Author: Jon Russo

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Revenue through Teleprospecting – a changing world!

Teleprospecting teams pursue inbound and/or outbound leads via a telephone, are owned 50% of the time by sales and 50% of the time by marketing in a B2B company with the trend heading toward marketing according to a Sales 2.0 recent conference.  The nature of the role has changed dramatically over the last few years with more ability to ‘intelligently prospect’ rather than pure cold call.  This function is often overlooked given its mundane, routine tactical calling strategy yet is pivotal in revenue acceleration.   It’s where the rubber meets the road for revenue recognition!

Beyond lead generation quantity, there are metrics to consider measuring – by tracking and trending deals that actually close from teleprospecting efforts, to the time it takes to close those efforts, to the cost per effort as one can not afford to hire an infinite number of teleprospectors!  It’s important to establish metrics early and often for this function.

There are many different models of teleprospecting from an organizational viewpoint – from centralized to decentralized, to one region vs many regions.  I’ve found the most effective is regional centralization – meaning, keep the resources as close together as possible so they can learn scripts and effective best practices from one another.  However, when looking at this globally, it’s best to have in region expertise that understands the culture and nuances of selling within that region.  Trying to centralize all teleprospecting for a global company is ineffective.

A teleprospector has an infinite number of tools to choose from today that didn’t exist 5 or 10 years ago – from ZoomInfo, to LinkedIn, to InsideView, to Dun&Bradstreet’s 360, each of these tools or when used in combination, can really hone in on information about organization, contact information, and report structure.  Note that these tools are very regional centric (in this case many are North American heavily used tools).  DemandBase is an effective tool to extract IP address, though mapping an IP address of someone who surfs on your web to an actual contact name can be challenging if that user does not have some relationship with you, either registered, in the form of a cookie, or other trackable means.  Getting a prospect ‘warmed up’ through lead nurturing marketing automation platforms which I’ve mentioned in previous posts is also helpful and increases the chance of a successful close.

Depending on the size of your company, your team might consider using a tool called LookAcross.  LookAcross gives the teleprospecter the ability to scan social media profiles to optimize when the best time is to connect with that person telephonically and also provides much of the data of a prospects’ professional presence online.  It graphically shows a teleprospector the times and days that they are most active online, and what time and day of the week the prospect is likely to be reached.

Revenue recognition is critical and this function is where the rubber meets the roads.   How have you maximized the impact of your teleprospector function?

by Jon Russo Jon Russo No Comments

2 Critical Questions for CMOs, CSOs, and CEOs, from CMO viewpoint.

This post is aimed toward heads of marketing, heads of sales, general/division managers or CEOs.  It’s specifically toward a head of marketing who is considering what measurable impact her/his team has on the business and is in a situation of implementing a marketing automation platform (which many companies are these days)…


Here’s a newsflash – your CEO does not care about your marketing automation platform, the technology, it’s capability, and all the mumbo jumbo “Star Trek speak” or the latest in social media!  She cares about the answer to 2 critical questions (and these questions are likely shared by your head of sales:)

1.      What revenue are you consistently contributing to our bottom line?  (i.e. what can we count on from you?)

2.     Can you accelerate revenue recognition faster or more cost effectively than our next best (manual) alternative?

It’s tempting to think that the marketing ‘Star Trek speak’ of marketing automation and it’s associated pipeline acronyms are readily understood by your CEO, head of sales, and board of directors.  However, many of these other functional leaders readily understand the two questions above, not the ‘Star Trek’ speak.  Your job as head of marketing is to translate and answer the questions.

It’s also tempting to think technology is the panacea and the ‘ANSWER’ to both of the questions – companies get themselves into trouble buying a platform and not really think through objectives clearly.    The marketing technology platform itself is a means to an end.  It first starts out with outlining a process with CEO and head of sales buy in – what does the roadmap look like to answer these two questions, how can you impact these two questions and how soon can that happen?  There are a variety of tactics that complete the thought process – what marketing automation platform are you likely to buy and why, what is the lead flow process, have you thought through content and nurturing strategies.  To me, these are all tactics.  Answering the two key questions are critical to a head of marketing’s survival.

If you are a head of marketing or know a head of marketing in this situation, what questions do you think are critical to answer?

by Jon Russo Jon Russo 1 Comment

4 Steps to tie B2B marketing investment to revenue via automation

This is an expansion of an earlier post of the process steps involved in tying marketing investment to revenue and is a viewpoint from someone with real operational experience as head of marketing.

  1. Get CEO/GM and head of sales buy in to your objective which is to tie marketing investment to revenue. While this sounds like a very easy thing to say, the challenge in this implementation is the length of time it will take before you will see a measurable impact that your CEO and head of sales will see.  You need to nip the misperception that buying technology is a panacea for instant connection to new revenue by comparing the length of time it took the company to implement the company’s CRM system to the length of time it will take to integrate a marketing automation platform with that system. The CMO should broker this conversation augmented with 3rd party data (or person) illustrating the time it will take to pull off this new process.  The risk of skipping this step is a perception of fuzzy ROI and slipping into old marketing habits where marketing is seen as a cost center, not a revenue center.
  1. Outline the demand generation process – involve sales and brief CEO on outcome – get help externally with a disinterested 3rd party that can facilitate and thus be removed from any emotion of outcome, own the conversations, and broker potentially tense conversations amongst multiple, global parties.  A helpful process here is a six-sigma workout process for those familiar with the process.  This will involve defining lead steps, defining inboundand outbound inquiry handling by both sales and marketing, and will involve different nuances globally and touchpoints in prospect to customer conversion.  Assigning one owner to this process is key.
  1. Pick a vendor (Eloqua, Marketo, Aprimo, Neolane, Hubspot, Infusionsoft) to implement the process –   there are many articles that exist today on pros/cons of systems so I won’t go into a deep explanation here.  However, like the earlier step, involve the head of sales and CEO on the outcome.  3rd party data can help in this vendor selection or leveraging a disinterested 3rd party can also be helpful to speed the process up.
  1. Aggressively implement and scope out timeline for implementation of your marketing automation platform – this timeline has to be the guideline for the head of sales and CEO to understand and work with.  The phases of implementation are vendor selection (phase 0), vendor integration (phase 1), entering campaigns including SEO keygroups (phase 2), and then PAYOFF, see the marketing impact on revenue.

The key themes to consider in this process is to communicate early and often, iterate once you’ve selected a vendor early and often, re-communicate, and reiterate.  Keep involving your CEO and head of sales and leverage external help – there are others that have lived this battle before, so you should be no different.  Expect the process to be a journey and not a destination and you’ll be on the path to success in tying marketing investment to impact.

by Jon Russo Jon Russo No Comments

4 Steps to help Sales work Marketing Leads to DRIVE REVENUE!

I recently met with a Field Marketing leader for a successful B2B company recently and she had echoed a similar concern that is common in our industry  –  her concern was as follows:

“The marketing leads we give to sales aren’t being worked by sales, so it’s difficult to justify the marketing investment when the marketing leads aren’t closing or being worked.”

Here are 4 points to consider when trying to address the situation she faces – to net it out, it’s ACCOUNTABILITY:

1.       Inspect the lead definitions in the company by segment, by region, and by channel to make sure a qualified marketing lead is indeed qualified from a salesperson’s viewpoint.  It’s imperative marketing understands how sales qualifies and defines their own leads (not inquiries) as a starting point – what definitions they use, how they establish a need – with that definition in hand, it should MATCH what the marketing inside sales team has as a definition.  An outside, independent audit is helpful as it removes any sales/marketing tension with a disinterested 3rd party;  if that is not feasible, doing it directly from marketing to sales is the next best alternative.

2.       Establish a service level agreement with the head of sales on sales ACCEPTED leads (not sales qualified) AND  incent the inside sales team on sales ACCEPTED leads.   This is tricky – most heads of sales would want to know what to expect or count on from marketing as it makes their job easier.  The tricky part is that not all heads of sales understand the need or what an SLA is – particularly sales 1.0 executives.  So there may be significant internal selling on this point not to overlook!

3.       Establish metrics on a per rep basis –  THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP – specifically measure  on a per sales rep basis the quantity of leads that marketing sources, the quantity of leads that sales sources, the close rates and close TIMING for each sourcing category.  With this quantitative information in hand, a more mature discussion can be held with the sales leadership as to what is actually happening with marketing qualified leads.  Your marketing automation platform or Salesforce.com should help with this measuring.  One intangible point here – this data will force conversations, so treat the discussions with the heads of sales respectfully, not as a hammer.  The objective is to improve or close gaps on business challenge areas, not to hammer reps for how you might think of their performance!

4.       Benchmark similar sized company performance so expectations are set at the executive level.  At a tactical level, there is a great alignment opportunity between the head of sales and head of marketing in this scenario that she poses.  In other SaaS environments, according to SiriusDecisions and Marketo, I’ve seen upward to 60% of closed revenue sourced by marketing (note a more typical average for B2B SaaS is in the 18% to 33% range with Marketo pushing the envelope at 60%+).   The head of sales should want to know what marketing’s funnel is as it is less the head of sales team needs to do revenue wise at days end.  The board of directors will also want to know what marketing’s contribution is to revenue.

This lady was impressive, she had all the right business instincts identifying the challenge and just needed a bit more push as what to do next.  What do you find works for you?  Would love to hear a sales person’s perspective!

by Jon Russo Jon Russo No Comments

SaaS: Customer Retention is EVERYTHING!

SaaS – software as a service is a business model that was pioneered in the early 2000s to eliminate the costly software license model.  There are now a handful of global public company comparables with metrics that are published on the performance of these SaaS companies (Salesforce.com, Successfactors) and emerging fast growing companies (Appsense, Eloqua, Marketo, and Qualys to name a few).

An attribute to the SaaS business model is recurring revenue with shorter duration contracts, with resign upsell opportunities that typically range from 0-20% of the annual value.   With shorter duration contracts than that of a typical software license sale, retention of customers in a SaaS model becomes CRITICAL for the organization to make it’s overall annual revenue number.

Here are 5 techniques that I’ve used to help aid in retaining SaaS based customers:

  • Formal interviews with exited customers:  to be done by an external 3rd party to eliminate any survey bias and to get accurate information, you’ll be amazed at what your former customers will say about the onboarding process, their interactions, and the touchpoints they have with the organization.  This will also give a roadmap to win back their business.  I’ve used Primary Intelligence in the past with success.
  • Implement Net Promoter Score with existing customers:   to test periodically how customers see progress in your service offering or where the pain points lie on your customer service side.  This is typically done with larger, global enterprise B2B SaaS companies.  There are newer, more cost effective companies emerging to help smaller SaaS companies to run similar surveys.
  • Study and understand the compensation scheme for how your sales organization gets compensated on new and retention business.  A compensation model that is effective is how Gartner Group compensates their reps on new business and retention business (NACV model is what they call it – ask your rep, he or she will know all about it!)
  • Bundle and drive new feature/functionality around the resign period.  This bundling is key to drive price increases, I’ve had instances of other SaaS companies approaching me for annual renewal increases ‘just because’.  That line of reasoning is difficult to justify!
  • Involve your customers in global customer advisory boards so they can help shape product direction.  Engage your customers in regular field communication via newsletters AND LinkedIn (and opt-in customer forum), thus keeping them in constant contact with new developments on your product so they are always informed and never surprised.

What do you find that works for your organization’s customer retention efforts?

by Jon Russo Jon Russo No Comments

4 Reasons why Marketing Automation changes a Marketer’s SaaS Career.

I just read an interesting post from a fellow EMEA CMO/head of marketing @JWATTON with a thought provoking viewpoint that marketing automation for SaaS (software as a service) US headquartered companies would have less need for heads of regional marketing in locations like EMEA as automation replaces local headcount.    My view is slightly different.  As a head of marketing  for 3 software and service companies with 2 successful exits, I’ve hired in region expertise, spent significant time in Europe, and implemented MAP (marketing automation platforms).   He had some really interesting viewpoints that I wanted to elaborate on – some of which I agreed with and some my view differs.

Here’s how I’m seeing things on what changes marketing automation means for a marketer and her/his career:

  • Marketing automation on its own with no marketer senior level supervision is like a train running downhill without tracks.  The potential to do more harm than good exists when investing in these systems without a clearly defined business objective up front.  The caboose is the MAP, the engine is the objective, the trains that link the caboose to the engine are the process.
  • Marketing automation is a means to an end, not the end itself.   A measurable business outcome should be set with sales tying them to the outcome of the process and also involving them on why this benefits y/our selling cycle.  When automation is performing correctly, revenue is accelerated and sales teams are more informed about their prospects prior to actually contacting them.  A marketer now needs to run that dialogue, that is a new dialogue for ‘dated’ skill set sales people as well as ‘dated’ skill set marketers – it can also be ‘dated’ skillsets for board members who do not know how to measure marketing, adding another complex communication vector to the equation.
  • As @JWATTON identifies in his blog post, Marketers who are not proficient in the latest digital tactics are not going to survive in this new world.   Those that are not steeped in the language of Eloqua, Marketo, SilverPop, Pardon, Hubspot, or any other marketing software that integrates with Salesforce.com will become known as the ‘marketers of the 80s’.  Those that are not proficient in social media like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter (follow me @b2bcmo) and understand the social media tie to business objectives will also be ‘80s marketers’.   Lastly, those not proficient in SEO techniques an integrating SEO into the MAP platforms for B2B will also be yesterday’s marketers (NOTE:  today’s integration is challenging).
  • In my mind and contrary to his post, there is always a need to be geographically close to both internal customers (sales) and external prospects and/or customers.  It is nearly impossible for a head of marketing in the US to know and understand the marketing nuances of in region challenges.  Marketing within Germany is a challenge in and of itself;  it’s often a NA centric software company *incorrectly thinks* EMEA is one ubiquitous region to market into (just like the US!) without understanding each country has a different market and a different way of receiving information.   Privacy laws differ dramatically in EMEA and in certain countries moreso than that of the US;  this makes a marketers job in both EMEA and US more complex and raises the bar for a marketer to continually learn, as his post correctly points out.  Also note that contact software today (Dun and Bradstreet, InsideView) are largely North American centric databases, thus requiring another level of thought from an in region marketer.

It’s a round world and we all see things from different viewpoints – how do you see things if this relates to you?

by Jon Russo Jon Russo 1 Comment

The B2B Buyer Cycle – Starting Point

If you are a marketer (or any professional in a company that is non-sales oriented), how do you get informed of your buying cycle in a B2B sale and map your buying process to make sure your tools and messages fit with their needs?

At a recent Sales2.0 conference in San Francisco that I attended, there were a number of interesting trends mentioned in b2b selling cycles:

  • 70% of buyers already have information about your product prior to contacting a sales person
  • The sales profession in 2020 is estimated to be a profession of 3 million, down from 18 million today.
  • Inside sales as a profession is growing at a 20% annual rate while outside sales is stagnant (and likely trending downward).

Here are some suggested approaches on how to best start mapping your buyers process – these are techniques that I’ve used in the past with great success.

1.        Go on face to face calls (after getting permission from sales of course):  If you look at some of these trends, it is becoming more challenging to participate on external sales calls in hopes of learning what a sales professional faces.   I highly recommend going on external sales calls if possible, I’m still amazed at the number of marketing professionals that seldomly or never participate on calls to get sharper at their own knowledge!

2.       Go on calls – internally with inside sales:  With the growth of inside sales occurring, there is a very cost effective way to get smarter about how your buyer sees your value first hand.  Usually there is low cost for a sales person to involve an external entity on a call if one participates quietly.  Listen to the language your buyer uses (and where they are getting their data from).

3.       Run surveys:  either through regular customer advisory boards or SurveyMonkey, figure out how your customers are getting so smart so quickly.  If you have established communities (LinkedIn, Twitter), regular surveying is easy to do.  The survey can be of your existing direct sales channel, your indirect channel, your prospects (if run over your home page website) or of your customers.  Get the data to make informed decisions!

4.       Be active monitoring social media:  in a B2B environment, Quora and Focus.com provide a prospect a forum to learn what others are saying about your product in long form (more than 140 characters).  LinkedIn questions also have a similar structure to Quora and provide visibility to what your customers are saying.  An active monitoring at a minimum augmented with a strategy to be responsive to customer service or product issues within these forums is a must.  The other social media outlets (Twitter, Facebook) are also valuable, though the longer form of LinkedIn and Quora give someone the opportunity to vent at length.  Also, I’m finding very few businesses relying on Facebook for their B2B purchase!

There are other processes to map along the buyers journey including all customer touch points.  We’ll save that for another post!

What do you use to make sure you are understanding how your buyer thinks?

by Jon Russo Jon Russo 1 Comment

Dashboards – Marketing and Sales – Driving Revenue!

There are several challenges to establish ‘board level’ dashboards that report on marketing activity that tie directly to revenue generation.  Here are 5 tips that I’ve used in creating dashboards for executive level reporting.  (NOTE – LETS TALK REAL TIME IF YOU NEED HELP IN CREATING A DASHBOARD, I HAVE ACTUAL EXAMPLES OF THEM.)

  • With new automation tools like Eloqua and Marketo, from interviews I’ve done with a number of CMOs of B2B companies, a surprising number of teams use Excel to report out on activity despite having capabilities elsewhere. Whether it’s Cognos, Salesforce.com, Eloqua, or Excel, the tool really doesn’t matter as long as the data is consistently measured month over month or quarter over quarter.  The trick is to baseline the activity based on current information, especially as a new leader or CMO.
  • Dashboards (or numbers) can sometimes not paint a complete picture as a stand alone entity on campaign effectiveness.  I augmented my quarterly board dashboards with a ‘green, yellow, red’ status indicator on QUALITATIVE indicators in addition to QUANTITATIVE indicators to help paint a more complete picture of actual marketing activity that impacted revenue.
  • Measure global/regional impact and channel impact that marketing had on sourced revenue – in other words, what did marketing contribute and at what cost point by region.   This analysis can be further filtered on a timeframe to close, no different from a sales funnel, where leads are predicted to close. (predictive analytics).  Also, be aware for you global marketers – activity within region should be compared within region and not across regions.
  • Web traffic is worth measuring as is the impact social media has on web traffic.  Social media in and of itself did not contribute to my dashboard foundation, my experience so far is social media (linkedin, twitter, facebook), more of an enabler than an actual converter of revenue in B2B marketing.  LinkedIn seems to be the most relevant here (I plan to create another post on this later).
  • Tracking contacts to opportunities allowed for better tracking of marketing influence/sourced, this is particularly true for those that leverage the campaign module of Eloqua.  This tracking can be further augmented by the Microsoft Outlook plug in leveraging Eloqua.

Dashboards vary with mileage and will change as your company changes it’s needs and growth patterns.  What dashboards have you found to be effective for you?

by Jon Russo Jon Russo No Comments

Revenue through Marketing Automation

Increasing Productivity through Marketing Automation Platforms (MAPs)

My experience in this post comes from implementing MAPs in 3 different companies – in one of those companies, the MAP providers (Eloqua, Marketo, Aprimo) were a channel of distribution for us, so I had unique visibility as to their effectiveness.  When a process is followed, time efficiencies can be gained;  skipping implementation steps risks losing significant time to see effectveness.  When investing in these systems, you have to commit as an organization to move QUICKLY else you risk the ‘Ferrari collecting dust syndrome…’

You’ve heard of the brand new Ferrari collecting dust syndrome – someone buys a new car and it collects dust due to lack of use.   This same analogy has been used in investing in what is perceived as expensive marketing automation software to run routine marketing campaigns to accelerate revenue.  Implementation of these systems is very challenging to say the least in larger enterprises – outlining business process, integrating with sales ready tools, identifying KPIs and metrics, getting buy in, etc.  There are several key considerations when evaluating the need to increase productivity through marketing automation efficiency.

1.        Map out your lead flow process from inquiry to close by studying your Salesforce.com information, your marketing automation information, and interviewing your key sales stakeholders.  I’ve done this in two different companies and have found stunning results in both the process and in the experience that sales expects from marketing.

2.       Implement lead scoring through progressive form input/dialogue.  The progressive lead scoring will allow only the most qualified prospects deemed worthy a real time conversation (which is more costly than an automated touch).  The idea is to pass only the best qualified along to a telequalifying or inside sales entity.

3.       With the MAP platform, synthesize ALL campaigns to maximize effectiveness, to include SEO (search engine optimization).   It’s no good just to have campaigns for the sake of campaigns.   Some of the MAP platform providers are VERY early in on this process themselves which is somewhat shocking but true!

4.       Engage your marketing automation vendor early and often in your process flow (Eloqua, Marketo, soon to be Netsuite).  They do have best practice information as does other companies like SiriusDecisions.  You are better off engaging the MAP platform provider directly.

5.       Engage an outside party to help to move things more quickly.  An outside party can take the pressure off difficult conversations and can have the added insight of having been through other operational deployments.

What have you found that works for you?

by Jon Russo Jon Russo 3 Comments

Maximize revenue as a goal – Aligning Sales/Marketing

If you read the last post, you saw the importance of tying revenue to results in both sales and marketing.

Let’s dig into some key steps to tie revenue to results:

1.        Adopt common language between sales and marketing on tracing inquiry to revenue – an exercise like this that is NEW to an organization has the potential to be tricky if expectations are not properly set in advance– the objective is not spend oodles of time on the adoption and process portion but to focus on the outcome of why this is needed.  The focus is aligning sales and marketing to measurable, tangible results at day’s end.  With common language, a baseline measurement can be established to make further improvements in and on.

2.       In advance of the above discussion, get buy in with key executive stakeholders on the measurements so baseline measurement is established.  As an example, it would be good to get buy in on the framework of what the outcome will look like in advance of digging into the details between sales and marketing.

3.        Once the framework and language is agreed upon, both sales and marketing can establish measurable goals to be held accountable to.   These agreements can be measured monthly, but the results will likely be in quarterly or half year increments.

4.       Create a lead flow process via marketing automation platforms (Eloqua, Marketo, Aprimo) to drive that delivery effectiveness (this will be the next series of posts).

5.       Avoid speaking in ‘Star Trek’ marketing language/speak in this measurement process – while the establishing of common language is important, it always needs to tie to revenue.  Marketers who talk in their terms (Inquiries, MQLs, SALs) can lose people in translation in companies that may not be familiar with that language.  This is particularly true with non-marketing executives which are typically less analytical in nature and board members who do not operate at the marketing tactic level.

What do you find that works?