Alchemise Insights Interview – 5 minutes with Andrew McFayden – Sales Development Representative

Here is a 5 minute interview for insights with Sales Development Representative,  Andrew McFayden, on tips and what his experience and learnings has been to perform as a successful Sales Development Representative. He shares his view about how the modern customer centric approach is different to traditional lead generation methods which don’t work anymore.


Question 1: What is your view on the role of an Sales Development Representative in today’s market? 

Answer: Andrew 

When I started with Alchemise Consulting it became apparent that the role of the Sales Development Representative today is a unique offering very much different to the standard inside sales positions. While they wear a sales, commercially focus hat, they also need to sit on a marketing chair. What makes this role unique is prior to the 90s (and the digital age of data collection, such as names, phone numbers and email addresses, etc), the marketing department/agency was engaged to attract the customer and compel them to pick up the phone or walk through the door. The sales people then qualified those that walked in and then proceeded with the sale process.

Today the Inside Sales Role (ISR) or Sales Development Role (SDR) performs a bridging function between the two business units and in part prospects/researches and initially qualifies the contacts before introducing the sales team/contact to follow through with closing the sale.

Where the role is able to be fed qualified contact lists from established sales enabled processes, it facilitates the efficiency and focus of the position to facilitate the commercial outcome needed for the business.


Question 2: Have you needed to be more sales or marketing focussed in your day to day activities?

Answer: Andrew 

My focus in the role has been more on sales to qualify the prospect while balancing this with the marketing aspect of researching and profiling, looking for online triggers relating to the companies and challenges/changes that the company may be going through that are relevant to begin initial engagement. This balance of both sales and marketing understanding provides the experience with focus on being customer centric.


Question 3:  Is relevant industry experience or sales experience required, for example to market technology based solutions or high value services?

Answer: Andrew 

Having industry experience for ISRs does provide value with the comprehension of the on the ground language when speaking with the prospective contacts, especially with the acronym saturated Information Technology world. If this is a gap in the ISR’s comprehension and it is not addressed early in the engagement of the ISR then confidence in phone discussion will not be present. This can also lead to misinterpreting key information that is conveyed by the contact. When talking with people in the industry, trying to ‘fake it till you make it’, will destroy the ISR’s credibility.


Question 4: What specific skills/experience and approach do you need to develop to increase your success in the role? 

Answer: Andrew 

As mentioned above, understanding of the industry vertical jargon is important for the Inside Sales or Sales Development Representative. Of equal importance also is the mental fortitude, resilience to be able to shake rejection off, like water off a ducks back. Being phone (trigger) happy as opposed to phone (gun) shy is vital to have in this role. I believe that having an approach of being willing and able to speak to anyone would be an ingrained quality/skill in your ISR. Making numerous calls in a focussed way is also another key requisite of the role.

If the ISR has a customer service/centric approach to the position, in that they are looking at ways that they are able to help their prospective contacts will also be of benefit to the business, the client and success in the role. If the skills and experience are needing fine tuning then having someone to coach you is vital to future success. The other key skill that needs to be developed is common courtesy. Lacking this level of etiquette can ruin the business reputation fast.


Question 5: How did your manager help mentor or guide you in bridging the gap between sales & marketing as a team?

Answer: Andrew 

With the above mentioned, it is worth stating that even with the skills that I started with at the beginning of the engagement. There were additional areas of learning that were also needed. I found being able to verify some of the unfamiliar industry speak, along with a higher level of industry understanding from Chak Ng, greatly assisted with my own knowledge gaps and approach not to mention the guidance on courses best to take that would further improve my own skill set. This highlights the importance of working together and keeping the communication lines open. Working as a team as opposed to having a siloed approach is one of the stark differences, I have seen with Alchemise Consulting as opposed to other organisations that I have engaged with previously.


Question 6:  How did the use of marketing and sales tools CRM/marketing automation help you in your role? i.e HubSpot value.

Answer: Andrew 

Part of this is having processes in place to ensure smooth engagement, a team approach, the use of a CRM that is more intuitive and of value straight out of the box, along with the marketing automation that the tool supplies were of great assistance. The tools and automation enabled me to gain visibility on prospect interactions, thus being able to reach out when the contact had viewed the content/communication that was sent to them and not fly blind and pester the contact when they have been busy with BAU issues that draw their attention. The analytics also provided insight into being able to understand which part of the (PDF) communication was viewed and for how long. This was especially true when used in campaigns.


Question 7: What type of training did you required for each campaign?

Answer: Andrew 

As for the campaigns the additional training that was undertaken was very much bespoke to each business that was engaged with. Knowing the client’s business in preparation with being onsite, immersing and spending time within their business  or reading through additional marketing collateral along with a content map to furnish individual material relevant to prospect discussions. In addition to this any cultural idiosyncrasies relating to geographic region was also required. This all comes down to distinctions or details of the engagement. Without the additional research and pertinent information, it would have been difficult to achieve the results that were gained.


Question 8:  How important is preparation during a campaign setup and which aspects are vital to having a chance of success? 

Answer: Andrew 
This comes back to the initial preparation when starting a campaign. Which as mentioned previously comes down to understanding what the client’s needs are and also making sure that all systems, tools, internal contacts/stakeholders and needed processes are in place before starting the engagement. While I have been at Alchemise I have seen other clients who have adopted a cowboy, gung ho approach and have not realised the success that they were hoping for. When you consider the capital outlay and personal reputations put on the line, it is exceptionally important that informed preparatory ground work be in place prior to implementation of on the ground activities.


Question 9: Can you share two examples where the use of a sales enablement process worked well and what type of customer engagement made sure everyone was in sync?

Answer: Andrew 

A client event set one month in advance is an example of the preparation needed that provided a tangible result through the use of a sales enablement. A list of relevant enterprise companies where supplied by the marketing department and additional scripts and supporting collateral. This facilitated confident discussions with supporting documentation that could be supplied to clients that was relevant to their position in the company. The result was 19 pre-registrations were booked in from C-Level contacts for the event in this time period.

Another example was for another organisation providing Cloud management services that needed to warm up a list that had gone cold due to the timing of the previously implemented campaign by a 3rd party. Scripts were put in place with along collateral marketing material. The use of a CRM that supplied analytical information on individual contact engagement also enabled me to further successfully interact with prospective contacts. The result on this engagement was in just 30 days, from 200 contacts, we achieved 53 leads, 23 MQLs and 8 SQLs.


Question 10: How did you measure success in the campaigns? Can you give me an example of where greater conversion was achieved?

Answer: Andrew 

With each of these two examples above the success was measured in initial qualified preregistrations for the event and with the second engagement it was a pre defined qualification process on what stipulated a MQL (Marketing Qualified Lead), SQL (Sales Qualified lead) and leads that needed further nurturing.


Question 11: What would you suggest to a company that is searching for more leads and approach to lead generation?

Answer: Andrew 

With qualified leads being vital to a company’s survival, I would suggest that with other companies with their own lead generation process, that they work out exactly who they are looking to reach. Have a sound marketing strategy in place with supporting marketing collateral. Define what success will look like with the commercial return that is expected with a set time frame.


Question 12: What is your advice to the many start-up and SME companies you have spoken in the last 12 months about their business growth aspirations?

Answer: Andrew 

For the companies in the last 12 months that I previously spoke to there have been some real observations and useful tips about handling some growth obstacles.

  1. Don’t engage with a creative company unless you have a defined plan on what the commercial return will look like.
  2. Ensure that the agency defines the process that they plan to implement to generate leads.
  3. Make sure that the leads generated are categorised into levels with each level clearly defined so it can be prioritised. If your creative agency is not able to at least provide marketing qualified leads from the work that is undertaken then this should be a warning sign for you.

For more insights about how Inside Sales and Sales Development process and resources can increase performance and conversion, please look at these previous blogs.

To read more about our recent sales and marketing insights and related articles please visit our

Alchemise Consulting News link.

Good luck in 2019!  To kick start your year, we would like to offer you our FREE E-Book on “How to increase your profits with 7 Profit Multipliers!

 

Are you reflecting about your 2019 plans and where you need help with Sales Development or Inside Sales structure, processes or resources?  Feel free to contact us for an initial discussion about your sales & marketing challenges and to book in your independent health check. We can demonstrate specific value by identifying where we can help you and your business accelerate your sales engagement and increase your sales development performance and effectiveness.

Contact Alchemise Consulting at  info@alchemiseconsulting.com or @alchemise_cons or call our office on +61(3) 9225 5022.

 

Silence: Your sales prospecting and lead generation challenges

Did you know there has been a room that has been created that is so quiet that you can hear your own heartbeat, an anechoic chamber at Orfield Laboratories in Minnesota. The longest a person can tolerate being in this room is approximately 45 minutes – apparently, the silence is too much to bare.

So how long can your sales team looking for new business sustain from silence from their prospective clients?

This is an issue that is happening across many industry sectors. Many businesses have been relying on purchased contact lists of email addresses and phone numbers. They have found that from the 1990s through until about 2015 that they have been able to rely on the profits generated from these lists from cold calls and email blasts, with little push back from the people that they are drowning in their torrent of unsolicited communications.

State of Inbound 2018 - prospecting has gotten harderSource: State of Inbound 2018 

This approach no longer works and sales have become more difficult today compared with 2-3 years ago. Salespeople are finding that their email and voicemails are resulting in silence from the prospects that they are trying to reach, with 40% of people surveyed having no response from prospects. Engaging multiple decision makers in the buying process is also more challenging as key stake holders have other priorities. Thus, the interest is lacking in what the salesperson is putting forward.

Technology has now advanced to the point where emails are being blocked and phone calls are being screened.

In Singapore it is now standard practice across sectors for all client facing staff to be instructed to not confirm email addresses, not supply alternative contact numbers to reach departments where the prospective person may reside and instead supply an email address that will have little to no chance of making it to the end target contact. This is because if the person is interested in solving a problem, they will perform their own searches.

Revenue growth is still driven by existing business, but new business is an area of challenge. Business owners are blaming sales managers; sales staff are moving on looking for greener pastures or being released from the business.

With the top 4 areas that sales staff and business owners are finding it harder today being

  • Getting a response from prospects, this being via email or phone
  • Connecting with prospects on the phone
  • Getting stake holders to meetings, and
  • Closing deals

It is clear that a better strategy and overall sales approach is needed.

State of Inbound 2018 - generating traffic is a constant challengeSource: State of Inbound 2018 

This comes back to old school approaches with using a strategy (also known as a plan) instead of tactics (individual actions). Many business owners have engaged with creative agencies putting forward new pages and guaranteeing a certain number of visits to their customer’s site. Business owners are still finding that after significant investment that their ROI is lacking or non-existent.

A commercial focus is required when looking at your marketing activities and a maturity as a business owner is needed to recognise that creative agencies have not taken ownership of the customer engagement process. Attract and nurture prospects with engagement is not with in creative agencies skill sets as they lack the industry experience of their customers vertical to understand their customers end client’s pain.

As a result of this gap the void is filled with silence. Have you had enough of the SILENCE?
SM video_play_firstslide

If this blog, or the challenges highlighted by our new video resonate with you, contact us today for an initial discussion on how we can help you and your business overcome these challenges, at info@alchemiseconsulting.com or @alchemise_cons or call our office on +61392255022.

How inside sales drives lead generation

Part 2 of this series continuing on from
The importance of sales enablement for inside sales teams

How inside sales drives lead generation and could provide more value than business development for SMEs

The inside sales function can help bridge the gap between MQLs and SQLs with the right onboarding process and agreement between both marketing and sales.  We see this as a combined function with, ideally, common budget allocated between the two departments. Our recommendation is to engage inside sales specialists who understand your market and are able to scale based on demand.

For many SMEs and growing businesses the process of hiring strong and experienced BDMs to generate new business isn’t always possible within initial budget considerations. Depending on the sales and marketing go-to-market strategy, the role inside sales plays will have significant impact on marketing activities. You can drive top of funnel leads through multiple channels, however often there is little resource allocated to follow up leads and nurture them. To increase sales pipeline generation and the ability to accelerate sales revenue targets requires increasing sales productivity and marketing aligned discussions.

Based on the buyer’s journey and focussing on sales enablement, more budget should be invested in marketing in ways that support sales. Part of the justification to consider is that the ‘people’ element of inside sales (in-house or contracted) can take less time to payback ROI and also shorten the sales cycle based on sales enablement productivity goals than just on technology automation alone.

Sales Enablement Productivity Guide.jpg

Source: Miller Heiman Group Report 

Choosing an outsourced telemarketing campaign that may not drive qualified pipeline opportunities or contribute to the required ROI required can be risky, as can be hiring the wrong BDM. Your brand reputation could be affected with negative perception from prospective organisations receiving cold calls that can have a future impact. While there is always risk involved in making these choices, it is important to carefully consider any and all relevant factors and plan to help to mitigate this risk, and to increase your success.

Many traditional marketing agencies offering guaranteed cost per lead can prove to be of low value, unless the metrics can be clearly measurable and aligned to sales impact. Caller agent behaviour changes depending on the reward and their skill levels.  A minimum standard BANT method needs to be used but a level of consultative or trusted advisor approach with relevant subject matter and communication skills will increase the lead qualification quality. The only way this can be demonstrated is having the sales and marketing function sit in the same room first and agree on the common objectives with a sales enablement process.

Step One: To agree on alignment with the correct sales targeting and marketing activity

Step Two: Once the clear requirements and goals are highlighted through a structured workshop, the level of investment can be agreed towards joint accountable and responsible KPIs first.

The alignment process looks like this as an example:

sales-marketing-alignment

Source: Alchemise Consulting Sales Enablement Process


Why the strong focus on inside sales function for lead generation?

An Inside Sales Role function provides:

  • Value for money and accelerated sales pipeline development in line with sales and marketing aligned goals.
  • Opportunity to nurture a good resource with sales and marketing skills development.
  • The domain expertise and skills can be nurtured and talented individuals can be progressed into BDE or BDM role under senior experienced managers which helps with talent retention and promotion.

There are no guarantees or security from a traditional recruitment process in hiring full time sales teams. For small companies with limited hiring experience, this cashflow outlay can prove very hit and miss, and risky at the least. Both direct and indirect costs are at risk if the wrong hiring choices are made, often with perfomance monitoring throughout a six month probation period.

The employment market is shifting to an outcome-based model and the certainty of fixed costs and measurable tangible results. Looking at the accounting and legal industries for example, some of the mid-tier firms are slowly shifting from time-based to value/outcome-based services. However the cost for quality hired resources needs a good talent acquisition plan and budget.

Considering a shared risk model in the professional services helps you shift to deliver value added services and demonstrate a willingness to differentiate in the marketplace and to your clients.

Gaining access to an experienced sales team on demand provides both a skill and budget buffer during peaks and troughs as properly marketing qualified leads can be generated through multiple channels and nurtured. The provision of consistently qualified leads and communication from marketing will also offer more confidence to the sales team.

Imagine the focus on sales teams with aggressive targets for Q4 and then there is no pipeline for Q1… Does this scenario sound familiar? An inside sales presence to complement your internal sales team can help solve this all-too-common challenge.

The value of inside sales as a service can fill the gap in building a real sales pipeline, so having access on demand can help drive up prospective client engagement and opportunities.

I would hire an inside sales resource on demand rather than paying for lower level telesales resources who do not have the required expertise in the industry. What I believe brings success is not only the right experience but also the passionate attitude and personality suited to the client and part of the wider team.

At Alchemise, we strongly focus on not only nurturing leads but also our inside sales team management focus depending on the type of campaign and expertise required.

Suggested inside sales metrics

The primary metric to consider is Contacts to Conversions that is driven by sales pipeline and revenue generation as a truer measure of success.

Common digital marketing metrics such as content impressions, web visits and content downloads at the top of funnel typically becomes an MQL. This often frustrates sales as the time and cost of these measures doesn’t have an aligned correlation with sales revenue and pipeline/ opportunities generated.

We would like to challenge the conventional model with one that aligns sales and marketing with an inside sales function.

In closing…

If you want to differentiate your organisation with a more effective aligned sales and marketing growth strategy to generate higher ROI on your marketing investment, sales enablement and inside sales is the way forward. The attention should be directing focus towards the middle and bottom of funnel conversation or engaging a marketing consultancy which appreciates both sales and marketing alignment and not just generating top of funnel leads.

Unlike a telemarketing “one size fits all” guaranteed cost per lead model commonly delivering less than 1% lead conversion, a different approach is to look at the detailed setup and preparation first. A detailed process aligned to the business strategy to increase conversion rates typically establishes a benchmark after the first 3 months using an rolling average lead indicator.

If you can appreciate the delivery process with subject matter experts from the inside sales resources and a quality over quality approach, this is also good indicator that you have found a good fit of who to work with.

Come and arrange an obligation free discussion with Alchemise Consulting and our experience with a holistic, people, process and systems approach or find out about our Inside Sales as a Service.

State of Inbound 2018 Report: Key Alchemise Consulting Insights

The State of Inbound 2018 Highlights

The State of Inbound 2018 has just been released in June from HubSpot based on the latest global survey data around the current state of sales and marketing.

Here are some interesting statistics from the global survey report which may resonate with you and your current business, sales, and marketing challenges:

Hubspot State of Inbound 2018

Reference: Hubspot State of Inbound 2018 Global Report

Marketers prioritise converting leads into customers:

Bottom of the Funnel content is CRUCIAL across all global surveyed regions.

  • 69% of survey respondents highlighted converting leads to customers
  • 54% of survey respondents highlighted growth of traffic to the website
  • 44% of survey respondents highlighted increasing the revenue from existing customers
  • 42% of survey respondents highlighted the need to prove ROI from marketing activities.

Our comments:

From these statistics here the need for more initial digital contact engagement for top of funnel lead generation activities typically requires much time, cost and effort to work on producing leads. However the findings highlights a more pressing urgency and challenge for more effort working the middle to bottom of the funnel with sales conversion. What this means is that consistency working through the full funnel is required not just considering the top, middle or bottom focus.

Are you delivering enough “decision stage” content in the buyers journey to help close the sale?

If you start to focus on the sales outcomes first and reverse engineer your sales enablement to marketing lead activities needed to support to the goal, this will help qualified sales engagements with investment in aligning sales and marketing goals as a first step.  When you can consider the flow, efficiency and impact of the full funnel approach will deliver more consistent results and higher conversion rates from top to bottom of the funnel.

Without following the sales and marketing alignment process first, the measurement of tangible ROI can be difficult. We have just released an ROI calculator to help with the first step of that process.


Sales always wants to close deals which requires making the funnel more efficient:

  • 75% of survey respondents highlighted closing more deals
  • 48% of survey respondents highlighted improving the efficiency of the sales funnel
  • 32% of survey respondents highlighted reducing the length of sales cycles.

Our comments:

Sales targets are getting more difficult to meet, so the emphasis on driving a more efficiency sales funnel and more stronger and consistent qualified leads. Business owners and sales managers are telling us this is their priority right now. This Marketing to Sales engagement can be aided with delivering effective sales enablement to help support the sales team.


Prospecting has gotten harder in the last 2 to 3 years:

  • 40% of survey respondents highlighted getting a prospect to respond
  • 31% of survey respondents highlighted engaging multiple decision makers at a company in the buying process
  • 30% of survey respondents highlighted closing deals
  • 29% of survey respondents highlighted connecting via phone
  • 28% of survey respondents highlighted identifying and prospecting good leads

Our comments:

Our clients discussions definitely reflect the increasingly more difficult prospecting efforts year on year.

There are answers to these challenges on a whole which requires a stronger and more focussed strategic approach. If you can integrate your sales and marketing methods using Account Based Marketing with Target Account Selling in planning and segmentation process then the execution of the inbound methodology for engaging the full funnel will deliver higher conversion success.


Customers are advocates – word of mouth helps people make buying decisions:

  • 55% of survey respondents highlighted word of mouth referrals
  • 46% of survey respondents highlighted customer references
  • 38% of survey respondents highlighted media articles
  • 38% of survey respondents highlighted vendor authored materials & content

Our comments:

We have spoken to many business owners who still say referrals are their main way of generating leads. This is great to hear and obviously reflects the quality of customer services and client relationships built up. However is relying on consistent referrals enough to generate a strongly qualified pipeline which is large enough to meet sales targets? There needs to be multiple channels in driving lead generation for maintaining a healthy pipeline.

Content development with taking client references and authoring valuable content will still help drive inbound leads to you if it resonates and is relevant toward being customer centric.

If you want to understand from our perspective why marketing campaigns can fail, feel free to get your white paper below.


Preferred business communication channels:

  • 83% of survey respondents highlighted email channel
  • 59% of survey respondents highlighted face to face meetings
  • 55% of survey respondents highlighted phone calls
  • 41% of survey respondents highlighted video conference calls

Our comments:

Email is NOT dead as a business tool. Some pundits some years ago predictted that collaboration and social tools would take over email as a business tool. However this is proof that email is preferred with more options from Microsoft, Google and Amazon in the cloud now. Our suggestion is to ensure you do assess your customer preferences and make available an omni channel communication approach. Of the three preferred communication channels, technology has made it more difficult to engage face to face from phone calls and emails.


Respondents’ typical size and revenue:

  • 42% were SMBs (less than 10 staff)
  • 23% were SMEs (between 26 to 200 staff)

In Australia, there is a significant representation of small to medium business who are at different stages of the business lifecycle right now which is posing challenges whether you are in start up, mature stage or exit stages due to disruptive technologies impacting many industries to change. Every dollar invested must generate a solid ROI and business owners don’t have excess budget to spend without a solid strategy and plan in place.

Average company revenue:

  • 32% of survey respondents worked for companies less than $250K USD average revenue
  • 14% of survey respondents worked for companies between $250K to $1M USD average revenue
  • 16% of survey respondents worked for companies between $1M to $10M USD average revenue

Our comments:

It seems that typically organisations are still not investing enough budget in effective marketing. However the ROI of investment for many SMB’s and SME’s need to be more targeted and strategically planned to start with. What we have found is that many business owners who aren’t marketers have expended a significant budget with ad hoc marketing activities that hasn’t generated a solid and tangible Return on Investment. Why is this the case? Typically we have found that a lack of integrated strategy for sales and marketing can be a cause or not understanding the relationship and interdependencies between both functions.


Our key insights:

What does this summary of highlights and trends mean for your business planning in 2018?

Firstly many of these survey statistics align to what we have been seeing in the A/NZ market and feedback from business owners who have been speaking to us about their challenges.

It is evident that strategic thinking and planning needs to incorporate the process of aligning marketing and sales goals. We are also seeing however the reality is that many people simply don’t have time or aren’t willing to make the time to work ON the business than just in the business also.

Short term thinking and behaviour is also proving a hinderance to achieving consistent sales targets and marketing ROI. The strong demand for Business Development Management and Account Management resources highlight in certain sectors the strong demand for new business to keep driving revenue.

This requires the capability to drive sales qualified leads as well as experienced client facing sales skills to generate new business revenue. The role of Account Management is also important to retain existing customers as the increased market competition or transactional nature causes more churn if a supplier can’t add value in the client relationship.

Our visit to the 2017 HubSpot Inbound Event in Boston last year provided validation of the rapidly shifting nature and importance of digital marketing automation. The advancement of using Account Based Marketing and marketing analytics vendors like Terminus. Voice Call Analytics such as CallRail can help generate and report on providing deeper insights and visibility to help drive outcomes.

Every marketing plan requires consideration of using the inbound methodology to respond to the ways in which buyers make purchasing decisions today compared with a more traditional approach. This has been proven between traditional business and newer progressive business who realise they need to shift their mindset and change their business approach to survive and stay competitive.

The reality of the rapid digital transformation shift and web presence truly allows even small businesses to flourish with global clients via online and ecommerce marketing approaches. Even without large sales teams the power of globalisation is clear and represents a significant opportunity for small businesses to leverage this period in time.

If you would like to understand better how you can close more deals and also generate more consistently qualified leads, then feel free to contact us.

Find out how you can be more sales effective using an effective digital content and and inbound sales strategy approach by contacting us. If you would like an independent review or diagnostic of the gaps in your sales and marketing activities and areas to improve your sales ROI, we would suggest you consider registering for our complimentary Business Growth Assessment.

IBM Business Partner drives up lead generation conversion rate by 25%

 

Marketing-ROI

 

 

 

This well established leading IBM Business Partner in Australia requested our assistance late last year after launching an IBM marketing funded campaign. They requested our help to qualify their registered contacts generated from their current campaign with IBM which focused on Cloud Services.

There were about 400 Enterprise and Government sector leads delivered from the marketing campaign between IBM and the preferred marketing agency.

The Challenge

Our client used the vendor preferred marketing agency to run the survey campaign including the creative elements through advertising on a leading IT publication channel however the client felt it wasn’t as effective. The need from the client to follow up these cold leads resulted in Alchemise Consulting being asked if we could assist in working through the survey contacts that had been generated.

The list of 400 leads were segmented by the client according to which were better prospects to follow up with, and about 200 leads were discarded because they were not a good fit with the client’s solution.

There was only limited time to ensure the relevance of this campaign and follow up to provide a measured ROI report back to IBM.

Campaign Problem

Due to the timeframe of launching this campaign at the end of year, the IBM Business Partner used both cloud services and application campaign used the same digital campaign assets.

It was challenging to reach survey participants during the holiday period.

The client collateral available was insufficient to convert more leads as many prospects were expecting a relevant digital online presence. There were still at least over several warm lead opportunities available to be progressed further through the lead nurture process for prospective Enterprise and Government contacts.

Our Solution

Using our integrated inbound account based marketing and sales development approach with a limited timeframe available of 3 weeks, we set up a detailed data profiling exercise working only off 170 quality contact list and engaged with multiple touch points.

The depth of qualification was achieved with strategic and tactical knowledge of the subject matter and use of inbound marketing automation.

From the 170 contacts, a validation process found 115 valid registered leads which developed into 23 marketing qualified leads (MQL) which were developed further to 8 sales qualified leads (SQL).

contacts-by-lifecycle-stage

This was achieved based on our experience and lead generation structure to ensure we touched every high priority and low priority contact with a multi-channel approach. The data was loaded in the CRM and using marketing automation analytics helped tracked for lead activity capture to help us.

Outcome

We achieved 8 SQLs and 23 MQLs from only 170 lead contacts in one month.

The outcome represents an overall 25% conversion from MQL to SQL using our inbound marketing and outbound sales approach for handover to the sales team.

There are still several further qualified lead opportunities to still be nurtured before aiming to convert within the next 3 months.


If you are a technology vendor, consulting services, systems integrator or business partner in software, infrastructure or cloud services wanting a tangible ROI and a proven alternative way with marketing funding to accelerate your APAC sales we can assist.

Learn how to align, implement and measure sales outcomes with limited marketing spend for brand awareness, lead generation initiatives or events follow up, please contact Alchemise Consulting for an obligation free discussion on how we can help you deliver REAL results with a measurable Return on Investment.

digital-readiness-assessment


If you are interested in reading our recent marketing insights white paper, please click the link

” 5 Reasons Why Marketing Campaigns Fail

 

Part 2 : Why Inside Sales is the key to successful business development

Here is Part 2 of this article continuing on from Part 1: Why Inside Sales is one of the keys to successful lead generation.

How Inside Sales could provide more value than Business Development for SMEs.

The inside sales function can help bridge the gap between MQLs and SQLs with the right onboarding process and agreement between both marketing and sales.  We see this as a combined function with, ideally, common budget allocated between the two departments. Our recommendation is to engage inside sales specialists who understand your market and are able to scale based on demand.

For many SMEs and growing businesses the process of hiring strong and experienced BDMs to generate new business isn’t always possible within initial budget considerations. Depending on the sales and marketing go-to-market strategy, the role inside sales plays will have significant impact on marketing activities. You can drive top of funnel leads through multiple channels, however often there is little resource allocated to follow up leads and nurture them. To increase sales pipeline generation and the ability to accelerate sales revenue targets requires increasing sales productivity and marketing aligned discussions.

Based on the buyer’s journey and focussing on sales enablement, more budget should be invested in marketing in ways that support sales. Part of the justification to consider is that the ‘people’ element of inside sales (in-house or contracted) can take less time to payback ROI and also shorten the sales cycle based on sales enablement productivity goals than just on technology automation alone.

Sales Enablement Productivity Guide.jpg

Source: Miller Heiman Group Report 

Choosing an outsourced telemarketing campaign that may not drive qualified pipeline opportunities or contribute to the required ROI required can be risky, as can be hiring the wrong BDM. Your brand reputation could be affected with negative perception from prospective organisations receiving cold calls that can have a future impact. While there is always risk involved in making these choices, it is important to carefully consider any and all relevant factors and plan to help to mitigate this risk, and to increase your success.

Many traditional marketing agencies offering guaranteed cost per lead can prove to be of low value, unless the metrics can be clearly measurable and aligned to sales impact. Caller agent behaviour changes depending on the reward and their skill levels.  A minimum standard BANT method needs to be used but a level of consultative or trusted advisor approach with relevant subject matter and communication skills will increase the lead qualification quality. The only way this can be demonstrated is having the sales and marketing function sit in the same room first and agree on the common objectives with a sales enablement process.

Step One:  To agree on alignment with the correct sales targeting and marketing activity

Step Two: Once the clear requirements and goals are highlighted through a structured workshop, the level of investment can be agreed towards joint accountable and responsible KPIs first.

The alignment process looks like this as an example.

smarketing KPI process.jpg

Source: Alchemise Consulting sales enablement process


Why the strong focus on Inside Sales function for lead generation?

An Inside Sales Role function provides:

  • Value for money and accelerated sales pipeline development in line with sales and marketing aligned goals.
  • Opportunity to nurture a good resource with sales and marketing skills development.
  • The domain expertise and skills can be nurtured and talented individuals can be progressed into BDE or BDM role under senior experienced managers which helps with talent retention and promotion.

There are no guarantees or security from a traditional recruitment process in hiring full time sales teams. For small companies with limited hiring experience, this cashflow outlay can prove very hit and miss, and risky at the least. Both direct and indirect costs are at risk if the wrong hiring choice(s) is made, often with perfomance monitored throughout a six-month probation period.

The employment market is shifting to an outcome-based model and the certainty of fixed costs and measurable tangible results. Looking at the accounting and legal industries for example, some of the mid-tier firms are slowly shifting from time-based to value/outcome-based services. However the cost for quality hired resources needs a good talent acquisition plan and budget.

Considering a shared risk model in the professional services helps you shift to deliver value added services and demonstrate a willingness to differentiate in the marketplace and to your clients.

Gaining access to an experienced sales team on demand provides both a skill and budget buffer during peaks and troughs as properly marketing qualified leads can be generated through multiple channels and nurtured. The provision of consistently qualified leads and communication from marketing will also offer more confidence to the sales team.

Imagine the focus on sales teams with aggressive targets for Q4 and then there is no pipeline for Q1…  Does this scenario sound familiar? An inside sales presence to complement your internal sales team can help solve this all-too-common challenge.

The value of inside sales as a service can fill the gap in building a real sales pipeline, so having access on demand can help drive up prospective client engagement and opportunities.

I would hire an inside sales resource on demand rather than paying for lower level telesales resources who do not have the required expertise in the industry. What I believe brings success is not only the right experience but also the passionate attitude and personality suited to the client and part of the wider team.

At Alchemise, we strongly focus on not only nurturing leads but also our inside sales team management focus depending on the type of campaign and expertise required. 

Suggested Inside Sales Metrics

The primary metric to consider is Contacts to Conversions that is driven by sales pipeline and revenue generation as a truer measure of success.

Common digital marketing metrics such as content impressions, web visits and content downloads at the top of funnel typically becomes an MQL. This often frustrates sales as the time and cost of these measures doesn’t have an aligned correlation with sales revenue and pipeline/ opportunities generated.

We would like to challenge the conventional model with one that aligns sales and marketing with an inside sales function.

In Closing… 

If you want to differentiate your organisation with a more effective aligned sales and marketing growth strategy to generate higher ROI on your marketing investment, sales enablement and inside sales is the way forward. The attention should be directing focus towards the middle and bottom of funnel conversation or engaging a marketing consultancy which appreciates both sales and marketing alignment and not just generating top of funnel leads.

Unlike a telemarketing “one size fits all” guaranteed cost per lead model commonly delivering less than 1% lead conversion, a different approach is to look at the detailed setup and preparation first. A detailed process aligned to the business strategy to increase conversion rates typically establishes a benchmark after the first 3 months using an rolling average lead indicator.

If you can appreciate the delivery process with subject matter experts from the inside sales resources and a quality over quality approach, this is also good indicator that you have found a good fit of who to work with.

Come and arrange an obligation free discussion with Alchemise Consulting and our experience with a holistic, people, process and systems approach or find out about our Inside Sales as a Service.

 

Part 1: Why inside sales is a key strategy to successful lead generation

This article has been written to open up some strategic thinking and discussion for business owners, as well as sales and marketing managers in SMEs or corporate businesses, on different ways to increase lead generation success with inside sales.

It was refreshing to hear last month that a prominent marketing agency acknowledged marketing supports sales and that successful lead generation cannot be achieved with just marketing automation and digital content alone.

The challenge in lead generation and conversion efforts between marketing and sales departments are still causing inconsistent measurement of ROI and success.

It’s becoming even more important with the need for both sales and marketing functions to complement, align and integrate with each other and adopting a “full funnel” top-down view. So how can you start that process and get a business to commit to a shift in mindset?

  • Introduction to Sales Enablement

The term sales enablement comes to mind and applying the real meaning of this requires the focus of the inside sales role and joint ownership between marketing and sales – agreed upfront as a common shared goal.

The definition of sales enablement

Sales enablement is the process of providing the sales organization with the information, content, and tools that help sales people sell more effectively.

  • Common Lead Generation Scenario

One example and context was from a marketing agency feedback in running an ICT campaign for a successful Microsoft partner. The client challenge was to generate 2500 marketing leads for a sales target of $10M (4 sales representatives) through content driven marketing automation. That would mean over 200 leads per month just from organic digital content and use of marketing automation – a huge task to guarantee a cost per lead model that doesn’t quantify sales opportunity progress or success.

These metrics and expectations just didn’t add up realistically given the variables; length of follow up from sales, quality of leads, and length of the sales cycle. It seemed like the ROI and appropriate KPI would have been unrealistic to achieve in 12 months. These lead metrics are only part of the picture and can’t be relied on to generate consistent leads without first examining the sales targets. If you can reverse engineer the sales target setting process with the required amount of marketing activity and leads required, this usually highlights either a gap in sales target expectations or marketing budget allocation to support this. In an ideal situation the sales manager and marketing manager should agree on the common metrics and KPIs.

In the previous campaign run by the agency mentioned, the MQLs manifesting from the marketing automation platform were largely impressions, web visits, contacts, downloads and enquiries. This is purely a top of funnel focus.

However typical frustrations arose in lead follow-through between MQL and SQL when the sales team didn’t follow up the leads or several leads slip through the cracks.

It was refreshing to hear the marketing agency involved in this campaign quote that the missing link is (needing) “still a human to be involved”.

The other negative impact of relying on inbound automation alone as the primary channel for lead generation was that the sales representatives can became less motivated to generate their own leads as BDMs or Account Managers.

From my sales experience, the biggest challenge still lies in bridging the gap between MQLs and SQLs with a higher degree of skill over simply appointment setting to meet the metric. I believe that one of the keys to successful lead generation is for businesses to invest more in inside sales functions and achieving higher quality results.

  • Definition of Inside Sales, Sales Development or Sales Acceleration Lead.

What is ‘Inside Sales‘?

Inside sales is the sale of products or services by sales personnel who reach customers by phone or online methods, rather than travelling to meet them face-to-face. Inside relies on the phone, emails and the internet to reach customers and is common in the retail industry.

Breaking down ‘Inside Sales

Unlike outside sales personnel, insides salespeople do not travel. Despite this, they are still proactive about contacting potential customers and may make cold contacts. A company may also designate incoming calls from prospective customers as inside sales. In addition, a company may outsource their inside sales duties to a third-party instead of conducting sales in-house for increasing their speed to market. In a highly competitive, quarter-by-quarter sales environment, time to engage can mean a lost sales opportunity.

This Inside Sales function is commonly known in the ICT or telecoms world, or financial services, as an Inside Sales Role or Sales Acceleration Lead or Sales Development Representative.

The typical capability and profile is someone with 2 to 3 years of sales experience or telephone based sales who appreciates the technical/conceptual aspect of the product or service that is being offered. At market rates in Australia they are paid between $50K to $70K base salary plus commission of up to $100K OTE in an ICT role.

If you can successful build a team of ISRs who have senior industry expertise, the right sales aptitude and attitude, with attention to detail and appropriate training, this is a great foundation. The team can then enhance sales enablement process and help bridge the gap between sales and marketing. This investment may generate a higher ROI than employing just a field sales team and, in some cases, represent better value.

The key to successful full funnel conversion from any marketing lead generation is to execute a marketing campaign with Inside Sales Representatives. Many marketing agencies spend a lot of time developing a top of funnel focus, driving online automation campaigns and leads from multiple channels and tactics. This may be moderately successful however the role and responsibility is handed back across to the client for the middle and bottom of the funnel engagement focussed on sales conversion.

  • Stopping the “Leaky Funnel” effect

In my opinion this is where the true ROI of a retainer is unlocked for sales effectiveness and still requires a level of knowledge and “human” interaction to bridge this MQL to SQL gap and “leaky funnel” syndrome – which is still being experienced as a common cause of disconnection between marketing agencies and sales teams.

A good inside salesperson should have the ability to grasp more complex concepts and think about a more meaningful business discussion on a follow up call to increase the quality of marketing qualified leads.

The benefit of inside sales is that star performers can be identified and nurtured towards a field sales progress path which provides sales engagement continuity to the business or a transition plan for staff retention.

  • The human skills factor can’t be replaced by digital automation

The human factor in consideration of the specific knowledge of the company’s products, services or solutions can provide a far more contextually-relevant delivery compared to a telemarketing representative following a script. Commonly the lack of depth of understanding isn’t appropriate to the conversation with the target stakeholder and decision maker on the prospect side and can lead to lost opportunities.

The buyer’s journey today means that more customers and prospects are well informed via multiple channels through their own research before being accessible and ready in THEIR timeframe to actively make a purchasing decision and engage their supplier of choice.

Traditional telemarketing conversion rates are still poor and the ROI is negligible without the due care of impact on sales revenue and profits. Would you rather have 10 highly qualified leads a month with a 50% ratio to convert with some strategic awareness or 20 average leads of inconsistent quality just because it was an agreed cost per lead engagement per month that was committed to deliver regardless of the chance of conversion?

Customised lead generation is highly recommended rather than a “one size fits all” approach to have a better chance of success. Inside sales is increasingly become the avenue to help achieve this.

Look out for Part 2 of this series on Inside Sales function as a key to successful lead generation.

We will talk about the value of Inside Sales versus Business Development and also the use of Marketing Automation to increase qualified leads.

Lead-GenerationAlchemise Consulting – Inside Sales as a Service Overview

How inbound marketing and HubSpot marketing automation helped win a new client in 10 days

Introduction

We used inbound marketing and HubSpot marketing automation to help win a new client in just 10 days.

If you are not from a traditional marketing or digital background there may be some skepticism that marketing automation using digital channels and content can actually work. Companies who invest marketing dollars in digital content marketing and specifically using a leading marketing automation platform such as HubSpot does help generate more qualified leads. Higher ROI for lead generation can be achieved using inbound marketing and sales methodology than traditional methods like telemarketing.

This article from Marketing Mag: Is Australia ready for inbound marketing? highlights an good example of the kind of results it can help a professional services business increase their sales and marketing leads with prospect engagement.

“The best part about inbound? Customers love it. Look at a business like CFO On-Call, an Australian-based company comprised of skilled CFOs that offer insights to struggling businesses. Just six months after implementing inbound marketing, they saw nearly 10 times as many leads, a 200% increase in traffic, and 153% increase in sales-qualified leads.”
Ryan Bonnici, HubSpot APJ Marketing Leader

If you asked me twelve months ago about the digital marketing approach as a sales person, I would still assume that many of our sales opportunities are still developed through the traditional channels of network referrals, direct sales engagement and picking up the phone to talk to prospects.

Now, if I fast forward twelve months later now, the first step was shifting my mindset to using content driven Digital Marketing channels with the concept of Hubspot inbound sales methodology. The second step was understanding how using the Buyers Journey can drive quality leads and data capture to help filter your prospects and find your more compatible prospective clients.

funnel showing buyer's journey from the buyer's perspective and lifecycle stages from the marketer's perspective

Source: HubSpot

See below how using the HubSpot CRM, marketing automation and lead data captured helped us sign a new client deal in just 10 days ( which would normally take about 30 days).

This was demonstrable proof of how it helps lead generation, lead nurturing using marketing automation to generate quality leads. An important point to note is this is only one method out of the multichannel approach. This doesn’t replace other lead generation strategies which are still working, however an integrated approach has been proven to work best.

It starts with a visitor to the website, then a getting a lead conversion via a landing page, the relevant published content and form triggers the prospect buying stage to a marketing qualified lead. Once this can be seen, the prompt for a sales representative to initiate a follow up call can be made.  Lead scoring or qualified can be verification has been made from their digital interaction with us and associated reporting available.

Summary of how marketing automation helped qualify and close our new client deal in 10 days

So how did the inbound process help with the automation flow and visibility of the marketing lead progress?

  • HubSpot Marketing Automation was setup over a period of one month and content developed tailored to a persona of a Business Owner.
  • We increased web site visits organically through release of relevant blogs.
  • The blog content published were attracting visitors through the landing page, form and Call to Action offer – in this case was an E-book download for 7 profit multipliers.
  • The form was filled out and registration noted for the prospect contact history
  • Statistical data provided visibility of when and how the prospect interacted with our web site, digital assets and content offers
  • Track the MQL to SQL activities history and details with all online engagement tracked from Awareness to Consideration and Decision.
  • Helped engage the prospect at the right buyers’ journey stage.
  • Had an initial phone call with qualification and MQL (marketing qualified lead) then progressing to SQL (sales qualified lead) information handy which the marketing automation system provided depth of insight, timing and details on areas of interest.
  • Arranged first face to face meeting for discussion
  • Proposal/quote sent after understanding the requirements.
  • Received sign off from first meeting 1 month since prospect all within 10 days.
  • In contrasting this with a traditional sales approach, it may have taken at least 30 days to reach an agreed contract and required multiple interactions from first contact with no validated knowlege when or if the prospective buyer was actually ready to purchase.

The inbound marketing outcome achieved in 10 days from visitor to contact to new customer

Firstly the impact of the buyers journey for those who aren’t familiar is best summarized by the simple illustration below for the inbound process

four steps of inbound process illustrated

Source: HubSpot

The impact of marketing automation and the creation of a landing page, form and call to action offer demonstrated in the first 3 months of using HubSpot.

marketing automation flow diagram

This can be illustrated below from our first 90 days statistics which was generated from the Hubspot marketing automation platform.

First 90 days of using HubSpot – Visits, Contacts and Customers Report

All reports (screenshots) can be viewed on a mobile HubSpot client for Android or iPhone.

1. Visits

With the release of about 10 blogs articles, an E-book offer and form were published organically via social media channels of Linkedin, Google + and Facebook. This organically generated a 100% month on month increase in page visits.

2. Contacts

website traffic by source bar chart

From the website visitors, we could see who filled in the registration form for the purpose of accessing our E-Book offer.

The registered contacts can be used for lead nurturing, lead scoring or subscription for newsletters or updates depending on the content offer shared.

increase in inbound contacts graph

3. Conversions

We attracted our first conversion via this process and converted in the first quarter of implementation of marketing automation.

Our hope is that upon regular content driving leads, further conversion will be more effective than outbound lead generation alone.

I hope this shows that unlike the traditional demand generation process, lead generation with digital content inbound marketing does work to generate a higher return and potentially a shorter sales cycle if you can identify where the prospect is at in terms of their buyers’ journey stage and they are looking for assistance.

graph showing effect on total customers from inbound marketing

To find out how using the HubSpot marketing automation system and lead data captured can also help your business find and close your more deals, just click below to register for more information.

sales and marketing alignment planning CTA 

sales-marketing-alignment