Back in 1992, if you wanted to find information about a company or its products, you had two choices:
Spend hours at the library poring over periodicals, annual and industry reports, and magazine and newspaper clippings. (Do you remember microfiche?)
Meet with a salesperson.
Life was simpler then: You could reach quota by sending some direct mail, making a few phone calls, and scheduling a few meetings. After all, the customer had very few alternatives to inform themselves. You could succeed without a solid strategy; all that really mattered was the size of your Rolodex. Lead generation as we know it today didn’t exist. Frankly, it really didn’t have to.
Those days are long gone, yet too many organizations are still selling like it’s 1992.
How do I know?
All it takes is a quick review of MarketingSherpa’s 2012 B2B Marketing Benchmark Report (free excerpt at that link). Of the 1,745 B2B organizations that participated, 61% still have that big-Rolodex mindset – they send any lead that responds to a marketing campaign directly to sales. Furthermore, check out the chart at the right: The vast majority has not applied strategy to any aspect of lead generation.
These statistics are just a reflection of the day-to-day behaviors and attitudes that keep sales and marketing organizations stuck in a time warp. Here are five of them:
B2B and other lead nurturing marketers are beset with challenges. Many are struggling to improve nurturing, scoring and alignment with the sales team, but they have a laundry list of questions.
I received 21 questions from the audience in recent a webcast for the American Marketing Association, “The One-Two Punch of Effective Lead Engagement: Accurate Lists and Powerful Content”(a replay of the webcast is posted below). Yesterday, I answered nine of the questions in a post on the B2B Lead Roundtable Blog. Today, I am answering 12 more below.
Questions on content
Q:When your sales team consists of medical reps who sell to doctors and show up at their offices twice a month, how do you nurture? Especially considering doctors aren’t Internet savvy?
A: I disagree doctors aren’t Internet savvy; there are social networks for the medical community that engage a quarter of a million physicians. That said, equip your sales team to ask for each doctor’s preferred means of communication: email, video, executive summaries, reports, etc. It could be a simple questionnaire.
Q:Should we consider paying outside subject matter experts to develop educational content?
A: Leverage internal experts first to build authority. But be sure the content you’re sharing will be valuable even if the prospect never buys. If your content doesn’t meet that standard, then you’ll want to think about using third-party experts to fill the gap.
Q:If you keep sending your contacts repurposed content (although the same information), won’t they be annoyed? Wouldn’t they prefer fresher info?
A: Research suggests it takes at least seven to nine interactions for a message to be remembered. If you have a complex offering, your audience will appreciate you breaking it down and presenting it in a variety of ways so they can better understand it. We have to look at our content from our customers’ point of view, not our own. Don’t be afraid of repetition — embrace it.
Q:What’s the right amount of emails with video versus straight emails?
A: You need to know your audience and how they prefer to consume content. Test and measure.
Questions on tactics
Q:My team has auto-communications that go to prospects once a week for eight weeks, and we have a team of callers that supplement this. Do you believe this will help nurture/re-engage older leads?
A: It could. Here are some thoughts and ideas:
Nurturing is about building a relationship based on trust to continue a conversation. It’s not just about sending irrelevant information that could cause prospects to emotionally unsubscribe.
Examine the cadence of your emails to determine if once a week is too frequent. Nurturing is a marathon, not a sprint. Nurture them at least the length of your sales cycle.
Look at your results. How many opt-outs do you have? What are the call-to-lead conversion rates? How many opens and clickthroughs are your emails getting? The key is measurement.
Q:How do you know which marketing tactic attracted your customer? Email? Direct Mail? Print? TV?
A: That’s a challenge every marketer faces in the complex sale. The answer depends on whether you’re measuring first touch or last, and if you’re focused on gathering names or closing the deal immediately. Leverage your CRM to capture every touch point: Have they attended a webinar, downloaded a whitepaper, or registered for a newsletter? All of these actions contribute, so measure all of them. Make sure your CRM allows you to track multiple campaigns.
Q:What is the best way to treat leads from a purchased list versus inbound leads?
A: Your answer can’t be quickly summarized, in fact, a book could be written on the topic. However, these blog posts will help:
Q:Any thoughts on lead engagement for B2C versus B2B?
A: In B2B, more people are involved in the buying decision, but, ultimately, people buy from people and the lines between these groups have blurred. MarketingSherpa will soon release its first-ever lead generation benchmark report that includes feedback from more than 1,900 B2B and B2C organizations on their lead generation challenges. In the meantime, here are some resources: