Measures of Success

At Good Leads, our Prospect Builder B2B lead generation premium brand, has been our mainstay offering for the last 11 years. Why is that? We think we know the answer to that but we specifically ask our customers and build the feedback process into our programs. In our outsourced business development methodology, our consultative approach with dedicated staff and program management, we develop rapport with our clients such that a simple phone call to us provides guidance to us for both the good and not too often areas for improvement. We’re not perfect. Moreover, we insist on weekly meetings with our clients where we purposely review how the technology centric appointments we have set for our clients have transpired. If they are spot on, we follow that success formula. If not, we are very much into a theme of ‘continuous improvement’ and make adjustments. Our programs are never ‘set it and forget it’ much like lower level telemarketing programs that proliferate the marketplace and tease and confuse the innocent marketing manager with ‘low price and high output’ offers.

Rapport creates that working relationship which is good for both parties but the key Measure of Success  is the MQL, marketing qualified lead and SQL, sales qualified lead that our programs produce. As the CEO, I often ask the client directly for feedback. These are some quotes recently from an ERP consultation provider who has been a client for 2 full years in describing the business introductions provided:

“My conversation with XXX(large mfg. firm) this morning was very good.  This is an opportunity.  They are going to evaluate ERP software systems.  They envision a Q42012 selection decision and a Q12013 implementation start. Bravo.”

 

“A very good call.  (Medium size medical device manufacturer) They are running a home grown system, or systems, with a couple of commercially developed 3rd party tools and the CFO seems genuinely interested in finding a better way.  IT Manager  sat in on the meeting and he seems to have an understandable attraction to the status quo, but he was engaged throughout the call.” “A real possibility.  A pretty good week of prospect development I’d say.”

 

Fortune 2000 manufacturing firm-“Original appointment was a no show at the tele-meeting because she is in the hospital with what is currently an undiagnosed malady.  As luck would have it the receptionist transferred me to President  XXX who was aware that XXX had scheduled a tele-meeting with me.  I learned everything I needed to learn from Mr. XXX. Neither system is suited to managing a manufacturing operation.  That’s why they are evaluating ERP systems.  The President says that they want to make a selection decision in 60-90 days. So far?  Another bull’s eye.”

 

Examples of Measures of Success.

Lead Generation – What’s in a Lead Definition

Everyone knows what a closed sale is! It is real and measurable. But can anyone say with certainty that there is a universal understanding on what a “Lead” is?

Consider the following progression from simple leads to more complex qualified leads:

1)      Individual name/title, company, phone number/email.

2)      Individual name filtered by self-identifying action via a website download, social media, participation in a trade show, etc.

3)      Individual who has committed to an appointment with a sales rep to hear “the pitch”.

4)      Individual who listens to “the pitch” and wants to learn more.

5)      Individual who in speaking with a lead generator/business development/sales rep reveals details about their interest, needs, initiatives, and timeframes.

6)      Individual who has revealed they are buying a solution and are considering purchasing yours.

For Business Development, Marketing, and Sales professionals, what is apparent is that there is a “pipeline” for leads, just as there is a pipeline for sales opportunities.  Both pipelines are important to engage, follow-up, nurture, and track.  It is crucial to establish a working definition so that you can avoid duplication of effort and prevent losing touch with prospects.

Lead Generation Basics – What goes into figuring an acceptable cost per lead?

Most Sales and Marketing organizations take a quick and dirty approach to calculating a cost per lead figure. First, they look at the average value of a sale, and then they select an arbitrary percentage of that number to come to a cost per lead figure.  Often, this figure becomes a never changing amount in the collective minds of the organization, even though market dynamics and product offerings are ever changing.

 

For deeper insight into cost per lead, consider the following:

 

  • Is the product/service/solution you are selling a commodity or a unique/customizable offering?
    • If a commodity = less complexity, less cost per lead
    • If customizable solution = more complexity, more cost per lead

 

  • What is the solution cost relative to the size of the target organization?
    • A $100k price tag for a multi-million dollar a year firm is not a difficult spend and may indicate a smaller cost per lead
    • But for a smaller company the same price could be a significant expense resulting in a longer sales cycle and higher cost per lead

 

  • Is the solution one that will affect a few or many in the organization?
    • Few = not so many opinions, lower cost per lead
    • Many = more opinions, more evaluations, more time to sale, higher cost per lead

 

  • What is the personality type of the decision-makers?
    • Analytical thinking people like CFOs, controllers, and engineers tend to stretch out the sales process, more cost per lead
    • Less analytical people tend to make quicker decisions, less cost per lead

 

  • Strategic solution vs. Tactical solution
    • This could go either way.  For instance, a strategic solution could have a long term and wide ranging effect indicating more evaluation of risk than a tactical solution.  But, a strategic solution might also be easier to exit or adapt to change than a tactical or point solution.

 

It is no surprise that complicated solutions or market trends or the solution price tag will stretch out the sales cycle, but it also has an impact on how much you should budget for lead generation.

 

Lead Generation Basics – Set proper expectations

Naturally, people who work to sell their product or service believe that what they offer is the best solution around. Why wouldn’t someone buy what they have? However, no matter what you are selling, it will still take time.  All prospects have a built in mistrust for the hoards of sales people coming after them every day. Why? Put yourselves in the position of today’s decision makers and the risks they face when they look to change their company’s processes, productivities and bottom-line:

  • The more complex (and higher cost) a solution is, the more people in the prospect company it will affect.  With more stakeholders, the buy cycle lengthens as they try to gain consensus.
  • If decision-makers choose the wrong solution, they are blamed for failure.
  • If they choose to delay a decision, their company could suffer long term consequences because they are not adequately addressing problems.  Unfortunately, many times this is the “safest” decision for companies.
  • Even if they choose the correct solution as evidenced by an improvement in their overall business, they still are likely to encounter internal resistance to change.  Change for most is a risky proposition.

Be patient and persistent in the execution of a thoughtful, well-designed and implemented lead generation process and it will yield positive results.

Telemarketing – Under Used and Under Appreciated

The following chart reprinted from Marketing Profs (www.marketingprofs.com) suggests social media is among the least effective strategies when it comes to lead generation. Whereas, inside sales and telemarketing are among the most effective.

Growing your business is tough work.  Generating leads and qualifying them to a higher level are among the greatest challenges business marketers face today.

The message is simple.  If you know where you want to end up, make sure to use all of the best tools at your disposal to travel that path.  Don’t get side tracked with all the hype.  Targeted outbound  telemarketing and business development are still among the best and most reliable methods for filling your sales funnel and growing your top line.

 

 

Want to reach your targets? Try off hours.

Dr. James Oldroyd, a Professor at Sung Kyun Kwan Graduate School of Business conducted a study in 2007 with the Kellogg School of Management to study cold calling success and came up with some surprising information.

The study took place over 4 months with companies of various sizes from more than 40 industries taking part with 495 responses.

They discovered that with the best cold calling times that we currently think of are in fact completely wrong. Most people would probably suggest that the best times to cold call would be from late morning, over lunch and then the early afternoon, when people are about, right?

Wrong. The statistical information gleaned from the study is quite the reverse.

The absolute best times to cold call are between the hours of 8-9am and 4-5pm, with the lunchtime period of 1-2pm being the absolute worst.

Whilst the study didn’t go into why these times were the best and worst, it’s probably not too hard to put your own theory around the “Why”. For instance, the 8-9am slot probably works because it’s before “normal work hours” (if they still exist) and so your decision maker’s gate keeper may not be at their desk yet, or simply that your decision maker’s day may officially start at 9am with rounds of meetings, hence why they are at their desk a little earlier to get ahead of the day.

With the 4-5pm slot, there are not usually as many meetings scheduled for this time of the day compared to the rest of the day and so your decision maker again may be at their desk. Many meetings are scheduled over the lunch period, and lunch itself takes place eliminating the lunch period as a good time at all.

The research also says that the very best day to cold call is Thursday, and the very worst day is Friday, go figure why on that. Having spoken to others about their own best days, it boils down to wherever you get the most success yourself, stick with that.

Lead Generation Basics – Communicate and adapt

Look at the stock market, gas prices, and even your family. All change over time, sometimes overnight. Your customers and potential customers change too, even if you are operating in a mature market. In general, the sales process in a company is divided into a few different activities, and in most cases these activities are performed by different people.

  • When undertaking any targeted calling campaign you will need effective communication between all stakeholders and adapt as required to achieve success.
  • Establish regular communication at lead/opportunity hand-off points to make sure lead appointments do not fall through the cracks.  A poor hand-off at any stage of the pipeline could cost you the opportunity forever.
  • Feedback from the sales rep to lead generation team is key to creating continuous improvement and adaptation to change.  It helps prioritize qualification questions and prepares all to handle potential future objections from other prospects.
  • Include your lead generation team in learning the results of lead opportunities.  Knowing that a lead is moving through the pipeline and eventually becomes a customer is affirming to their hard work and inspiring to their continued success.

Lead Generation Basics – The Right Time

We have all heard the familiar refrain about life — “Timing is everything!” Well, it is the same when it comes to volume targeted calling. Every time you pick up the phone to call, you have to anticipate connecting with that opportunity that makes all the cold calling work worth the effort.  Some call this luck.

But, success on a long term basis is a result of making your own luck.  Regarding cold calling, this means pitching the Right Message to the Right Targets and catching them at the Right Time.  How do you maximize the probability of connecting with people who will end up purchasing your product or service?

  • Aggressively make calls 100-150 per 8 hour day if you are manually dialing, as many as 200 or more with an automated dialing system.  Fewer than this, you are not maximizing your probabilities. More than this, you are likely not talking to anyone.
  • Do not confuse number of dials with progress if the resulting number of conversations is in the single digits per week.  If you are not talking to people, enough people, you will never uncover a need that will lead to an opportunity.
  • Do not dismiss initial resistance with not being the “Right Time”.  Just because you do not learn of the existence of an active budgeted initiative on a cold call, it does not mean the prospect will not buy.  Most prospects have money and their company’s priorities are often changeable, so money can be moved to cover any purchase if compelling enough.

Lead Generation Basics – The Right Targets

It is a familiar refrain of sales people and marketers everywhere. “I need to get in front of the right people!” The “right” people of course are those decision makers and the people who influence the decision makers who can lead you to the sale.  Here are a few tips that can help you become more efficient in your prospecting efforts:

  • Outline the profile of a customer and work backward to identify a list of target companies with the same attributes; annual sales revenue, number of employees, industry, and geography are common criteria.
  • Define the stakeholders within the target companies, their titles, roles, and level of influence.
  • Remember that no list is perfect and the best way to find the right person is to talk with people, even if they are outside the roles you are trying to engage.  There is no magic list despite what you may hear.
  • Be open to revising your original assumptions about the best targets; while there are trends in the ways companies are structured and behave, there are plenty of unique companies doing it their own way.  Remaining flexible will prevent you from missing real opportunities.

Lead Generation Basics – The Right Message

No prospect just picking up a ringing telephone wants to listen to a cold caller carry on about their company, product, or service. The typical cold call is short (less than 5 minutes, more than 2 minutes if you are lucky), so the caller must capture attention quickly and establish why it is important for the prospect to listen.

  • Your value proposition must be stated clearly and confidently, preferably referencing a success story with an existing client to establish credibility.
  • Identify what topics or phrases excite the prospects you are trying to reach and engage with them in an unscripted conversation about these.
  • Pre-prepared scripts are useful tools but should act more as guidelines for discussion so they do not sound like the typical 6th grader delivering lines in the school play.

Cracking the code on the Right Message on a consistent basis may take a while and is likely to vary depending on the role of the individual prospect.  So keep calling and adapt your message to what resonates with your target prospects.