Posts Tagged ‘sales’

Tradeshows a Dying Breed? 13 Tips to Help Improve Show ROI

tradeshow, pr, events, sales, leads, press, editorsRemember the days when tradeshows were jam-packed and everyone registered to attend as soon as they could to reserve their spot?  People milled around and networked for hours looking at some of the greatest booth presentations and demos the industry had to offer.  It was THE BEST, wasn’t it?

Tradeshows were so important. They were an ‘absolute must’ travel expense.  And then, all of a sudden, there was a drop. Slowly, these fun networking extravaganzas seemed to slowly fade away.  But just like print magazines themselves, we’ve seen it come full circle and hopefully there will be a resurgence as organizers are learning what works in today’s new environment.

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A/B Testing – Algebra and Statistics in Marketing Communications

a/b testing, testing campaigns, marketing testing, marketing efficiency, marcom efficiency, marcom ROI, measuring ROISomeone recently asked me about A/B testing and how it relates to marketing and business. I had to do a little bit of research as I wanted to make sure I could explain it. As I started to read up on it, I could feel the anxiety build in my chest. Terms like ‘randomized experiment with two variants, A and B’ and ‘two versions (A and B) are compared, which are identical except for one variation that might affect x’s behavior’. What the heck?!?!?!?!!??! I’m a communications professional!!! Math is not my forte! Read the rest of this entry »

How to Build (and Sustain) a Successful Agency Relationship

stop collaborate and listenAccording to helpguide.org, ‘a good relationship is more than something we want—it’s something we need to be our happiest, healthiest, most productive selves. But at home or work, supportive, fulfilling relationships don’t come automatically. They take an investment in time and energy.’ Read the rest of this entry »

Believing the Hype about Big Data

marketing automation, marketing efficiency, online marketingWe’ll be honest. We were a bit skeptical about marketing automation when we first heard about it. Is this really a trend that will be helpful for B2B marketing strategies?  But knowing we are typically our clients’ first resource to ask about the latest marketing trends, we knew we had to take a closer look and stay “in the know.” Read the rest of this entry »

As Wayne Gretzky said, “I skate to where the puck is going…”

integrated marketing, marketing strategy, sales funnel, sales marketing, business, business relationships, customer relationships, customer educationLet’s think for a moment about The Great One’s famous quote. He knew that just following the puck, or the market trend in our case, was not going to get him the goal. He needed to head to where the puck was going, arriving at its location before the puck even made it there. Read the rest of this entry »

The Devil’s in the Details

trade show presence, event marketing, event best practices, trade show, best practices, event, show tips, trade show success, trade show roadmap, success roadmapWhile attending a tradeshow for the packaging industry recently, I was a bit surprised to see a large number of marketing snafus that could have been easily avoided, and would have resulted in much better lead generation on the show floor. Read the rest of this entry »

Improving the Care and Feeding of Your Field Sales Forces

Marketing folks, in our desire to reach and influence our customers and prospects, sometimes overlook what may be their most essential audience….the sales and distribution channels.

With all of our well-intentioned efforts to reach those customers and prospects, we sometimes overlook, in our master communications plan, our direct sales people, our manufacturers reps and our distributors.

Sales forceThis is a huge missed opportunity. Treating the various field sales forces as a critical target audience can pay huge dividends…and with very little cost.

If you don’t have a strategy for communicating with the field on a regular basis, you would do well to create one. There are lots of ways to do this, but for most companies, one of the most effective ways is to develop and implement a monthly newsletter to the field sales people.

While this may seem to be an easy, almost effortless tactic, it can prove to be tricky and troublesome. The discipline needed to write, edit, produce and distribute a meaningful newsletter on a truly regular basis is quite considerable.

But, once you get the rhythm going, it can take on a momentum of its own… and the rewards can be substantial.

What to Write About
OK, so you’ve decided you really do want to communicate more frequently and meaningfully with your reps, your distributors, even your direct sales people and regional sales managers.

What are you going to say to them? Well, put yourselves in their shoes…what would YOU want to hear about?  The most important thing to sales folks is, of course, sales.

What is your company doing to help support and enhance their sales efforts? Probably plenty. And ironically, it’s mostly coming from the marketing department.

  • Do your sales people know the investment you are making in advertising to all their key target markets?
  • Do they know about the new product news releases you are pumping out to the key editors in their target markets?
  • Do they have any idea how much you are spending to send info-packed e-letters to customers and prospects?

It’s amazing how much some companies do for their sales folks without telling their sales folks about those efforts.

That’s just for starters…keep your field sales forces abreast of all your marketing communications and other corporate activities…advertising, PR, direct mail, website enhancements, social media activities (yes, social media!), trade shows, special promotions, new hires, new facilities, new partnerships, new customers in new markets…new anything that can help the field sell more product!

Every company has plenty of good news stories and these need to be shared with the field sales forces to inform, energize, encourage and motivate them. Get a newsletter going, but make sure that once you do, you really keep it going.

Otherwise it’ll lose impact just like an ad or campaign that ends before it should. Continuity is key. Treat your sales forces as an essential, critical target audience and watch the difference in what they can do for you!

So, You Just Got a Sales Lead! Now What?

Lead management funnel

 

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.

Where are they from?
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.

What was the action?
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!

Lead Management: The Weak Link between Marketing and Sales

weak linkThe ultimate goal of marketing is to gain new customers. You spend both money and resources to educate your prospects about why your products and services are the best out there. The problem is that most of the time, people seeing your ads or reading your whitepapers and press releases aren’t entirely ready to commit. They need guidance, encouragement. The application in your case study is really interesting, but they may not have that specific application right now.

It’s these situations that expose the weak link between marketing and sales; the gap that exists between broad marketing techniques and closing a sale. You’ve met your marketing communications goal by targeting the right audience and gaining interest, but you aren’t quite ready for the sales team to take over. You’re stuck in the “in-between” when there isn’t one specific person responsible for the next phase.

Often, leads are passed on to sales without a second thought about whether or not all critical data has been obtained. A sales person gets incomplete information or a contact that isn’t ready to move to the sales-side of the deal, so the sale doesn’t move forward. How can you turn an inquisitive reader into a real buyer?

Fortunately, when given some light, that “in-between” grey area of lead management can reveal tried-and-true steps to follow. Lead management can educate buyers, help you understand your customers’ needs and ultimately generate revenue when a comprehensive and effective strategy is used.

These simple steps can turn that weak link into one of your most effective strategies by coordinating efforts between the marketing and sales teams. One group or one individual just won’t have the time, or the knowledge, to take care of everything.

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