Chain software company Industri-Matematik Int’l (IMI) when we met. What I will always remember of our first encounter was that Ann was the only person I knew who had implemented SAP R-3 AND i2 and lived to talk about it!! The best part of that story was how she laughed with each anecdote she shared of the experience. At IMI, SAP was our #1 competitor and i2 was fast becoming another rival, so you can imagine what I did with those anecdotes in our active deals. ‘Nuff said.

On the academia side, WIT recently retooled their continuing education program with the hiring in 2010 of Dean Larry Carr. Dean Carr has collaborated with ChainLink Research and recently announced a new professional certificate program called 21st Century Demand and Supply Chain Management. I have just started to dig into the details of this program, but know from experience that anything involving Ann Grackin will be high quality and worth considering. In the interest of creating stronger connections with the business community and professionals in the greater Boston area, Dean Carr has agreed to host the Boston meet-ups to be a part of the networking and the learning process that is the driver for Marketing Automation Monday across the country

Focus on Lead Nurturing
Our topic next Monday is Lead Nurturing and with the enthusiasm of our hosts and many Beantown marketing colleagues, we expect a large turnout and lively conversation. You can register at this link now.  Our downtown location at 550 Huntington Avenue, in the Faculty Dining Room at WIT’s Beatty Hall, makes attending convenient via public transportation or by car (parking will be available I’m told).

Who should attend? We encourage all marketing professionals from executive level to those hands-on with program execution to attend. We also encourage sales professionals that want to learn more about how marketing automation drives better opportunities into their pipelines to attend as well. We can handle 40-50 people so bring a colleague on Monday the 31st starting at 6pm. We will have refreshments and snacks.

We hope to see you there.

Related posts:

Marketing Automation Monday Comes to NYC

Lead nurturing: Tips form Marketing Automation Monday in NYC

Marketing Automation Association LinkedIn Group


Posted in B2B Marketing, Lead Management, Lead Nurturing, Lead Quality, Marketing Automation, Marketing Automation Monday, Marketing Strategy | 1 Comment »

Lead Nurturing is Coming of Age Part 4: Moving from “Good” to “Best”

Written by Rockannand on December 13, 2010 – 5:28 pm -

In part 1 of this series, we noted from Sirius Decisions recent research that the market leading companies, using the same number of leads are able to

  • Close over 4 times the number of deals as “average” firms
  • Close twice as many deals as “good” firms.

These are eye-popping numbers to consider, especially with economic times that demand that businesses make every opportunity count.

What does “Market Leading” Mean?
The market leading firms are adept at aligning their people around marketing-to-sales processes enabled with CRM and Marketing Automation tools that optimize their efforts and maximize target audience reach. The best B2B marketing organizations are almost exclusively focused on lead quality. They emphasize buyer behavior and compare to well defined buyer personas in order to build targeted campaigns that move prospects through the buyer stages. They have metrics in place that clearly show management and sales the impact of demand generation programs on the pipeline, closed deals and corporate revenue.  Marketing and sales are tightly aligned in terms of people interaction, lead flow process and the use of technology to support every aspect of client acquisition and retention. They practice Lean process improvement principles to eliminate waste in marketing and sales resources and optimize every dollar of sales and marketing spend.

What Should “Good” Firms Focus on to Become “Market Leading”?
In part 3 of the series, we detailed the steps required to move from “average” to “good” performance. With those practices in place, we can now turn our attention to the following programs to implement in order to achieve marketing leading lead management status

  • Establish lead quality teams consisting of marketing, inside sales, sales admin and possibly the sales team and conduct weekly lead hand-off reviews.
  • Develop comprehensive buyer personas that profile key buyer types such as end-user, influencer, buyer/decision-maker and executive (CXOs).
  • Develop progressive profiling programs that deepen the intelligence for each buyer type in your CRM/Marketing Automation database. Utilize prospecting tools such as Cardbrowser, Hoovers, Netprospex, Zoominfo, etc to automate the process of keeping contact information fresh and complete.
  • Create comprehensive content maps for the key buyer types and for each buyer stage:

Awareness > Inquiry > Consideration > Purchase.

After mapping existing content, create and/or re-purpose content to fill any gaps. Ensure that content consists of whitepapers, webinars, short articles, case studies, videos (2-3 minutes) and podcasts (5-7 minutes).

  • Develop lead nurturing campaigns that segment by buyer type and buyer stage. Deliver personalized value propositions by these segments to deepen engagement and optimize buyer stage conversions.
  • Develop metrics based on corporate objectives such as revenue growth and customer retention. Use marketing dashboards and reports to present marketing’s contribution to revenue and pipeline to senior management on a monthly/quarterly basis.

Comments from others on the earlier installment in this lead nurturing series have highlighted other resources and approaches to consider. I will wrap things up with a final post that links to these resources.

Related Posts:

Lead Nurturing is Coming of Age Part 3: Moving from Average to Good

Lead Nurturing is Coming of Age Part 1: Making the Case for 2011 Marketing Plans

Lead Nurturing is Coming of Age Part 2: Where do I Start?

Case Study: Lead Nurturing Through Thought Leadership Content


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Posted in B2B Marketing, Lead Generation, Lead Management, Lead Nurturing, Lead Quality, Thought Leadership, Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

Lead Nurturing: Tips from Marketing Automation Monday in NYC

Written by Rockannand on December 8, 2010 – 1:13 pm -

Marketing Automation Monday came to NYC on December 6th (a date that will live in Patriots infamy in the demolition of the Jets !!). We had a great turnout with 15 opting in to share their ideas and best practices on the topic of lead nurturing and drip campaigns. Below is a quick review of what was discussed.

Attendee Company Profile
First off, I was struck by how many of the meetup attendees come from start-up companies. Two companies in fact have yet to launch while all are new to the use of marketing automation and lead nurturing.

With that in mind, I started the discussion by focusing on some questions that marketers need to ask themselves as they begin to develop their lead nurturing programs:

  • What tactics are the best for getting our messages to your target audience, both decision-makers and influencers?
  • How do we stay engaged with our audience as they move through their stages of the buy cycle?
  • How do we conduct the “conversation” to stay relevant to the buyer’s and build credibility and trust so they see our company as a thought leader?
  • What content and offers will result in a positive conversion when our target audience is ready to buy?

The Need for Content
These questions had the group talking about the challenge of having engaging content to serve up to prospects. Several companies use research papers from analysts firms such as Gartner to send out on issues that prospects have shown prior interest, while webinars is a frequent tactic for others. In the case of webinars, one company found their registrations had dropped significantly. In response they experimented with creating 4-5 part series, sometimes with a fee for registration. Registrations did in fact improve.

In most cases, companies are actually sitting on significant quantities of relevant content, usually in paper-form or buried in web sites. In many cases, the content is not readily consumable by your target audience. It is either too long (45 minute webinar, 5-10 page white paper) or only available in one format (lengthy PDFs). Re-purposing the content into shorter briefs (350-400 words) or using 2-3 minute video casts focused on one key idea at a time can be more effective in getting busy decision-makers to opt-in. One company send out individual email and phone follow ups to prospects using that technique.

Buyer Profiles and Personas
Several companies reported success in developing buyer profiles that they had mapped out for each of the buyer types that they target. None of the companies had actually mapped these buyer profiles to content for purposes of automated drip campaigns as of yet, but most are working towards that goal. The active development of profiles is an important part of successful nurturing programs.

One indicates that their inside business development group nurtures the old fashion way by calling (65% of the time) and emailing (35% of the time) to provide collected articles and research reports that they want their prospects to be aware of. Their approach is more of a service, then a promotional appeal, but very labor intensive. They had found that their group email practices were being received as SPAM and blocked, hence the use of individual email and calling.

Campaign Approaches: How to Get Started
Given the newness of the group to the actual practice of lead nurturing, especially with Marketing Automation tools, we reviewed an approach that helps B2B marketers get started and gain traction early on. The approach focuses on demonstrating thought leadership to your target audience; the key point being that, initially it does not require much more than 1 or 2 well written white papers, ideally from a known industry thought leader. The idea is that over a 90 day period, the nurture campaign takes the theme of the white paper and promotes the issue in month 1 as an available download, then in month 2 delivered as a webcast (ideally with the thought leader) and finally in month 3 promotes both in one outbound email.

What’s Next for MA Monday in NYC?
We discussed how often to meet and what topics for future sessions. For now we will look to have NYC meetups on a quarterly schedule – late February/early March.

Requested topics are (in no particular order):

You can see what was discussed at the two meetups in November (SF and Palo Alto) on the topic of lead nurturing in this blog post by Jep Castelein.

Other Resources:
For those who attended in NYC on 12/6 and others who are interested for future meetups, all are advised to join the Marketing Automation Association Group on LinkedIn. Here you will be able to keep up on happenings of the various meetups taking place across the country.

Please let us know what you liked about our 1st session and what can be done to make future meetings more valuable. Comments below are welcomed. I encourage all to spread the word about Marketing Automation Monday. Stay tuned for more.


Posted in B2B Marketing, Lead Management, Lead Nurturing, Marketing Automation, Marketing Automation Monday, Thought Leadership | No Comments »

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