Be a Mentor to Your Future Customers

In the B2B world of industrial manufacturing, sometimes it’s hard to penetrate your target companies; it can be even harder to find the right person to talk to once you’re in. While there are ways to effectively reach seasoned engineers and purchasing agents, right now we’re going to focus on those young men and women who are the future of your customer base: students and young professionals.

What I’m suggesting isn’t really that radical. Simply, become a professional resource and sounding board for someone who is just starting out. In short, become their mentor.

Where to start?

Google is your friend!

For the purpose of this post, I searched Google with the term “student engineering forum.” The key is finding the places where engineering students hang out online. Here are my top results:

  • Top 40 Engineering Forums & Message Boards This is a pretty broad list. The great thing is that it’s broken down by discipline.
  • Engineering Students Reddit feed With almost 50,000 subscribers, this feed on the popular social media platform reddit is extremely active and full of engineering students.  It is “a place for engineering students of any discipline to discuss study methods, get homework help, get job search advice, and find a compassionate ear when you get a 40% on your midterm after studying all night.”
  • Engineering Exchange A very active forum with over 14,000 members from around the world, the Engineering Exchange was “developed for engineers by engineers.” I can endorse this site from personal experience, as in a previous role, most of the engineers I worked with used it.

Leverage industry associations.

Do you belong to any industry associations? Does your company? An easy way to find out about the latter is to reach out to your marketing communications department. Chances are, you have memberships you’re not even aware of, and certainly not taking advantage of. Make a target list of associations and get to work! Why? Most have member-only forums where you can join discussions and foster relationships with those in your industry from all career levels, from students to seasoned veterans.

An excellent example is the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). Membership gets you access to ASME’s online community, where you can:

  • Share your professional qualifications with tens of thousands of engineers
  • Communicate with our fellow engineers and make professional connections
  • Post relevant articles, photos, video, and more from your personal Dashboard
  • Join Groups for your areas of interest, where you can participate in discussions in Forums, comment on blog posts, and share news in the Activity Feed

Ask your best customers.

I wouldn’t recommend asking all of your customers, only the ones you have the best relationships with. Particularly the younger ones who more apt to network online. What are their go-to sites for industry community? Chances are their answers will not only surprise you, but open up possibilities you never would have found otherwise.

Go back to school.

Most, if not all, universities have alumni associations specific to their different colleges. For example, the University of Alabama’s College of Engineering has its Capstone Engineering Society. These alumni groups can be an invaluable resource for networking with college students and recent graduates. Most universities already have mentoring programs already in place. Like this one from Washington University in St. Louis or these from the University of Minnesota or this one from the University of Pennsylvania.

So check out what your alma mater has to offer!

Head to human resources.

Does your company partner with local universities to recruit graduates? If you’re not sure, pick up the phone and call your HR office. Lots of companies have recruiting campaigns that their employees know nothing about. This is a huge opportunity for you to get connected with upcoming graduates in your area. These graduates could end up working with you, or they could end up working for your customers. Either way, these relationships could prove to be valuable both personally and professionally.

 

Of course, this isn’t just about grooming future customers.

Mentoring someone is not just beneficial for the mentee. Try it and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how fulfilling it can be! From a great post on fastcompany.com:

When you teach something to another person, you discover all of the details that you don’t completely understand yourself.

The bottom line: Take the leap and mentor a student or young professional in your industry. Not only might he or she end up being an integral part of your customer network down the line, you’ll also grow professionally and personally.

Is Big Data a Big Flop or a Big Win? You Decide.

“Big Data is the biggest game-changing opportunity for marketing and sales since the Internet went mainstream almost 20 years ago.”

Big Data this. Big Data that. The term has been bouncing around the marketing universe for a few years now, even more so in the last year. But, what IS Big Data? Well, not to be obtuse, but Big Data is just that: big data. It’s data analytics- the collection and examination of information- on steroids. It’s the ginormous sets of data that are created in today’s world of digital and social media. For my own sanity, we’ll just say data for the rest of this post.

This data is coming at B2B marketers harder and faster than ever before. It comes from things like:

Your company’s website

  •  Number of visits per month
  • Number of visits per page
  • Names, titles, employers of those who visit your site (if you’re smart enough to have a website member area)
  • Number of minutes someone spends on your site
  • What’s being downloaded

Search Engines (Google, etc.)

  • The words that are driving people to your site
  • The most popular search terms in your industry

Social Media

  • Number of fans, followers, etc.
  • Analysis of these fans, followers (Who are they? Where are they from? What companies? What industries?)
  • Who’s commenting?
  • What’s being shared?

I could go on and on, but I’m preaching to the choir. If you’re reading this, you know that there are almost unlimited ways that you can gather data on prospects and customers. The question then becomes…what are you doing with all of this information?

Now What?

“Those that use Big Data and analytics effectively show productivity rates and profitability that are 5 – 6 percent higher than those of their peers. McKinsey analysis of more than 250 engagements over five years has revealed that companies that put data at the center of the marketing and sales decisions improve their marketing return on investment (MROI) by 15 – 20 percent. That adds up to $150 – $200 billion of additional value based on global annual marketing spend of an estimated $1 trillion.” (Forbes)

What you do with your data depends largely on two factors: the size of your data pool and the size of your marketing team, but here are some things that companies of all sizes should consider.

1.      Map your top prospects’ behaviors: Map your prospects by tracking their digital interactions with you. What do they open, click on, link? What pages do they visit? What do they download?

2.      Identify your purchasers, and then branch out: Identify prospective purchasers, and use this as a starting point to map out his or her sphere of influence.

3.      Don’t wait!: If a prospect is nibbling, contact them sooner rather than later. And don’t, under any circumstances, send a generic email. Pick up the phone!

4.      Know the B2B Customer Decision Journey: Contact, nurture and delivery sales-ready prospects to your sales team.

Here’s a real-life example.

Platform: Website

Tool: Online Member Area

Specifics: In order to access e-tools, users are required to register their names, emails, locations and company names. They also have the option to give specific application or industry information.

Result: Company has database of more than 20,000 members, broken down by sign-up date, location and whether or not theses members are current or prospective customers.

For this particular real-world example, the company is a part of a multinational corporation and offers complex e-tools and services targeted at engineers.

Now ask yourself: if this situation existed in your company, how would you go about converting these leads?  Sure, you could set up some sort of automated system where anyone who signed up would receive an email and a kind of ‘we are aware of your interest’ letter.

But what if these leads require immediate action? Do your sales engineers have the resources and time to make that happen? More honestly, do they even care about these leads? Let’s be blunt. A lot of sales engineers are territory-driven, so they don’t want to spend their already stretched-thin time focusing on leads that won’t affect them.

Here’s how Connects can help:

Your new members are downloaded and contacted via phone within 24 hours of registration. Through a well-thought-out conversation based on a pre-determined set of questions, your inbound web leads are qualified (either in OR out) and turned into hot, actionable sales leads ready to be handed off to a sales engineer.

The bottom line: Big Data can almost be overwhelming, but to not have a system in place to take advantage of it is almost a criminal waste of marketing dollars.

 

 

A Mentor Trumps a Boss. Always.

I usually blog about topics relevant to growing your business; this week is no different, but we’re going to take a look at how the boss/employee relationship can make your productivity soar.

A wise woman once told me that you should only hire someone whom you could see eventually being your replacement. At the time I thought she was crazy. I was still in college, working as a co-op and as green as they come to the corporate world.

“Why would you do that?” I thought to myself. “Wouldn’t you always be worried that this person would, in fact, eventually replace you?!”

What a poor attitude, right? More like, what an inner admission of poor self esteem.

I was fortunate enough to be hired by and continue working for this woman for several years, she as a direct supervisor and then a member of senior management. To this day, I will tell you that I learned more from her than I did in all my years of college. Sure, my professors taught me how to write effectively, but she taught me how to engage effectively with others and how to be a part of a team- a team of people from different countries and cultures, and how to do so with confidence. At times I would become discouraged that I didn’t have the business acumen that comes with years of experience, but she would always say to me, “You have to forgive yourself your learning curve. You’ll get there.”

She was my mentor.

I was reading a great blog on mentoring from the Harvard Business Review titled “How GE Gives Leaders Time to Mentor and Reflect.”

Here’s an excerpt:

Launched in 2010, the Leader in Residence program is emblematic of a broader shift from prescriptive to collaborative learning taking place at Crotonville and elsewhere. In a complex environment, learning comes from a combination of discovery, dialogue, experience, reflection, and application. At Crotonville, we bring people from all over the world and from different businesses and contexts. We have to create the opportunity for each person to teach and learn, simultaneously, enhancing everyone’s perspective. David, like other leaders, uses this as a listening post — a venue to capture what’s happening around the company and the world in an encapsulated way…with Crotonville providing the opportunity to listen, test, validate, and absorb on the one hand, and to share, push, elaborate, and support the students on the other.

In all, the program has enabled some 75 of our top leaders and thousands of participants to connect on a human level and to reflect on work, self, and career in a way that would never be possible in either a traditional classroom or office setting. By giving leaders access to deeper levels across the organization, and, in turn, providing participants access to senior leadership, we have created greater cohesiveness throughout the company. We have never had a problem filling out classes even during the most trying of times. Based on the success of the program, as measured through participant surveys and feedback, we recently launched a global version (74% of Crotonville experiences are delivered outside the United States currently).

I sincerely believe that mentors are a must-have for every employee, especially those new to the workforce. Just think how much more effective your organization could be if each and every person felt lifted-up, valued and essential? Is this true for your organization today?

If you don’t want to take my word for it, here’s Sir Richard Branson’s take on why mentoring is needed:

Mentoring was very important for me personally. For example, Sir Freddie Laker gave me invaluable advice and guidance as we set up Virgin Atlantic, while my mum has been a mentor throughout my life. Nowadays, I find mentors inside and outside of Virgin every day. If you ask any successful businessperson, they will always have had a great mentor at some point along the road. If you want success then it takes hard work, hard work and more hard work. But it also takes a little help along the way. If you are determined and enthusiastic then people will support you.

At let’s not forget that you’re never too old to learn. That’s right, more and more companies are beginning the process of what is called reverse mentoring.

Picture it, Sicily 1930. (If that made you giggle, then I know you’re a part of my generation.) But seriously, picture it: the older men and women who’ve been with your company for decades. They are revered. They are respected. They are terrified of social media. That’s where reverse mentoring comes in!

From “Reverse mentoring: students teach executives about social media, tech and more” via the Miami Herald:

The wave of 20-somethings heading into the working world know how to amass Twitter followers. They know how to text-message with their eyes closed. And they know how to digitally connect with influencers who can send business their way. Now, older workers must look to them to teach us how to be innovative.

In a trend called reverse mentoring, companies are pairing grizzled veterans with young up-and-comers. The arrangement works to retain eager millennials and keep older executives technologically and socially relevant. It’s going on at big companies including Cisco, Johnson & Johnson and Mars Inc., where formal programs are in place. It also has taken off at small companies, where informal reverse mentor relationships are born from mutual respect and candor.

Reverse mentoring is gaining traction for all the right reasons, says Terri Scandura, a professor of management at the University of Miami School of Business Administration. Even baby boomers who might bristle at the idea of being mentored realize the value in learning what motivates Gen Y and how to market to them, she says.

Last week, Citibank became one of those one of those businesses to tap into the digital wisdom of the younger generation. It launched a program that will pair 15 senior executives from the bank’s Latin America regional office with 15 graduate and undergraduate University of Miami business students. The duos will meet at least once a week for six months to work on specific projects that will take a fresh look at mobile payments, communicating with millennial generation customers, social media, the digital retail business and creating compelling job pitches for young talent.

“Our senior executives need to clearly understand trends and what motivates the new set of young professionals,” says Jorge Ruiz, who is based in Miami and is the head of digital banking for Citibank’s Latin America office. “They are not just our future clients but also our next leaders.”

The bottom line: No matter what your age, a mentor can be just the thing you need to push you in the right direction. These relationships only stand to improve your organization’s workforce and productivity.

Four Rules of Effective B2B Emails

About how many unsolicited emails do you receive per day at work? How many of these do you actually open? If you’re like most of us in the B2B marketplace, the former is north of five and the latter is probably zero. To be completely honest, the ones that make it past my spam filter are usually relegated to the trash folder as quickly as they appear.

But what about the flip side to that equation? Almost all B2B companies use email as a part of their marketing and lead generation campaigns. If we’ve already established that most unsolicited emails go directly into a big digital black hole, what does that say about the emails that YOU are sending? More to the point, how do you avoid the abyss?

Here are some of our most tried and true methods for ensuring effective emails:

1.  Always call first.

If you’re a follower of our blog, you know that here at Connects Marketing Group, we are all about personal connections. As such, we don’t buy into the current marketing automation trend- meaning we are not advocates of pumping out emails to prospects we haven’t reached out to by phone first.

A personal connection trumps a cold email every time. But if you’ve not been able to get through to a prospect on the phone, and you’ve left an introductory voice mail (with maybe one or two follow-ups), then an email is perfectly acceptable. In fact, a kick-ass follow-up email should ALWAYS be sent after a voice mail.

So, AFTER you’ve tried to reach out and actually speak to a prospect, and you’ve left no more than three voice mails, onwards to the perfect email…

2.  Read the subject line you just wrote. Would YOU open this email?

There are oodles and oodles of blog posts, articles and other things out there that tell you how to write compelling B2B subject lines. But your litmus test should be simple- would YOU open this email?

If you know your target market, and you’ve done your homework on your prospect, then you should know what’s more important to them. Is it price? Quality? Production Time? Something else?  Whatever it is, focus on it.

Let’s say your target works for a large OEM that manufactures food and beverage equipment. And just for kicks, let’s say your company manufactures hoses for this equipment. Which one of these two email subject lines would be more effective:

Get the Best Prices and Highest Quality from XYZ Company’s Line of Hoses

or

Our Hose is First to Obtain 3-A and FDA XYZ Approval for Dairy Processing

3.   No bad jargon! I repeat: No. Bad. Jargon.

Nothing makes me cringe more than bad business jargon. This blog post from DigitalRelevance is one of the best things I’ve read on the topic in a long time. Have a look at an excerpt here:

Exclusionary jargon is the “bad” jargon. Rarely does it impart more useful information than simpler, plainer speech. Instead, it transmits a message about the speaker: I am a business professional. It’s an easy way to establish one’s qualifications — even for the unqualified.

  •  It has become improper to say, “Let me ask my manager.” Instead, a customer’s problem is escalated. Really, though, this is just passing the buck.
  • That old software that really ought to be replaced with something better isn’t antiquated, outdated or obsolete, it’s legacy software
  • A business isn’t trying to sell you a product, it’s offering a solution.
  • Instead of having a product to sell for a particular price, companies have deliverables with a price point.
  • Those deliverables aren’t categorized, ordered or sorted, they’re bucketed.
  • Employees come away from meetings not with tasks or even a “to-do list,” but with action items.

Inclusive jargon is the “good” jargon, a business shorthand that encompasses complex ideas and multi-step actions. It’s inclusive because it binds people of the group together to discuss complicated issues. Inclusive jargon is difficult to fake because, given any industry discussion, it will soon become clear if someone really doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

  • sales funnel is a useful bit of metaphor that encompasses the entire complex array of consumers, from the general public to business leads to prospects to customers, each of which involves a different type of interaction.
  • Organic traffic—something we’re quite concerned with at DigitalRelevance—might sound like something from science fiction, but it’s a useful term in the SEO industry that describes website traffic that is earned without spending money on advertisements. That traffic comes from a lot of places: search engine results pages, blog links, social media referrals and more.

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Bad jargon can make any well-intentioned email come across as canned and insincere. Just don’t use it. Period.

4.   Lay out what happens next.

Always end an email by clearly stating what happens next. (Notice how I didn’t say call to action?)

Here’s a great example:

Please let me know if you would like to speak with Joe Smith, our Director of Engineering.  He can explain how our solution is helping Big Hospital and other hospitals and discuss if it would be a good fit for you. In the meantime, please visit our website or join us for an informative webinar:  Title:  Subtitle, on January 17th at 10:00 am .

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Sincerely,

Your Name

And another:

Here is a great link to an interview with our founder that explains the service our company provides: Link

I’ll give you a call later this week to discuss setting up a demo of our network.

Regards,

Your Name

The bottom line: Emails are one of the most powerful tools you have to reach potential customers. When done well, they can be the key you need to open doors you never thought possible.

 

Email Marketing: What is It Good For?

The old adage is true:  Time is Money.  The more efficient your process is for developing leads, the higher the ROI on your marketing budget will be. In our focus on lead generation, we’re continuing to look at some of the traditional sources of leads and how much they cost.

Let’s talk about email marketing.

Email marketing has come a very long way since the days of simply pumping out mass messages from your company’s CRM system and praying that even half of your targets open them.  There are some very sophisticated email-marketing providers out there that are really doing it right. Constant Contact is one that most everyone knows.

You can find a nice breakdown of some of these providers here.

In researching email-marketing statistics, I came across these from Jay Baer over at ConvinceandConvert.com. These statistics were gathered through email subscriber studies.

  • 21% of email recipients report email as Spam, even if they know it isn’t
  • 43% of email recipients click the Spam button based on the email “from” name or email address
  • 69% of email recipients report email as Spam based solely on the subject line
  • 35% of email recipients open email based on the subject line alone
  • IP addresses appearing on just one of the 12 major blacklists had email deliverability 25 points below those not listed on any blacklists
  • Email lists with 10% or more unknown users get only 44% of their email delivered by ISPs
  • 17% of Americans create a new email address every 6 months
  • 30% of subscribers change email addresses annually
  • If marketers optimized their emails for image blocking, ROI would increase 9+%
  • 84% of people 18-34 use an email preview pane
  • Subscribers below age 25 prefer SMS to email
  • 35% of business professionals check email on a mobile device
  • 80% of social network members have received unsolicited email or invites

A full 75% of marketers say that they are using more email than they were three years ago. (Source: HubSpot) However, building a quality email distribution list takes a major time investment. Email marketing can be an excellent way to share information with your prospects and customers, but gathering qualified leads still takes that extra step of connection.

Can you make the leap from cold to qualified through marketing automation?

Marketing automation combines software with a company’s CRM system and scores leads based on defined criteria. This information is supposed to allow the marketer to better target messages and promotions to individuals based on perceived interests.  Marketing automation software can include email marketing, campaign management, lead nurturing/scoring, lead lifecycle management and analytics.

Marketing automation is, in its most basic form, a tool with which to take marketing leads and nurture them until they are ready to be converted to customers. While this can be somewhat helpful in the very beginning stages of a lead, letting your prospect know that you are aware of his or her interest and that you will be in contact, that is where the automation should end.

Particularly in the oftentimes highly technical world of B2B product sales, marketing automation can come off as a little too impersonal and out-of-touch with your target customers’ decision journeys. In that space, nothing beats a phone call and an honest conversation.

The bottom line:

Email marketing absolutely has its place, but it’s not to produce qualified leads.

B2B Customers Need Lovin’ Too

One of the most vital components of any successful marketing strategy is customer feedback. Or, more to the point, finding out what is NOT working for your customers.That’s right, leads that are qualified OUT are just as important as leads that are qualified IN and pushed along through the nurturing pipeline. Great companies always want to know how they can improve.

Backing up just a bit..

Just a few short years ago, most B2B companies were still completely averse to the customer-centric philosophies that their B2C peers have long since embraced. Today, however, the B2B world is firmly seated on the customer service bandwagon.The problem remains, however, that most B2B marketers are still missing the mark when deciding where and when to focus their budgets.

To right that train, B2B organizations need to develop a much deeper understanding of the modern Customer Decision Journey (CDJ). Where the old sales funnel assumed a linear purchasing path – customers take in information; narrow down their choices; kick the tires, and submit the purchase order – the CDJ moves away from the “funnel” way of doing things. It recognizes that the decision process, in fact, is anything but linear. (Forbes)

The B2B Customer Decision Journey

It’s not enough to identify the decision makers in an organization. For marketing and sales activities to be effective, companies need to focus on those points in the decision journey where they can be most successful in influencing those decision makers. For some that might be procurement or finance. For others, it might be the CMO or even the end user. And for others still they might be a specific set of segments. (McKinsey & Company)

If you want to read more about the Customer Decision Journey, there is an outstanding article here from The Harvard Business Review.

Beyond the CDJ

What marketers need to remember, however, is that just because the way in which we look at the B2B buying and decision-making journey has changed, our customers’ feelings have not. An unhappy customer is an unhappy customer, no matter what our fancy marketing charts and tactics may entail.

These are still facts that any good marketer should be able to deliver to his or her CEO:

  • What do our customers think about us?
  • What is it about our company that disappoints our customers?
  • What can we do to improve?
  • Are our customers happy with our customer service?
  • What isn’t working?

You may be asking yourself, “Can’t I find that out with some sort of customer survey?” Well sure you can, but a good quality survey takes time and money and usually only happens once per calendar year. “OK,” you say, “but that’s what my sales engineers should be telling me.” In a perfect world, yes, but let’s be honest- do your sales engineers have the resources and time to make that happen?

The Connects Component

With Connects, you get instant customer feedback through daily reporting. This feedback is infinitely invaluable to a CEO and can help companies immediately put more dollars on the top line.

  • What products work in certain industries and not in others?
  • Are there product features that need to be adjusted?
  • Are there business practices that need to be improved or changed?
  • Are you happy with your level of service and support?
  • Which marketing tactics work and which don’t?
  • Should you invest in that industry event or not?
  • Do you customers find your e-tools helpful?
  • Are there functionalities that would change that opinion?

Markets change so quickly. Your competitors change their products and product positioning so frequently that it can be difficult to keep track.There are too many things in terms of technology and methodologies impacting the market today, and economic struggles impacting your customers as well, to not invest in a daily customer feedback mechanism.

Salespeople usually aren’t frank enough to give you this kind of information. They tend to blame lost opportunities on products, be it price or features, while this may or may not be the case. The truth is that most sales engineers aren’t trained to ask the right questions and actively listen to get this information from people.

Due to time constraints, most sales engineers unfortunately drop the ball when it comes to service and support after a deal is closed. Customer service is so, so important, and Connects does this for you.

Failure is a strong word. It brings on visions of loss and defeat. In business, failure is just as important as success. Companies lose and gain market share all the times. It’s a constant battle to be the best or have the best product. That’s a good thing, competition means everyone has to be working hard to succeed. But for every winner, there are many losers. Failure is important because it helps companies and individuals to identify their weaknesses.
(Source: Mike Fisher, examiner.com)

The bottom line: 

No matter how you look at your customers’ decision-making journeys, always remember to find out your customers’ pain points.

Telemarketing May Be Your Missing Link

Whether your company is a small start-up, a well-established brand or something in between, chances are you’re not doing all you can in terms of creating and moving leads through your pipeline. As a result, you’re missing out on untold dollars in sales. Telemarketing may be your missing link.

Last week we talked about the importance of lead nurturing. I touched on telemarketing in that piece:

Whether automated or manual, a message should go out letting your prospect know you are going to contact him or her. Better than an email is a phone call. If you don’t have in-house telemarketing, invest in a high-quality, professional telemarketing firm that can speak to prospects on your behalf.

Yes, we’re going to talk about lead nurturing again! Because it is that important. This week, however, we’re going to focus solely on the advantages of using telemarketing to create and move leads through the sales pipeline.

Right out of the gate, let’s define what we mean when we say telemarketing. Just as you wouldn’t hire just any Joe off the street to head up your sales team, you should put time and care into selecting a top-notch telemarketing team. We’re not talking about your typical call center telemarketing. We’re talking about high-quality, professional telemarketing.

The company you choose will essentially be an extension of your brand, so you want a group that will take pride in and ownership of the projects they are given. In other words, this should be a true partnership, with your telemarketing team working earnestly towards your company’s goals. And remember, you get what your pay for.

Must-Haves for Your Telemarketing Team:

  1. Callers should know your brand as well or better than you know it yourself.
  2. Callers should immerse themselves in your products/services.
  3. Callers should be knowledgeable about your target industries.
  4. A given, but callers should be friendly, outgoing and great listeners.

Your telemarketing group should be industry pros in the following core competencies:

Lead Generation/Qualification

Take all of those leads from trade shows, advertising, your website, etc. Most of these will be qualified to some extent, some may be totally green. Throw them all into the mix.  Let your group help you sort through all of your data and refine these into highly qualified sales leads ready for follow-up.

Additionally, if you have any special programs, marketing initiatives or want to break into a target industry or company, your team should be on task.

Typical campaigns might include:

  • New customer creation
  • Email or direct mail campaign follow-up
  • Territory expansion
  • Web-based inquiries
  • Trade show registrations or inquiries
  • Webinar registration or follow-up
  • New product launches

Lead Nurturing (Did I mention how important this is?)

79% of marketing leads never convert into sales. Lack of lead nurturing is the common cause of this poor performance. (Marketing Sherpa/ KnowledgeStorm)

One of the most critical aspects of your sales cycle is keeping leads warm until they are ready to purchase.  Sales teams don’t have time to nurture the pipeline, they need to close deals. Enter your telemarketing team. I almost want to call them your nurturing team, because really, all of these core areas are or relate very closely to nurturing.

Your team should keep you connected with your prospects, handing them over when the prospects are ready to take the next step. Your ROI will be maximized and your pipeline kept active with well-paced ongoing dialog and direct communication.

Lead nurturing means:

  • Staying in front of your prospects with new developments and offerings
  • Connections will be deepened with relevant decision makers
  • New sales opportunities will be identified
  • Your sales pipeline is up-to-date and always active

Brian Carroll, founder and CEO of InTouch says, “Imagine your marketplace is like a field of banana trees. Your marketing people are those who nurture and pick the bananas. Bananas are harvested when they are green, and they turn yellow as they ripen. Fully 95 percent of your leads are like harvested green bananas, and, off the top, your sales team needs only the other 5 percent, those that are ripe.”

It’s those 95 percent that need to be nurtured.

Account Mapping and Expansion

Sometimes the easiest way to increase your sales is to leverage your current customers and grow these accounts organically so they meet their full potential.

  • Identify new contacts and decision makers
  • Discover new projects and programs
  • Understand the needs of your customers
  • Identify other locations or divisions to replicate success

Appointment Setting

Imagine breaking into a territory for a new product launch with a full week of appointments. Whether you are looking for face-to-face or phone-based appointments, your telemarketing group should help your sales team keep their calendars full- not just hand over leads for future follow-up, but work directly with your team to coordinate next steps. Ensure that you:

  • Maximize your sales team’s time while out in the field
  • Increase ROI for sales travel costs
  • Leverage investments in trade shows or conferences

So, confession time- all of the best-in-class core competencies I listed above are things that we offer here at Connects Marketing Group. In fact, I’m confident in saying that we are experts in all of these areas. I try to keep the blog here non-“salesy,” but I’ll make an exception with this one. 

In my previous life as a Marketing Communications Manager, I worked with Connects Marketing Group for six years, so I have the benefit of having partnered with CMG before I actually worked for them. Basically, I’m telling you this piece is not just me toeing the party line.

During those six years that we used CMG, we used all of the services listed above and then some. We saw an ROI that far outpaced all of our other sales and marketing activities.

“In my term at Trelleborg Sealing Solutions, we were able to sustain double digit, year over year, growth for over seven years.  Connects Marketing Group was an essential part of that growth performance.  They were able to connect our sales professionals with key decision makers or product specifiers with pre-meeting knowledge of our offerings, improving our sales meeting effectiveness. I always considered them to be our ‘secret weapon’ for growth.”

– Tim Callison, President Marketing Americas, Trelleborg Sealing Solutions

The bottom line: If you’re not taking advantage of a high-quality, professional telemarketing group, you should be. It’s more than likely the missing link in your quest to turn sales opportunities into dollars.