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Sales Prospecting Perspectives

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Pete Gracey Vlog 4 - Evaluating the Success of Teleprospecting


Pete Gracey discusses how to evaluate the success of outbound teleprospecting campaigns.

Teleprospecting Is Not A "One and Done" Activity


Every year, around this time, fitness centers begin advertising their special rates for the upcoming New Year.  At the start of January gyms are full of well-intentioned folks making good on their resolutions.  After about a month the excitement wears off and many people fall back into their old routines and the gym slips down several notches on the priority list.  It might be that the expected results didn't materialize and many give up to a degree.  There are some that end up hiring a personal trainer for a one month trial period and hope that will get them into shape.  Yet once a week sessions for a month is not enough to make much of an impact.  Hiring a professional is a great idea, but giving the commitment enough time to succeed is the key to realizing your goals.

Why Ignoring Lead Qualification Will Cost You Big

Here's why most companies ignore the lead qualification step in the Marketing and Sales process:

"Because I invest in technology to score leads."

Closing the Loop on the Time Sensitive Opportunity

So what happens to those leads that you generate where the sales rep has a good first call with the prospect and determines the account to be a solid fit...the only problem is that the prospect (for whatever reason) is not ready to purchase for 6-12 months.  The rep might even provide decent feedback initially (because now you have a feedback mechanism in place) so you feel good about the quality of what was passed only to check back 6 months later to discover nobody ever reached out to that prospect again and now the lead needs to be re-qualified (or worse yet you lost the deal to a competitor).

This leads me to another common reason why a lead doesn't get adequately followed up on...

Why 2010 Planning Must Start Today

So, perhaps for your company, 2009 hasn't exactly been the greatest year from a bottom line performance standpoint.  Many economists would argue that we've just passed through one of the worst years in the economic history of our country.  I can say from my experience, that I wouldn't disagree.  But hey, we all made it.  We are here at the start of Q4, thinking of finishing a tumultuous year strong.  We are dusting off our budgets and figuring out what we truly need to do to build the foundation for a great comeback year in 2010.  As a leader in the outsourced sales and marketing space, we've seen the economy slowly but surely regain it's footing over the course of Q3.  Our clients have gone from discussing how to best conclude our relationships, to trying to figure out how to expand the amount of spend they apply to our services.  Our new business acquisition has increased dramatically over the course of Q3.  In my completely untrained and wholly unsubstantiated opinion, U.S. technology companies are getting ready to roll in 2010.  While '09 was tough for all of us, everyone left standing is smarter, leaner, wiser, hungrier, and more determined than ever to succeed in their space.  It's a good time to be in technology.

I'll dispense with the pep talk and get to the point:  It's go time. 

What is your demand generation plan for Q4?

What do you want to accomplish?  How much forecast for Q1 2010 do you need to generate from your Q4 initiatives?  Have you figured out exactly who you want to sell to in 2010?  More importantly, can you clearly and concisely explain to them exactly why they should part with their precious cash to work with you?  If you do know the companies you want to sell to, and what you are going to say to them, do you have the names and contact info for the people in those organizations that you need to say it to?  If you do have the list, what are you going to do with it?  What programs will you run this quarter and when and why?  You know by now that you must make more with less in 2010, so, do you have a Marketing strategy that includes the optimal mix of social media and traditional marketing and that will enhance every marketing dollar that you spend?  Do you have a politely aggressive teleprospecting plan in place to support all of your programs?  Have you worked with sales to define exactly what a qualified opportunity is and when it should be transitioned from teleprospecting to sales?  If you have, have you mapped out what is to be done with all those nuggets of gold that your teleprospecting is going to deliver to your sales team?  How will they follow up?  How many times and what will the sales team say to those prospects?  How will you close the loopon all of those qualified opps that were previously delivered to sales over the last 9 months?  Where are they in the process?  What is the nurturing plan for those opps?  Most importantly, you work hard to market what your company does, how will you measure your own success and the return on your marketing investments for Q4.  The list goes get my point, we've got our work cut out for us.

Over the course of the next month, I will be posting details, thoughts, and progress pertaining to the AG Salesworks Q4 09 Demand Generation Campaign.  We've done our best to answer all of the questions above and are ready to begin execution of our own comeback.  It is my sincere hope that by sharing our experience over the next three months, you'll be able to commiserate with us, empathize with us, congratulate us, and ideally decide to include us in the story of your company's 2010 comeback.


How Do You Hold Sales Accountable for Leads Passed?


Last week I started talking about the common reasons why sales reps don't follow-up on the leads that marketing and inside sales provides.  Today I will look at the importance of soliciting feedback in a structured way and how to hold your sales reps accountable for following up on the leads that you are delivering to them.

The best sales prospecting list is the one you make

Sometimes, more frequently for complex technology solutions, the right list simply does not exist.  From premiere services, you can hope to reach 60-70% of the titles per company you are searching for, but that leaves a significant void.  Even more frustrating, many of our clients solve advanced problems whose ownership could cross any or all of several business units.  Having a few correct names in one unit may be a complete waste if the ownership, if the problem resides elsewhere. Everything that we covered over the last week really can have an significant impact on your progress toward pulling together your ideal list. Unfortunately, manual input will always be necessary in order to obtain a sales prospecting list with true value.  Any data you've purchased is a "jumping off point" until you have validated the contact.  Additionally, there will always be missing data points.  No list will be as granular as you will like.  Thus, another manual research step is necessary.  Free resources through Wikipedia help to segment data by student population in Education, bed count in Healthcare, and employee count in the enterprises.  For example enter "List of schools districts in the United States" in Wikipedia's search and it will give you a listing of schools by state.   The single most important step in building a targeted sales prospecting list is validating the information.  The only way to be sure your list contains value is by having a real person physically pick up a phone to verify and substantiate the information and worth of your data.  Place your initial dial into the highest point of contact within any organization.  When contacting a College/University or Enterprise/Fortune 500 account reach out to the CEO/President. Within hospitals I suggest administration. For the K-12 vertical I suggest the superintendants office. Invariably in all cases you will get their assistant live, and as Chris Snell pointed out in his blog, they can be a powerful resource.  

Sales Prospecting Lists: Rent VS. Purchase


The best companies for Sales Prospecting lists:

Having worked with a multitude of vendors to painstakingly building lists, there have been a few over the years that have definitely stood above the rest in my eyes. I have found that companies like Jigsaw and DemandBase are generally the most reliable vendors for the quality and relevancy of their data.

Jigsaw offering is unique because their data is entirely created by their users/subscribers. As we all know, everyone can get their hands on VP level contacts by doing some basic research on-line through Yahoo Finance and Google. What sets Jigsaw apart, is that they can provide you the information (email, accurate title, direct-lines) on Director and manager level contacts as well. Those titles are easier to get through to and more likely to pick up the phone. Additionally, these individuals can help champion your value proposals in situations when the VP is simply unreachable or not the appropriate contact. The only person you will get live when attempting to reach a VP is an admin who is conditioned to not give you much to begin with.

Jigsaw also provides you the ability to view and sort on when the contact was validated, which as I mentioned in my initial post, is important in helping you to weed out useless data. Their system is self correcting and incentivizes people to also correct bad contact information.

Demandbase is another list vendor who differs from the pack. They describe themselves as the "iTunes" of the list building world and provide a web based system that allows you to build a custom profile of what you are looking for and allow you to further filter a list so that you only receive names that fit what you are specifically looking for. They have a unique scoring system based on a 0-100 point scale. For example you might decide to only purchase contacts that were a 90% or better match to the criteria you set. Additionally, they will never sell you duplicate data. All data that you purchase is flagged and will not come up in future searches. As far as their list sources are concerned, they have partnerships with leading organizations that provide high quality data which allows them to blend and aggregate that data from numerous databases such as Hoovers, D&B, Teramedia and Accudata.

The #1 thing to know when purchasing a Sales Prospecting list


The accuracy of contact information is the most common consideration, problem, and headache when building any Sales Prospecting list.  You may have experienced that the quality of your own inbound marketing leads deteriorate overtime.  The longer a names ages, more likely the contact left the company, their role or information has changed, or even -SHUDDER- they bought from a competitor.  Of course, today's economic conditions have forces plenty of reorganizations and lay-offs that accelerate the fragile lead lifecycle.

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