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by Jon Russo Jon Russo 2 Comments

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

Connect B2B Marketing to Revenue!

This is the first in a series of posts of tying B2B marketing result to revenue.  This is the framework for the discussion on how marketing drives revenue for their enterprise organization.

A key aspect for business to business marketing to focus on is delivering activity (sales qualified leads or sales ready leads) that close to actual revenue – ‘revenue’ is language the head of sales, CEO, CFO, and board of directors understand.

But what do I measure as someone in a B2B marketing organization?

Too often, marketing teams and leaders measure their internal impact for the sake of measuring and are not making the direct connection from their activities to revenue either by channel type or geographic region.  Some call it ‘activity’ vs. ‘impact’.  Measuring followers on Twitter, Facebook fans, webviews, etc. while impressive to those in marketing really have no true tie to what non-marketers truly understand – the contribution to revenue.  This is what drives business!

Let’s take an explicit example.  The contribution marketing makes can vary widely by the type of company and it’s distribution channels.  I’ve been involved with companies that marketing has sourced 16% of annual contract value and have seen other companies, particularly SaaS companies sourcing beyond 50% of revenue through their marketing activity.  Benchmark companies like Forrester and SiriusDecisions also have similar percentage contributions for enterprise companies – your percentage will vary on company type, geography, and buying cycle characteristics.

Look for this trend to continue of more revenue getting sourced through marketing – prospects today are spending more time in online communities or researching online their needs before engaging with sales organizations.

To do this kind of measuring, automation fundamentals need to be in place (Eloqua, Marketo, Aprimo), processes need to be installed, and an executive agreement needs to be discussed on outcome.  Our next posting will dig into key steps on how we will tie revenue to results in these areas!

http://www.alphainventions.com/

by Jon Russo Jon Russo 2 Comments

Revenue Traction = Sales+Marketing Alignment

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To maximize a company’s revenue result and customer experience, B2B Sales and Marketing teams need to align around similar objectives.  Recent trends point to both sales and marketing are getting increased scrutiny for the following reasons:

  1. Suspect to prospect to deal close time has increased significantly these last two quarters compared to quarters past due to the economy.
  2. ROI is demanded in all investments – Marketing is an investment (typically 5-7% of revenues of B2B companies >$500M  – or expenditure if you are a CFO  )

In most B2B companies that are $50M+ in revenue size, there are typically separate heads of marketing and sales, thus leading to an increased chance that marketing is disconnected from the sales process, sales people, or customers.   Consequently, marketing could celebrate their own ‘lead quantity’ which is handed off to sales versus the actual impact marketing makes on actual revenue.  So what approach could sales and marketing better work with one another in this economic environment?

  • A pipeline commitment: Marketing needs to take a more active role getting involved with the traditional sales pipeline.  With better sales pipeline visibility (ala Salesforce.com), marketing needs to create the right programs to accelerate deals in the later stages of the pipeline.  Specifically, competitive positioning talking points to best arm the sales organization, references of positive customers, or business case tools (Alinean, Mindseye Analytics) that help meet net new objections in the latter part of the selling cycles.
  • A Marketing SLA (service level agreement) between the head of sales who is the primary internal customer and her marketing counterpart, initiated by the marketing leader:  Sales should demand lead quality SLA—how many leads and under what conditions are a lead considered a keeper by a sales organization?
  • Deal autopsy—figure out how deals become deals (both wins and the rare losses companies experience).  What programs are impacting the selling cycles, what messages, what ROI tools?  Once this feedback is gained, test drive what are the winning concepts with a prospect to calibrate feedback.  The resulting information becomes the genesys of a deal play book to help calibrate new sales efforts.

It’s all about sales and marketing effectiveness in our new economy!  What have you found effective to push your revenue cycles and why is that effective for you?

http://www.alphainventions.com/

by Jon Russo Jon Russo No Comments

Do your customers REALLY use Twitter?

listen

Adage recently published an article that challenged whether the majority of customers were paying attention to Twitter and asserted that marketers should not rush to make judgments based on the minuscule percentage of customers that are actually using Twitter.   The article implies a B2C focus and does not specify if B2B is included in this analysis.

As a B2B CMO, I disagree with the intensity one should pay attention to tools like Twitter for the following reasons:

1.  A CMO’s job is to connect the outside world ideas back to internal reality, and sometime this customer feedback is the direct feedback needed at an executive level;  it is an absolutely critical data point to carefully monitor and critically consider.  Too often the ivory tower approach is taken on service delivery capabilities and a direct customer pipeline of feedback is important to consider and not to discount as ‘one loud customer’ or a ‘disgruntled customer’.  These same customers are sometimes the very seeds of the next generation of innovation.  Twitter provides the forum for CMOs to interact with customers in new and different ways than ever before.

2.  In our current economic environment EVERY CUSTOMER INTERACTION counts as I’ve said before.  Twitter provides an early warning system ahead of the customer calling your CEO to complain or worse yet, the customer abandoning your product and thus cutting your revenue and eventually your job.  Twitter gives an instant feedback mechanism–and when questions go unanswered, the 91% of B2B decision makers according to Forrester that are on the sideline are observing the no response approach in Twitter–and that is crushing in a sales cycle in this environment not to be listening attentively.

3.  CRM companies see the value in Twitter–Salesforce.com has plans to integrate Twitter according to their Cloudforce tour which I attended in NYC last week – according to the product lead from Salesforce.com, this integration is in its very nascent stages but will soon be available via an API that allows trending of information to occur, so every customer instance via Twitter is logged.  So if Salesforce.com sees potential value here to log customer interactions as they occur, so should your company.

While I agree with the premise that not every customer reaction merits an abrupt change in overall marketing strategy, tools like Twitter are absolutely essential to the success of the CMO in connecting the customer experience to the service or product offer.


by Jon Russo Jon Russo 3 Comments

B2B, Social Media, and ‘old school’ CEOs

In the last few weeks, I’ve carefully studied best practices of business to business companies leveraging social media, and have also studied B2C social media successes to use as a framework to evaluate B2B companies. My analysis includes studying Forrester analysts who seem to ‘get it’ (current and past), reading Groundswell (and meeting Josh face to face when his book came out), and doing one heck of alot of observing online and offline of leading global ‘Tweeters’. I’ve recently tracked metrics of 6 companies over the last few weeks to see how their social media strategy has evolved over time and have found some interesting results. These results are of companies that help marketers market (keeping names out to protect the innocent), so I am starting with a unique subset of companies but ones that should have a vested interest in seeing social media succeed in the long run in the B2B segment.

I have a premise and ask that you challenge my thought process (it’s all about continuous improvement!). I believe in today’s marketing world, business to business marketers are woefully unprepared for the tsunami of digital marketing techniques and do not know how to effectively market in this new, one to one marketing environment. This social media approach, when integrated with other aspects of marketing, absolutely change the game on how businesses interact with customers, prospects, analysts, and employees, yet the game changer is mired down for a variety of reasons.

Over the last four weeks, I analyzed 6 B2B companies specializing in marketing–4 of 6 had blogs, 4 of 6 were actively using Twitter via their brands vs. their employees, 2 of 6 used Facebook effectively, and 3 of 6 had some mention on linkedin. Here are the tools they used:

1. Blogs–the savvy are realizing these are ‘must haves’ to successfully compete in organic google search optimization and to maximize the amplification other social media tools like twitter provide.

2. Twitter–in B2B companies that leverage the brand of the company, Twitter is the fastest growing medium to amplify blog content; on average, the companies I studied are seeing 20% growth week over week for 4 weeks in their followership base. Average user 31 years old, with North American and Europe demographic.

3. LinkedIn–in B2B companies, very little growth within the specialized ‘Groups’ function, under 2% growth week over week. It was very easy to join ‘exclusive’ groups on Twitter, the owners rarely screened me out (what if i were a competitor?) That said, the average user is 41 years old and likely a decision maker.

4. Facebook–varying popularity, no conclusion of data exists based on sample set. The question in my mind that remains is how effective is Facebook, generally thought of as a way to reach former high school and/or college colleagues, to reach a business level decision making audience with average user age of 26 years old.

That said, as I survey other B2B companies outside this subset of 6, I see a couple major factors slowing social media business adoption down:

1. ‘Old School’ CEO mentality… While very good CMOs take risks and put themselves out there, CEOs are not rewarding innovation without a clear ROI–and consequently have not placed any value on a newly emerging communications medium (Sun Micro, Apple, and Zappos the exception). CEOs are typically not ‘digital natives’ (ie born into an environment where they think online) unless they have a technical proclivity, and it is a rare CEO who has that bent and can also talk financials. Social media, while new, has not yet proven and demonstrable ROI in the B2B world (I’ve found very little information on this topic, please educate me if you see differently), but it has promise when integrated with other aspects of marketing.

2. Time: with marketing budget cuts galore, everyone being asked to do more with less, no one has the right time to pick their heads up and see how effective social media really is to market on a one on one basis vs. traditional alternatives. Consequently, an agency, like a PR agency, might get the extra bandwidth to help out with blog content population and blog amplification through Twitter, but that agency is likely responsible for other things for that same company.

3. Lack of two way dialogue or meaningful conversation. Are customers actually acknowledged and heard or is it more of two sets of one way dialogue–vendor pushing product, customer complaining about the product, and the two never cross? I see the latter.

4. Disparate strategies–some leveraging blogs, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, but the strategies are islands, not tied together with search engine optimization, so therefore ineffective at days end.
We live in exciting times!

The b2b company that can overcome the CEO objections to keep trying something new, the CMO who can convince his/her channel partners and head of sales the value of this level of interaction, and the companies that can integrate social media will be the winners.

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