We get asked all the time “Is cold calling dead?” for B2B demand generation and lead generation. The answer is a definitive no! However cold calling (aka telemarketing lead generation) is not as cost effective as it once was. Telemarketing lead generation in isolation is a risky bet. This blog addresses how as a B2B Demand Generation company and sales process consulting firm we have had to shift our approach to outbound cold calling and B2B lead generation. Here is what the numbers tell us:
- On the down side…In 2011 our average call (time a rep picks up the phone) to connect (times a decision maker picks up the phone) ratio was between 7% -16% (depending on the Industry). In 2008 it was between 12% – 21% (once again depending on the Industry). Calls to connect are 30% to 50% less effective getting someone on the phone. This is driven in part by better screening technology but it is primarily driven that with downsizing there are less decision makers, doing more work so they have less time to pick up the phone.
- In 2011 our average call to meaning full conversation is unchanged and prospects willing to accept information has slightly increased 0.5%. In 2011 our calls to conversions into a Sales Accepted Lead is only down 2%-4%. Sales Accepted Lead to Sales Qualified Lead is virtually unchanged although they take about a month to a quarter longer to move. What this tells us is that cold calling is still effective when your call is picked up. And once you connect you patiently stay on top of the lead systematically.
To our mind there is no better way to target your ideal customer if you are convinced your product or solution will meet their needs because you get to decide specifically who to target.
What to Do:
It all comes down to maximizing the efficiency of your more senior reps by being smart. Here are a handful of increasing the success of your outbound B2B demand generation efforts.
- You need to build and ideal customer profile prior to purchasing a list. Garbage in means garbage out. Support your B2B lead gen reps.
- Spend a little more money on your lists and spend time scrubbing your list.
- Craft a solid voice mail pitch with a compelling offer for your B2B lead gen reps to push.
- Put a junior resource on new lists to verify phone number and direct lines. Leverage content as a surrogate for domain expertise and your senior sales reps.
- Automate your sales follow up with a drip marketing campaign. You are paying good money so nurture what you have. B2B demand generation requires nurturing to maximize your investment
What to Avoid:
- Forget to follow up with your existing warm pipe
- Not measuring the production or non-production of every cold call your B2B lead generation rep makes
- Holding your B2B lead generation reps accountable for daily, weekly and monthly lead gen call volume targets
- Rewarding your outbound lead gen team for anything but Sales Qualified Leads.
- Not following up with additional educational content
If you have any questions or feel like a conversation makes sense to learn how Gabriel Sales can help you pull together a more effective demand generation program whether you are mid cycle or building a new effort feel free to CONTACT US.
For a quick look at what a B2B demand generation engine looks like to get a sense if you could benefit from some quick sales and marketing automation process consulting we invite to CLICK HERE you to check out our short 4 minute video.
We are calling this a Top 10 demand generation strategies list, but as we went through the strategies, we felt the need to give your b to b demand gen amplifier one more notch and took it to 11. This blog post is a quick reference for your company to build a successful b to b demand generation strategies focused on improving your ROI statement.
1. Don’t wait to follow up on leads. You spend $15K, $30K, $100K plus on a trade show. You spend money on inbound pay-per-click, or publishers etc. If the marketing department is in charge of sharing the leads they may score and then share with an internal team or an outside vendor. If the sales team is in charge they will often prioritize by gut. We understand the value of both approaches. You want to call the best prospects first. However, generally what occurs is that lag time of a few hours can turn into days and weeks. That lag time hurts especially if your leads are in a highly competitive industry (getting there first improves your closing % by as much a 100%), your sales cycle is 90 days or less (first 3 get short listed), or your leads are driven by search engine marketing (could be a “just in time” need). Many marketers we talk to will proudly say “we call on incoming leads within a week.” Guaranteed they have never done a study on the effects of that delay.
2. Make those extra calls. Don’t give up on leads after 1 or 2 calls if you don’t connect. This is especially challenging for sales reps that are not supported by a demand gen inside rep. A sales reps’ job is to close business. If they have deals moving this quarter they don’t always have the time to make that third or fourth call. As a b to b demand generation outsourced company and a sales outsourcing solution provider we have done countless studies that have shown that the 3rd, 4th and sometimes 5th attempt is where the payoff comes. This is especially true the more senior the decision maker. They are just tougher to reach.
3. Have an additional piece of content. Have a new offer after every call to keep the prospect engaged and give your rep “a reason to follow up” to ask them what they thought. Bottom line is that content keeps a deal moving without needing to get your senior talent on the phone to educate the prospect. It provides a reason for dialogue. It allows you to keep asking “what else are you curious about or what can I share to help you”. It allows you to talk about their needs while you share your position as well. Selling is about the customer not you and this allows you to kill two birds with one stone.
4. Lead with more than just a demo as your initial offer. As a sales outsourcing company we understand that clients want us to transact now but it doesn’t always work that way. Their strategy is often to get the prospect in that demo as quickly as possible and if the prospect is ready to do that great! However smart b to b demand generation requires that you also have an offer for prospects that aren’t ready to make that commitment. The prospect is not unintelligent. They know that getting into that demo starts them on the path towards committing to buy. They may not be ready to make that decision yet and they don’t want to waste your time or theirs, so give them a way to engage that is a bit softer and slower.
5. Educate but keep the costs down. We live in competitive times so many businesses’ marketing efforts focus on the product and ignore the value of educating their prospects so that they realize the value they are offered. To win deals and ensure you are receiving a top dollar for your product or service the customer needs to understand the value you are driving for their business. To explain that value the customer needs and wants understand that value. So you need to help your customer by helping your customers get what they want – which is fair, independent and “neutral” views that help them take informed and unbiased decisions. This is quick content to create especially for your senior sales executives if you can get them blogging. What is common sense for you as the expert, especially when it comes to competition and the “internal independent research” available, is often very valuable new information for you customer.
6. Don’t forget about your existing customers. They are the core of your business, without them you don’t exist. So the core of your business is that successful relationship. Keep building on that relationship and continue to share content with them to build even more trust. This will organically turn them into advocates. They tweet, they belong to Linked-In, Google . Don’t ask for them to do it. Just make it easy for them. Referrals work in new and unexpected ways so simply be surprised and especially grateful when they ask to contribute content for you.
7. Listen to your sales team and your prospects to generate your content strategy. In many cases, the sales team understands what the customer needs before the customer does. This is especially true if you have a disruptive solution moving into an existing market or an existing solution moving into new markets. Creating a great deal of content quickly is not tough. If you listen to your prospects objections and the same questions or concerns come up several times turn it into a blog post. You can than take that sales conversation to address other prospects’ needs and, even more importantly to your b to b demand generation effort, take that “sales conversation” into the social media conversation.
8. Know your the inflection point for your ROI statement when implementing a Marketing Automation Platform and Nurturing program. A platform (as an outsourced sales company we recommend Pardot) cost $16K. A 3 series webinar will cost you roughly $6K-$10K in house or external. Basic blog content creation will cost about $12K. And planning, database integration and implementation can range from$12K to $24K. So all in you are looking at $72K if you are starting from scratch. If you are following the best practices laid out above or you have implemented a sales outsourcing solution, or b to b demand generation solution with Gabriel Sales, you will already have a great deal of the content planning you need so an implementation is roughly $24K-$36K. You can do the math from there (we have a back of the envelope chart below to help). If your average deal size is $100K the ability to track digital content and the time savings alone for the senior rep makes it an easy decision to pull the trigger. For smaller and shorter sales cycles it really comes down to how many leads you have in your database because countless studies have shown that if your product has legs you can expect to convert at least 1% to 3% of the leads that were initially just curious:
9. Create digital landing pages for your sales reps to use that are customer centric.. As your content grows create a resource page that is customer centric. Design them to help the customer make decisions. Give them educational content, evaluation content and verification content in one easy to find area. Combine your general educational content (70%) with some vertical specific content (30%) so you are speaking directly to that particular need or pain area. Don’t make the content just about you make it about them; around the needs of your customer by decision maker type. Make it easy for your customers to find what they need, and almost as important, make your brochure dynamic so you are not wasting your sales reps valuable phone time keeping up with new additions to your marketing mix. Keep them focused on selling. Gabriel Sales has developed a simple to implement landing page engine that can be up and running for you in a matter of weeks to jump start this process.
10. Re-purpose the digital land page to generate inbound traffic and remove barriers to engaging. The “sales” conversation, the digital conversation and the “social media” conversation are the same conversation. The objections your reps hear and address are the same that customers who haven’t found you yet have. Make it easy for them to find you and maximize your sales content investment by driving traffic to that page with long tail SEO and PPC campaigns that keep your costs down. Keep the language on the page focused on the customer using the language of “your” and “you” not “we” and “us”. And finally keep the requirements of your form down to the basics – customer name andemail address. Keep any other fields optional.
11. Lead Generation Reps and Demand Generation Reps have different tasks and need different skills sets. The new rules of sales engagement require your demand generation reps and your sales reps to have different skill sets. Lead gen reps are often calling cold. Their scripts are different, their call volume is different and their personality is different from what is required by reps moving inbound leads forward. Demand gen reps are there to facilitate. Lead gen reps are there to put leads in the pipe. Be conscious of the difference and either train your lead gen reps in the new rules of sales engagement (so they are not creepy or overly assertive) or hire a different rep to move deals from Marketing Qualified to Sales Qualified.
For a full overview of why we feel it makes strategic and executional sense to have your sales team involved in your sales content marketing strategy, strategic approaches to team integration and a road map for fluid communication, and demand generation strategies we invite you to read the following blogs:
Top B2B Demand Generation Requires Sales Content Marketing
Top B to B Demand Generation Requires Sales and Marketing Alignment
5 Steps to Launch or Turn Around a B to B Demand Gen Team
If you have any questions about how Gabriel Sales can help you pull together more effective demand generation strategies that are driven by your ROI statement, whether you are mid cycle or building a new effort, feel free to CONTACT US.