Inbound and Down

For many sales and marketing leaders – Inbound marketing is the next big thing in lead generation.After all, the modern marketer will tell you that content drives relevance, relevance drives eyeballs, and eyeballs drive friends, fans, and followers.

A quick Twtpoll from Joel Harrison at B2B Marketing asks your opinion on Inbound Marketing:  and I encourage you to participate. From the early results – I am not the only one who feels that inbound marketing alone has left us unfulfilled in terms of cracking the lead generation code. I have a couple of ideas as to why that is the case:

I look at my own company as an example – writing thought leadership is time consuming. After all, every minute I spend writing a blog or commenting on someone else’s is a minute I could spend elsewhere. I could hire someone to do it – but I haven’t found anyone who understands the difference between theory and application. And then we are left with the ultimate question – now that I have friends, fans, and followers – how do I turn them to advocates, mavens, and customers?

Take your current opt-in list for marketing automation; the newsletter sign-ups that have been piling up year after year.  Lists such as these are the quintessential inbound lead nurturing target.  I recommend taking the intelligence we can obtain about these two disparate groups, our opt-in list and our social followers, and merge the two for better campaigning.

As example – someone that follows you, is part of the industry you service, a title that makes decisions on your solution and is part of your newsletter campaign campaign deserves a bit more attention in your next marketing drip.  Someone with these characteristics that isn’t on your campaign needs to be invited to do so.

I invite you to learn more about how social123 can help by looking into our socialdata+

Take the Guesswork out of Social Influence

With Klout making a lot of news for its employment policies recently – it is nice to see that social influence ratings are getting closer look.  I love Klout – my score is 41 which makes me a “networker” in their Style grid.  My score and others’ can help me find people that will communicate my service and value proposition so that my brand awareness is raised.  I can build a nice network of social chatter by targeting my most influential social networkers.  The marketing officer in me absolutely loves this capability.

As a sales officer however, I am looking for people that can buy my solution, not kick the can down the road so that someone else will buy it.  From a sales perspective – I need not only social influence but specific actions taken and I need to know exactly what is being said on social media relative to the product I am selling.  In other words, I need to score individuals based on their social actions, social attributes, and keywords that are important to me.

Actions: I want to know if my prospects have done anything specific with my company’s social media outlets.  As example, if my customer or prospect becomes a fan of my company on Facebook or LinkedIn  – that’s important to me. So would the knowledge of retweeting something my company or I put out, follows either of us on twitter, or connects with me on LinkedIn.

Attributes:  I would also want to know the online reputation of my prospects – similar to Kout – but I would want to make that relative to what I sell.  For example, if you are a company that sells to CFO’s, then you wouldn’t rely much on social attributes.  However, if you are in the daily deals space – then this would mean much more to you.

Mentions:  There are over 1 Billion subscribers to social networking sites on this planet. Most of what they communicate has no relevance to me. However, there are certain keywords that are amazingly important to me such as my company, my product, my industry, or my competitors. More or less it would be any Adword that you purchase from Google for paid search. If it is worth paying per click, then it is worth knowing if your customers or prospects are talking about it on social media.

Social123 has taken the concept of scoring the social actions, attributes and mentions of individuals to create SocialPoints+.  Our process allows the searcher to associate a point value to the various social criteria that generates a customized and relevant SocialPoints+ score.


Social Lead Generation

By now, most forward-thinking sales and marketing organizations are taking full advantage of enablement tools that provide real competitive advantage in their space. The B2B model is rather well defined with the core engine of CRM housing customer / prospect data, an e-mail aggregator pushing compelling messaging to drive traffic to the corporate website, then scoring that traffic to triage direct sales efforts.
Up until now, this market intelligence has proven to optimize business development efforts; not only had to create a lower cost per lead but a more qualified one as well. We know that buyers want to “self-educate” so we provide a content-rich website to help towards that end. Marketers have created a rather wide net with this model. However, that process is limited to the universe of individuals either contacted via the e-mail aggregator or find their way to the website through SEO or PPC efforts.
What about the buyer who consults their social network before they ever search Google? After all, today’s buyer not only wants to self-educate, they want recommendations and advice from credible sources. That is the essence of the “like” button and the comment section. That is why the modern buyer doesn’t first go to Google, they go to Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter for initial research.
Smart marketers are using social monitoring tools to fill the void that social networks have created. By using the very same Google Ad words that provide traffic on a pay per click basis, social monitors can be used to provide insight though various social media outlets in the same manner. These monitors provide real-time feedback in the form of sales leads, customer complaints, competitive intelligence, and unique industry insight where none existed before.
In a recent Forrester survey, 72% of respondents said social media helps them get answers to questions, 68% said it helps them find information they need to be successful, and 62% said it lets people know what kind of help is available. And large majorities of respondents said social media has a positive impact on brand reputation (86%), innovation (80%), and customer service (78%).
Social monitoring is the missing layer of market intelligence. It isn’t enough to have a Facebook fan page or send out press releases via a corporate Twitter account. The savvy marketer must also monitor social media with the same diligence we direct traffic with search engine optimization techniques and paid search.

Death of a Salesman…..Updated

Slate has written an excellent article entitled, Death of a Salesman. Of Lots of Them, Actually. The main theme of the article is that sales people are becoming “disintermediated” by the internet. The author uses examples of how auto salespeople, travel agents, and stock brokers have lost their jobs to sites like AutoTrader, Expedia, and eTrade. There is no arguing that B2C sales careers have been severely crippled by the information age but what about B2B? Truly.

(Updated: Here is some reaction from the article!)

Steve Woods, CTO of Eloqua and author of Digital Body Language, argues that a B2B salesperson’s biggest competition is Google. I have to agree. Salespeople don’t get involved in the buying process until the prospect has thoroughly educated him or herself about our service. Our competitive differentiation, client case studies, even online demonstrations are available for the world to see on our website. Every piece of information we as salespeople once thought so sacred in the sales process has been reduced to a click of a mouse. If you are saying the same thing to your prospect that can be found online then you have added no value to the sales process.

To avoid the same fate as Willie Loman, we have to tailor our message specifically to the buyer. We have to give them something they can’t find online. Luckily, the information superhighway is a two way street.

  • The first step is to get out in front of the buyer by knowing when and where they were on your website. Most marketing automation companies will give this business intelligence as part of their offering. Were executives on your site or just functionaries? The pages they selected will give you the insight into their concerns.
  • The second step is to do a thorough search of the buyers. Search LinkedIn to see how long the buyers have been working in their present positions and where they worked before. Oftentimes we can get a glimpse of predisposition by understanding the landscape of previous employers.
  • The last step is to research the company itself. Try a Google news search on the company to see if there are any triggering events that prompted the call. Hoovers will give a brief overview of the company and the competitive landscape for free. Think competitive advantage in terms of how you can give it to your prospect – not against your own competition.

With these bits of information you can begin creating a talk track around specific intelligence that will compliment what the prospect already has learned about your solution.

Hungry Sellers

I created a new group on LinkedIn called Hungry Sellers

I came up with the idea because I am being asked what MORE could our team do create demand for our organization. The challenge is simple – get more qualified appointments to spark an evaluation for our services. Then I thought what better way to get a warm introduction inside of potential client that from a peer sales person.  What potential sales person wouldn’t make the connection if there were reciprocity. Then the ball started rolling down hill. Why not open up this idea to all Hungry Sellers? After all, if you are as hungry as I am, you would try any ethical approach possible to win business.

Therefore I created a LinkedIn Group for likeminded salespeople to put their networking and creativity to the test. Let’s give an example.

Say that Harry sells hardware for a Fortune 1000 company. Let’s say that Lynda sells staffing services for a regional player.  Harry needs an appointment with the VP of IT at Lynda’s company but hasn’t had any success. Lynda could use a warm introduction to the hiring manager of Harry’s company. Lynda connects with Harry because they are both members of Hungry Sellers.  Lynda will introduce Harry to her contact and Harry will do the same at his. Voila – both get an appointment where none possible before. In this case, it’s not what you know but who you know.

 Think it hard to pull this feat? In this economy, we are all in sales and if you tell the decision-maker in your company that you are receiving an appointment in-kind, that should do the trick. If that still doesn’t work, start playing the org chart game until you hit someone in your organization that cares about revenue. If that still doesn’t work, I would be seriously worried about the direction of the company I work for.

I have seen this work on many occasions so I decided to create the group. Be careful though, only hungry sellers can pull this off.

Creating Demand – Why Senior Sales People Won’t do it (updated.)

frustratedIn this economy – we are finding that marketing alone is not enough to secure a healthy pipeline of business. In response, senior sales people are asked to go from reacting to demand to generating it on their own. With this new dynamic, I think the hardest thing for sales management to understand is that their BIG GAME Hunters are unprepared and unwilling to handle this new responsibility.

Without any direction outside of a mandate to gain more evaluations – senior sales people do what they do best. They think their industry knowledge, tenure, and high compensation requires them to craft lengthy and well researched correspondence to targeted executives. (Imagine the laborious process of researching, writing and rewriting the perfectly tailored e-mail and phone script?) The problem with this approach is that when these lengthy, targeted pieces of correspondence go unanswered – senior sales people get frustrated. They begin to take on the mentality that they are closers and setting appointments only prevents them from do what they are paid so handsomely to do. In truth – highly compensated / senior sales people rose to their station because they are very productive and demand creation activity that doesn’t generate demand is just……unproductive.

What we need to understand is that our buyers are very busy and even if we craft the perfect pitch to an individual, it could be the wrong time, the wrong person, or even the wrong median. Demand Creation in today’s hectic and busy world requires a different outlook and process. We need to switch from a hunting approach to a farming mentality.

A successful demand creation process allows senior sales people to use their tenure, experience, and status for demand creation – but instead of spending this time focusing on an individual – they focus on a group of individuals. This process takes the same amount of time as traditional targeted demand creation efforts but is wildly more productive because it generates results.

I wrote this e-book to help create demand for the senior sales people who just won’t do it.

P.I.C.T. Profile

We have to earn the right to be seen as a peer. Today’s buyer is skeptical of big-promising / know-nothing sales people that just want 20 minutes on their calendar. To be seen as a peer we need to know our buyer as well as can be expected without having met him in person. My team achieves this by creating a PICT profile; Person, Industry, Company, and Title.

Person: The old cliché is that companies don’t buy, people do. We want to know our buyers on a personal level to gain insight into who they are, what motivates them, where have they been.

LinkedIn is the perfect tool to understand how someone wants the world to see them. I ask my reps to (at the very least) know where their buyer went to school, where else have they worked and how long they have worked at their current job. If the buyer is a savvy LinkedIn user then he is part of LinkedIn groups, shares the books he has read, gives and receives recommendations, and links with other professionals. What a treasure trove of information to begin a conversation!

 Industry: Our buyers expect us to know macro-economic trends in their industry and First Research is a great tool to help us put it all into context. We want to know how governmental regulation, foreign competition, energy costs, and technological advancements impact our buyers.

Every company is subjected to their industry trends and having an understanding of them brings instant credibility to your first call. Being able to articulate how your solution can positively impact those trends sparks an instant evaluation.

Company:  Rick Page at the Complex Sale taught me that companies really only have 5 enterprise-wide issues they care about. Revenue is the byproduct of these issues.

  1. Competitive Differentiation
  2. Customer Acquisition and Retention
  3. Growth
  4. Governmental Regulation
  5. Good Press

When we are researching a first call we want to be not only armed with this information about our prospect but how our solution could potentially impact any of these 5 areas. I tell my team that this is what separates tellers from sellers. Our buyers can get our product portfolio, financials, and customer case studies off of the web.  Conversely, we can get the information we need to have a great first call from the web as well.

Title: Inherent in a value proposition is a keen understanding of the pains of the non-technical buyers and a linkage of our solution to solving those pains. Many organizations make the mistake of having one generic value proposition – when in fact the value proposition must be tailored to the individual with whom we are having the appointment.

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