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Archive for April, 2010

Potential and Positioning

Friday, April 30th, 2010

What is a lead? According to Wikipedia, a lead is a potential customer; an individual who may or may not be interested in what you are selling. Anyone who has ever sold anything knows what it’s like to fumble around inside that ‘Potential Zone’. When you first talk to a lead, you land in a specific spot on the ‘likelihood of conversion’ continuum. You are somewhere in the ‘Potential Zone’. As you talk, you feel this potential increase or decrease. Being great at selling means being great at functioning in the ‘Potential Zone’. You turn a little potential into more and more until you close.

Lead management software is a solution that specifically addresses this ‘potential zone.’ It specifically addresses the task of increasing the potential of a potential customer. It works in an area that email and CRM do not.

Lead Management Software is the right tool for working with potential

It’s easy to look at the tools you already have for dealing with your potential customers and to think that they will do the trick. But no matter what task is at hand, using the right tool for the job will always yield better results.

Email is a communication tool. Use it to communicate with people. Communicating is part of increasing a leads potential. But it’s not the whole solution.

CRM is customer relationship management tool. Use it to manage your customer relationships. Just understand that this tool was created for you to manage relationships that already exist, with customers that you already have.

Positioning the person on the other side

Your business benefits from the use of email and CRM for sure. But one thing these solutions do not do is position the person on the other end of the communication as someone with potential. Lead management software is designed specifically to increase potential with a suite of strategic tools. Leveraging speed to contact, nurture communication, performance metrics, and best practices, these tools tilt the slippery slope of the ‘Potential Zone’ in the direction of the close.

The unique value add of lead management software is that it positions the person it is reaching out to as person with potential. And it uses proven tools to increase this potential. Best of all, this potential is increased partly through automated processes. Getting more customers? Closing more deals? Is that what you’re after? Lead management software is the right tool for that job.

Hey AdTech, how important is lead conversion?

Sunday, April 25th, 2010

The 2010 AdTech show in San Francisco was a hotbed of on and offline marketers primarily for B2C companies. Quite simply, there is no shortage of companies that will take your money and drive clicks and maybe even leads, but do they really care what happens after that? I’m not sure that they do. In speaking with nearly a dozen marketing service providers, that incidentally offered only a slightly varied product, I found a sharp lack of concern about conversion. Well, I shouldn’t be that harsh, they care, but not that much.

Obviously if you ask about how well traffic converts, of course you can’t beat it. But in my experience the real test of quality comes in how much effort the marketer is willing to put into conversion after the lead has been generated. That means they need to care about what their clients actually do with the clicks or leads. That means they need to care about a part of the process they don’t make money from. Of course, any shrewd lead generator knows that when clients get better at this part of the process, they buy more leads; just ask Matt Coffin from LMB. But everyone I spoke to at AdTech didn’t give a “#%!!@$&” about it. Some were even quite vocal about it.

It’s sad. For us it’s sad because we aren’t likely to get referrals for their clients to use our lead management software. I can pretty much guarantee they will convert more leads and subsequently spend more money, but why would they want that. Somehow the success of the lead generation industry, and it’s embracement of lead management software hasn’t quite permeated to online marketers at large. Maybe it’s no surprise that all the lead generators decided to stop participating in AdTech; maybe AdTech is still stuck in the 90’s.

Timing and Targeting Marketing Messages

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

Traditional marketers watch the clock to time their campaigns. Check out this article on ad campaigns for cleaning products and cleaning companies. There are always campaigns that roll out around spring cleaning season and they change depending on the overall economic climate. In years when the economy is healthier, the campaigns feature products with higher price points.

It’s quite an achievement for marketers to develop a successful campaign when it has to reach such a huge number of people with one message. Campaigns like this are hugely expensive, and about as targeted as smoke signals. They throw up their message and hope the right people see it. With smoke signals, you can build the fire in the right place, and at the right time, but you can’t be sure of who is going to look up. Big media buys can be similar. The campaigns profiled in the article are successful because they are entertaining, which increases the likelihood that the consumer will pay attention to them.

In this spring cleaning example, imagine the marketers using a watch with two hands to time their messaging. One hand is the decade hand, which they use to gauge the relative health of the economy, and the other is the season hand, which they use to know when people are likely to be doing more cleaning. Email marketing, using a smart system, like you can get in Lead Management Software, is a way of getting your message out that it is infinitely more agile. Anyone who has bought anything from Amazon knows that afterwards, you get emails promoting products similar to those you have bought or browsed.

With Lead Management Software, you can send highly targeted messages to clients and prospects based on data that is attached the client record. You don’t have to wait for spring, or spend a lot of time and money creating a single campaign that is designed to persuade everyone. You can respond in real time. When conditions occur that affect consumer behavior; economic, legislative, seasonal, you can respond in real time with a marketing message to alert prospects of a new reason why it’s smart to buy right now. If the conditions are local, you can filter your email send list to send only to prospects in the state where conditions have changed.

Email marketing with filtered delivery puts another hand on your watch that enables you to time your message much more precisely.

The Importance of Speed-to-Call in the Sales Process

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

I recently wrote a guest post over at About Leads, BuyerZone’s lead generation blog. My post covers the release of our most recent study about  the importance of speed-to-call in the sales process. We actually were able to find that speed-to-call was the single largest driver of lead conversion among other very interesting nuggets.

Head over to About Leads to read my post, or click here to download the free study.

Self Generated Leads and Content Marketing

Friday, April 16th, 2010

If only 5% of of your leads close quickly, Lead Management Software helps you make money off of the other 95%. This technology can help you streamline your lead buying and distribution as well as give you information about which lead sources are perform best. This technology transforms buying internet leads from guesswork into a proven path to success. A path that is as measurable as it is able to evolve with changing market conditions. Even so, buying internet leads is only part of the solution for getting customers. With so many providers of leads and lead management tools on the market, it is easy to focus on this part of the market. So sometimes, the virtues of the self generated lead get overlooked.

For one thing, Self Generated leads can be cheaper. Leads that are generated by filling out a web form on a company’s website are very cheap to acquire. Company’s of all sizes in all industries are increasingly including ‘Content Marketing’ in their marketing plans. If your business doesn’t have a blog that offers useful content to prospective customers it should. Include a web form on your blog turns readers into leads. These self generated leads will surely have a higher conversion rate than purchased leads. This ‘customer initiated contact’ is the holy grail for marketers. Their conversion rate and their referral rate are both higher.

Content marketing requires ingenuity. Developing useful and relevant content is easier said than done, but it is well worth the effort. Imagine a prospect who has a question relating to your industry types his question into google and is directed to your blog. Establishing yourself as an authoritative source for information will result in more self generated leads who convert more and refer more. And you don’t have to take it on faith. All the tools available to users of lead management software can be used to track the conversion rates of self generated leads just as accurately as purchased leads.

Using Analytics to Find Hidden Value

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

In the book Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, Michael M. Lewis describes the early days of statistical analysis in baseball. Before metrics and analytics took hold as a way of building teams and winning games players were recruited with the help of scouts who watched players and determined how good of an athlete they were and how well they would play. Moneyball centers around Billy Beane, GM for the Oakland A’s realization that the walk was an undervalued statistic. Some players were better at drawing walks than others and since this was not the type of thing that scouts valued, you could pick up these players for a song. If these players didn’t look the part of the traditional baseball star, you could get them even more cheaply. Baseball attracts statisticians because of the wealth of data that is recorded.

As companies increasingly use software to manage their leads and sales teams, a lot of data is being accumulated in the business world that would not have been collected in the past. Correspondingly, analytics are being used to provide insights that may not have been visible before. When Lead Management Software providers look into the data they have collected from all the leads their product has managed they are able to discover undervalued business practices. What is the best time of day to call? How likely are you to contact a lead by calling on the weekends? All kinds of new questions can be asked and intelligently answered based on historical data. Analytics in baseball changed the game. It changed the way players are scouted, teams are built, and games are won. Now more than ever, there is a wave of data and incredibly powerful analytical tools that can be put to use by any company looking to maintain a winning team.

Extreme Lead Management Webinar

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

Another Leads360 webinar is out, and this one is a “must see.” Watch as Leads360 shares  how to leverage proven best practices, and illustrates three key processes that can be fixed or made better with lead management software.  Also, find out how the most innovative companies are leveraging radical lead management practices to exponentially improve performance.

Learn everything you need to know about:

  • Lead Distribution and Routing: Lead distribution refers to the stage in the sales process where leads are routed to sales people based on defined business rules.
  • Lead Prioritization: Lead prioritization means automatically ordering leads for follow-up based on a scoring methodology.
  • Managing Duplicate Leads: Duplicate management is defined as the manual or automatic process of identifying and reconciling duplicate leads.

Click here to watch!

Guest Post: Ignoring Sales Intelligence Solutions Is No Longer An Option

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

Guest Post By: Craig Woods (Artesian Solutions)

I’m not one for using percentages and statistics lightly. In fact, 80% of the time I don’t use them at all. But when a survey is finally produced highlighting just how important the need for sales intelligence solutions is, well, in that specific case, it’d be time to go a little bit percentage crazy.

For a while now, many have seen such tools as ‘nice to haves’ but figures showing 26% higher sales quotas for best in class companies (companies exploiting the solutions most effectively) above those lagging behind the field show that they’re quite simply a ‘must have.’ Consider the market place we’re in too. Businesses are searching for gold in muddy swamps at the moment. It is not an easy environment. To be hitting 26% higher ratios in such a market is staggering.

The figures come from a survey conducted by the Aberdeen group entitled ‘Sales Intelligence: Preparing for the smarter sell’ which took the opinions of 528 companies into account. Report author Peter Ostrow says “By providing sales representatives with this necessary ammunition, companies can positively affect team members’ ability to effectively map their own products or services to their prospects’ business challenges with a customized message or offer. The selection of sales intelligence solutions, and their integration within the daily lifecycle of selling, play a crucial role in the ability to turn these strategies into profit”.

Some may argue that identifying potential prospects has never been a problem. But 43% of companies surveyed said the struggle to identify likely buyers was the main business pressure driving the use of sales intelligence. 86% of respondents indicated that the use of sales intelligence from external source was ‘extremely important.’ And if that wasn’t impressive enough this is being achieved saving time, both in the daily routine of the sales rep and ultimately in the sales cycle. Best in class companies are seeing a 9% annual improvement in (reduction of) the time spent by sales reps searching for relevant company/contact information and a 5% annual reduction of the sales cycle. Once again I’d just like to point back to those muddy swamps and say that is a pretty remarkable feat.

Andrew Yates, CEO of report sponsors Artesian Solutions added “Our experience shows that driving CRM initiatives from the top-down is the most effective way to drive sustainable value for the field-force. This report further illustrates the power of embedded sales intelligence (from technology like that of Artesian) combined with push technology which puts Best-in-Class companies streets-ahead of Laggards (as Aberdeen call them) in terms of numbers of sales representatives achieving quota, lead to pipe conversation and average deal value.”

Completely percentaged out now (apologies for the numeric onslaught) I once again refer back to the ‘nice to have’ comment. I guess it is nice to have. If you want to see significant advantage over competitors, gain market share and forge lasting relationships with customers then absolutely right it’s nice to have. But on that basis, oxygen’s quite nice to have. And all things considered, I’d rather not go without it.

For a full copy of the report click here.

This is why everyone needs lead management software

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

Does your office remind you of The Office?  Call us. We’ll help.

“What about those leads?”

“Is there any news on the leads?”

“They’re not here yet”