You spend a lot of money to get the word out about your company, products and services to your prospects. If you’re like most of us in this fascinating B2B marketing business, your intent is to build brand and, along the way, develop sales leads that just might turn into real sales.
Sadly, recent market figures indicate that less than 20% of sales leads result in actual sales. That’s a pretty crummy return on investment. If you’re a CMO, a sales or marketing manager or a marcom specialist, and your leads-to-sales ratio is this low, this figure should frighten you. It indicates that your return on your marketing investment just isn’t what it should – and could – be!
So…why is it so low across the board (no, you are NOT alone). There is a possibility that the products or service you’re marketing don’t have that much interest. However, it’s more likely that either you’ve chosen the wrong media to get your message out, the wrong message for the market you’ve chosen…or…be honest now…you simply have no foolproof means of tracking your sales leads and determining which ones are worthy of follow-up and, in terms of lead generation, which media are delivering the best bang for the buck.
Today, with more lead generating sources at our disposal than ever before…online and print…it’s more important than ever to find out which sources are hitting the mark for you. How can you possibly do this without an effective, comprehensive and CLOSED-LOOP inquiry management system? Not having this will ensure that you are squandering an unknown portion of your all too precious marcom dollars. Having it will give you a sure-fire way of maximizing the impact of your marketing plan and proving to others higher up in the marcom food chain that you are doing the best job possible for your company.
In its simplest terms, a closed loop inquiry management system tracks each and every lead by going back to the field for the data needed to characterize if a lead is hot, warm or dead. It asks the sales manager, salespeople, regional sales managers or whoever is in charge of inquiries (and sales!!) a few critical questions about each lead they are sent. Did they contact the prospect…was the requested information delivered via print or online…is there a valid application for the product or service…if a sample was requested, was it delivered and how did it work…is this inquiry worth an additional follow-up effort, even an in-person sales call? If so, what is the mechanism for ensuring follow-up and investigating the results of that effort? If the lead is not really applicable to your division, could another division in your company pursue it?
Today’s online inquiries frequently have a ton of data associated with them. The best inquiry management system will effectively log, process and utilize that data.
On the other hand, some of the hottest leads come with no data, no clue. The telephone call! (Remember telephones??) If someone is interested enough to actually pick up the phone and call your company, the first thing you want to know is what prompted the call. An ad? A PR item? A buyer’s guide listing? A blog? What? Where? When? The hottest leads still frequently come from the telephone and we are missing the boat big time if we don’t find out what source generated that call!
The first step to set up your inquiry management system is to evaluate your sales process. Once the review is completed, an effective system path should start to emerge from the strengths and weaknesses you found in your sales process evaluation. This is key if you ever hope to turn more of your marketing communications dollars into sales dollars, which in turn will fuel an ever-growing marcom budget!
Despite soaring costs, tradeshows can have a powerful impact on your marketing efforts. Choosing the right show with the right audience and presenting the right message are key. But to really get the very most out of your tradeshow investment, don’t overlook the one target audience that can have as much or more value to your sales and marketing efforts as your prospects. We are referring to the numerous tradeshow editors who gather at these shows looking for stories, looking for news, looking for content to fill their hungry print or online pages, looking for ways to bring their readers the very latest information on new products, technologies, concepts, etc.
Hooking your company’s story (and every company does have a unique story!) to the right editors is easy when you make it an integral part of your PR/marketing strategy. At The Simon Group, tradeshow PR is the way we maximize our clients’ return on tradeshow investment. The ability to reach customers and prospects more economically via the digital world has made many companies consider dropping tradeshows from their marketing strategy (and budget!). However, the face-to-face time you can get with customers, prospects and editors can make your tradeshow efforts much more worthwhile when leveraged correctly. For only a small additional amount of planning and budget for coordination, the relationships built at tradeshows can be immeasurable.
The key is employing a variety of editor-friendly tactics in your trade show strategy. These tactics combine to connect your company to the editors who matter most and to generate significant initial and follow-on PR, often resulting in feature articles, interviews and other major publicity opportunities. If you’re going to spend a small fortune on your next tradeshow, and that’s what most tradeshows costs these days when all costs are tallied, get a greater payoff than ever before with press coverage that will certainly generate a new and profitable level of awareness and even qualified leads.