How to Make Prospects 100X More Likely to Talk to You

I’ve managed inside sales teams before and we always had long discussions about when was the best time of day to try and contact a prospect. I had reps swear that first thing in the morning works best while others said lunch worked because folks would eat at their desk and still others theorized that right before 5PM folks were more likely to pick up the phone. Whenever I looked at my own data the only pattern that I could see was that the faster you called a prospect back, the more likely they were to pick up the phone. It turns out I’m not the only one seeing this pattern. Insidesales.com have been doing research on this topic for years. Their data (free registration required) drives home the fact that follow-up time is THE most important factor by far in contacting a lead. Here are 2 key highlights from the original (2007) insidesales.com research: The odds of contacting a lead within 5 minutes versus 30 minutes are 100 times greater The odds of a lead entering into the sales cycle are 21X greater if the lead is called within 5 minutes versus 30 minutes This data has been kicking around for a while. Surely we are getting better at following up with leads by now right? In 2011 they looked at over 3000 companies that were sponsors and attendees at Dreamforce (SalesForce.com’s user show) and submitted a web inquiry during normal business hours to see what the response times/rates looked like. I like this study because many of SalesForce’s customers are small and mid-sized businesses that you would expect to...
Less is More: Why B2B Marketers Know Fewer Leads are Better

Less is More: Why B2B Marketers Know Fewer Leads are Better

Sirius Decisions released the results of a survey earlier this week that confirms what many B2B marketers already know but isn’t intuitively obvious for non-marketers – delivering fewer, higher quality leads beats simply trying to increase the number of leads coming into your pipeline. This is an old argument between marketing and sales – sales wants more leads but marketing knows that it’s relatively easy to stuff a pipeline with mediocre-quality pseudo-prospects (and the moment we do, sales will immediately go all Glengarry Glen Ross on us and complain that the “leads are weak”). The definition of a “sales-ready lead” in my opinion is shifting farther and farther down the sales pipeline. People are perfectly capable of researching products on their own and don’t want to get a sales person involved in the process until they have done a certain amount of research on their own. Trying to insert yourself into the process before a prospect is ready is at best ineffective (prospects don’t believe much of what sales people tell them anymore) and at worst damaging (because you’ve now annoyed them to the point they no longer want to talk to you).  The other critical factor that this study highlights is that there is a limit to how many leads a sales rep can effectively handle and going beyond that may actually be damaging. Key findings of the study: Companies mandating tighter pipelines had a better close rate – Companies managing a pipeline of 3 times or less of their quota closed 40.5 deals out of 1,000 sales-qualified leads, compared to only 30.6 deals for those managing more...

Brand Marketing has Left the Building

Last week I attended Marketo’s User Conference and I had a great time being elbow-to-elbow with 600 other hard-core marketing folk (if you don’t know them, Marketo provides a marketing automation tool that helps marketers automate lead generation campaigns).  One of the themes of the conference was around the transformation of marketing from a cost center to a revenue driver.  Phil Fernandez, Marketo’s CEO had this to say in a recent blog post: In today’s “buyer’s in control” market, traditional marketing and sales approaches have become grossly inefficient and outdated. By relying on antiquated strategies and ineffective methods, organizations find that 80% of leads and 50% of the sales team time is wasted. This misalignment adds up quickly and creates significant revenue leaking points across the organization. The solution to this “revenue leakage” requires a shift in thinking about marketing’s fundamental role in the business.  This shift moves marketing further and further away from doing more traditional “branding” style activities, toward campaigns and tactics where there is a direct line of sight to revenue. Why is this shift from brand marketing to revenue marketing happening in the first place? Digital makes measurement possible – Digital marketing has made it possible for marketers to measure more of what we do. 10 years ago when I was spending my money on print advertising, traditional PR and events it was hard to track the amount of revenue I influenced.  Because it was hard to measure we often allocated marketing spend across tactics based on anecdotal information.  We took a guess at what worked based on how many people we got in front...

5 Reasons to Stop Exhibiting at Trade Shows

I hate trade shows as a marketing tactic.  Add up the cost of booth space, shipping, and travel, and the number of good leads you need to get to show any kind of ROI is too large to justify doing most shows.  And don’t even get me started on how hard it is to be heard above the noise of dozens of other companies battling for the scarce hung-over attention of attendees that are only walking the show floor because they heard there might be free food or booze around somewhere.  Here are 5 reasons to stop exhibiting at trade shows: 1/ There’s no ROI – Did you ever stop to wonder about those free food and booze parties/receptions they hold on the show floor to get attendees to go into the exhibit hall?  There is a clear message – people won’t go in there unless they are bribed to go!  How many high quality leads do you think you are going to get from a crowd of people that want to avoid you?  Not many. 2/ It’s hard to stand out – You can’t afford an Oracle-sized booth (and you’ll also miss out on the keynote talk and premium advertising that goes along with that). You’ll be in a tiny booth along the edges of the show where it’s easy to ignore you.  You could do something really creative to stand out like the company at SxSW that had their entire booth covered in brown paper.  I’d link to them but I can’t remember what they were called. 3/ No one will notice if you aren’t there –...

13 Ways to Run a Kickass Webinar

When your marketing budget is microscopic, every product marketing tactic you run needs to be optimized, yet for some reason webinars are often executed on autopilot.  Don’t fall into the trap of running mediocre webinars.  Here are a few ideas to give your webinars a kick in the pants: 1/ Ask for questions ahead of time – You know who’s signed up to attend, you might as well ask them what they’d like to hear. 2/ Get a great speaker – Over and over again I see companies putting lousy speakers in their webinars because that person happens to be the in-house expert on the subject.  Delivery is really, really important.  Use the best presenter you’ve got and bring in some backup to help answer questions if you have to. 3/ Have a timely and provocative topic – The more you can tie your topic to things that are on people’s minds right now the better your attendance will be.  Don’t be afraid to pick challenging or provocative topics. 4/ Have a script, practice like crazy and do a test run – Unless your speaker is Anderson Cooper, don’t let him/her just get up there and wing it. (If your speaker is Anderson Cooper, please invite me to your webinar, I’d like to see that). 5/ Promote it through all of your channels – In addition to sending email to your lists, make sure you promote the webinar on your website, blog, Twitter, Facebook groups, newsletter, and any other customer-facing communications you’re running. 6/ Bribes work – Give-aways and contests work when it comes to getting folks to attend...