Marketing and Sales

April 26, 2006

Sales Lead Insights: B2B Marketing Blog

Filed under: General — Philippe Mesritz @ 1:39 pm

Mac McIntosh, one of the leading b2b sales leads consultants in the United States, has a blog he calls "Sales Lead Insights: B2B Marketing". I've recently been introduced to his site and found it to be very interesting. There are certainly topics that could be of great use to companies and is an excellent source for tips for the b2b marketing organization on how to generate leads.

One of his more recent entries, posted at the beginning of March, is his 16 B2B advertising tips. Excellent advice for all marketing efforts.

Thanks, Mac!

Revelation of Naming Conventions

Filed under: Marketing,Tips and Hints — Philippe Mesritz @ 7:30 am

I had a revelation yesterday morning when I was speaking with a prospective client for my services. He was asking me why he should use companies such as mine to generate leads when he could simply buy access to a database. A comment made/question posed by a reader a few days ago had started me considering the same question, but I hadn't come up with an actual answer.

Why should a company that has an active sales force pay more for 'leads' when they could buy 'leads' for a smaller amount from a database company?

The answer? They shouldn't.

After much consideration, I believe that it is more prudent and effective to separate prospects into three different categories instead of a mass of information. It may be semantics, but it makes the difference between able to explain why a client should retain the services of companies such as mine and losing them to a database. I realize that this is a slight change in terminology from my earlier posting.

"Leads" – Basic information that you've gained through some fashion whether this is through lead databases or some other data mining company. Contacting these prospects includes cold calling and un-qualified contacts. Leads are the hardest to turn into a customer and require significant work. Based on the Direct Marketing Association (DMA)'s numbers, less than 8.5% calls made in a telemarketing campaign succeed. This is a game of numbers — the more you call, the more likely you are to gain an interested party by virtue of luck or skill. These would be called "cold prospects" on every call.

"Referrals" – Warm contacts that have been gained through companies such as mine, associates from current customers and re-touching base with past customers. These are prospects that have been given a reason to be interested and could be interested in doing business with your company. Referrals are strong possibilities to turn into sales. Good sales staff and a good product can turn referrals into customers. Generally, a company only calls a prospect a referral if an existing customer sent them over – why? Perhaps you were passed over by person X because they had something else or did not need your services, but they felt that their friend could stand to gain by doing business with you. A referral. Perhaps a referral generation company contacted them while still a lead and brought energy and interest to the table, enough that they’re interested in speaking to your sales team. A referral again! Gaining referrals is the second best way to gain new customers. These would be called "hot prospects" on most contacts.

"Proactive" – These are customers who have initiated contact with you because they are interested in your services. These are prospects who are a making the effort to get a hold of YOU. That is the best way to gain new customers. If you can gain a true referral network, then there will never be a nead for companies such as mine or database generating customers. These would be called "sales", more often than not.

If you can get "Proactive" contacts, you are doing a great job and your company is probably earning money without significant lag time; The epitome of a marketing success. "Leads" are the most difficult to deal with and require specialists in the 'art of cold calling' and converting people into referrals or sales. It is a difficult task and, without a staff geared towards it, your best choice is to outsource to a company that is focused on converting 'cold' into 'hot' for your sales team. "Referrals" is what you want most of your time to be concentrated on. A customer who gave you a number to an associate of theirs so you could contact them; a list of referrals that you've received from a Referral Generation company — these are both ways to get strong prospects which you have a good chance of turning into a customer.

And that’s the goal. Isn't it?

April 24, 2006

Huh?

Filed under: General — Philippe Mesritz @ 10:23 pm

I read a lot of ezines and blogs … more than I probably should, so I tend to simply skim them.  One of the interesting ones that has topics that could prove to be of interest to various readers is Selling to Big Companies, by Jill Konrath (Author of a book by the same title). She posts a few times a month about how to create sales with larger companies and is certainly a worthwhile read, in my opinion.

Recently, she posted about a company named "Huh?" which is a spoof on sales and marketing organizations.  Their site, Huhcorp.com, is really amusing. Thanks to Ms. Konrath for the reference to the laugh. I hope that you find it to be as amusing as I did.

Sales or Leads? Which is better…

Filed under: Marketing,Tips and Hints — Philippe Mesritz @ 2:35 pm

Well, obviously — Sales, in the long run, is better for your company! Without the final sale, you are unable to proceed and establish a relationship with a customer to generate revenue. That, however, been said, the question is really whether it is better to hire a telemarketing organization to do your sales for you or to simply generate leads that have been pre-qualified. It is a decision that can not easily be made without truly understanding the advantages to both.
Why sales?
The advantage to hiring a company that has a sales force to do it for you is that you don't need to think about it at all. When the company gives you the name of a customer, they've already paid for the item or service or they've already signed up for the contract. It is a no thought process on the company's side, a simple solution to what can be a very difficult task. It does, however, have drawbacks that need to be considered. An outside sales person, unless they've gone through rigorous training with your company or have an established relationship, can not easily know as much about your company as you, or an employee, can. There are questions that the sales person may not be able to answer which could, in turn, cause the sale to be lost. In addition to this, an outside sales person will cost you more. Often, sales companies charge a high percentage of the final invoice to make your sale. They've done the initial work to get you the client. In many cases, this is the most difficult aspect of doing business. One large advantage to having a company do sales for you is that, once you've ensured they're not tainting your reputation and are doing what you want them to, you do not need to spend a significant amount of time on them. The company has great incentive to ensure that sales are being made and, as such, you can concentrate on other aspects of running your business.

Why Leads?

Instead of sales, a company can be brought on to generate leads. These leads should be pre-qualified and with a decision maker before they ever hit your sales team's desk. Once they do, however, there should be nothing to stop your sales team from calling the prospect and turning them into a customer with excellent rates of success. Leads are an excellent source of genuine targets. A drawback to leads, however, is that you may receive too many for your sales force to handle and that it is crucial to follow up on them almost immediately. These are customers that have shown interest, but without strong and swift follow up, their interest will wane with each passing moment. Leads have the advantage that they tend to be cheaper than sales, in terms of impacting your bottom line. Many lead generation companies charge a base for each lead generated, a commission for each lead generation, or some combination there of. In all cases, the impotus is on you to ensure that the qualified leads are now contacted and to make the final sale.

As you can tell, neither method, sales nor leads, has a significant leg up on the other. Each has its distinct advantages and disadvantages, whether that is in terms of cost, time or effort. Overall, however, finding an outside company which can do either sales or lead generation for you is a choice that can improve your bottom line and help your company grow.

April 21, 2006

Blogger v WordPress

Filed under: General — Philippe Mesritz @ 10:03 am

Initially, this blog was setup on blogger.com since they were a company I had used many years ago and had been quite happy with. After getting the account setup and running into repeated frustration due to being unable to publish the blog onto our web host server, I threw my hands up in frustration and contacted my ISP, Internet Services Unlimited, to ask them what might be going on. While working with them, it appeared that blogger was not connecting to the server at all! I emailed blogger's support and posted on their web forums for assistance. Neither venue offered much assistance — I didn't receive a single response to either in over a week.

At that point, I decided I'd venture into new territory and do some research. Thanks to Entrepreneur magazine for introducing me to WordPress 2.0. Trying it out this morning for the first time, I discovered that it proved to be almost exactly what I needed, much faster, and significantly easier to use — and its free, even if you want to download it and install it on a remote server. Even better for those people with existing blogs, comments and complex information? You can import all your information and not lose a thing!

April 17, 2006

What are “leads”?

Filed under: Marketing,Tips and Hints — Philippe Mesritz @ 2:53 pm

Leads vary based on organization. In some companies, leads are considered to be prospective customers who are on the brink of buying; in others, they are simply prospects that could, eventually, turn into a consumer. Each business has its own requirements and definition.

Before understanding how to put "leads" to use, it is necessary to define them in a quantifiable format. For the majority of the clients that New Direction Marketing has generated leads for, a lead is a contact within a company that has the decision making power and has shown some interest in the product in question. This is a quantifiable, yet generic, definition that can be used for almost all industries.

A decision maker is a contact who has the ability to approve a purchase at the price you are offering.

Interest is defined by an agreement that the consumer has some use for the product and the value that it can add.

Through careful contact with companies, it is possible to generate these leads that have a strong potential to turn into a sale. By cultivating contacts and treating prospects with respect, there is a greater chance to succeed in actually using these leads — and that's really the point behind a lead.

Converting the lead into a customer.

April 12, 2006

Introduction

Filed under: Company Information,Marketing — Philippe Mesritz @ 8:31 am

My name is Philippe Mesritz and I am the president for New Direction Marketing, Inc. I started this blog to give ideas to companies on how to put leads, whether internally or externally generated, to use and to emphasis a co-operative working environment. It is my hope that some of the information given will help put into perspective what can be done with leads that have been qualified and quantified for your business.

I will be trying to post a new tip or post weekly. These tips may include information on the current telemarketing industries, documented studies, or ways to optimize leads.

Please feel free to contact me at any time with questions. The blog is also open to comments for those who wish to leave them. I do, however, require an email address for comments simply to prevent certain levels of spam.

Sincerely,
Philippe

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