Don’t Get Lost in a Maze of Metrics

There’s a lot of data out there. More than any one marketer needs at any one time. The new frontier in using big data in multichannel marketing is learning what data you need. And that starts with clearly defined marketing objectives. The proliferation of data has caused many marketers to get caught up in minutiae that are not relevant to their objectives. With all the data that’s available, it takes discipline to focus only on the metrics that are relevant. Too often the most important metrics like cost per acquisition and customer lifetime value are overlooked while we’re looking at things like email bounce rates and time on site, which certainly have their place, but should be viewed in the context of how they can be leveraged to improve lifetime value.

There’s a lot of data out there. More than any one marketer needs at any one time.

The new frontier in using big data in multichannel marketing is learning what data you need. And that starts with clearly defined marketing objectives.

The proliferation of data has caused many marketers to get caught up in minutiae that are not relevant to their objectives. With all the data that’s available, it takes discipline to focus only on the metrics that are relevant. Too often the most important metrics, like cost per acquisition and customer lifetime value, are overlooked while we’re looking at things like email bounce rates and time on site. Those are metrics which certainly have their place, but should be viewed in the context of how they can be leveraged to improve lifetime value.

How Many Metrics Do You Need?
Every semester, more than one student in my “Advertising Research” class asks:

How many questions do we need to have in our quantitative questionnaire?

My answer is always the same, and always initially perplexing to them:

As many as you need.

The ensuing discussion is a lesson in the importance of setting clear objectives:

What are you trying to find out? Write down what you need to learn from your survey, and develop questions that will get you that information. Once you’ve done that, count the number of questions you have. That’s how many you need.

That lesson applies to marketing measurement, as well. With all the metrics that our marketing analytics platforms can provide, it’s easy to get buried in a landslide of statistics that don’t really relate to your business objectives. If your objective is lead generation at a landing page, why measure time on site? (Of course if you find that the abandonment rate on the data capture page is high, then look at time on site. You may be asking for too much information.)

Define What You Need to Know
If you’re looking to optimize your cost per lead or maximize lead volume, you’ll need to track cost per lead by individual tactic. You’ll find an interesting approach to maximizing lead volume in a previous “Here’s What Counts” post. But if you’re looking to enroll people in a CRM program and every one of your touchpoints is essential, then you may be able to skip that level of analysis. (If that idea seems foreign to you, check out this “Here’s What Counts” post that talks about a real world scenario where it wasn’t necessary to track cost per enrollment by vehicle.)

Every end has a beginning. Measurement always starts with the objectives you set at the start of a campaign. If they are clearly defined and you focus only on those metrics that are related to the objectives, you won’t find yourself buried in data that’s not relevant to measuring your success.

6 Great Blogs for B-to-B Marketers

In our fast-changing marketing world, a smart B-to-B practitioner keeps up to date by learning from thought leaders. While this used to mean reading business books and magazines, today it means blogs. We’ve all heard the stats about blog proliferation. A new blog launched every six seconds—or whatever. And there is no dearth of blogs on B-to-B marketing. So I would like to share my favorites, the blogs where I find inspiration, new ideas, and provocative stories, to keep the gray matter humming.

In our fast-changing marketing world, a smart B-to-B practitioner keeps up to date by learning from thought leaders. While this used to mean reading business books and magazines, today it means blogs. We’ve all heard the stats about blog proliferation. A new blog launched every six seconds—or whatever. And there is no dearth of blogs on B-to-B marketing. So I would like to share my favorites, the blogs where I find inspiration, new ideas, and provocative stories, to keep the gray matter humming.

Here’s my list of six current faves.

The Point, by Howard J. Sewell. Howard is a seasoned lead generation pro, and a terrific writer. His blog is probably my most retweeted, as every post contains some useful nugget. Highly scanable, too, which is welcome. My recent favorite article is the amusingly titled “Sorry, But ‘How Many Touches Does it Take to Make a Sale?’ is No Longer a Valid Question.”

The Business Marketing Institute, by Eric Gagnon. Available as “Tuesday Marketing Notes,” these posts are meaty—more like book chapters than blog posts. Eric’s writing is always practical, action oriented, and a joy to read. No wonder—he’s the author of the single best book on B-to-B marketing, The Marketing Manager’s Handbook, now apparently out of print.

B2B Lead Roundtable Blog, by Brian Carroll, with additional contributors. Brian made an important point in his recent post Stop Cold Calling and Start Lead Nurturing. It seems so obvious that a robust lead nurturing effort reduces the need for constant lead acquisition, but is often overlooked. His organization also manages a thoughtful and wide-ranging discussion on the B2B Lead Roundtable group on LinkedIn.

Viewpoint: The Truth About Lead Generation, by Dan McDade. So refreshing, isn’t it, to cut through the hype and get to the truth? Dan’s interests are far-ranging, and he’s a master of content marketing (a blog, video chat interviews, white papers, book reviews, training videos), with no fluff. I was honored to contribute a guest post for PointClear last year.

B2BMarketingSmarts, by Susan Fantle. Susan being a first-rate B-to-B copywriter, it’s no surprise that her blog is both well written and full of insightful observations, examples, and success stories. Have a look especially at her six-step tutorial on writing great lead generation copy, beginning with her first step, which is about focusing in on the prospect’s pain point.

Matt on Marketing, by Matt Heinz, who runs a B-to-B agency in Seattle. Matt is a prolific writer, and assembles lots of helpful ideas from others, to boot. This blog is a treasure trove. What I especially like is his positioning as “sales acceleration,” which is, to my mind, where B-to-B marketing needs to be.

And what are your favorites? Do tell!

A version of this article appeared in Biznology.

Planning ROI? Turn the Funnel Upside-Down

Many marketers use a funnel to illustrate the progression from prospect to buyer because the narrowing graphic neatly shows the narrowing segments of the sales progression. Most construct the funnel by starting at the top and working their down chronologically through the sales cycle.  They apply projected percentages to each stage, funnel down to a number of buyers, calculate revenue based on average sale, and determine ROI based on promotion costs.

Many marketers use a funnel to illustrate the progression from prospect to buyer because the narrowing graphic neatly shows the narrowing segments of the sales progression. Most construct the funnel by starting at the top and working their down chronologically through the sales cycle. They apply projected percentages to each stage, funnel down to a number of buyers, calculate revenue based on average sale, and determine ROI based on promotion costs.

A different approach to using the funnel starts at the bottom. It has its roots in the tried and true direct response principles of Customer Lifetime Value (LTV) and Allowable Acquisition Cost (AAC). Because these two principles are the components that make up ROI (with LTV as the “R” and AAC as the “I”), the upside-down funnel becomes a useful tool for planning and creating ROI scenarios.

Start with the value of a customer. Set a target ROI and calculate your AAC. For this illustration, let’s assume that a buyer is worth $300 and we set our revenue target ROI at 3:1. This results in an AAC of $100.

See Equation No. 1 in the media player at right.

As you move to the lower portions of the upside down funnel, you apply assumptions about the conversion rates at each stage. For example, if you assume that 30 percent of all qualified leads will convert to buyers, then the Allowable Cost per Qualified Lead is $30.

See Equation No. 2 in the media player at right.

Similarly, you can calculate the Allowable Cost Per Lead, Per Response, and Per Impression all the way to the top of the upside down funnel. So if you estimate that two-thirds of your leads will be qualified, your Allowable Cost per Lead is $20, and so on.

When you reach the bottom of the upside-down funnel, it becomes particularly useful for media planning. You can determine the required response rates from each medium under consideration by:

  1. Dividing the cost of the media by the Allowable Lead Cost to determine the number of leads required from each medium
  2. Dividing the number of leads required by the circulation or number of impressions associated with the medium

For example, see Equation Nos. 3 and 4 in the media player at right.

Then, do a gut check. Is that response rate attainable? Don’t know? Test it. A carefully controlled small test will quantify your assumptions at each point of the upside-down funnel.

Google Authorship Image Not Showing? Here’s What to Do Next.

Are your Google Authorship images not showing in search results? Are you seeing a drop in site visitor traffic or leads? Google recently pulled the plug. The results are in: Lower traffic for some social sellers, while others aren’t much affected. So what should you do?

Are your Google Authorship images not showing in search results? Are you seeing a drop in site visitor traffic or leads? Google recently pulled the plug. The results are in: Lower traffic for some social sellers, while others aren’t much affected. So what should you do?

Why Your Google Authorship Images Are Not Showing
Well, because Google says so. It decided not to anymore! It was just an experiment.

“In the early days of Google Authorship, almost anyone could get the coveted face photo in search by correctly setting up Authorship markup on their content and linking to that content from their Google+ profile,” says Google+ expert, Mark Traphagen in a recent SEOmoz blog.

“As time went on, Google became pickier about showing the rich snippet, and some sort of quality criteria seemed to come into play.”

In October 2013, Google announced a reduction in the number of photo images it displayed. In late June 2014 it pulled the plug completely on photo images in search results. Poof!

Says Traphagen, “It appears that the net result is no overall change in the amount of Authorship (appearing) in search, just an elimination of a ‘first class’ status for some authors.”

Author Images Actually Did Not Drive More Traffic
Everyone knows Authorship links with photos drove more traffic and leads to Web pages of authors, right? Eh, maybe.

“We never really knew for sure, and we never knew how much. Most importantly, there was never any proof that any CTR boost was universal,” says Traphagen, who’s done the research.

Many “studies” were conducted supporting the theory of Authorship links grabbing more eyes—and holding more perceived authority—than a “text only” link. But none of them hold much water.

Myself, I am running a handful of blogs for lead generation. After my author images were removed, I am apparently experiencing a drop in traffic and leads. But it’s not huge by any means. Why?

I’ve copywritten my Web page titles, blog post headlines, lead sentences and posts.

What You Should Do Next
Learn to copywrite. Already know how? Practice more. Most importantly, be sure you have the ability to have FULL control over Web or blog page titles.

To draw maximum attention from Google and prospective buyers make sure your Web page titles are balanced. Make sure they:

  1. are written to display a keyword phrase you’re targeting and
  2. create curiosity in the reader using copywriting.

Warning: Your blog platform may not allow you to control the Web page title freely. It’s common for blog software to take your blog (article) headline (that readers see) and place it in your Web page title (that Google and readers see in search engine results).

This is not optimal. You’ll have more ability to copywrite freely by having control over URL structure and Web page title.

For example, the structure of my blog post here is focused on the keyword phrase “Google authorship image not showing.” However, I do not have control over my URL structure or Web page title. The blog software takes my article headline and places it in the URL structure and Web page title.

It’s not optimal but I don’t cry much about it to the good folks at Target Marketing!

It would be better to have the option of editing the URL to “google-authorship-image-not-showing” and separately copywrite my Web page title to create curiosity in the reader.

Don’t Give Up (I’m Not)
“I’m done! Trying to please Google a waste of time. I’m going back to cold calling!”

I understand those who feel this way. Especially after discovering all your Google authorship images not showing. Whether you’re just starting to use B-to-B content marketing or have been investing for years Google can frustrate us.

But that’s precisely the point. It doesn’t need to be this way.

As someone who continues to generate leads online I can tell you definitively: You don’t want to depend on Google for lead generation. However, you do need to be online—capturing leads your competition will otherwise capture.

So what can you do today? The best starting point is to elevate social media copywriting as a priority. For example, what are posts to Google+, YouTube video or blog posts structured to provoke curiosity in buyers?

Creating curiosity that lures customers seems obvious. But are you doing it?

Manhandle Google With Good Copywriting
There is no silver bullet for generating B-to-B leads online. However, there is one habit that consistently brings my students, clients and by business more leads.

Giving customers a reason (in writing!) to click and take action—resolve or improve something important to them. It starts with Google and your Web page titles.

Once you take this simple idea and turn it into a habit you will continue to generate leads no matter what Google does next! You’ll forget about your Google Authorship image not showing. Won’t that feel good?

Let me know how you feel in comments.

How to Create High Performing Sweepstakes for Lead-Gen Efforts

OK, I know what you’re thinking … viable leads typically don’t come from sweepstakes and contests. And when not done correctly, that’s exactly right. However, just as any online direct response tactic, this one is no different. Over the years, sweepstakes marketing has become refined through testing and targeting. And since the boom in social media, sweepstakes are more popular than ever. But before you embark on this tactic, there are a few core concepts to know—as well as best practices.

OK, I know what you’re thinking … viable leads typically don’t come from sweepstakes and contests.

And when not done correctly, that’s exactly right.

However, just as any online direct response tactic, this one is no different. Over the years, sweepstakes marketing has become refined through testing and targeting. And since the boom in social media, sweepstakes are more popular than ever.

But before you embark on this tactic, there are a few core concepts to know—as well as best practices.

The Precursors

It’s important to get to know your list to help determine its value and how much you are willing to give away for a lead, such as:

  • What is your average conversion time (how long does it take someone to move from a lead to a buyer—30, 60, 90-plus days?)
  • What is the lifetime value (LTV) per buyer?
  • What is your average revenue per name?
  • What is your average cost per lead (CPL)?

Conversion Time. Monitor a group of new names (perhaps by campaign) who come on your file and see at what point, at what percent and for what dollar amount your leads convert to buyers. This will help you know how much and how long it takes a lead to convert. Let’s say you have a pay-per-click campaign and, in the first 30 days, 20 percent of the leads convert and the average unit sale is $50. This shows you your time threshold for getting a sale. You’ll know when to anticipate revenues and can manage your budget accordingly.

LTV. You take the total your buyers purchased: Let’s say over five years, this group collectively spent $100,000, and divide that amount by number of buyers (let’s say its 500). Your LTV is $200. This will show you the potential long-term opportunity for a buyer’s worth, as well as the loss (if the customer leaves your list).

Rev Per Name. This is more for the current buyers on your file not long term, as with LTV. Take the total your buyers spend at 30, 60 and 90 days; and at each time point, divide that amount by the number of buyers. So let’s say at 30 days, your newest names bring in collectively $10,000 and there are 1,000 buyers. That is a $10/rev per name. This will show you current buyer worth and your threshold for acquisition costs.

Cost Per Lead. When you’re doing an acquisition effort, how much does it cost you per name? Take the cost of the media buy and divide by the number of leads that came in. This will tell you how much you typically spend to bring in a new name. Ideally, you want to keep you cost per lead much lower than your revenue per name and LTV. I like to hover between $5 and $25 CPL. CPLs will be different by channel. However, if you bring in a lead at $50 and you know, based on your list performance, that name will spend $75 in the first 6 months, you can afford to take an initial loss.

The Offer

What are you going to give away? The value of the giveaway should be something that won’t be viewed as too good to be true by users as well, as one you can earn back (based on the aforementioned list criteria and in a certain time period). So knowing your giveaway threshold is important.

In addition to being realistic and appealing, the offer should also be relevant and interesting to your target prospect.

I’ve seen random sweepstakes offers on the Web, as I’m sure you have. One in particular, a publishing company, featured an offer: “Win a free iPad.”

This makes zero sense to me in so many ways …

Unless this publishing company is uploading an app on the iPad with a free online subscription to one of their publications, I don’t see the relevance for the end-user. This publisher will likely wind up with thousands of leads, but they will be unqualified, irrelevant people looking for a free electronic device and not in the other information products they offer.

Plus there’s an out-of-pocket cost for the product and shipping of the product.

This, in my opinion, is typical of the “old” sweepstakes offers where little strategy and direct response knowledge seemed to go into planning the campaign.

However, one website I discovered in my research for this article seems to hit the nail on the head and offer something synergistic to their leads, as well as qualifies the lead for future potential sales via cross-sell and upsell efforts.

Take skin care company, Dermagist. Their sweepstakes offer is for lead generation, touts a “$200 shopping spree,” and is featured on their website and Facebook page. The tactics they are using can be applied to most any industry.

Leads have to “register” by liking Dermagist’s Facebook page, as well as post on Dermagists’ Facebook page why they love the product. Winners are chosen monthly and given a promo code worth $200 toward anything in their store. No purchase is necessary.

What I Like …

The offer is ongoing, so it’s a continuity of new leads (email addresses) coming in on a monthly basis to help build the list and offset any attrition.

The prize is realistic, targeted and qualifies the recipient based on relevant interest—it’s appealing to those interested in skincare products and is a great way to get repeat and referral sales.

Leads have to “register” by liking Dermagist Facebook page, as well as post on their Facebook wall why they love the product. This strategy helps with social media engagement (boosting page “likes,” visibility and credibility), as well as product awareness.

I also liked that on the website’s sweepstakes registration page, last month’s winner’s name was posted. This helps reinforce contest legitimacy.

Location, Location, Location

Where you promote your sweepstakes is equally important for targeting and relevance.

There’s the obvious, such as having a banner ad, header content or interstitial on the website’s home page mentioning the promotion.

You can also promote it on your business’ Facebook page organically (through fan page timeline and wall posts), through apps, as well as through targeted ads and boosted posts, selecting audiences in the Newsfeed that are like-minded with your target customer.

Tabsite has a variety of Facebook-friendly apps for contests and sweepstakes (photos, trivia and more).

A word of caution: If you are promoting a sweepstakes on Facebook, make sure to follow its guidelines or your campaign may run the risk of getting shut down.

Promoting it organically with search engine marketing is another tactic, such as with free online press releases.

And, of course, if your budget allows, you can promote your sweepstakes through targeted media buys (banner ads, email list rental) and pay-per-click. These costs should be factored into the overall campaign effort and cost per lead.

So when you start thinking about your acquisition efforts and how sweepstakes may be used, know that through the evolution of the consumer and Internet marketing in general, this is not your father’s sweepstakes anymore.

Being a creative and strategic marketer will help you take this strategy to a whole new, high-performing level.

How to Maximize Your Lead Volume Within Your Allowable Cost per Lead

Many times marketers running lead generation programs shortchange their lead volume in order to maintain tight controls on their cost per lead. Their fear is that if they rollout media that tested at a cost per lead (CPL) that’s just equal to or slightly below their target CPL that a variation in response might put their overall CPL over the top. As a result, they roll out only those media properties that are performing below their target CPL.

Many times marketers running lead generation programs shortchange their lead volume in order to maintain tight controls on their cost per lead. Their fear is that if they roll out media that tested at a cost per lead (CPL) that’s just equal to or slightly below their target CPL that a variation in response might put their overall CPL over the top. As a result, they roll out only those media properties that are performing below their target CPL.

This conservative strategy ends up cheating you out of volume that could significantly increase your program’s total revenue and positively impact your ROI. The fact is that every well-constructed media test has its big winners as well as its big losers. The trick is to leverage the big winners in a way that allows you to include the “little losers” in the mix and still meet your overall target cost per lead.

With a few simple spreadsheet tricks, you can maximize your lead volume and still hit your target CPL by including media that actually generate higher lead costs than your target CPL! Think about it this way. If your target cost per lead is $15, for every $10 lead you get from a “big winner” media, you can accept a $20 lead from a “little loser.”

Let’s walk through the simple spreadsheet manipulations you need to manage this process.

Start out with your basic results spreadsheet like Table A that shows your media cost, responses, and cost per response for each media. For this example, we’ll look at a 500,000 impressions test (10 properties,
50,000 impressions each, with a roll-out potential of 15 million. The target CPL is $15.

#INLINE-CHART#

As you can see, the test yielded 700 responses at a cost of $11,425 or a total CPL of $16.32. But there are 7 out of 10 properties that are performing worse than the target CPL of $15.

The first thing you need to do is rank the results in ascending order of CPL using the Data Sort function, and you end up with Table B below. (Make sure you don’t include the total line in your sort).

#INLINE-CHART#

Here we see that properties H, B, and C are below the target of $15 per lead while all the others are higher. The combined roll-out quantity of these three properties is a disappointing 4,050,000 impressions out of the total potential roll-out quantity of 15 million. But let’s look at what the actual roll-out potential is when we leverage the “big winners” against the “little losers.”

To the spreadsheet that you sorted by ascending CPL, add columns for cumulative responses, cumulative cost and cumulative CPL. Table C, shows the formulas for calculating those.

#INLINE-CHART#

Looking at the results of this calculation in Table D, we get a better picture of the potential roll-out universe.

#INLINE-CHART#

If you look at the cumulative cost per lead column, you can see that taken together, 8 out of 10 media properties produce an aggregate cost per lead under $15. That leaves only properties E and F with their high CPLs out of the mix, creating a potential rollout of 12,250,000 impressions. (Note: If you decide to re-sort this spreadsheet do not include the cumulative results columns in the sort).

Now, some words of caution. Don’t roll all these marginal media out before retesting them in a larger quantity, say 250,000 impressions to make sure that you’re going to repeat your results. A test quantity of 50,000 impressions generating less than 100 responses does not create a high level of statistical confidence. So be especially careful with properties like A and I that have higher CPLs. You’ll also want to retest your “big winner” properties with a greater number of impressions to make sure the test results are not an aberration.

How to Convince Trade Show Contacts to Engage and Buy on LinkedIn

You’re attending conferences, coming back to the office and requesting prospects connect with you via LinkedIn. You’re getting connections, but are you getting any action? Are you generating leads and nurturing them to transact? You will, and more often, if you follow this simple template:

You’re attending conferences, coming back to the office and requesting prospects connect with you via LinkedIn. You’re getting connections, but are you getting any action? Are you generating leads and nurturing them to transact? You will, and more often, if you follow this simple template:

  1. Remove all focus on you—dramatically.
  2. State a benefit to connecting they cannot resist.
  3. Nurture the lead to fruition using provocative tips.

For example, one of my students used this message to approach prospects … and failed.

Hi, Juile,

Nice meeting you at _______ [conference]. If it’s ok, I’d like to invite you to become a member of my professional network of prospective buyers on LinkedInmade up of high-level executives worldwide. Check them out. I don’t sell to them, but they do buy from me. It’s up to you.

Sincerely,
Charles

Let’s examine the mistakes made and an approach that increased his connection ratio and sparked discussions about what he sells.

Remove All Focus on You
It sounds obvious. But are you doing it—and doing it dramatically? If you’re like most sellers using LinkedIn, you’re letting what you need (leads) get in the way of what your prospect needs to act on (a problem or goal).

The solution is to put what your buyers want to hear up front in the first sentence. Clobber them with it. Tell them how you can remedy their pains or increase their success rates.

“Nice meeting you at the conference,” is an effective way to set context. However, asking someone to become a member of your professional network:

  • is not distinct—it sounds like one of countless other requests
  • is not clearly beneficial to the recipient

Using descriptors like “high-level” and “worldwide” is noise. It’s not important to the prospect. Period. The general rule is to remove all descriptors (adjectives and adverbs). If you do, you’ll sound bold and create an attraction.

Keep the focus on the other side.

State the Benefit in Dramatic Terms
Set the bar high. You don’t want a connection or discussion. You want the prospect to act—to see you as relevant to a pain or goal and irresistible. You want them to act, now.

Specifically, let’s get your prospect to take action—connect and, in near or far term, identify as a warm lead. However, be careful: don’t let your need cloud your ability to focus on the prospects’ point of view.

In my example with Charles, he uses an occasional newsletter to nurture leads. He aims it at his LinkedIn contacts tagged as “long-term leads.” These are buyers who are qualified to buy, but have not yet identified themselves as needy.

Charles’ newsletter is sparking discussions—helping him nurture and identify buyers. People are reading the newsletter and hitting reply, reacting to what he says. With this valuable tool in mind, we can improve Charles’ success rate when approaching conference leads to join his list.

For example:

Hi, Julie. Nice meeting you at _______ (conference). Connecting on LinkedIn will benefit both of us. For example, I send out a newsletter to a privileged group of colleagues on occasion. It provides useful tips to my most valuable relationships … in a way that often sparks reactions. This keeps us in touch … so we increase chances of helping each other whenever possible. What do you think? Thanks for considering.

Charles

Notice how confident and useful Charles sounds, right up-front. He sounds certain: this is a good idea. Plus he states why by focusing on what the other side wants—useful tips that creates benefits.

Also notice the use of the word privileged and how it implies exclusive benefit to the prospect.

Bottom line: If Charles has an asset (a newsletter that sparks reactions with potential buyers) he should leverage it. Also, instead of positioning his LinkedIn network as being valuable (sounding like 98% of LinkedIn users) he positions what his prospects want as what he has for them.

All his future buyer need do is act.

Your Turn
Can what you sell solve a problem? Can it give customers a life-altering experience or bring them closer to reaching a goal?

Let them know you’ve got a sample of it waiting for them.

All they need to do is respond.

Politely tease them a little. Dangle a carrot. When you’re writing the goal is to help them think, “I wonder what, exactly, he/she means by that?”

In the end, it’s easy to end up feeling like a zombie—dumping contacts into LinkedIn, hoping prospects will connect. After that? This is where the strategy tends to fall apart. Don’t let it happen to you.

Remember to avoid:

  • losing focus on benefits you bring to the other side (state them up-front!)
  • asking prospects to do what they likely don’t want to do or have time to do … or see immediate benefit in (explore your LinkedIn connections / network)
  • using descriptors like “high level executives worldwide” (don’t try to convince prospects of something they may already understand—your value!)

Good luck and let me know how this works for you!

How Many Leads Do You Need?

One key to successful B-to-B lead generation programs is to calculate exactly the right number of qualified leads to provide to sales—as part of your campaign planning. If you generate too many leads, you’ll be wasting precious marketing dollars. If you generate too few, your firm may be at risk of missing its revenue targets, with potentially disastrous financial implications. Moreover, you’ll annoy your sales team by not supporting them properly. So, let’s look at a neat way to figure out in advance how many leads your company needs, so you can invest accordingly.

One key to successful B-to-B lead generation programs is to calculate exactly the right number of qualified leads to provide to sales—as part of your campaign planning. If you generate too many leads, you’ll be wasting precious marketing dollars. If you generate too few, your firm may be at risk of missing its revenue targets, with potentially disastrous financial implications. Moreover, you’ll annoy your sales team by not supporting them properly. So, let’s look at a neat way to figure out in advance how many leads your company needs, so you can invest accordingly.

This easy method uses your sales people’s quotas to back your way into the number of leads required, based on sales productivity per lead. You will need four numbers:

  1. The average revenue quota per rep, in the period, whether it’s a year, or a quarter, or a month.
  2. The average revenue per order, or per closed deal.
  3. The percent of their quota that the sales people generate naturally, without the help of leads. This revenue typically flows from repeat sales, from deeper penetration within the accounts, or from referrals.
  4. The conversion rate from qualified lead to sales.

The first three numbers are likely to come from a discussion with sales management and your finance department. The last number you probably have on hand, from sales and marketing experience.

Here’s an example of how to do this calculation, based on a set of hypothetical numbers that might be common in large-enterprise selling environments. We are saying that each rep is on the hook to deliver $3 million in sales in the period. As a first calculation, subtract out the percentage of that revenue that the rep can produce without any leads supplied by marketing. In this example, it’s 40 percent self-generated, leaving 60 percent, or $1.8 million, that the rep needs help with from marketing.

We divide that remaining revenue by the average deal size, which is $60,000 in this example, to get the number of closed deals that each rep, on average, needs to complete to deliver on the revenue quota. In this example, it’s 30 deals.

Finally, we divide the number of deals required by the lead-to-sales conversion rate, which is 20 percent in this example. Voila. Now we know that each reps needs, on average, 150 qualified leads to make quota.

You can also take this to the next step and calculate the campaign inquiries required by dividing the 150 leads by your inquiry-to-lead conversion rate. With that, you can plan your campaigns to generate enough inquiries for your pipeline that will convert to a known number of qualified leads, and thereafter to the needed revenue.

So, with this simple math exercise, you can avoid waste and keep your sales reps as productive as they can be. Do you use another method that you can share?

A version of this article appeared in Biznology, the digital marketing blog.

What Is Social Selling and Where Do I Start?

Don’t let the hype about B-to-B social selling deceive you. Buyers have not reinvented the buying process. It has simply become a non-linear one. What is new are the sexy tools. However, using LinkedIn, Google+, blogging and YouTube effectively when prospecting isn’t sexy. It’s just a better process. Is social selling a revolution? No, it’s merely a chance for sales prospecting EVO-lution.

Don’t let the hype about B-to-B social selling deceive you. Buyers have not reinvented the buying process. It has simply become a non-linear one. What is new are the sexy tools. However, using LinkedIn, Google+, blogging and YouTube effectively when prospecting isn’t sexy. It’s just a better process.

Is social selling a revolution? No, it’s merely a chance for sales prospecting EVO-lution.

So let’s roll up our sleeves and discover: What is social selling and how are sellers generating more leads, faster? What is the process your sales team should be applying?

Social Selling Is a System
Let’s grip the wheel, firmly. Revolutions bring about change that make things easier or better. Has social media made your life easier lately? Are you getting more leads and closing them faster?

I rest my case!

Effective social selling is a system. Systems are not sexy.

A system is a repeatable process with a predictable outcome. Input goes in, certain things happen and out pops a result.

Social Prospecting: New but not Complex
The prospecting piece of social selling is mostly about:

  1. Getting buyers to respond and qualify faster, more often, and
  2. Turning response into dialogue that leads to a sale—faster, more easily

If anything is new about this process it’s the role direct response marketing techniques play. For example, social media copywriting is catching on.

The process today’s best social sellers are using generates leads faster by helping customers:

  • believe there is a better way (via short-form social content)
  • realize they just found part of it (using longer-form content) and
  • act—taking a first step toward what they want (giving you a lead)

Engagement and Trust Are not the Goals
Will you agree with me that engagement is not your sellers’ goal? Engagement is the beginning of a process. It’s a chance for front line reps and dealers to create response—and deeper conversation about a transaction.

If not, engagement is a chronic waste of your reps’ and dealers’ time.

I know “experts” insist that being trusted is a strategy. But it’s not.

It is the output of a successful prospecting strategy!

Increased trust is a sign your sellers are applying the process effectively. It’s not a goal!

As a small B-to-B business owner myself, I know what gets you paid. It’s not engagement. It’s not your image or personal brand.

You or your boss measures performance based on leads.

So let’s keep your social prospecting approach practical: Attention, engagement and a simple, repeatable way to create response more often. These are the components of an effective social selling system.

Why You Don’t Need a Social Selling Strategy

“What’s your social selling strategy?” I hear it all the time.
“You need one,” the experts insist.

But I say no, in most cases. Here’s why: Listen to what the experts say. Pay attention to what they say goes into a social selling strategy. Hint: It’s nothing new!

Yet we keep hearing “experts” claim listening is a new idea—or how we must get trusted to earn the sale.

So I give you permission to fire your social selling consultant or sales person if this is the best they can do.

What’s Your Telephone Strategy?
Not convinced? Consider how we don’t have B-to-B telephone strategies for prospecting. We have systems, approaches to applying the tool effectively. What defines our success in tele-prospecting?

Listening to customers? Nope. That’s the entry fee.

Trust? Nope. That’s the outcome we desire.

Success when dialing-for-dollars is based on if your system works—or not.

“You didn’t need a telephone strategy when the telephone was invented,” says sales productivity coach Philippe le Baron of LB4G Consulting.

“You learned how to use the new tool … to reach out to people you could never have dreamed of reaching … and get a face-to-face meeting with the ones who qualified.”

Today, tele-prospecting success has little to do with phone technology. It has everything to do with your telephone speaking technique—your conversational system.

Just the same, you don’t need a social media strategy today. You need a practical, repeatable process to increase sellers’ effectiveness (productivity) and make their output more predictable … using social media platforms.

Systems work for you. You don’t work for systems!

So don’t let gurus trick you into feeling like a laggard. Don’t let me catch you throwing money at sales trainers claiming buyers are fundamentally revolutionizing the way they buy. Focus on ways to:

  1. Get buyers to respond and qualify faster, more often, and
  2. Turn response into dialogue that leads to a sale—faster, more easily

Good luck. Let me know how I can help!