Entries Tagged as 'B2B marketing tools'
Step 4: Determine the definition of a "qualified sales lead" with which marketing, sales and corporate management agree.
Your goal as a marketer is to help generate sales. Although there are some steps in closing sales that are out of your control, what you can do is identify qualified sales leads up front. If marketing, management and sales all agree from the start on what a qualified lead is, there is a better chance that you will generate leads that are valuable to the salespeople. It’s important to confirm the definition, in writing, with all parties. The definition of a qualified lead is different for each company, and each must do the work to define its own meaning of a qualified sales lead.
Typical definitions include criteria such as the following:
- Does the prospect have a need or an application for your product or service?
- What is the prospect’s role in the decision-making process?
- What is the prospect’s timing for purchase or implementation?
- What is the status of the prospect’s budget?
- What is the size of the opportunity?
A prospect is a contact at a company who admits to a business problem, either latently or directly, that could be solved by a product and/or service that you are selling. Your role, as a marketer, is to give the prospect hope of solving his/her company’s problem. Here are a few examples:
Problem: The company’s current disparate computer systems require employees to perform redundant data entry, thus wasting time and reducing efficiency.
Solution: Your software product would enable single data entry.
Problem: The company’s managers suspect its truck drivers are wasting time on their routes, but they don’t know for sure.
Solution: Your global positioning system would allow management to track the location of each truck at all times.
Problem: The company relies on face-to-face meetings among employees located in various parts of the country, but it has recently slashed its travel budget. It can’t afford to send the employees to meetings that require air travel.
Solution: Your web-based conferencing service would make it possible for the company’s employees to meet "virtually" in cyberspace.
In addition to having a business problem that you can solve, qualified leads
- Have an established project in play. This is apparent if a solution task force has already been appointed or, for a small company, if the inquirer’s boss asked him/her to find a solution or make a recommendation.
- Have the money to buy a solution, or are in the process of developing a budget.
- Plan to purchase within a reasonable amount of time.
- Have negotiated access to power. In other words, they can get you in front of the appropriate final decision-maker(s) when the time is right.
In addition to defining a qualified lead, you should create a glossary of standard terms defining what your company considers to be a "suspect," a "prospect," an "inquiry," a "response," a "qualified lead," a "qualified suspect," a "qualified prospect" and so forth. Again, sales, marketing and management need to agree on the definition of each term. This will avoid confusion later.
|To download the complete guide as a PDF, visit B2B Marketing-for-Leads Guide.|
Lead scoring can be a valuable tool as you create your qualification definitions. To score a lead, assign points based on how well the prospect meets each of your lead-qualification criteria. Consider the following example:
To score the lead, add up all the points. Then, for example, those with 20 or more points are determined to be qualified leads; you should send them to your sales force.
Step 3: Determine the percentage of your company’s new business revenue that needs to come from marketing-generated leads.
This step in developing your marketing-for-leads plan focuses on determining how many leads your marketing programs need to generate so that the company can meet its sales revenue goals.
"Why Bother With a Marketing Plan? We’ve Got a Sales Team."
Some people may get involved in an old argument, "Why do we need marketing? We have a robust sales force that is capable of bringing in sales. Why bother with a complicated marketing plan?" The fact is, even with a capable, motivated sales team—which includes a combination of salespeople, distributors, resellers and reps—you are generating less sales revenue than you could be if you relied on the efforts of the marketing team to find new business opportunities. In addition, if you depend only on the sales team, your cost of selling is probably higher than it needs to be.
In any business-to-business sales situation, salespeople typically find, on their own, about 40 percent of the new business opportunities needed to meet their company’s sales revenue goal. They develop sales opportunities through referrals, additional projects from past customers, potential customers they meet at networking events and past customers who have moved to new companies.
All of that works well for generating sales up to a point. Salespeople working on their own don’t generally reach the other 60 percent of sales potential for some very good reasons:
- Salespeople’s quotas and compensation programs reward them for bringing in short-term sales—this week, this month, this quarter. Therefore, they have little incentive to work the longer-term opportunities.
- Most people generally hate the rejection that results from cold calling. Salespeople are no different. They prefer to spend time with prospects that are ready to buy now, even though in reality those buyers represent only a fraction of sales opportunities.
- Salespeople tend to spend most of their time with current customers.
So how can marketing for leads be used to identify the other 60 percent of sales opportunities and make the sales team more efficient overall? Lead-generation tactics such as direct mail, telemarketing and events are ideal for finding qualified sales leads so that salespeople can spend each sales call where it is most likely to generate revenue. Online marketing via websites that cater to your target audience is another cost-effective way to generate leads.
What is the cost of a business-to-business sales call?
The average business-to-business sales call cost $329 in 2001, according to Cahners Research. This figure is based on responses from 23,341 businesses. Additional key findings of Cahners’ study include the following facts:
- A typical business-to-business sale that exceeds $35,000 takes an average of 5.12 sales calls to close.
- Less than 20 percent of sales efforts focus on prospective new clients.
- The average number of sales calls taken by customers over the phone is 4.61 per week.
- On average, customers have only 1.81 in-person meetings per week with salespeople.
- Seventy-five percent of the companies studied say that making a sale valued at more than $35,000 requires a combination of direct and indirect sales efforts.
|To download the complete guide as a PDF, visit B2B Marketing-for-Leads Guide.|
With the cost of a business-to-business sales call rising each year, companies cannot ignore the price tag associated with calling on prospects. By using the most efficient techniques to generate leads and investing in personal sales calls only when they have a greater potential to bring you closer to a closed sale, you automatically lower the cost of sales. The role of marketing for leads is to identify and nurture leads, moving them along to a point where the cost of a personal sales call, or a series of sales calls, becomes an investment in an actual sale.
Step 2: Determine the percentage of your company’s revenue that needs to come from new business.
If your corporate goal is a twenty percent increase in sales, how much new business do you need to secure to meet that goal?
Say your annual sales revenue currently totals $10 million. At first, it may appear that you only need an additional $2 million in sales to meet your new goal for next year. However, if you also need to replace twenty percent of your sales revenue every year because of non-recurring sales, you will need to find an additional $2 million in sales during the next year just to stay even. So you will actually need an additional $4 million in new sales revenue to meet your goal.
|To download the complete guide as a PDF, visit B2B Marketing-for-Leads Guide.|
The new-business-needed calculation
The following calculation will help you to determine the amount of sales revenue from new business your company will need to generate from marketing leads to meet its revenue goals.
- Your company’s current annual sales revenue $ _______.
- The percentage of business you typically lose during the course of the year
- The sales revenue from new business your company must generate during the next year just to stay even = $ ________.
- Additional sales revenue from new business needed to meet your new target sales revenue goal + $ ________.
- Total new business revenue needed to meet your target sales revenue goal
= $ ________.
Have you ever read something that was completely contrary to your own experience with the subject, causing you to doubt its accuracy?
That’s what happened to me when I read Aberdeen Group’s recent report, B2B TeleServices: The 2008 Buyer’s Guide.
As a consultant who specializes in B2B sales leads, I’m frequently asked by clients to help them select outsourced telemarketing companies, and to implement or improve their outsourced telemarketing lead generation, follow-up and qualification programs. So I was looking forward to reading Aberdeen’s report, thinking it would be a useful resource.
However, I quickly turned from an eager reader to true skeptic as I read some of the findings and conclusions of the report.
For example, the report stated that the companies included in Aberdeen’s study were spending an average of 33 percent of their total lead generation budget on B2B teleservices. And those companies which Aberdeen determined were “best in class” were spending an average of 44 percent.
Based on my own, first-hand experience working on B2B sales lead programs for dozens of leading companies–large, mid-sized and small–these percentages seemed way too high.
So, to check my sanity, I informally polled a number of other industry experts. This included a few CEOs of B2B call centers, a handful B2B marketers who outsource their telemarketing for lead generation, follow up and qualification, and a few other consultants who work in and around B2B telemarketing. I asked them to read the report and let me know if they thought about those particular numbers.
What were the results of my small, informal poll?
While some of the numbers in the report appeared to be more realistic, 100 percent of those I polled agreed that Aberdeen’s percentage of lead generation budget numbers were way too high.
The B2B telemarketing company CEOs wished that their clients actually were actually spending 33 percent to 44 percent of their lead generation budgets on outsourced teleservices. Instead, they reported that their clients are spending far less.
In the opinion of fellow consultant and friend, Michael A. Brown, the Business to Business By Phone® expert, “The Aberdeen numbers (about the percentage of lead generation budgets spent on outsourced teleservices) can’t be correct. They just don’t ring true.”
The sampling of B2B marketers I polled, all users of outsourced telemarketing services as part of their lead generation, follow-up and qualification programs, said that the budget percentage numbers reported by Aberdeen were significantly higher than their own spending.
Michael Brown polled a few of his own clients too. They told him that they believe that the average B2B lead generation budget percentages for outsourced teleservices should be less than half those reported by Aberdeen.
Although my own small, informal poll isn’t statistically valid, perhaps the sampling of companies that Aberdeen studied wasn’t truly representative either. Or perhaps those surveyed by Aberdeen exaggerated their spending. Who knows?
Regardless, I’m sad to say that my skepticism of the high lead generation budget percentage numbers reported by Aberdeen causes me to question all the other numbers in their buyer’s guide as well.
How about you?
What percentage of your B2B lead generation budget is allocated for outsourced teleservices?
- Schedule appointments with yourself in your calendar in block out the time you need to work on your marketing plan.
- Start planning with an outline. Goals. Strategies for meeting those goals. Tactics for implementing those strategies. Costs. Timing. Owner. Due date.
- Write the executive summary last. It might be first in the table of contents, but it is intended to be a summary of the following, more detailed information rather than the starting point in your plan writing.
- Keep the plan high level. For example if your tactics include ads in trade magazines, it may not be necessary to identify the specific magazines or ad formats until it is time to implement. However, you might need to have given that some thought for determining the budget required and in order to be able to answer specific questions that come up when discussing the plan.
- Break the planning and writing into chunks. Work on one specific goal, the strategies for accomplishing that goal, and the tactics for implementing those strategies. Then start on the next goal.
- Interview key stakeholders before finalizing your plan. Your boss. Your boss’ boss. The sales VP. The loudmouth top producer and the quiet but passive-agressive sales rep. This will help insure their buy in and allow you to add in things that they think are important.
- Realize that nobody ever has enough money or staff needed to implement the perfect marketing plan and all the tactics in includes. Instead, prioritize and focus your plan on the five or so most important tactics for implementing each of a handful of strategies designed specifically to help meet the company’s sales goals.
- Consider a three-option plan: The first option designed to meet the company’s minimum sales goal. The second option designed to help meet a target sales goal (the minimum plan + these additional tactics.) The third designed to meet a “double the business” or stretch goal (the target plan + these additional tactics.) Then, rather than cutting your proposed budget, your senior corporate and financial management can pick the plan and corresponding marketing budget that is tied to the right sales goal.
- Add some “nice to have” tactics, in addition to your “need to have” tactics, into the marketing plan and budget. These become the sacrificial lambs if management decides it must cut the budget.
- Add activity calendars and spreadsheets of budget numbers as attachments. Later you can use these same documents to manage the implementation of the plan.
- The audience determines the delivery format: Lender or investor? It must be polished. Internal decision makers and implementers? Depends on the company culture but a PowerPoint™ or spreadsheet might be all you need.
- Bonus tip: Consider renting a hotel room for a day or two and go there to work on pulling together the final written plan and its attachments without interruption.
The “Marketing-for-leads” Approach
Let me show you how I walk through developing a marketing plan. The primary goal of a “marketing for leads” marketing plan is to stimulate prospects or customers to declare themselves interested in your company’s products or services; to generate sales leads that are opportunities for new sales and/or additional sales to existing customers.
Branding and awareness building is important too, but has different metrics. Blend your branding plan with the marketing-for-leads program for a cohesive strategy. Or let your brand messages come along for the ride with your lead generation messages.
Is there a specific format for a marketing plan?
In general, the format of your marketing plan depends on which audience it needs to communicate to. A simple on-screen presentation may be good enough when it is only being used as an internal working document. However, if you’re presenting to potential investors who you need to impress and who want to see all the thinking that went into your plan, you may opt for something as advanced as a multi-faceted document with tables of contents and numerous graphics and attached spreadsheets.
What information needs to be in it?
A typical marketing plan is written in this order:
- Executive Summary
- Mission Statement
- Situation Analysis
- Marketing Strategies
- Marketing communications Tactics
- Resource and Budget Requirements
- Implementation Plan
- Supplementary Information
The Executive Summary distills the key points from the entire plan into a one-page overview. Keep it readable. Although it appears at the beginning of the plan, write this section last because your plan will go through changes as you write it.