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July 2008

Keith Burwell of Kaleidico Joins Sales Lead Management Association Board of Advisors

Los Angeles, CA  July 24, 2008.  James W. Obermayer, Executive Director of the Sales Lead Management Association Announced today that Keith Burwell, Vice President of Sales and Business Development for Kaleidico has joined the SLMA Board of Advisors.    “There are 13 members of the SLMA Board of Advisors,” Obermayer said, “And we welcome Mr. Burwell as an active participant.  His ideas and enthusiasm for the subject of lead management will be welcome by the 640+ members of the association.”

Keith Burwell is the Vice President of Sales and Business Development for Kaleidico, a software firm providing solutions for online lead management, delivery and analytics. Products include: icoSales, a sales management solution and icoMatch, a lead distribution platform.

Prior to working at Kaleidico, Keith was the National Director of Operations for Online Home Equity at Quicken Loans. Previously, he had worked as a Management Consultant, partnering to provide solutions for such top companies as Key Bank, Boeing, M&M/Mars, Bosch, Foster Wheeler and many others.  He has also led various teams and groups for Fortune 500 industry leaders such as Graybar, Yellow Freight, and Aramark. In addition, he currently holds an active seat on the Sales Lead Management Association's Advisory Board.

Keith's vast industry experience has given him critical insight into successful performance, thoughtful leadership, and compelling business strategies that continue to drive production. He has been a moderator at various conferences, workshops, and seminars and has frequently been a Performance Coach in countless meetings with hundreds of attendees to develop and build best practices.

He holds a Bachelor's degree in Economics from The Virginia Military Institute. He earned his Master's in Business Administration from Liberty University.

The SLMA welcomes Keith and his ideas to grow and improve the Sales Lead Management Association services to its increasing membership

Turning the Voice Mail Lemons into Lemonade - By Ruth P. Stevens, eMarketing Strategy

Hello, Ruth, this is Susan Doe from Acme Widgets calling.  I’d really like to speak with you. Would you please call me back?  You can reach me at xxxx."


This recent message on my voice mail got me thinking:  What was it about the message that made me delete it?  Probably because I didn’t know her.  Plus, she gave me no reason why I should care. 

But, on reflection, I often reply to voice mails from unknown people.  Why do I respond to some and not others?  A well-crafted voice mail message should be a potent opportunity to begin, or strengthen, a business relationship.   So there ought to be ways to motivate a response better than did our hapless Susan Doe.

So what should business marketers do when confronted with a voice mail greeting during a phone call?  In short, what are best practices in voice mail marketing? 

I decided to look into this, and guess what: Voice mail marketing is nowhere, as a discipline.  No one is talking about it.  No one is researching it, setting up tests, and figuring out best practices—at least as far as I could determine. 

I say this is a lost opportunity.  Because outbound telemarketing is huge in B-to-B.  But business marketers find that upwards of 85% of outbound business calls go to voice mail.  So if you don’t have a clear strategy for how to manage voice mail as part of your campaign, you’ll be squandering a major chance to connect with customers and prospects. 

Objectives drive strategy

The place to begin, naturally, is with your objective in making the call.  A sales rep cranking through a series of cold phone calls will have a different strategy from a marketer using phone follow-up to direct mail, for example.  Are you looking to gain awareness?  Is the message intended to motivate a call-back?  Is the message part of a series of touches, or does it need to pay off on its own?  The answer to these questions will help identify the right approach to voice mail.

When asked for his recommendation on voice mail, Mike Chaplo, VP of Revenue at LinkExperts, says firmly, “Don’t leave one.  Hang up.  Call back again, and keep trying.  If after 5 or 6 attempts you still can’t get through, then send an email, asking when is the best time to call.  Your objective in business is to have a conversation, not to leave an annoying message.”

But voice mail does have its applications, in both sales and marketing.  Let’s look at what’s working and what the experts recommend. 

Strategic options in voice mail marketing

Depending on the strategy, the use of voice mail will differ widely.  Experienced users recommend it as particularly useful for:

  • Event invitations or reminders

  • A follow-up to direct mail or email

  • Lead qualification and nurturing

  • A pre-campaign touch prior to direct mail or email

  •  Announcements, such as regulatory compliance

  •  Pricing or promotion updates

Live telemarketing as part of a marketing campaign

Phone follow up to mail or email, and phone softening prior to mail, are time-honored techniques for improving response and campaign ROI.  So what do you do in the highly likely event that you reach a voice mailbox instead of a live person? 

According to Rob Lail, founder and president of MarketMakers, a B-to-B teleservices firm in the Philadelphia area, voice mail has a powerful role to play in a campaign—if you plan for it.  “The most important thing is to prepare a superb script,” says Lail.  “It has to be professional, but not sound canned.  We provide our reps with scripts, but they only use it as a guide.  They need to know the material cold, and speak to it naturally, so they sound confident.”

Lail observes that a great voice mail script gets to the point fast.  “You need to cover the who, what, where, when and how—quickly.  You need to use a conversational tone, and above all, the message has to be relevant to the target’s industry.” 

Other than the script, the key is the application.  According to Lail, the single most effective use of voice mail is in event marketing, for extending an invitation or reminding prospects to attend a seminar, conference, webcast or some other live appointment.   “Reminder calls to seminar attendees who have agreed to come can improve their actual attendance by 40%,” says Lail.

The phone is also a big part of effective lead qualification and nurturing programs.  In this situation, a well-defined voice mail strategy is equally important.  John Hasbrouck is President and CEO of NewLeads., which provides trade show contact follow-up services.   Hasbrouck encourages his reps to make the decision whether to leave a voice mail message based on their level of energy and enthusiasm at the moment. 

“Enthusiasm is contagious,” says Hasbrouck.  “If you don’t feel like leaving a message, just hang up.  You need to be in the right frame of mind.  If you don’t sound like someone they want to talk to, they won’t ever respond.” 

Telephone as part of biz dev or sales

When using the phone as part of a sales effort, the voice mail option is a function of where you are in the process.  Sherri Sklar, an experienced sales and marketing trainer and consultant, and president of Sherri Sklar Strategies, notes that it can take 7 to 9 touches to get through to business buyers today. 

So Sklar recommends planning the touch sequence up front.  “I might begin with an email, saying I will follow up with a phone call.  If I get a voice mail on that call, I will have decided in advance whether I will leave a message or not.  It depends on whether I want to use up one of my touches.  Generally, a voice mail is less effective if the prospect doesn’t know me yet.” 

But if she does decide to leave a voice mail at the early stages in the relationship, Sklar stresses the importance of mentioning, early in the message, the critical business issue that is likely to be on the mind of the recipient.  “After I say my name and my company, and a few words about our competency, I get right to the point about how we can help the prospect.  And I leave my phone number.  But I don’t expect a call back.  What I expect to happen is my next touch, whether it’s another call or an email.”

Sklar cautions that callers need to plan for any possible outcome.  You need to have the scripts in mind if you get voice mail, if the prospect picks up, and if a gatekeeper picks up. 

How to structure a voice mail

John Hasbrouck recommends the following path for your voice message, to garner maximum attention and response:

PAIN.  Start with their problem.  Don’t start with yourself.

HOPE. State your offering: “We solve that problem.”

REFERENCES. Name a few customers who will be familiar and credible.

FEATURES.  If you can squeeze in one or two supporting features, do so.  But keep the total to 30 seconds.

RESPONSE.  Tell them what to do and how.  “If you want to know more, please give me a call.” 

Sidebar: Tips for B-to-B voice mail success

  • The message must fit within fewer than 30 seconds, without sounding rushed.  Beyond 30 seconds, the listen-to rate declines dramatically, says Barry Chelist, director of sales at GroupCast Messaging. 

  • Sincerity is audible.  As John Hasbrouck cautions, “Think about how much you believe what you are saying.  If you don’t really believe it, don’t say it. “

  • Strive for natural-sounding speech.  “Don’t go for a radio commercial,” says Mike Kytell, founder and CEO of BoxPilot, the guided voice mail service for B-to-B marketers. “You want to sound real, not canned.”  

  • Expect the same kind of response rate you’d get with an outbound telemarketing campaign, says Mike Kytell.  “If you picked up the phone and called 100 people, how many would call you back?” 

  • If you are deliberately looking to go to voice mail, versus reaching a live human, the best times are during the business day between 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., when most people are in meetings or at lunch, according to Barry Chelist.  Evening or late night has become a risky time slot, says Chelist, because so many people have their office numbers forwarded to home or mobile phones. 

New tools to enhance your voice mail marketing

Voice mail has been around for a few decades, and while it’s not a hotbed of marketing innovation, a few enhancements have emerged.

  • Guided voice mail.  BoxPilot pioneered the idea of pre-recording a message, and then using live operators to network around the target company and “guide” the message to the right person’s voice mail box.  Kytell’s team has done a variety of tests to prove the concept’s effectiveness.  One client using guided voice mail as follow up to a direct mail piece, for example, lifted response 145%, from 3.1% to 7.8%., doubling campaign ROI.   James Pennington, VP of strategic marketing at The Kern Organization, the B-to-B direct marketing agency, has used BoxPilot successfully for its clients.  “It’s more expensive per touch than direct mail, but cheaper than outbound telemarketing,” he notes.  “BoxPilot turns the disadvantage of business people’s hiding behind their voice mail into an advantage.  What we find is that what’s most important is sending a message that’s not stupid or pointless, but one that’s relevant.” 

  • Automated voice mail.  Used primarily in consumer marketing, automated delivery of pre-recorded messages via auto-dialing is making some contribution in B-to-B.  GroupCast Messaging in St. Louis, for example, is producing results for financial services, like credit card processing offers to small businesses, or advising insurance brokers and financial planners on new products.  GroupCast sets up unique toll-free numbers on each campaign, so responses come into their call center, backed up by automated voice response, which allows them to track results and do tests.  Barry Chelist, director of sales, says that GroupCast regularly tests the effectiveness of such variables as male versus female voices, and sets up split tests of direct mail with voice-mail follow-up versus direct mail alone. 

What’s next?

As business marketers, we need to get more disciplined about voice mail as part of the marketing mix.  Voice mail should be right up there with direct mail, email and telemarketing as a mainstream medium.  Business marketers ought to be conducting split testing of offers and scripts, and looking for ways to improve response rates.  Better yet, we need testing of multi-touch campaign sequencing, to see where voice mail best fits. 

I hope this discussion will inspire some activity in this area.  If you have any results to report, please share with me at  And let’s ask The DMA to include voice mail as a key B-to-B campaign medium when it researches response rates, creative strategies and other useful topics.  If this is where 85% of our phone calls are going, we need to make the most of it. 

Here is an example script from John Hasbrouck, CEO of NewLeads. 

Hi Sally! This is Taylor from NewLeads calling about the leads system for RSNA.  If you’re frustrated with the show lead retrieval box and roll of paper with scribbled notes and you’d like to consider something better on PCs or touch screens with your custom questions and products, that’s what we do!  

You may have seen our systems in use at ACME, WIDGET CO and some other booths.

You’ll have daily access to your leads and great reports, and we guarantee compatibility with CRM systems like  

If you’d like to explore this, please call me back at 805-658-3330 extension 113 and we can set up a quick demo. Again, this is Taylor from NewLeads, 805 658 3330 ext 113.  Thanks for your time!

Ruth P. StevensAbout the Author

Ruth P. Stevens consults on customer acquisition and retention, for both consumer and business-to-business clients.  Ruth began her direct marketing career in 1986 at Time Warner, where she spent seven years in marketing, new business development, and general management at Book-of-the-Month Club and Time-Life Books.  She then went to Ziff-Davis as Vice President of Marketing for Computer Library, the electronic publishing division.  From 1996, she spent three years in direct marketing management at IBM, and then worked in senior marketing positions at two Internet startup companies in New York City before starting her consulting company in 2000. 

Ruth serves on the board of directors of Edmund Optics, Inc.  She is a trustee of Princeton-In-Asia, past chair of the Business-to-Business Council of the DMA, and now president of the Direct Marketing Club of New York.  Crain’s BtoB magazine named Ruth one of the 100 Most Influential People in Business Marketing in 2002.  She is the author of 2 business books, The DMA Lead Generation Handbook, published in 2002, and Trade Show and Event Marketing, published by Thomson in 2005.  She teaches marketing to graduate students at Columbia Business School.  She has studied marketing management at Harvard Business School and holds an MBA from Columbia University.

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Never Create Fewer Inquiries Than the Total Number of Products Sold In Your Marketplace Each Year

Losing and don’t know why? Here’s at least one part of the answer. If there are 10,000 products sold in your marketplace and you are only producing 1,500 leads, guess why you can’t make those large market share gains you promised?

I think it is fair to say ninety percent of all companies fail to uncover all of the available buyers in the marketplace. It’s a simple numbers game: More inquiries produce more leads and more leads produce more quotes which bring in more sales.

Of course most companies believe that this is what the salespeople get paid to do, but no one believes a salesperson can find and bid on all the business in his or her area. One of the many roles of marketing is to search out, identify, and present to its salespeople as many available buyers as possible.

Need to sell 1000 widgets? Ideally, you should present slightly more than 2200 raw inquirers (45% will eventually be buyers). The exact number will vary because the salespeople will have a pipeline which should be 3x to 5x the monthly number. But, I guarantee you will have to replenish at least half of the demand in the on-going pipeline. The rest of the sales will come from repeat business, cold calling, referrals, etc.

When marketing managers create demand to equal the number of buyers in a marketplace, they assume the rightly deserved position as the Creator of Wealth in their company. More about Creators of Wealth, the Marketers, next week.

The Only Successful Sales Lead Policy is 100% Follow-Up!

The most successful companies have a 100% sales lead follow-up policy as a condition of a salesperson’s employment. No exceptions. No excuses.  This is the only way marketing can prove a return on investment for money spent on advertising, exhibits, direct mail, web, public relations, and other lead generation activities. 

An Aberdeen Group Report, “Automating Leads To Sales, Prioritize Leads Stop Tracking Dead Leads,” March 2007, pounds home the fact that, “over two-thirds of companies currently using an automated lead management solution have seen a 10%+ improvement in lead to sales conversion rates.”   This implies (but is not a guarantee) that the companies that have a “system” also have rules that salespeople must follow concerning follow-up.  Granted those with a system are most likely to demand that their salespeople not only follow-up, but also close out the inquiry and report on the results.   Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. 

Some people think that having a system solves the problem. This issue was discussed in the June 23rd, 2008 SLMA Blog entry: Why CRM Software Is Like Sheet Music, But It Isn’t The Software’s Fault! .      On the SLMA site under resources there is an article on creating business rules entitled “Business Rules for Inquiry Management.”   This article says that the primary rule of the sales universe is that inquiry follow-up must be 100%.  

In order for this to happen, sales managers must enforce the rule and marketing management is often tasked with reporting on compliance.  If no one is checking on compliance it will take salespeople about a month to figure it out and they will stop reporting.  After reporting ceases, the follow-up of every inquiry will become optional (in their mind).    Game over, you’re back where you started.

No matter how good the salesperson is, they cannot look at an inquiry and decide who the buyers will be 100% of the time.   The inquirer must be contacted so that the 55% who are not buyers can be weeded out.    Please make sure that you have rules for follow-up and rules for reporting and compliance.    Without these requirements, you’ll be at the mercy of salespeople who think follow-up is optional.