Who Wants to Go to Camp? How About B2B Camp?

Written by Rockannand on May 25, 2012 – 12:33 pm -

Remember summer vacations as a kid? I’m sure most of us went to camp somewhere or we had a week or two at the beach or in the mountains with our “Gramps and Grammy” or Uncle Bob or Fred. In my case, it was camp at my gramp’s retreat in the wilds of Quebec – he called it Rock Annand. Yes we called him Gramps, but we called the retreat camp – all 14 of his grandchildren – and we loved it. So much so that some of us named our companies after it. There’s the Rock Annand Group and Rockannand German Shepherds. I digress. Yes, it’s a PLACE and pronounced Rock AN-und. NOT ahNAND.**

The problem is that we are all grown up now, with crazy busy lives and kids and for some grandkids running around, And with the Memorial Day weekend starting today everyone is thinking of summer and vacations away somewhere. Well, I am here to tell you that camp is NOT just for kids and that we CAN have our camp and business “and eat it to”. It’s called B2B Camp and it’s for all you B2B sales and marketing kiddies who yearn for an experience with other B2Bers at a great retreat location. An experience where we sit around the campfire and share stories about all our hectic sales and marketing endeavors in the real world. The successes and the failures and where we get great inspiration form others and support in how to conquer our fears in climbing the rope (new lead nurturing campaigns) or doing backflips off the diving board (getting that prospect to take our call or respond to our CTAs).

Well folks B2B Camp is here! And it’s coming to Boston September 29th at a great location, NERT in Cambridge. It’s not quite summer time, but what adults have time during the summer to take a Saturday to go to a business camp without your family? Starting tomorrow, every Saturday until after Labor Day is spoken for, but as one of co-host of the event, I have the last Saturday of September (which is also the first Saturday of Fall) circled on my calendar.  Matt Bertuzzi, of the Bridge Group has it circled too cause he’s co-hosting with me!!

I strongly suggest you consider marking your calendars too because B2B Camp is like no other B2B sales and marketing event you’ve ever been to. Let me count the ways:

  • B2BCamp is one of the many “un-conferences” gaining popularity around the world, however, this event is solely focused on B2B sales and marketing professionals.
  • Although similar to traditional industry conferences, B2BCamp has no “attendees” because everyone participates in some manner, including you if you join us.
  • Everyone, including hosts, participants (you) and sponsors will be regionally based, so the topics and presenters will be what “we” all want to hear.
  • No one gets special treatment or speaking opportunities. Participants vote on the topics that are proposed that morning and the sessions are more hands-on discussions then death by PowerPoint.
  • Session topics will range from client acquisition practice and use cases, lead to sales process optimization, social selling and marketing, and sales/marketing automation tools and technique. 

Now we won’t really have campfires, s’mores or weeny roasts, but we were able to get a great special guest for our camp to wow and inspire, who will keynote the day. His name is Mike Bosworth, co-founder of StoryLeaders , and known worldwide for founding and growing one of the most successful virtual companies in the B2B arena, Solution Selling. Mike’s talk, entitled the “Power of Story”, will look at how to facilitate and institutionalize “Whole Brain Selling” for the entire sales and marketing team to achieve greater connections with customers and future customers through story. His keynote will draw upon his recently published third book entitled, What Great Salespeople Do: The Science of Selling Through Emotional Connection and the Power of Story.

So there you have it my fellow prospective B2B campers. Grab your calendar and with a sharpie, put B2B Camp Boston in there on 9/29, tell the fam you’ll be going to adult business camp that day and plan to have one memorable experience. No need to pack a lunch (we got that covered), but do bring a favorite blankie or pillow so you can gather round the various story tellers who will keep you motivated, engaged and inspired. Bring lots of business cards too, because just like in summer camp, you will develop lots of new B2B BFFs that you can tweet, text and email when you get back home.


** Just for kicks, google ANNAND and you will get a super long list of Annands, all from Scotland or New Scotland (Nova Scotia). Like this one: Annand Coat of Arms.

Posted in B2B Marketing, Marketing & Sales Alignment, Sales & Marketing Events, Storytelling | 1 Comment »

Maybe We Should Call It Something Else: Why Salespeople Think Marketing Automation is a Four-Letter Word

Written by Rockannand on November 3, 2011 – 10:58 am -

As part of our series of guest posts, this article was contributed by my colleague Rick Schwartz of Sales Addiction.

Ancient History

Going back to the mid 1900s we’ve been automating everything. Manufacturing began using machines to do what people used to do and in some cases, the people were put out of work.

My first personal experience with automation happened 1979-ish. I was a customer service rep for what used to be called “The Phone Company.” Part of our job was answering inquiries about customer bills. Once the customer asked a question, we’d put them on hold, go over to the file cabinets, look for and (sometimes) find the copy of their bill.

Then someone had the idea that we all get computer monitors on our desk which could access the company’s mainframe. We’d be able to view the bill more quickly and provide better, more accurate service.

This was fine except that no one in the office had really every seen a computer screen and keyboard before. Some of us thought it was a really cool thing and we adapted. Some folks who had been on the job for many years couldn’t or wouldn’t give it a chance. Eventually those folks left their jobs.

More Recently

n the late 90s it was Sales Force Automation. Sometimes it was called a Contact Management system or a Customer Relationship Management system. It didn’t matter. The upshot was that sales people had to learn a new way to do their jobs. They were told it would help them sell more stuff. They didn’t believe it. All they saw was learning to do a new thing for management – not to mention that it was mostly about making them more accountable for their daily work.

There are tons of other examples, but you get the point. Today, looking back at any of these new ideas, most workers can’t imagine doing their jobs without the aid of various types of automation.

So what’s up with Marketing Automation?

It’s presented as something that will help close more deals and make more money. The challenge is that it contains that four letter word – Auto(mation).

Adding a new process (automated or not) into the sales world is seen as something that is disruptive – and frankly it is. At the end of the day, recent metrics and case studies show that adopting MA can be a big boon to those chasing sales results. In most cases however, a sales department is nowhere near the end of the day when a new idea is presented.

For now, I’ll leave the solutions to smarter souls than me. If you have any ideas, please comment.

Posted in B2B Marketing, Marketing & Sales Alignment, Marketing Automation, Uncategorized | No Comments »

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

Written by Rockannand on November 26, 2010 – 9:38 am -

Over four years ago, Laura Ramos, when she was part of Forrester’s fantastic  B2B Marketing analyst group wrote that:

“B2B marketers can no longer afford to emphasize lead volume over lead quality. This practice reduces sales efficiency, increases costs, and fuels the gap between sales and marketing.”

Boy I could not agree more with Laura. At Forrester, she helped developed a maturity model that outlined 4 levels of evolution that B2B marketers attain in moving from average to market leading. After numerous marketing automation projects, I have adapted the maturity model to 3 levels that I label average, good and best. In this post, we will look at the profile of the “average” marketing organization and what steps do they need to follow to become “good”.

Start with an Honest Assessment
But let’s be honest here. Moving from a culture focused on quantity to one that practices the tenants of quality and lead management is not something that happens over night or even in a year. So what’s a B2B marketing leadership to do in our instant gratification business culture, where CEOs and sales organizations want marketing programs to produce results in weeks and months, not quarters and years?

It starts with B2B marketers making an honest assessment of how they capture, qualify, nurture, route and measure leads. Most companies I work with are at best average in their lead management processes.

Let’s Examine What it Means to be “Average”
The average B2B marketing organizations are almost exclusively focused on lead quantity. As a result they have a “one and done” mindset when it comes to lead generation campaigns and events. No sooner are they done with an event or email blast, then they are onto the next. Marketing has no standard lead management processes defined as they pass basically raw leads to sales.

Note, Marketing Sherpa recently reported that 8 out of 10 marketers pass raw leads to sales with no further qualification.

All of these “hand-raisers” who are not sales-ready (70-80% of initial inquiries) are ignored and never touched again by sales or marketing. Check out some of the other stats that are seen at average companies in Part 1 of this series.

What Should You Focus on to Become “Good”?
The following steps should be prioritized and will take anywhere from 6-12 months to implement and perfect:

  • Develop a common lead quality definition that is agreed to by sales. Add qualification questions to web site registration pages, telesales scripts, email campaigns and any other process that interacts with new and returning prospect visitors.
  • Close the loop between marketing and sales to ensure efficient lead handoff processes and eliminate bottlenecks. Establish initial lead scoring and routing rules for determining sales-ready leads.
  • Develop automated lead nurturing programs with multiple themes tied to the problem(s) you solve. See Part 2 of this series for how to set this up.
  • Capture and publish metrics that show the impact of the lead nurturing programs of sales success and sales pipeline development.
  • Develop permission-based practices focused on data hygiene that keep contact information up-to-date.
  • Implement one of the various Marketing Automation applications (from Eloqua, Marketo, Silverpop and others) to successfully enable these practices. For more analysis on the Marketing Automation players, check out David Raab’s assessment research and blog.

In our next installment of the Lead Nurturing series, we will discuss the steps needed to move from “good” to “best”.

Related Posts:

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

Lead Nurturing is Coming of Age Part 4: Moving From Good to Best

Posted in B2B Marketing, Lead Nurturing, Lead Quality, Marketing & Sales Alignment | No Comments »

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

Written by Rockannand on November 15, 2010 – 8:39 am -

Hopefully in Part 1 of this lead nurturing series, you were able to use those stats to build a compelling case in your 2011 marketing plan for lead nurturing program investments. Since 3 out of 4 new leads generated end up buying at some point in the next 18-24 months, lead nurturing should no longer be a wish-list program, but a competitive necessity. But for most B2B marketers, figuring where to start is always a daunting task.

To make matters worse, many approaches tend to over-complicate things. Marketers develop complex multi-touch campaigns that overwhelm their opt-in audience with too many communications and too many messages. Buyers become not only confused, but suffer from subscriber fatigue.

So where do you start with a simple formulaic lead nurturing strategy?

Thought LeadershipLead nurturing fundamentally starts with a sound Thought Leadership program, focusing content on the problem you solve with case studies of how your client solves the problem. To keep it simple, I try to break down the problem into 3-4 themes that relate to specific buyers. This thematic approach becomes the basis for the campaigns we will drive into your target audiences over a 9-12 month period.

Each quarter we focus on 1 theme. Why multiple themes? Because your target buyers each have their hot-buttons that draw them into a particular business problem. For example for a materials management software company with a focus on reducing costs and waste with indirect materials using Point-of-Use devices, one theme might be looking at the high cost for Industrial Manufacturers of waste in safety supplies or in tool usage. In our example above, one buyer may be interested in stories involving the control of safety equipment while another has a waste problem with tooling. It is all about delivering relevant messages to each buyer at the right time.

The formula to developing great content lies in having a variety of media tactics to deliver the primary message of the theme. For example one really good white paper (from a reputable 3rd party). Then develop a webinar on the white paper topic and have a client participate in the webinar (be sure to record so you can repeat and use in subsequent campaign waves). Also, develop one or more case studies, again focusing on that theme that can be dispersed via different mediums.

The key to lead nurturing programs lies in consistency so spend the entire quarter with bi-weekly outbound campaigns that highlight the theme, each with a different deliverable. First the white paper, then the webinar, then the case study, with links each time to the other content on that topic. We then repeat this process for at least two more quarters with various themes. You can listen to this podcast to hear more about this thought leadership approach and the results that were achieved for a client.

If you follow Brian Carroll and Ardath Albee’s approach to repackaging and re-purposing content, you will find that you already have most of the content you need to work with. The trick is how to package (or re-purpose) correctly to feed it to your target audience on a regular basis in varying ways (whitepaper, webinar, case study, blog post).

REMEMBER: it takes 7 to 9 proactive communications to get your buyer to opt-in and read the message or theme you are trying to deliver. Once they do that then your other complimentary content will have more appeal and increase the likelihood of launching the sales process.

It is very important to keep the approach of simplifying the lead nurturing process into something that is focused and meaningful to your potential buyers.

In our next installment of this lead nurturing series, we will discuss the other aspects of program development that you need to focus on to move from “average” to “good”.

Stay tuned.

Related posts:

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

Case Study: Lead Nurturing Through Thought Leadership Content

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

Lead Nurturing is Coming of Age Part 4: Moving From Good to Best

Posted in B2B Marketing, Lead Nurturing, Lead Quality, Marketing & Sales Alignment, Thought Leadership | 4 Comments »

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

Written by Rockannand on November 12, 2010 – 6:57 am -

I just finished assisting a client develop a marketing plan for 2011 and they needed the most help with the justification for the expanded programs for lead generation and lead nurturing. Here are some of the arguments we used to educate the executive management team. We started by asking the team to consider these statistics that have been reported (by many B2B marketing authorities) over the past few years for B2B tech product companies:

  • Only 3-5% of new lead inquiries are “sales-ready”.
  • 70-80% of the other inquiries are latent demand that will buy within 2 years, BUT are not called on by sales.
  • 87 out of 100 deals are left behind by sales.
  • It takes 7 to 9 proactive communications to gain a B2B decision-maker’s attention.
  • Best-in-class sales and marketing teams generate 4x closed deals than average teams from the same pool of leads.

My message to management team was to optimize their efforts at converting the leads they already had into deals vs. only generating leads at the top of the funnel. I used Sirius Decisions’ recent study showing the sales and marketing waterfall conversion numbers of average, good and best companies to get the executive team’s attention.

Sales Lead Funnel

Funnel Stage




































Source: Sirius Decisions 2010

We developed budget scenarios of program costs required to impact the number of closed deals. Scenario 1 involved generating more inquiries at the top of the funnel. Scenario 2 involved lead nurturing campaigns to increase the conversion rates at each step in the waterfall. The cost difference was significant – almost twice the program cost. And Scenario 2 included the cost of a new marketing automation system to replace the old email “blaster” they were using.

The case is just too compelling FOR lead nurturing supported by marketing automation technology. In the next three parts of this series on lead nurturing, I will look at proven approaches to get started and how to focus efforts that will move an “average” performing marketing team to “good” and for a “good” one to attain market leading status. With a 4x improvement opportunity, what CEO and CFO would not listen to reason.

Stay tuned.

Related posts:

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

Case Study: Lead Nurturing Through Thought Leadership Content

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

Lead Nurturing is Coming of Age Part 4: Moving From Good to Best

Posted in Lead Generation, Lead Nurturing, Lead Quality, Marketing & Sales Alignment | 4 Comments »

Why are over 50% of Sales Reps Missing quota? A Different Take

Written by Rockannand on October 31, 2010 – 6:35 pm -

Recently Chad Levitt (of the New Sales  Economy Blog ) reacted to a data point from Trish Bertuzzi’s recently published  2010 Inside Sales Research Report.

“Why are over 50% of sales reps missing quota?” The discussion points in both Chad and Trish’s blog have been a good read.  Check them out.

Just Another Yellow Taxi in NYC

So what do I think? I have a different take on why sales reps are missing the mark. I asked the question: has it occurred to the B2B industry that there may be too may sellers of solutions and too few buyers for the business problems they are trying to solve? In the world of B2B software, it is my view that we have far too many tools all trying to solve the same or similar problem. In the CRM, Marketing Automation/Email Marketing world alone we must have hundreds of offerings.  Buyers see all the options and the common complaint I hear is “they all look the same to me”.  Or as my old software partner in crime, Dave Simbari used to say, “just another yellow taxi in New York”.

Remember, nobody really cares about your product. Buyers care about solving their problem. They want to know if you understand their problem and have a convincing story about your ability to solve it.

How Do You Stand out From the Pack?

The vast majority of B2B sales and marketing folks I interact with all fail the David Packard (of HP fame) 60 second test of being able to answer these 4 questions in a clear, concise, compelling and consistent (the 4 C’s) manner:

  • Who are you?  (core competency, market  positioning)
  • What do you do? (market problem you solve/value you deliver to target audience)
  • What makes you different from competitive offerings?
  • Who like me have you worked with before?  (relevant case studies)

Every buyer listens and/or evaluates a prospective seller with these questions in mind. If they don’t get the answers in that first couple of encounters, they move onto the next option. With so many solutions/sellers to choose from, they won’t even read that slick white paper and opt-in for your content if you fail at step one.

Tell A Convincing Story; No Gobbledygook

In my experience, the best reps always figure out how to draft a compelling story that answers the 4 questions. That’s how they establish and build the relationship. They know that the best story usually ends up winning, not the best product. The problem is the rest of the sales team. They tend to fall back on the product. Why? Because marketing has failed to build a story that captures buyers’ attention … one with no “gobbledygook”, (see DM Scott’s seminal piece, The Gobbledygook Manifesto).

I am convinced that when we tell bad stories or ones with lots of “next generation” techno-babble, that we actually confuse prospective buyers. We make it hard for our target audience to buy from us. Don’t be that yellow taxi. Focus on arming your sales force with stories that stand out from the seas of gray.

Posted in B2B Marketing, Marketing & Sales Alignment | 2 Comments »