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February 2010

An Interview with one of the "50 Most Influential Sales Lead Management Professionals": Trish Bertuzzi, The Bridge Group, inc.

Company URL: www.bridgegroupinc.com

Number of Years in Sales Lead Management: 30

Who are your mentors and why?

Mentors is a bit of a strong term but people whose books I have read that have inspired me and that I continue to follow via social media include: David Meerman Scott, Jill Konrath and Ardath Albee. They all bring something different to the table but the core of what they offer is sensible, straight forward business practices that can be implemented immediately with significant impact.

What is the most helpful advice you've received to improve your business?

Focus, focus, focus... Don't try to be everything to everyone and don't change your value proposition based on the most recent bright shiny thing. Fundamentals matter and all strong businesses are those built on strong fundamentals of value, service and thought leadership.

What is the most helpful advice you can give to help others improve their businesses?

Same as above.

How do you give back to the professional community?

We share great content and research via our blog and our resources page. We do not position our services in either of those forums but rather publish information that we hope enables our readers, prospects and clients to build a better business. We invest the time to research and publish so they don't have to. We take our role as thought leaders very seriously.

What is your favorite business book?

An oldie but goodie...Geoffrey Moore's Crossing the Chasm. I think that if more companies read that book and embraced the message they would be able to define repeatable success with much less time, effort and energy.

In your opinion, the best book on marketing is:

David Meerman Scott The New Rules of Marketing & PR

Your reasons for choosing this book are:

It makes sense. If you don't possess intimate knowledge of your buyers, how can you develop a product or service they need? Your messaging won't resonate, your sales and marketing processes will be ineffective and you will just become one of the many vendors out there trying to sell them something.

What would you say to someone who asks what to do first in managing sales leads?

Clearly define your Ideal Customer Profile and Buyer Personas. That knowledge is the foundation for everything that follows.

If someone wants to nurture sales inquiries what process would you recommend?

You can't really answer this question generically. There is not a "one process fits all" strategy that works for every solution and market. The only thing that remains consistent is to deliver relevant content at the right time in the buying cycle to the right person.

What steps would you suggest to measure the ROI for sales inquiries?

There are several but the first measurement that drives the rest is how many inquiries were developed that fit the Ideal Customer Profile. If they did not then they were useless so why conduct further analysis?

How does Occam’s Razor Apply to Increasing Sales?

Recently a company president asked, “What is the fastest way to increase sales?”  I countered by asking her if she had heard of Occam’s Razor?    Of course she said, which invited me to go to the simplest answer, but first, a review of Occam’s Razor.

Occam’s Razor, attributed to William Occam, the 14th century theologian and logician Franciscan friar states that when competing hypotheses are equal in other respects, the principle recommends selection of the hypothesis that introduces the fewest assumptions and postulates the fewest entities while still sufficiently answering the question.   Simply stated, the simplest idea tends to be the best choice.   Occam's razor is phrased as pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate ("plurality should not be posited without necessity")i

In keeping with my thought to give her the simplest and fastest way to increase sales, my answer to the company president was that all inquiries and sales leads must be followed-up 100%.  The average follow-up varies between 5-25% for most sales organizations.   Ergo, follow-up 100% of the sales inquires and if you have been average up to this point you will get in front of 75% more buyers and close more sales.

Yes, research has shown that nurturing programs can increase the ROI for lead generation programs by 2X-3X.  If marketing jumps in with marketing automation (email and or telemarketing nurturing),in my opinion,  these count as follow-up. 

Having a CRM and Marketing Automation program are key components, no argument.  But the simplest, fastest, surest way to increase sales lies in the hands of sales management and the salespeople.  If 100% follow-up is enforced and not an option, sales will increase in 90-120 days.ii

100% follow-up Rule:  Corporations that have a 100% inquiry follow-up policy will sell more that those that don’t.” iii

So, once again I am in agreement with William Occam, the simplest answer is usually the best.   I knew there was something about those Francisans I liked!

 

_________________________________________
  i. Wikipedia, this explanation is taken virtually verbatim from the Wikipedia definition.

  ii. Obermayer’s opinion is that, “Salespeople assume every corporate rule, procedure, request or dictate is optional until it is repeated at least three times over two months.”

  iii. James Obermayer, Managing Sales Leads: Turning Cold Prospects Into Hot Customers, (Mason, Ohio, Textere an imprint of Thomson/South-Western, 2007), and Racom Books, Page 15.  To order go to Racom.


An Interview with Jill Konrath, one of the "50 Most Influential Sales Lead Management Professionals"

Company URL  http://www.sellingtobigcompanies.com/ 

Who are your mentors and why? 

Neil Rackham was a mentor in my early career. His research on sales questions had a profound impact on my sales success. Then later, in SPIN Selling, I used one paragraph on new product launches to create a consulting practice in the field.

Today my mentors are the social media people; those who leverage online content strategies to attract prospects into their world. 
 
What is the most helpful advice you've received to improve your business?
 

Focus on your passions. When you love something, you invest tons of time learning about it, researching, studying, experimenting and more. Ultimately, this leads you to become an expert in your field. And, in today's business world, expertise matters.

What is the most helpful advice you can give to help others improve their businesses?

Create rock-solid educational content. This does multiple things for you:

1. It demonstrates your expertise to people who don't know you.
2. It attracts your best prospects - those online seekers who are searching for answers to problems you can solve.
3. It's viral. If it's good, others will share it with their colleagues.
4. It can be used over and over again, in multiple venues: other people's ezines, magazines, ebooks, etc.
5. You discover how much you really do know.
6. You become ubiquitous.
 
How do you give back to the professional community? 

Writing: Bi-monthly newsletters, blogs, and tweets featuring sales advice, ideas and insights.  Created the Sales SheBang, a professional development community to provide female role models for women in sales and feature women sales experts: www.salesshebang.com

Created the Get Back to Work Faster initiative for job seekers. I'm giving away my Get Back to Work Faster book for free as a PDF, plus offering free monthly webinars.

Support my colleagues in their initiatives.
 
What is your favorite business book? 

"Selling to Big Companies"

Which 4 basic skills or process steps do you recommend? 

This is what I focus on in my newest book, SNAP Selling. As a seller/marketer, you need to follow the SNAP Rules.

1. Keep it Simple.
2. Be invaluable.
3. Always Align
4. Raise Priorities
 
In your opinion, the best book on marketing is: 

New Rules of Marketing & PR

Your reasons for choosing this book are: 

It's a game changer. The old ways of marketing are becoming obsolete and the faster you figure out what it takes to be successful in the new paradigm, the more successful you'll be.

If someone wants to nurture sales inquiries what process would you recommend? 

Always be educational; offer relevant content that's aligned with what you know about their interests and needs.


An Interview with Michael A. Brown, one of the "50 Most Influential Sales Lead Management Professionals":

Company URL  http://www.michaelabrown.net/ 

Who are your mentors and why? 

Early almost every boss I ever had, because from them I learned the worst and the best. Since owning my own business, every customer I ever had, because from them I learn courage and humility. 

What is the most helpful advice you've received to improve your business? 

Pay close attention. Ask before telling and learn before selling.
 
What is the most helpful advice you can give to help others improve their businesses? 

Pay close attention. Ask before telling and learn before selling.

How do you give back to the professional community? 

By presenting at public conferences, participating in professional associations, and offering on-line guidance to young people entering the leads business. 

What is your favorite business book? 

"Soft Selling in a Hard World," by Jerry Vass

Which 4 basic skills or process steps do you recommend?

1. Identify
2. Analyze
3. Recommend
4. Execute
 
In your opinion, the best book on marketing is: 

"Effective Negotiating", by Chester Karass

Your reasons for choosing this book are: 

Because we marketers and sales leads folks must negotiate first, last, and all the time, it's helpful to know how.

What would you say to someone who asks what to do first in managing sales leads? 

Draw a diagram of the perceived sales lead process. Then draw a diagram of the actual sales lead process. Reconcile the two.
 
If someone wants to nurture sales inquiries what process would you recommend? 

Ask prospects when, under what circumstances, how often, and in which media they want you to stay in touch. Then do what they say.

What steps would you suggest to measure the ROI for sales inquiries? 

Assure that all metrics derive from, and drive behavior toward, the organization's revenue and profit goals. That way, you can always show relative contribution from your sales inquiry initiatives and every other lead-related endeavor.
 


An Interview with Andrew Gaffney one of the "50 Most Influential Sales Lead Management Professionals"

Company URL  http://www.demandgenreport.com/ 

Who are your mentors and why? 

Mixture of different execs.
 

What is the most helpful advice you've received to improve your business? 

The success of your most recent customer will dictate the flow of your new customers.

What is the most helpful advice you can give to help others improve their businesses?

Measure as much as possible. Provide tangible and measurable results to your customers.  Deliver on all promises. 

How do you give back to the professional community?

I do a fair amount of public speaking and one-on-one consultations to offer guidance. 

What is your favorite business book? 

"New Rules of Marketing & PR" by David Meerman Scott.

Which 4 basic skills or process steps do you recommend?

1. Clearly define your company's value.
2. Clearly define the value you add personally.
3. Outwork your competition.
4. Under promise and over deliver for your customers.
 
In your opinion, the best book on marketing is:

"Get Content, Get Customers Turn Prospects into Buyers with Content Marketing"  by
Joe Pulizzi and Newt Barrett.

Your reasons for choosing this book are: 

Real world case studies on using content to drive leads and engagement. 

What would you say to someone who asks what to do first in managing sales leads? 

Define your ideal lead--by vertical, title, etc.
Spend time modeling the path for engagement.
 
If someone wants to nurture sales inquiries what process would you recommend?

Map content to their buying process.
 
What steps would you suggest to measure the ROI for sales inquiries? 

Establish metrics for each phase of the funnel, cost per leads for initial inquiry to a sales qualified opportunity.


Study finds 64.9% of B2B Marketers Cannot Track ROI

-58% do not qualify inquiries prior to lead distribution -

Los Angeles, CA – February 12th – Mark L. Friedman, president of The Velos Group and executive vice president of the Sales Lead Management Association (SLMA), today announced the results of the 2009 Sales Lead Management Study created by The Velos Group. Study results are now available on both the Sales Lead Management Association and Velos Group web sites.

"Aside from the nearly 65% of marketers who cannot track return on investment (ROI)," Friedman comments, "On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being extremely dissatisfied and 10 being extremely satisfied, 85% rated the quality of their sales force automation or customer relationship management (SFA/CRM) programs at 7 or less, and 55.9% rated their satisfaction at 5 or less."

When respondents were asked if they track marketing ROI, only 14.6% said they do it within the SFA/CRM system. 20.5% of marketers track ROI, but not within the SFA/CRM system itself, and 64.9% don’t track it at all.

James W. Obermayer, executive director of the SLMA said, "With 84% of the companies using an SFA/CRM system (not to mention those who use a marketing automation process), why isn’t ROI tracking more common? The tools are there. And when asked if they qualify inquiries before sending them to Sales, 58% said ‘no.’ Companies appear to believe that salespeople should qualify their own leads. Friedman believes that this is not a good use of the salesperson’s time."

This Sales Lead Management Study surveyed 170 marketers during 2009. Presidents and CEOs made up 48.8% of survey respondents, while 24.1% held sales and marketing executive titles, and 27.1% held operations or other titles.

 

The Velos Group

The Velos Group specializes in helping companies optimize their sales lead management processes and procedures, and implement CRM systems to drive sales and profits, as well as track the ROI for their marketing programs.

# # #


An Interview with Steven Woods of Eloqua, one of the "50 Most Influential Sales Lead Management Professionals"

Company URL    http://www.eloqua.com/

Steven Woods

Who are your mentors and why
?       

I've always admired entrepreneurs and scientists who had the perspective to look at an industry, or an area of knowledge, and completely rethink it in a new way.

 

 

What is the most helpful advice you've received to improve your business?       

The only secret to success in business is that there's no secret to success in business. Hard work, careful thinking, and taking good care of every client is the only sure way to succeed.

 

 

What is the most helpful advice you can give to help others improve their businesses? 

Don't be terrified of what you don't know. Jump in, experiment, and figure it out. Very little is hard to learn, it's just intimidating from the outside.

 

 

How do you give back to the professional community?

I write extensively on how to do a better job of engaging with buyers. I work to provide anyone wrestling with today's marketing challenges with lots of examples of other marketers who are tackling the same problems.

 

 

What is your favorite business book?       

So many great ones... I'd have to say "The Essential Drucker" is probably one of the best for being deeply true and completely timeless.

 

 

Which 4 basic skills or process steps do you recommend?  

1) Understand how your buyers buy

2) Find out how and where they get information at each step

3) Find ways to facilitate that process

4) Get sales involved at the points where they can offer maximum value.

 

 

In your opinion, the best marketing book is:    

Positioning: The Battle for your Mind

 

 

Your reasons for choosing this book are:

A classic that digs deep into how buyers perceive and categorize what they are looking at.

 

 

What would you say to someone who asks what to do first in managing sales leads?  

First, understand how buyers buy. Without that understanding it is impossible to know at what point it will make sense for a salesperson to get involved.

 

 

If someone wants to nurture sales inquiries what process would you recommend?

Nurturing is all about maintaining permission to remain in contact with your audience. Interesting, compelling, valuable, or entertaining content is the only way to maintain this permission and not have your audience "tune out". Think of that first and foremost, and only when you have maintained that permission should you ever think about selling to them.

 

 

What steps would you suggest to measure the ROI for sales inquiries?    

Only by understanding where each lead is in an overall buying process can we then see what marketing campaigns do to move them forwards in the process. There is tremendous value, for example, in re-engaging "dead" or inactive leads, but this is difficult to measure unless you have categorized your buying cycle carefully and objectively.

Editor's note:  To see the other interviews go to the SLMA Site.


An Interview with Carlos Hidalgo, Annuitas Group, one of the "50 Most Influential Sales Lead Management Professionals"

Company URL: http://www.annuitasgroup.com/

Who are your mentors and why?
 
I have had the good fortune of having many good people in my career who I was able to learn from and who gave me opportunities to grow in my career. Two people in particular that come to mind are Randy Aronis and Jeff Honeycomb. Randy is the President of Ingenuity Sales Consulting and he and I met at the beginning of my career. Randy was the one who truly taught me what it was to manage a buyer relationship and how to sell effectively with the buyer at the center of the process. Jeff Honeycomb was the President of the Service Management Business Unit of McAfee and gave me ample opportunity to develop a lead management practice within the business. In addition he continued to, provide me with great advice and inputs as we proceeded in its development.

 

 

What is the most helpful advice you've received to improve your business?

We have a phrase internally which is "plan the work, then work the plan." It seems rather simple but it allows you to focus especially when bumps in the road are encountered. I have seen to many companies develop a strategic plan and at the first sign of a challenge, divert. This is short term thinking and does not produce long-term sustainability or growth.


What is the most helpful advice you can give to help others improve their businesses?

I would repeat what was given to us about planning. I would also say to surround yourself with good counsel and advisors. Having people on the outside who have a fresh perspective giving inputs on the route your organization should take is invaluable. When you are in the business and growing it, its hard to take a step back and see some things clearly. Get good folks around you who are not afraid to point out the needs and help shape the direction.


How do you give back to the professional community?

I think we do a pretty good job at sharing our information and our outlook on the market and the B2B lead management space. The new face of B2B marketing is changing so rapidly I think information sharing is the way to go. However while I definitely enjoy the professional side of things, one of the ways we give back is by seeing what charitable organizations our peers are involved with and trying to get involved as best we can. We have a good track record of working with several non-profits either as advisors or as hand-on volunteers and believe it is important to give in this way of both time and money as we are so extremely fortunate.


What is your favorite business book?

My favorite business book is "Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done" by Ram Charan and Larry Bossidy. The book is so practical and underscores the importance of focusing on the things that matter and working the plan.


Your reasons for choosing this book are:

There are so many facets within marketing that I do not know that I can choose one. I am a big fan of "United We Brand" by Mike Moser as it is written for someone doing this in the day-to-day aspect of branding. Getting back to the lead generation/management side of things I think "The Fundamentals of Business to Business Sales & Marketing" by John Coe and Lead Generation for the Complex Sale by Brian Carroll are also excellent books .


Which 4 basic skills or process steps do you recommend?

There are four general steps that we propose when looking to implement a holistic lead management approach some of which I have previously mentioned:

  1. Audit & Discovery: Take time to find out what you don't already know. Make sure you identify the issues and the gaps that are hampering your business.
  2. Develop recommended fixes: This is a unified marketing and sales effort and often times will involve other groups such as operations, IT etc. This is where the sacred cows must be put aside and real solutions applied to the issues.
  3. Develop & Implement: Begin to take the recommendations, develop and implement the process and put controls in place to make sure they are followed.
  4. Automate. Trying to manage a lead management process manually will be difficult and in many case impossible.


What would you say to someone who asks what to do first in managing sales leads?

The first thing that I would recommend is to develop and implement a holistic lead management process. This is a combined effort of marketing and sales working together and should begin with a discovery of the current process or state of affairs as it relates to lead management. This step is crucial as it will quickly show where the gaps exist and what breaks are occurring in the current processes.

The areas that should be included when looking at lead management are:

  • Data 
  • Lead Planning
  • Lead Routing
  • Lead Qualification (including scoring)
  • Lead Nurturing
  • Metrics
  • Technology

Once the gaps are identified in these areas marketing and sales then need to work together to develop and implement the necessary processes, this will allow them to manage sales leads properly. It is important to note that this exercise takes time, takes marketing and sales working in tandem and will bring operational change to an organization.


If someone wants to nurture sales inquiries what process would you recommend?

I would first of all encourage them to do so. All of the research shows that nurturing increases sales value and has an increased positive impact on the buyer relationship. As for the process of nurturing, it can not be done in isolation as it impacts virtually all other areas of lead management mentioned previously. Developing a nurture program in isolation will only get you so far and will most likely not produce the results intended or expected.

The first step is determining the definition of a lead (sales and marketing together), in order to nurture you need to know what will be routed to sales i.e. a lead and what will be routed to a nurturing program. Once completed the mapping of the nurture stream (routing rules, frequency, static versus dynamic) can begin and will take on many different tracks. The goal is to allow the prospect to develop a relationship with the organization and proceed as they need to. A few more thoughts on nurturing:

  1. Automate the nurture program. I have seen companies try to do this manual or via a CRM system and it just does not produce. A marketing automation solution should be the tool of choice for nurturing
  2. Test, test, test! Companies will test their initial campaign but not their nurturing programs. Measure to see whats doing best and adapt as necessary
  3. Content is a must. You have to have the relevant content to keep the buyer engaged.


What steps would you suggest to measure the ROI for sales inquiries?

I think the basic answer is to measure each stage in the buying cycle from inquiry through to closed sale. This would include:

  • Inquiry to Lead
  • Lead to Marketing Qualified Lead
  • Marketing Qualified Lead
  • Sales Accepted Lead
  • Sales Qualified Lead
  • Close

These are some basic measurements that with the right process driving the solutions can be measured. Nurturing will also play a key role into the development of these metrics.

Once an organization develops these metrics and can manage these on a consistent basis I would suggest moving to quarterly benchmarking, measuring customer lifetime value etc. I think more importantly companies need to determine what they will do with these metrics. I suggest putting a lot of time into the analysis of these metrics and using the BI from the data to help shape your future marketing and sales strategy.