Automate Your Process

automateLead management systems can help marketers increase the productivity of their lead generation programs by automating many processes, while also providing tools for tracking and measuring campaign effectiveness. By implementing lead management systems, marketers can gain huge efficiencies through things like automated landing page creation and lead scoring that identify those leads that are ready to be sent to sales. Such systems also provide automated nurturing processes that can help to develop leads into “sales-ready” prospects over time.

To explain more fully, inquiries or suspects that have not yet entered the buy cycle would be a waste of costly sales resources and would not be welcoming of a salesperson’s phone call. Today’s lead management systems enable marketers to more easily discern when leads are ready to be passed to sales and which leads can benefit from automated nurturing activities such as drip marketing until they are ripe to be worked by sales. This increases the likelihood of leads transforming into closed sales for greater revenue performance.

“Listen” to what they “do” instead of what they “say”

Fastest or Safest?

I am working with an airplane sales company that is faced with this challenge.  They sell the fastest single engine airplanes in world and the safest single engine planes in the world – both undisputable claims. 

PlaneThere is also a huge price difference.  However since airplanes are not “essentials” (unless you have the aviation addiction which is why we become pilots), price is not really the ultimate issue – kind of like the saying “if you have to ask the price, you can’t afford it”. 

The aircraft salesman I am working with is one of the best salesmen I have ever met. One of his key challenges is to know where his prospect is really leaning so he can reinforce their buying criteria rather than causing confusion in their decision or dissatisfaction with the product that best meets their needs (as they understand them) – either way, the “cash register” does not ring.

To clarify this sales “challenge”, let me give another example.  Harley Davidson sells performance bikes (like the V Rod), “bar bikes” (like the Fat Boy), and heavy, long range touring bikes (like the Ultraglide).  The Harley sales rep has to be very quick in his assessment of his walk-in prospects if he is going to make a sale – the buyer of any one of these bikes is not very interested in the other options – as different as swimming, tennis, and golf are – and yet all three are -sports.

So what am I recommending to help the airplane salesman establish his prospect’s interest, i.e. score and track their behavior so that he knows how to pitch his prospects to a successful sales outcome?

My first recommendation is to make minor changes to the seller’s website. The goal is to display links to “more” information so that the prospect’s digital fingerprints tell us how to effectively sell them based upon their specific interests. 

1. The main pages will establish the clear choice with unambiguous questions like:

– Are your typical flights more than 300 miles and thus speed is a critical criteria?

– Are you a beginning pilot who needs a forgiving airplane (safety)?

– Are you an experienced pilot (maybe even a twin engine pilot) who now wants to fly a single engine for the simplicity and lower operating costs but wants the “safety” they have become accustomed to in the twins?

Obviously, these questions will be more subtle, but clicking on one of the questions, branches you down a path of more questions that will further support your criteria or branch you back to the other option.

2. The airplane broker (and the Harley dealer for that matter) can also use their used product inventory to further “let the prospect speak with their mouse clicks” on their true interest. Both of these products attract many people with “champagne tastes and beer income”. If you track the products they are looking at, you can quickly apply scoring rules that will accurately tell you which prospects have the MAN (MONEY, AUTHORITY, AND NEED) to buy your product from those who just want a demo ride (very expensive in both time and hard dollars). Maybe even more importantly, the sales efforts will start with pitching the products and price points that the prospects think are the most important.

My second recommendation is to establish a regular lead nurturing program that sends “interest specific” (tailored to their interests as indicated by their digital behavior) follow on information so that when the prospect is ready to make a decision, the company will be “First in Mind”.

Does tracking the digital behavior of your prospects on your website give your sales reps a competitive advantage?

Fifteen years ago, it was okay if you didn’t know who was visiting your website.

Dogs On the InternetBack then, the sales cycle and the buy cycle began at the same time because your sales rep was the broker of your product information. However, today, the buy cycle begins long before the sales cycle with over 80% of all B2B purchases initiated via web search.

As a lead article in the Harvard Business Review points out, the sales cycle is forever changed. In today’s highly competitive “flat world,” you can’t afford not to know who is visiting your website.

Getting prospects to your website is activity – closing business with these individuals is an accomplishment. Without tracking your prospects’ digital fingerprints on your website, you won’t be able to score them properly, and if you can’t score your prospects then you won’t be able to separate the dogs (those who will never buy your products) from the suspects (the people who want to buy your products).

In a recent study by CSO Insights, an industry analyst research firm, found in its 2008 Lead Life Cycle Optimization analysis that there is still a major disconnect between sales and marketing. Sales executives were asked to assess the quality and quantity of the leads they receive from marketing and 51% reported that marketing “needs improvement.” The analysis also revealed that companies who are not implementing a lead management system within their organization could find themselves at a serious competitive disadvantage. With today’s economic downturn, can you really afford not to score and manage your incoming leads for sales?

If you immediately turn over all of your web suspects to your sales organization without having a lead management system in place, you could decrease your revenue per sales rep because you are forcing your sales team to chase the dogs that haven’t hit a certain interest level threshold. This is frustrating to your sales reps and annoying to your prospects. By utilizing a lead management system, you can automatically find the “hot” leads based on your definition (whitepaper downloads, product demos viewed, etc.) and send those leads to your CRM system or sales team. By implementing a lead management system within your organization, you will be able to gain a deeper understanding of how lead scoring can increase your marketing ROI while maximizing your sales resources.

How Marketers Can Turn An Economic Downturn Into An Upturn

money-ideaRecently, I read an article published by MarketingSherpa that stressed how lead scoring and nurturing are the best tools that marketing can use in finding qualified prospects during an economic downturn, and I couldn’t agree more. 

When talking to marketers I can’t stress enough how “quality is always better than quantity” when passing leads over to sales. It’s key when targeting qualified leads that your marketing campaigns always start with the “who?”- who will you target, who has a need for your product or service? No one can optimize lead generation without specifically defining the right audience to approach. Targeting can encompass many dimensions: industry, geography, company size, job title, etc. When I speak to prospects about email marketing, or lead optimization in general, much of the discussion focuses on understanding what comprises their very best prospect profile.

Paul Dunay, Global Director of Integrated Marketing, at BearingPoint and a LeadLife customer, stated in the article that he works closely with the sales team when identifying target companies in order to produce “quality leads” based on company name, size, and expected revenue generated from a sale. BearingPoint has found that by implementing a lead scoring and nurturing system within their organization that they have been able to increased their qualified leads by 78%, and decreased their buy cycle time from months to weeks.

For more information on the best tools that marketers can use during an economic downturn, click here.

What Makes For A “Good” Lead?

A common question amongst marketers is, “When do I know that a lead is a “good” lead? And what criteria should I be looking for?” 

A good lead is one that has shown an interest in buying or at least an interest to start the buying process. When is an inquiry no longer just looking and researching, but ready to buy?  A “sales ready” lead or good lead is one that meets certain criteria as defined by your company as well as has shown interest in what you are saying and what you are selling? How does a lead show interest? They respond to your nurturing emails of interest by clicking on the links. They continue to come back to your site or download your materials. They start to show interactions with your company over a condensed time frame.  You see they come back repeatedly or click on the 4 nurturing emails you sent out during the month.  Of course, by utilizing a lead scoring system, these interactions will “bubble” the good lead up to the top and when it hits the threshold, it will then be passed to sales.

Ready…Set…Score!

When setting up a lead scoring and nurturing system, one item that must be thought through is what score threshold determines when the lead goes to sales and how does that happen. To determine this, you must go through an interactive approach and measure as you go. For instance, determine what multiple interactions and/or demographic information seems to fit a “sales ready” lead. A lead downloads a whitepaper, attends a webinar and has both the right title and industry that fits your lead definition – would that lead be ready for a sales call? Or is a lead that clicked on an email, went to a few product pages and downloaded a case study – is that enough to be considered “sales ready?” The choice is up to you…

CRMA with a twist!

The CRMA conference offered something a little different this year – they’ve included marketing automation. Some might have wondered the reason behind this addition; well, many CRM professionals are noticing a “new guy” in the industry [marketing automation]. Arguably, these are two completely different industries, so the introduction of marketing automation at this conference was certainly educational.

 

Companies within this industry talked about the importance of lead scoring and how to drive revenue using it; why deciphering customer intention in an online world is imperative; and why one click is not the same as the next click. Sure, attendees left the conference with more insight on the world of CRM, but they also left understanding that marketing automation is now a definite player.