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March 2010

An Interview with one of the "50 Most Influential Sales Lead Management Professionals": Fred Yee of Active Conversion


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

Who are your mentors and why? 

Jim Estill (RIM director) - time management and leadership advice.
Arthur Wong (Right90) - start-up business experience and capital formation.

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

Fail often, fail fast, and fail cheap.

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

Hire the best you can, who hopefully are smarter than you!

How do you give back to the professional community? 

Sponsor books, newsletters on sales and marketing.   Member of many LinkedIn groups that I contribute to. Contribute comments on groups and blog. We have blogs and eHowTo Guides on lead scoring, nurturing etc., that we provide free of charge.

What is your favorite business book? 

Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill 


In regards to Sales Lead Management what four basic steps do you recommend:

1. Generate leads and know how you got them.
2. Nurture those leads, and use tools to get them sales-ready.
3. Qualify the leads, and use territory management to ensure the most appropriate sales exec is on it.
4. Understand your sales funnel completely so that you know where the problems are.
 
In your opinion, the best book on marketing is:  Positioning - by Al Ries and Jack Trout

Your reasons for choosing this book are: 

It's a timeless book that convinces the reader that there is a buyer for a product, as long as you can occupy the right space. Obvious to understand, yet very difficult to attain.

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

They should understand their sales process, and their funnel. Then they should understand how their sales force operates. They should also see how marketing (and sales) is generating the leads, and determine if they are worthwhile.

Before managing leads a person should know:

1. Are they any good?
2. Can sales close?
3. Is there any operational issues that keep the leads from reaching the end of the sales cycle that can be corrected?
 
If someone wants to nurture sales inquiries what process would you recommend? 

I'm biased, but a lead management automation system should be put into place (along with a CRM) to ensure sales and marketing alignment. With this in place, nurturing becomes automatic, and the payoff can be tied to the nurturing.
 
What steps would you suggest to measure the ROI for sales inquiries? 

Again, the use of a lead management automation solution (LMA). A good LMA should be able to help determine the cost per lead, ROI on leads etc. And then use the KISS principle. Keep it simple stupid. The objective is know the approximate ROI, so that you know what works, and what doesn't. It's not necessary to measure it to the penny.


What Kirk the Handyman and his Stranded-On-A-Deserted-Island Tool has to do with Marketing!

“What’s that tool,” I asked Kirk the handyman as he was packing up to leave my house.  “That," He said, pointing to a tool nestled in a red box, "Is my Stranded-on-a-Deserted-Island Tool.”

“Ok," I bit, “What do you mean?”  

Pointing to the barrel shaped reciprocating saw with a handle on one end and an area at the other end to hold one of the many specialized saw blades, he said, “That’s the one tool I’d need, out of everything in my truck, if I was stranded on a deserted island and had only one tool. This thing does everything!”

With a couple of brief affectionate pats to the barrel (something I reserve for our Collie, Darby), he closed the box which held his Stranded-on-a-Deserted-Island-Tool and smiled. 

“Do you want to leave it here until Monday," I asked?” 

“Nope” he said, “I’ll leave the compressor and other stuff,  but the Deserted-Island-Tool goes with me.”

So I got to thinking as he drove off, (yes, I know, I have to get a life, but beyond that), I ask you, “If you as a marketer are stranded on a deserted marketing island, what is the one tool that you could not do without?”

Out of all the tools at your disposal, what tool makes you as good as Kirk on your job and without it, you would be lost?  Be specific in your explanation.  Wax poetically. 

PS
Skip the cracks about how you've been on a deserted marketing island for years and you're trying to to get off the island.  I understand that part.   Ok, vent if you must.


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

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

Who are your mentors and why? 

Jim Woodcock. A friend, and seasoned marketing and sales executive, Jim also has keen insight into the interpersonal dynamics that drive business. Jim listens, then asks question in such a way that drive me to find the answers on my own. Also, David Beighley. David's counsel over the past 7 or so years has been invaluable, helping me to look objectively at my strengths/weaknesses and how they affect my relationships, including my business relationships. 

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

A friend and business colleague told me, "The best way to make money is not to spend it". That mantra drives us to seek efficiency in all we do.

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

A borrowed idea from one of my mentors: Ask yourself, what's the next right thing to do. Then, do it.

How do you give back to the professional community? 

We spend time with small business, independents, non-profits, providing counsel and service. These entities usually have some kind of lead management need, but not necessarily the resources. So, we help out where we can.

What is your favorite business book? 

Leadership and Self Deception put out by the Arbinger Institute. Also, almost anything by Pat Lencioni. 

Which 4 basic skills or process steps do you recommend?  With regards to Sales Lead Management:

1. Perform an audit of your existing Lead Management processes (or lack of process. Seek to identify gaps in the process, and
document those gaps and their impact on your company.

2. Develop recommended fixes for each of those gaps. Document, from a process based approach, the most effective solutions for closing the gaps you identified in step 1.

3. Implement the recommended fixes. Begin making the changes in the broken process, prioritizing whereby large impact fixes are implemented first. And, incorporate measurements to monitor the effectiveness of the changes.

4. Where possible, automate the process.
 
In your opinion, the best book on marketing is:


Good to Great by Jim Collins

Your reasons for choosing this book are: 

It was more of research study than one author's opinion. More than any other book, I've seen the concepts in Good to Great play out on a regular basis in the companies with which we work.

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

Make sure marketing and sales are aligned on the initiative. When implementing lead management programs for companies, we usually suggest that marketing "reach across" to sales to begin the discussions on how to develop a more effective process. Areas of discussion should be assessment of current lead management processes, standardizing definitions, lead qualification practices, lead scoring, lead nurturing, lead routing, metrics, etc. If marketing and sales are not together, effective lead management process will be short lived.
 
If someone wants to nurture sales inquiries what process would you recommend? 

First, decide which prospects are going to be nurtured (not all prospects are worth keeping). Then, segment the prospect list appropriately for your business: Industry, geography, pain point, buying cycle stage, etc. From there, develop your communications schedule for each segment.

For example, those later in the buying cycle might receive more personalized, high touch communications. Conversely, those earlier in the buying cycle can receive more "mass" communications. Vary communications messages.  Balance "sales" messages with useful content. Also, integrate multiple methodologies: email, phone, sales call,etc. Finally, once the plan is developed, determine what resources (technology, call centers, etc.) will help to enhance the process. Doing this effectively will allow you to develop those long term relationships with prospects, and eventually customers.
 
What steps would you suggest to measure the ROI for sales inquiries? 

We advocate using a "start with the objective" rule of thumb. The process goes like this:

First, marketing needs to work with sales to determine annual revenue objectives and projections.

Next, marketing and sales should determine how much of that total is expected to come from new customers (as a result of marketing's efforts), versus how much is expected to be generated from existing customers. The "new" sales number becomes marketing's main objective.

Next, use historical data to determine the revenue for the average sale, lead to close ratio, and cost per lead. These three numbers will allow you to determine how many leads are needed to arrive at the sales goals, and what it will cost to generate them.

Finally, using those costs, marketing and sales together should determine (using historical data) which marketing communications methodologies will generate the number of leads needed to arrive at the agreed to sales objective. Then, allocate spending to each of those methodologies proportionately. That spend relative to revenue will give you the ROI.


What Great Lead Management and Great PR Have in Common by Christel K. Hall, APR CBC

It might seem odd to compare something as nuts-and-bolts and finite as lead management with something as seemingly intangible as public relations.  After all, lead management is all about tracking and proving return on investment.  And the running argument for years in regards to PR, often in spite of sound advice from PR measurement professionals like Katie Paine and PRIME Research’s Mark Weiner, centers on “how impossible it is to track and show PR results.  PR is, after all, not completely in our control.”

Hogwash.  What has attracted me to understanding and supporting these two disciplines since the 1980’s is that, when performed well, both focus on the long-term process of building sound business relationships. 

If you’re a great lead manager, you know that an inquiry can be turned into a qualified lead, and a qualified lead into a sale, for you or your competitor.  In the process of nurturing that qualified lead, you get to know your prospect and his or her specific needs.  The same is true in PR.  You must get to know not only your target audiences, but the influencers and conduits (editors, reporters, bloggers) who reach out to those audiences. 

Even as social media channels bring us directly in touch with our ‘publics,’ we need to keep their timely product, service, and privacy needs in mind.  Building sound, long-term relationships means we must not be caught “NAPping.”

NAPping is an acronym I’ve created to help remind me what NOT to do with prospects, customers and business-friendly partners:
• N – Neglect
• A – Abuse
• P  - Procrastinate

Whether you’re handling inquiries from the latest trade show or responding to an editor query, time and respect are of the essence.  Don’t let your marketing and sales staff members do the inquiry ‘dance of avoidance.’  Be sure you have a mandatory streamlined process in place to manage those inquiries and turn them into qualified, hot leads right away… as if they had a reporter with a deadline waiting!

# # #
Since 1990, Christel Hall has been helping business-to-business marketers with product and service writing and publicity as owner/operator of PRowrite Public Relations.  She is also the public relations advisor on the board of the Sales Lead Management Association.- by Christel K. Hall, APR CBC
           


An Interview with one of the "50 Most Influential Sales Lead Management Professionals": Ruth Stevens, eMarketing Strategy

Company URL: http://ruthstevens.com/

Number of Years in Sales Lead Management: 15

Who are your mentors and why?

I learned much from Jim Obermayer, who explained to me the crucial "Rule of 45," that says 45% of inquirers will eventually buy in the category--and thus supports the business case for lead nurturing.

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

Do what you enjoy and are good at, and outsource the other things.

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

The company with the best process wins.

How do you give back to the professional community?

I teach business marketing at Columbia University Graduate School of Business. It's amazing how much MBA's can benefit from some basic lessons on what works, and what doesn't.

What is your favorite business book?

New Rules of Marketing & PR

Which 4 basic skills or process steps do you recommend?

  1. Select the right target audiences, and give prospects a good reason to respond to you, in the first place.
  2. Qualify the inquiries based on criteria developed in cooperation with your sales people.
  3. Nurture unqualified leads using the new marketing automation tools that are increasingly available today.
  4. Motivate sales people, using a combination of carrot and stick, to report on lead status. Track, analyze and continually fine-tune your processes.
What would you say to someone who asks what to do first in managing sales leads?

Sit down with the sales team, to understand their goals and their idea of the perfect prospect.

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

These days, email is ideal for staying in touch with inquirers who are not yet ready to buy. But make sure the communications are valuable, containing new ideas or information the prospect can really use. Avoid chest-pounding. And mix up the messages by adding in press releases, event invitations and involvement devices, like a survey.

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

Use a combination of metrics for assessing the "front end" (like cost per lead) as well as the "back end" (cost per closed sale, or expense-to-revenue ratio).

PRACTICE! The second fundamental success factor is Practice, Practice, Practice.

Editors Note:  This is the second installment of Patrick McClure's Two Fundamentals of Success!  While Patrick addresses himself to salespeople, what can marketing take away from this?
  
I was at a seminar this week and Michael Phelps, the world-class Olympic swimmer who has won more medals (14) than anyone else in the world, was being interviewed.  He was asked why he was so successful, so dominant in his sport.  His answer was startling:  he worked out and swam (4-5 hours a day) for EVERY SINGLE DAY of the year (all 365) for 4 years in a row.  That's 1,460 days of working out without a break.  He told the audience that if you take a day off, it takes two days to get back to where you were before.  If you take a week off, it takes two weeks to recover.  So he never took time off!
 
One of my friends is a professional golfer.  One day, while admiring his swing, I stated that I wished I could have his swing.  He replied, "That's easy.  Just hit 1,000 golf balls a day for the next year and you'll get there." 
 
What a concept!  I can't imagine working out every day for 4 years, or attempting to hit 1,000 golf balls a day.  But that's what it took for these peak-performing athletes to reach their goals!
 
What's this have to do sales?  Everything!  To achieve peak performance as a sales superstar, you need to practice.  You need to read books and listen to CD's of all of the top sales trainers and authors.

You should spend at least an hour a day working on your skills.  You should practice and refine your sales pitch again and again until it's second nature. 

You should find a partner and practice handling common objections over and over again until you are NEVER thrown off track in a sales call. 

You should pick up the phone and make 1,000 calls in a month, and every time getting better and better.  Every single step in your sales process can be practiced, refined, drilled, and practiced again until you have it down with perfection. 
 
To become a sales superstar, you need to practice just like an Olympic athlete.
 
Here's to your Success!

Patrick McClure
Connexia Group
patrick@connexiagroup.com
www.connexiagroup.com

Advanced B2B Sales Lead Management Strategies: A Report for CMO’s on what’s really working today.

SLMA Editors Note:  This is not a paid announcement.   This seems to be an interesting webinar with knowledgeable industry experts.  

Webinar: Thursday, March 11, 2010 
                 11:00 AM Pacific Standard Time

Direct from the front lines, hear the latest trends, and learn about successful programs, strategies and tactics from three of the top B2B industry experts.

Registration

Brian Kardon, CMO of Eloqua, the leading marketing automation software platform will share:

• The new future of lead management reporting—speaking the language the CFO and CEO will understand.
• How top B2B marketers are using digital body language insights to drive leads through the sales funnel.
• Seven key observations from what Eloqua has seen from its over 700 clients during the last 12 months
• The new breakthroughs resulting from marketing automation and the future impact on marketers job roles

Mac McIntosh, B2B sales lead management expert will share:

• Top ten big trends B2B marketers need to know and leverage to thrive in 2010.
• Three insights learned on the front lines about how to generate more leads and drive more sales in 2010 with marketing
automation.
• Four rules you never want to break to maximize the results from your demand generation efforts
• Truths, facts and fiction about social media for B2B lead generation
• How successful marketers are using closed-loop reporting to justify bigger budgets, more staff and sometimes even promotions  and raises.

Russell Kern, President/Founder of The Kern Organization will share:

• The five most important characteristics of a great offer that generates response every time
• New interactive, engagement-based offers that actually reveal where leads are in the buy cycle
• Nine of the most effective lead generation offers that are working in today’s economy
• Three examples of leading-edge, multi-channel lead generation, scoring and nurture programs

You are guaranteed to leave this session with a fresh perspective of trends, actionable insights and implementation ideas to help you improve your marketing, your lead generation and your sales this year.

Speakers:

Russell Kern, President – The Kern Organization
Russell Kern is the founder and president of The Kern Organization, a leading West Coast direct marketing agency specializing in creating innovative, high-performance customer acquisition and demand generation campaigns.  Today, Russell shares his expertise built on the knowledge gained from more than 35,000 test observations and the management of more than $250 million in direct marketing investments.

Brian Kardon, Chief Marketing Officer - Eloqua
As Chief Marketing Officer, Brian Kardon is responsible for all marketing efforts for Eloqua, including brand development, corporate communications, product marketing, and execution of on line and off line marketing programs for lead generation, demand creation and brand awareness. A recognized expert in Web 2.0, social media and digital marketing strategies, Brian has helped to position numerous brands as leaders in their industries. Before joining Eloqua, Brian was CMO at Forrester Research, where he helped to more than double the business in less than five years, and significantly improved Forrester’s profitability.

Mac McIntosh, B2B Sales Lead Management
M. H. (Mac) McIntosh is a business-to-business marketing and lead generation consultant who is considered to be an expert at generating more leads and close more sales using the latest marketing strategies tactics, technology and media. McIntosh is CEO of Mac McIntosh Incorporated, a B2B lead generation and marketing consulting firm, and founding partner in B2B marketing automation firm AcquireB2B. Recent accolades for McIntosh include being selected as one of the Sales Lead Management Association’s “Top 50,” and BtoB magazine’s “Top 100.”

 


An Interview with Joe Lethert, one of the "50 Most Influential Sales Lead Management Professionals":

Company URL  http://www.performark.com 

Who are your mentors and why? 

My father. He was an accountant but a born sales person. He taught me the value of relationships. It has shaped our model.

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

Cash is everything. Great ideas can only be implemented with adequate cash.
 
What is the most helpful advice you can give to help others improve their businesses? 

Build strong personal relationships with your customers and watch your cash. Profit is important but cash is king.

How do you give back to the professional community? 

I co-founded a non-profit, Social Venture Partners-Minnesota to enlist entrepreneurs and professionals into philanthropy. I've also been a guest lecturer for three colleges.

What is your favorite business book? 

I've read hundreds, many great, but two old books have had the greatest impact, Stephen Covey's 7 Habits and Peter Druckers Managing in Turbulent Times.

Which 4 basic skills or process steps do you recommend?  Lead Generation Process

1. Start with a great database - it will reduce your costs by as much as 50%. If you don't have one, build it.

2. Shoot for depth in your profiles. People buy from us, not for what they know about us, but for what we know about them.

3. Build a comprehensive nurturing program based on delivering only relevant data, at the right time in the buying process, in the prospects preferred media, and all based on the prospects profile data.

4. Measure everything. Testing and refining should grow your ROI by 10%+ per year even if your already an industry leader.
 
In your opinion, the best book on marketing is: 

Stan Rapp's first book

Your reasons for choosing this book are: 

After I read it, I realized the need for nurturing, long before we defined it as nurturing. The struggle to do it well has become easier thanks to marketing automation.

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

Start with your desired outcomes and build a process to support that.
Be sure you have input from all stakeholders.
 
If someone wants to nurture sales inquiries what process would you recommend? 

I don't believe there is just one right process, but the following must be included.

1. Become a trusted source of reliable data. Most buyers will not want to engage with sales until they have done thier due dilligence.

2. All content must be relative to the propects needs, which should be specifically defined in your database.

3. All interaction should be appropriate to the stage in the buying cycle for that individual prospect.

4. Measure the effectiveness of timing, message, offer, and media for each type of prospect.

5. Do not buy into the perfect process. Keep continually improving it.
 
What steps would you suggest to measure the ROI for sales inquiries? 

Everything should be measured but through the lens of revenue
 

 


COACHING: The First Fundamenal of Success: Get a Coach!

Editors Note:  This is the first installment of Patrick McClure's Two Fundamentals of Success.

The first fundamental success factor is coaching.  Every single Olympic athlete I watched this week had a coach, and some had several coaches.  Lindsay Vonn, the women's Olympic downhill gold medalist has a coach.  Shaun White, men's half-pipe gold medalist, has a coach. Evan Lysacek, men's Figure Skating Gold Medalist, has a coach. The Russians, the Germans, the Norwegians, the Swedes, the Canadians ALL have coaches.  And they'll all tell you that they couldn't have done it without their coach.
 
So that's your first secret to Peak Performance --- get a coach!  A good coach guides and supports, manages the training schedule, keeps distractions away, and supervises the training and workouts.  But most importantly, a good coach holds the athlete ACCOUNTABLE.   A good coach will drive you to ever-increasing levels of performance.  A good coach will push you to achieve feats that you didn't think possible.  A good coach believes you are capable of far more than you're achieving, and they are committed to helping you over-achieve. 
 
Salespeople, Business Executives, Managers all need coaches.  Someone else needs to be there for you, to hold you accountable, to insist on excellence, to keep you "on track."  If it works for Olympic athletes, it will work for you.  
 
Most CEO's have a coach, or they belong to CEO-only organizations such as Vistage or Renaissance Executive forums.  Top-level operational and sales executives often belong to "mastermind" groups or industry associations, but you will find that the peak performers also have a Coach that they rely on for advice, support, and sometimes a well-deserved kick in the rear. 
 
If you don't already have one, get a Coach!

Patrick McClure
Connexia Group
patrick@connexiagroup.com
www.connexiagroup.com