Archive for the ‘Sales’ Category

Replay of The Intersection of Modern Marketing and Sales 2.0 Webcast [Video]

Friday, August 30th, 2013

We had a great session yesterday talking about modern marketing, sales 2.0, and what you can do in your organization to get started and take advantage of the awesome new tools and approaches out there.  Also, huge thanks to the smart folks at Glider for joining us and showing us their powerful sales contract management app focused on making the “last mile” of the sale more efficient.

We would love you to try out LoopFuse here.

To find out exactly what LoopFuse does, click here.

You can try Nearstream for social lead generation here.

To add LoopFuse to Salesforce.com, click here.

You can follow LoopFuse on Twitter here or join us on our Facebook fan page here.

Upcoming Webinar: The Intersection of Modern Marketing and Sales 2.0

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

Please join us on Thursday, August 29th at 1:00pm ET/10:00am PT for a discussion about how sales and marketing are changing, how you can leverage modern marketing and sales 2.0 approaches in your company, and how to achieve harmony between them.  Specifically, we’ll cover:

- What you need to do to adapt
- The landscape of Modern Marketing and Sales 2.0
- A few favorite tools including cool sales contract management application – Glider

There are lots of opinions out there about what modern marketing is, how sales 2.0 is really different than what we do today and what the best path is to getting the benefits of both.  We’ll have an active discussion with the Glider team on this topic!

Register for the webinar!

Sales 2.0 vs Modern Marketing

Friday, August 16th, 2013

This is a guest post from the smart folks over at Glider.  Glider makes contract management software that streamlines the contract process, identifies bottlenecks, and brings visibility to the “last mile” of your sales funnel.  You can sign up for a free trial and can read more great posts on their blog.

Marketing and Sales are rapidly evolving in parallel directions: both functions have realized that interruption based selling and marketing are inefficient and becoming less and less effective. The reality of the buyer has changed.

Sales 2.0 and its playmate, Modern Marketing, are both about using social media and Web 2.0 tools to prospect and sell more effectively. They focus on indirect methods of bringing customers in, like content marketing, rather than what are now seen as obsolete methods like cold calling.

Christopher Cabrera, Founder and CEO of Xactly Corporation, says,

“Even armed with the best information, cold callers must deal with the reality that many of us do not answer the phone directly anymore. This is where Sales 2.0 technologies can help warm up a call with advance communication (e.g., LinkedIn) and email.”

Furthermore, buyers are more educated today than they were ten years ago. As Matt Heinz, President at Heinz Marketing says,

“Now it’s even more important for sellers to take on a more consultative, diagnostic role.”

But as people see the two departments, Sales and Marketing, moving in the same direction, there has arisen a common anxiety: the future of Sales and Marketing integration.

These two business functions have a long history of competition, even though they perform distinct jobs. Historically, Marketing is more analytical and strategic and Sales is more tactical and interpersonal. But this binary definition obscures the extent to which each company delegates responsibilities to the different teams. In a CMO survey this year on the subject:

  • 7% of respondents stated that Sales is within Marketing
  • 10.3% said that Marketing is within Sales
  • 72% stated that Sales and Marketing work together on an even field.

Despite the historical turf war between them, Sales and Marketing have remained distinct, but equal parties.

The Tools

Sales 2.0 required salespeople to start using tools that their counterparts in Marketing had probably been using for years: Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Web 2.0 tools. But while crossing over into Marketing territory might seem threatening, the difference is that as a sales rep, you aren’t necessarily generating leads, you’re actually talking to them.

Cabrera finds the distinction between sales and marketing irrelevant,

“The reality is that it doesn’t matter. What matters is that companies use modern tools to help salespeople give feedback on why leads are not acceptable, rather than just complaining ‘Marketing isn’t providing me leads.’”

“Modern Marketing”, the new technique for highly analytical and data-based marketing using lead-management tools and indirect methods of gaining inbound leads, attempts to address the issue of bad marketing leads. Think of it as the marketing counterpart to Sales 2.0. Both techniques use social media and Web 2.0, just in different ways.

Modern Marketing, like Sales 2.0 enables efficiency and intelligence, it just does it in a different area. According to Forbes, businesses that use marketing automation tools to nurture prospects have 451% increase in qualified leads.

Modern Marketing is also a movement that is focused on indirect marketing, like content production, which focuses on educating, rather than selling. Heinz believes that the opportunity to teach is invaluable to marketing,

“You end up having the opportunity to challenge, to educate, to pique, to shape the prospect’s thinking. There’s a fine line between education and starting to sell. The product of content marketing is earning the right to get in front of your prospects early in the buying process at a fraction of the cost. That buyer is predisposed to talk to you, because they already know you understand their business, their problems.”

This particular aspect of Modern Marketing has created very little friction between Sales and Marketing, and is commonly viewed as harmless at worst, and extremely effective at best. The problem between the two departments mostly has to do with the delegation of responsibility surrounding the new tools that both parties are using.

These new tools can conflate already existing antagonism. Common blame games include: Marketing blaming Sales for poor execution of a brilliant plan, Sales blaming Marketing for setting prices too high and using too much of the budget, Marketing accusing Sales of being too “short-term” focused, and Sales accusing Marketing of being out of touch with the reality of the customer.

The Future of Marketing and Sales

Neither party is disappearing anytime soon. Both types of people (the analytical game-planners and the socially skilled sellers) are absolutely necessary to any company. Heinz says:

“Fundamentally, the skills that are required in marketing are very different from the skills that are required in sales. I don’t know that we’re going to see those roles combine. What’s less important is the organization chart. We need to make sure everyone is aligned on what the goals are.”

There are three types of divisions of labor that each company has to decide between: undefined, aligned, and integrated. The first works well for new, extremely small companies– usually startups that often don’t even have an official marketing department. An aligned relationship works best for companies with clear-cut job descriptions for Sales and Marketing, wherein there’s little overlap or conflict. The last, integrated, is good for a company with a short sales cycle and an emphasis on a culture of shared responsibility.

We’re seeing more and more companies move towards an aligned approach, especially as sales and marketing teams start using the same tools.

Heinz thinks it’s about a lot more than just sharing tools:

“Ultimately it comes down to what are people’s motivations and what are they rewarded for.”

He believes that when Sales and Marketing share a common goal, they are most successful. This is not to say that they are doing the same thing, rather that there is greater communication between the two parties. For instance, a salesperson will sit in on product planning reviews and help develop marketing plans. Conversely, brand managers and researchers will occasionally go along on sales calls. There should be a liaison between the two teams who acts as nothing more than a mediator. Furthermore, the two teams are usually geographically next to each other in the office, to maximize communication and teamwork.

When there’s a “common dashboard for success” (Heinz), Sales and Marketing can work towards the same goal, while each maximizing productivity in the areas that they are best suited for.

Parting is such sweet sorrow. For more content from Glider check out blog.glider.com and futureofwork.glider.com. See you soon.

3 Keys to Successful Social Selling

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

“Social selling” is getting quite a bit of coverage and discussion these days and I suppose this blog post is evidence of that.  Sales (and marketing for that matter) have always been social disciplines because they involve interacting with other people directly and in a meaningful way.  The presence of technology in the mix is designed to make this human interaction more efficient for both buyer and seller as well as enhance the time together – not about replacing humans with machines.

So how do you implement a successful social selling program?  Start with these three guidelines and you’ll be off to a great start.

1. Be helpful, answer questions

The great thing about social media is that it gives a voice to an individual that can be shared as they choose – to their social graph, to a group, or to the world.  This creates a great opportunity to engage in a helpful and meaningful way when a question is broadcast or need identified.  This is not the place for a sales pitch.  If you can help answer the question or otherwise prove you are knowledgeable, then you are headed down the right path.  The time for “the pitch” will unfold naturally and, in many cases, without you having to formally deliver it based on the prospects own research.

2. It’s all about timing

Social signals go stale fast.  You should aim to respond in minutes if not hours.  Wait for the weekly report and you are toast.  Respond in a real-time format like Twitter days late and you are completely out of context.  Q&A sites like Quora are a bit more forgiving but always best to answer early rather than late.  To do this, you have to either have a program in place to monitor these channels and act as they come up or use something like our Nearstream offering which is specifically designed to give you the most actionable social signals via Twitter with minimum effort (we’ll even send you a daily summary for you to act on).

3. This is just the beginning

Back to the point about sales and marketing always being social pursuits for this one.  Rarely does one interaction lead to a sale and social is about beginning conversations that lead to meaningful relationships.  Take the long view on social as a place to find and acquire customers and it will pay huge dividends.  But, just as importantly, be vigilant to balance the time invested with the results you are generating.  Steer clear of vanity metrics like followers, favorites, or likes as evidence of success.  They are delivered at extremely low transaction cost and have very low meaning as it relates to true customer engagement.

We would love you to try out LoopFuse here.

To find out exactly what LoopFuse does, click here.

You can try Nearstream for social lead generation here.

To add LoopFuse to Salesforce.com, click here.

You can follow LoopFuse on Twitter here or join us on our Facebook fan page here.

What's Your Lead Velocity Rate (LVR)?

Monday, March 4th, 2013

If you run a recurring revenue business (SaaS, etc.) then this article by Jason Lemkin is well worth reading.  He points out that the best leading indicator of sales pipeline performance is your Qualified Lead Velocity Rate (LVR) which measures your growth in qualified leads month over month.  Jason knows a thing or two about this having been the co-founder & CEO of Echosign which is now part of Adobe Systems.  Here’s a great quote that drives the point home:

“But there’s a better metric, your Key Metric, you should track and score yourself to, and hold your VP Marketing and marketing team to – Qualified Lead Velocity Rate (LVR), your growth in qualified leads, measure month-over-month, every month. It’s real time, not lagging, and it clearly predicts your future revenues and growth.  And it’s more important strategically than your revenue growth this month or this quarter.”

Read the whole thing here.

We would love you to try out LoopFuse here.

To find out exactly what LoopFuse does, click here.

To add LoopFuse to Salesforce.com, click here.

You can follow LoopFuse on Twitter here or join us on our Facebook fan page here.

Move Beyond Basic Email Marketing with Prospect Activity Information and Automated Follow Up Emails

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

Most businesses at a certain stage of their marketing maturity understand that an email marketing program is an efficient and cost-effective way to communicate with customers and prospects.  Products like MailChimp, Constant Contact, Vertical Response, and iContact (now part of Vocus) made this capability accessible to even the smallest of businesses.  This further leveled the marketing playing field between small and large companies.

The same can be said of marketing automation.  No longer just for the largest companies with the biggest budgets, marketing automation is accessible and affordable for businesses of any size.  We are very focused on this with LoopFuse and, in addition to our unlimited time free trial, we have paid offerings starting at just $275 per month.  This makes the ROI on a marketing automation investment quick and meaningful.

So why should a company think beyond a basic email marketing approach?  The impact of a one-off single email campaign can be positive but is limited if it does not include the following two pieces:

1. Prospect Activity Information – this includes not only what email campaign(s) a prospect received and their open/click activities but their site visits and pageview activity.  This information combined with email campaign activity yields a lead score which helps your sales team better prioritize their time based on a measure of prospect engagement beyond an open or click in an email campaign.  Email campaigns become even more effective when utilizing a list segmentation approach that can create groups of prospects not only on email campaign activity but pages visited, information requested, etc.

2. Automated Follow Up Emails – once a one-off email campaign is completed, the marketing team will create/share a list of who opened the email and/or clicked on the offer included with sales.  This manual hand off can be automated via Salesforce.com integration and personalized follow up emails can be sent from a designated salesperson after a selected wait time (a day or two).  Proper follow up drives a high performance sales pipeline so adding this automated follow up activity ensures proper and timely follow up.  You can even create different messages based on different activity (open, which link clicked/page viewed, etc.)

The bottom line here is that you can do everything you are doing now for email marketing with a product like LoopFuse AND reap the benefits of adding prospect activity information and automated follow up to the mix.

We would love you to try out LoopFuse here.

To find out exactly what LoopFuse does, click here.

To add LoopFuse to Salesforce.com, click here.

You can follow LoopFuse on Twitter here or join us on our Facebook fan page here.

Increase prospect & lead capture rates ... create an "Engagement Zone"

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

Organizations are employing a variety of digital sales and marketing tools, channels, content and practices to generate awareness and traffic to their web assets. The percentage of that traffic converted to contacts, prospects, leads and actual business is woeful.  Why is that, and what can we do? 

Marketing’s Expanding Complexity and Closer Role with Sales
Marketing has changed dramatically over the last 5 years, where prospects and customers need to be engaged on their terms with relevant content, engagement and respectful communication. Marketing’s role has also expanded and coexists more with sales than ever before, especially as 90% of all purchases are researched online and decision makers no longer want to talk to sales until they are 60-70% down the decision cycle.

The purchasing process has also changed significantly, and so must your ability to create and leverage your digital ‘assets’. Marketing must attract and move prospects much deeper into the funnel than ever before, intelligently monitoring and engaging them with easily accessible content and automating more self-service until they are ready to connect with sales or business development.

Missed Opportunity + Need for Funnel Management
The diagram below shows how a mix of digital and traditional marketing creates traffic to a company’s prime online asset, its ‘master’ website. Once the traffic has arrived (at the top of the sales and marketing funnel), today’s tools and techniques used to engage/capture/convert are limited and ineffective. The discipline of digital funnel management is foreign to most companies, but is essential to generate strong ROI from marketing investments. Generating 25%, 50% even 100+% more business from digital traffic is absolutely possible with intelligently placed content + innovative conversion tactics/tools (such as Loopfuse).

What Limitations with Today’s Online Conversion Strategies Do We Need to Overcome:

  • Few attempt to engage visitors/prospects at all stages of the funnel. Engaging only at the bottom (ACTION step) of the funnel via a phone number and Contact Us form misses 80% of the opportunity to capture/nurture prospects until ready to close.
  • Few automate the nurturing of prospects until they are qualified leads ready to be closed by sales, and most allow leads to slip through the net due to human mishandling.
  • Few effectively enable access and distribution of marketing content at the right stage of the decision cycle.
  • Most websites are ‘leaky’, losing prospects that would like to take a next step but are not ready to contact sales, and have no other available call to action or engagement step.

Create an “Engagement Zone”

One way to overcome these limitations is to create an “Engagement Zone’ that integrates content access, next steps, calls-to-action and marketing automation.  This zone is so much more than a ‘Contact Us’ form as it should include all the possible options for connecting with your company, with the prime intention of allowing a visitor to select a next step or piece of content that would enable them to identify themselves to you.  That is the lowest conversion stat of them all; 2-3% of websites earn the respect of a visitor so they identify themselves and become a contact.  Execute this effectively and a greater % of those contacts will be genuine and not mickey@mouse.com.

Rather than try to explain in words what an engagement zone is, take a look at a couple of examples out in the real world.  Click on the “Take Action Now” orange button at http://www.mikewittenstein.com/ and see an engagement zone appear.  There are 7 menu options which provide ways for a visitor to take a next step and educate themselves more.  Another example is at http://www.banyancapital.com where the zone is accessed via the ”Quick Info Access” green menu option.  This one has 8 options for a visitor to engage.  Tying marketing automation behind this type of  engagement and capture solution ultimately creates more business out of the bottom of the funnel.  It connects with visitors, prospects and leads no matter where they are in the funnel, as it can be designed to deliver content at the appropriate funnel stage. For example, you could have a menu option called “Competitive Benchmark” for someone evaluating your product(s) or service(s).

Once you have your engagement zone in place, take the next step which really can supercharge your contact and lead generation …. engage people from any digital location, placing links to your zone directly in content delivered via:

  • Company Blog(s)
  • Thought Leadership
  • LinkedIn/Facebook
  • Feeder/Community Sites
  • Online Ads/Adwords
  • Emails/Texts/QR Codes (e.g. add links back to the zone from inside emails for next steps or additional content)
  • Links in Current Website (e.g. for a PDF download link on a product page, point back to the zone)
  • Links Inside Collateral

An important point to note here … by bringing a visitor/prospect/customer into your zone, they are able to see other engagement options and may well connect in additional ways, increasing the acceleration down your funnel.

The idea of an engagement zone makes sense in many ways, so consider designing one for your organization, and let me know the improvement in your capture and conversion stats!

Regards to all,
Andy McCartney
andy@imccmarketing.com

3 Steps to Preparing Your Organization for Marketing Automation and How Sales Plays a Role

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

It may be called marketing automation, but be careful not to leave sales out of the equation, especially during the planning stage prior to implementing a marketing automation solution. Below are three processes that sales and marketing should collectively establish to achieve the greatest possible return on investment from marketing automation. (more…)

3 Loopfuse Sales Handoff Tips

Friday, June 24th, 2011

Making Loopfuse work with your sales process is more than just integrating Salesforce.com and Loopfuse.  That is merely the technical aspect.  The process and synchronization of sales activities with marketing automation must be thought through, implemented and adopted by your team to extract maximum benefit from your Loopfuse implementation.

To drive Loopfuse success here are three tips which you can use to have maximum impact on converting leads: (more…)

The Loopfuse Exchange: Sales & Marketing Best Practices

Monday, October 4th, 2010

With the highly successful launch of our Loopfuse Freeview offering in June and our innovative Partnership program in August, we have had several requests to share information amongst our community.  So today, I would like to informally introduce the Loopfuse Exchange.  The goal for the Loopfuse Exchange is to share the best practices from some of the best sales and marketing professionals in the business who give their companies a competitive edge.  The Loopfuse Exchange will be the place to visit for the most up to date sales and marketing best practices, and central to the Exchange will be a series of articles on various marketing functions — contributed by Loopfuse customers, partners and friends — that will help new and experienced marketers alike increase their effectiveness generating market awareness and demand. Topics will include Website construction and design, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, Lead Nurturing and Scoring, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Pay per click (PPC) advertising, Social Media and Networking, E-mail marketing, Event marketing, Search Engine Marketing (SEM), Reporting and more.

Later this afternoon, we will have our first guest blog post for the Loopfuse Exchange by one of our partners, Greg Malpass of Traction Sales and Marketing.  Stay tuned for more exciting information on the Loopfuse Exchange.