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Transcript from SLMA Radio Commentary by Jeff Solomon

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Last night I did my first radio commentary on the Sales Lead Management Radio show. I think it went well, but I didn’t have any live feedback, so I’m not sure. Here are the recording and the transcript.

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Good afternoon. My name is Jeff Solomon. I’m the founder of Leads360; lead management software for B2C companies. I’m pleased to be participating in this radio program today and want to thank Will for having me back on.

Today I’m going to talk about B2C vs. B2B sales. And I’m going to ask the question, what’sthe difference, and why does it matter?

I’ve got 7 minutes, so here goes.

A leads a leads a lead right? It doesn’t matter if you sell Snuggies to couch potatoes or network firewalls to Fortune 500 companies; if someone is interested in your product, they’re a lead… right?

Yeah, I guess that’s true, but there’s a big difference between consumer leads and business leads. And when it comes to the tools you use to manage your leads, there’s an even bigger difference.

So I guess the answer to my question is, no, leads are different; and yes, it matters what you’re selling to them.

Ask yourself these seven questions which are applicable to both in B2C and B2B sales; and then let’s compare the differences.

  1. How fast is your sales process? How long does it take to convert your leads? A day, a week, a year?
  2. How many people are involved in making the decision to buy your product?
  3. Are the products or services you sell straightforward or ultra complex?
  4. How many leads do each of your sales people get every day or every month?
  5. Does emotion play a role in the buying process for your customers?
  6. Are you selling big ticket items or simple widgets?
  7. Are the things you sell pretty much the same or can they be customized?

Ok, so let’s go back to my example from before, the Snuggie vs. the firewall;

  1. Speed of the Sales Process
  • Suggies are a one call close; “hi, are you ready to buy, yes, great, give me your credit card…
  • Firewall, “oh, you’re interested in a firewall, we better have a discovery call first… and this is gonna take a while.”
  1. Number of Decision Makers
  • Snuggie, just one dude on his couch eating potato chips
  • Firewall, CTO, CIO, IT Manager, Director of Technology, Procurment, etc.
  1. Simplicity of the Buying Process
  • Snuggie, come on, it’s a blanket with arms, enough said
  • Firewall; when was the last time you tried to configure a Cisco product, forget about it?
  1. Quantity of Leads
  • Snuggie, one 5 minute spot generates thousands of inquires
  • Firewall, “what, we did that whole tradeshow and you only got 5 leads?”
  1. Role of Emotion
  • Snuggie; “gosh that looks comfy; I sure would feel a lot better about not going to the gym if I was hanging out in that thing all day.”
  • Firewall; [ROBOTIC] “Yes we need a firewall, it must do X, Y and Z or it won’t be effective for our needs…” you get the picture.
  1. Value of the Sale
  • Snuggie; $9.99 Bam!
  • Firewall, um, thousands of dollars… hundreds of thousands of dollars?
  1. Uniformity of the Offer
  • Snuggie; “well we’ve got red, blue, green and cowprint”
  • Firewall; bells and whistles galore

Alright, I think the difference is pretty clear, so how does all this apply to the tools I we use to manage leads? As long as I have lead management software, I’m all good, right?

For those listeners who are on the solution provider side, like me, you might be slightly blinded by the fact that we all call our solutions the same thing; and we expect clients to understand what we mean. When Marketo and Eloqua say “lead management” they mean one thing; but when Leads360 or LeadMailbox say it, we mean a totally different thing. Even companies like Salesforce, Constant Contact, TargusInfo, and all these other guys have a totally different definition of lead management; jees, it’s become such a ubiquitous term I don’t even know what it really means.

Going back to those 7 characteristics of sales and marketing again. If you think about it, the difference between selling Snuggies and firewalls is so significant it just makes sense that the sales tools would be different as well. And that’s the truth, they are. That’s why when companies say “we do lead management” it’s true… and it’s not true.

Let me break it down a bit more. If the speed of your sales process is quick you need tools that are velocity driven, that focus on repetition and consistency. Things like auto dialers, sophisticated lead routing and configurable workflow engines. If the process is much slower you might need something to monitor the website behavior of your prospects does to gauge where they are in the buying cycle.

When there are a lot of decision makers in the process you need a system that allows you to create an org and attach a bunch contacts to it.

When the buying process is pretty simple you might need a scripting tool or a pre-defined sales workflow. And if it’s much more complex then you probably need detailed product documentation, use cases, demos, vides and all that jazz.

Got a lot of leads, you need a system that can prioritize them for one by one follow-up; in other words, “just tell me which lead to call next”.

If emotion plays a role, then maybe you want to do some type of skills based routing to align Joe the couch potato with the sales rep that has actually seen every episode of the Honeymooners.

Cisco firewalls can be pretty pricey; if you’re selling expensive stuff be prepared to build customized pricing proposals and business cases. If Joe simply needs to skip one meal to pay for the cowprint Snuggie, well he’s probably pretty used to that.

And if the only customization you offer is what color to choose, you won’t need a sales engineer with shared access to the record in your CRM.

So the moral here is - know what you sell. Understand specifically what the problems you need to solve are. Look at your sales process and ask yourself the questions I posed in this commentary. And then find solutions that align with those needs.

When it comes to sales and marketing, there just isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution out there; sorry Salesforce.

I think the best companies you’ll run into know what they’re good at and know what they’re not. Staying focused, even if that means having a slightly smaller market, allows you to be the best. And when it comes to finding solutions to help you maximize sales, why wouldn’t you want to the best?

And that’s all I got.

Pass the Beans!

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