Mar 2014

Is your lead generation aligned with your customer's expectations?


Recently I attended a webinar put on by HubSpot for their value-added resellers.  The intent of the event was to help resellers retain, or grow, their client engagements by using the HubSpot reporting features.  In short, the lesson was to review the continually improving progress reported by HubSpot with your client.  If you do this, the client will see the value the reseller provides and will continue to engage them or broaden their scope. It's excellent advice and something that most of us forget to do.  Let me explain.
A customer can be someone who pays you for your services, or a customer can be an internal person or team. Whenever I was hired as CMO, or as VP of Marketing, the first thing I would do is go to the VP of Sales, and the VP of Professional Services, and the CEO, and individually say to them "You're my customer. My job is to get you what you need to be successful. What do you need?". I made sure to instruct my teams to treat the internal departments the same way.  When we did that, we immediately changed the conversation from being adversarial, or competitive, to one of co-operation.  That lead to establishing alignment.  If the VP of Sales wanted more leads then I would ask them to define a lead.  If I didn't do this, I might think my team was delivering leads but Sales might think we're delivering unqualified suspects. That's a disconnect.  Hence, the customer approach lead to a defining of what the customer wants which lead to a discussion of how the deliverable is defined which ultimately leads to how it is measured.  Once you have alignment on that, you're effectively left to run your own show and focus on delivering results.  After all, that's all a customer wants is results.  Often they only care about how you achieve them if you are not delivering them.  Since I want my team to focus on executing, and not on playing customer politics, it's in my best interest to ensure alignment and successful execution of our mandate.
Why is this so critical? The
2011 B2B Marketing Benchmark Report from MarketingSherpa asked the question "Which of the following marketing challenges are currently most pertinent to your organization?". The number one response, almost double the second highest ranked result, was "Generating high quality leads". It scored a value of 78%, which was 9% higher than the previous year. Understand, however, that this report neither defines "high quality" or "lead".  Talk about a huge opportunity for a disconnect between Marketing and their customers.
So here are some questions as it relates to your lead generation activities activities:
  • Do you know who your customer is?
  • Do you know what they expect you to deliver?
  • Do you have documented agreement and definition on that deliverable?
  • Can that deliverable be measured?
  • Does your customer agree with the method of measurement?
  • Do you routinely report to your customer your progress against achieving that deliverable?
  • Do you have regularly scheduled discussions to review, refine, and improve the progress?
  • Does your customer understand your challenges and constraints?  Do you understand theirs?
  • Are you making an effort to over deliver, such that they see you are commited to mutual success?
Lead generation is not about the programs you run.  We here at My Lead Agency do not think of ourselves as a telemarketing firm, or a website shop, or an SEO specialist, or an email house, or a strategy and branding agency; rather, we think of ourselves as specialists in delivering B2B sales - AKA lead generation - to our clients regardless of how we do it or what tactics we employ. Why does this matter? Because, in the end, your client doesn't want you to advocate a specific tactic all of the time. The cliche goes that when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail.  That's a recipe for failure.  Your customer wants you to help them succeed using every tool in your tool belt. Your customer wants you to be "in the trenches" with them.
Stay focused on what your customer wants and success will follow. Get alignment. Measure the results. Collaborate with your customer on how to adjust and adapt.

When does the sales cycle begin in lead generation?


Let's change up today's blog post and stand back a bit. Often, in these posts, we talk about the issues and tactics involved in demand generation. Closely involved in that process is the technology. However, today, I'd like to stand back much further and ask the question "When does the sales process really begin?"
I'm going to set it up, initially, and declare it begins two-fold: once involves getting found, and the other involves getting respect.
Let's start with getting found, as this is somewhat of an obvious insight based on the hot topics and trends around inbound marketing and marketing automation. If an individual has a pain, they will inevitably turn to Google to find ways of dealing with that pain.  They may also turn to forums, communities, or web sites dedicated to specific issues or industries, but that is always secondary.  Google is the go-to place for most people to start their journey. So what does that mean? That means you need to be found by the search engines. How does one get found? One develops and publishes an ongoing collection of marketing content (videos, podcasts, whitepapers, case studies, blogs, etc.) about the subject, or topics, related to the issue the prospect is researching.  You pick out your keywords, and your key phrases, and you ensure they are continually and liberally part of each piece of content you develop. The search engines will reward your ongoing new content, they'll recognize your continued reference to these keywords, they'll discern that you're being published and referenced across the various online mediums, and they'll rank you higher in the search results.  This means you're more likely to come up higher on the search results when the individual is beginning to research how to fix their issue.  Ideally, that will result on them clicking on the referenced link provided by the search engine which should directly, or indirectly, send them to you and your website. That's Part 1 of the process. You'll rarely get to Part 2 if you don't do Part 1. No excuses.  You gotta do it.
Okay, so let's discuss Part 2 of the process, because I think this is the most forgotten aspect. I also consider this equal to, and sometimes more important than, Part 1. What is it? It's the first impression you make! That's when the sales cycle truly begins. If you don't make a good first impression then you're never going to hit your sales revenue targets. Let me share an analogy I use with customers.
Have you ever shopped online for something? Of course the answer is almost always yes. Great. Now lets assume you find 3 websites that provide the exact same product at the exact same price at the exact same shipping fees. Which site to you buy from? The answer is simple as you think about it.  You buy from the site that appears most aesthetically pleasing, that appears to offer great supporting content such as product reviews, or video demonstrations, or user forums, etc. Do you agree? You should, because studies have proven it over and over again to be true. So why do we do that?
We are conditioned from a very early age to eliminate risk. Therefore, the site that looks the most slick, the most complete, the most travelled by other shoppers, the most insightful, and offers the most service MUST BE the best vendor. Right?! Of course, we both know that's not always the case however that's what we think. It's psychological.
It's about
eliminating risk by establishing credibility and trust with the prospect.
So let me ask you this question. What level of risk would I perceive if I went to your website right now? One more thing - if you're suddenly feeling exposed, check out this recent webinar on
how to make great content for your website. It's a great way to fix the credibliity problem you may not have even known you have.