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.

Inside sales teams and the importance of sales enablement

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.

At an event we were a part of last year, it was great to hear that a prominent marketing agency acknowledged that 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?

inside-sales

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.

What is sales enablement?
Sales enablement is the process of providing the sales organisation 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 monthjust 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.


What is Inside Sales, and how is it different? 

Definition of Inside Sales, Sales Development or Sales Acceleration Lead

inside-sales

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 sales relies on the phone, emails and the internet to reach customers and is common in the retail industry.

How is inside sales different to outside 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 to increase their speed to market. In a highly competitive, quarter-by-quarter sales environment, the time taken to engage can mean a lost sales opportunity.

This Inside Sales function is commonly known in the ICT or telecoms world as an Inside Sales Role (ISR) 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.

marketing-sales-funnelSource: Hubspot

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 becoming the avenue to help achieve this.


Look out for Part 2 of this series, Why to use inside sales for lead generation: Sales strategy and ROI, where we will talk about the value of Inside Sales versus Business Development, the importance of strategy, and also the use of marketing automation to increase qualified leads and overall ROI.


If any of the challenges mentioned above resonate for you, register for an independent Business Growth Assessment to find out how and where we can help you resolve some of your concerns across your marketing and sales strategy. 

inside-sales 
Alchemise Consulting – Inside Sales as a Service Overview

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

Part 2: There are lead and there are leads, good lead generation approaches

Part 2:  From Lead Generation to Deeper Lead Qualifying and Nurturing – How to progress the sales cycle

Introduction

This is the second part in extending our previous lead generation discussion Part 1: There are leads and leads. effective lead generation approaches.

Before we dive into a discussion about what effective lead generation and lead nurturing is, how to effectively qualify your leads better and what our definition of MQL (marketing qualified lead) and SQL (sales qualified lead) is, let’s ensure we’re on the same page with a quick checklist based on the new marketing and sales funnel way of thinking ( if your organisation alignment has acknowledged the purchasing and decision making process of the modern buyer )

Marketing and Sales Lead Generation

Quick checklist

  1. Has your organization defined what a lead is?
  2. Is everyone in the organisation involved in the marketing and sales cycle able to articulate what a MQL is, and what a SQL is?
  3. Is there a clear ‘point’ at which marketing hands over leads to sales?
  4. Has marketing and sales reached agreement in terms of what a lead is?

If you can answer those questions, or at least go some way towards it in in functional maturity, let’s move forward to discussing lead nurturing!

Lead nurture is part of the marketing call process – which can be a lead follow up or a request for more information in call or email format over a period of time – if the prospect isn’t able or willing to commit their interest to set an appointment, we need to lead nurture in order to progress the prospect activity in the new business development process from marketing.

This lead is a warm lead to nurture and follow up on with further contract to progress a marketing lead opportunity or hot lead to provide to the sales team for sales engagement and then sales opportunity qualification (SQL) which is aimed to turn into a real sales opportunity to engage within the sales process to secure the sale within a timeframe.

What is our MQL and SQL process?

How we see a qualified lead appointment process – set during a marketing campaign for deeper lead qualification varies from organisation to organisation, however this is an outline of our higher quality qualification process for lead generation from marketing to sales and our approach aligned to:

  • We have reached the relevant prospect organisation and identified the correct contact relevant in the relevant audience area;
  • We are able to have an initial discussion to see how if we can assist the prospect with identifying or solving a business challenge or problem first and seeing if there is mutual acknowledgement for a brief follow up call or reason to meet.
  • We attempted to obtain at least 2 to 3 of the specific qualification questions and positive responses to minimum criteria or shown sufficient interest in a further discussion or information from company;
  • The process of data collection about the prospect’s current situation or environment is considered a warm lead that may or may not lead to an immediate firm appointment, pending timing of follow up or a lead nurture process;
  • The prospect did request to have some information sent first before agreement for a follow up or call-back before putting them into lead nurture or another marketing activity such as a subscriber to an event or company’s white paper over a period of time.
  • The lead appointment can either be phone based or face to face to handover to the sales person to further qualify from a sales engagement after the initial marketing lead has been completed.
  • The outcome of the lead appointment cannot guarantee a firm sales opportunity or a sale – this is up to the sales person to progress to determine and doesn’t take into effect any external factors that may impact performance or availability or prospect rescheduling an appointment.
  • From experience, there may be a need to engage multiple interactions (i.e a touch-point, call-back, email follow up) over a period of time (not just first call) with the prospect in order to convert the lead to a qualified appointment otherwise it will be placed to lead nurture status. This eventually leads to a defined sales opportunity that the sales person progresses through to signing an agreement to do business.

A Marketing Qualified Lead Appointment (MQL)

The type of marketing lead appointment we look at is the benchmark of a quality lead that is acceptable to the client’s specifications and we aim to bridge the gap between a traditional MQL and a SQL that requires an element or level of basic field sales experience or specific domain expertise that may/ may not uncover or qualify the lead with more depth

This applies for us typically within marketing B2B corporate complex solutions or professional services and technology campaigns such as cyber security or cloud application services to engage high level executives who are influencers, recommenders or decision makers.

A real example for Cybersecurity client lead generation campaign and appointment set:

Phone Appointment Set: October 7, 2016 10:00 AM, Date Last Called: 3rd October 2016

Contact Details: Mr GSPosition: Regional Risk Assurance Manager  Company: XYZ Pty Limited  

COMPANY NAME: XYZ Pty Limited, ADDRESS: XYZ Street, VIC, 3123

PHONE NUMBER: 61 3 123456  DIRECT LINE: 61 3 123456, MOBILE: None,  EMAIL:  gs@xyz.com.au

Marketing Qualification questions:

Q1. Do you have any identity management projects with governance and compliance process challenges ongoing or upcoming that will require preventative action?

Answer: Yes, they have an ongoing goal to enhance identity/security posture that includes identity management and access control. He declined to disclose their specific project.

Q2. Could I ask what challenges you have to provide visibility to business owners or auditors regarding access to corporate data? 

Answer: They have challenges like, how would they know who accessed the data or if it is not been compromised. He mentioned that they don’t have a control on whoever accessed their data.

Q3How do you perform access reviews, certification process and manage the enforcement of access policies today? Do you use manual Excel spreadsheets or Access databases?

Answer: Not Access DB, application revelation database depends on which application they use. It might be on the different flavors of database. Sometimes it’s integrated, sometimes not as claimed.

IMPORTANT TIPS:

  1. It is important to capture the context and content and work with a marketing agency or lead generation company who understands deeply the subject matter or concepts of the products and services when running a marketing campaign. It’s more effective if they have knowledge of how to attract and speak to the right audience (i.e IT level or C-Level executives) with field sales experience or some awareness.
  2. Please keep this in mind when partnering with an appropriate marketing agency or lead generation company.  Look out for marketing agency differentiation who can  run an integrated sales driven marketing campaign who understands how to execute the full marketing and sales funnel with deep Industry sector experience (for example with professional services and ICT sector domains with (SME – Subject Matter Experts on hand)

Summary

The current competitive and dynamic business environment, combined with a shift in traditional buyer behaviour, demands an understanding and respect of the importance of lead generation and nurture. An overall focus on ROI needs to guide exploration and investment, particularly in this time of shift from traditional marketing methods towards digital marketing automation in a go to market strategy.

If you are interested in a progressive or different way to address effective lead generation and lead nurturing campaigns; thinking about how the use of marketing automation tools such as Hubspot will assist to close the gap between sales and marketing and increase ROI for lead generation.  If you are open to exploring further specific lead generation strategies, methods and processed from both a sales and marketing perspective, please contact us for a confidential discussion.