Category Archives for "Lead Generation"

Selling Services: “In-House” is the Toughest Competitor

Selling Services
Selling Services

​In a recent article called Competitive Analysis – Know More, Win More!, I stressed the importance of getting to know your competitors.

​It struck me afterward that for those selling services, particularly in the B2B space, the toughest battle is usually fought against in-house resources. It’s often easy for us to lose sight of this vital fact, and I think there is a missed opportunity when we don’t pay it the attention it deserves.

​In-House or Outsource?

​There are plenty of arguments for and against outsourcing. Should manufacturing companies run their own cafeteria? Should legal firms run printing departments? If those activities are not core to their respective missions and strengths, then the reasonable answer is “no.”

There are certainly situations when running non-core functions in-house can make sense, but hidden costs and lost opportunity should always be major considerations. So why do companies hold onto activities that don’t serve a strategic purpose? Some common reasons are as follows:

  • They believe doing as much as possible in-house gives them more control
  • They think they are saving money (in some cases this may be true)
  • They have some capacity available and they want to keep people busy
  • Challenges in finding, trusting and then managing outsourcing partners
  • A previous bad experience with outsourcing – regrettably this can happen
  • For some business leaders, it’s a mix of ego and human nature – “why pay someone else to do it when we have people here?”

​Selling Services More Effectively Against In-House

​The intent of this article is not really to answer the outsource / in-house question. The goal is to get you thinking about the part of your market choosing to do what you provide, themselves.

You should view this group as a unique market segment and in a real sense, a formidable competitor. When selling services to these companies, you should be as strategic as you would when facing an external rival. Here are some ideas that may help:

  • ​Know your industry well enough to get a sense of the size of the “Doing-it-Themselves” portion of it
  • If a high ratio of companies in your addressable market are performing your services themselves, you need to know why and how
  • The insights from the point above will help your positioning and messaging have greater impact
  • If this is your situation, the messaging gets more heavily weighted on “why they should be outsourcing” first – followed by “why they should outsource with you”
  • Focus on clearly articulating the value of outsourcing – help prospects understand how they win!
    • Build a business case and use cost-analysis tools showing ROI and the advantages of leaving it to the experts. There is always interest in saving money and doing what makes sense for the company. It’s important to show the many hidden costs as well.
    • Point out how your prospect can focus on other aspects of their business that are more strategic. For example, if you are an IT hosting company, your message may be something like “Ms. Prospect, you are accountants. Rather than investing time and money managing servers, networks and storage – let us do that! You can reduce headcount and get IT working on internal and client-facing applications that will improve your business and help you differentiate.”
    • Show proven results and metrics from similar companies using your services. Leverage testimonials and case studies. – a sure way to gain the attention of your “in-house” prospects.
    • Build the “value of outsourcing” story into your presentations, sales talk-tracks and other collateral, and lead with it
  • Think about the migration path and be able to show them how they will transition. Again, use real-world scenarios and map out the processes you have in place to make it easy and smooth.

​Some of this may seem obvious but make no mistake – selling services requires a different kind of positioning. And, if you have a large portion of potential prospects written off because they don’t outsource now, you are missing a significant opportunity! Change your approach by heavily educating these prospects on why outsourcing makes sense. If not, your pitch will almost certainly fall on deaf ears.

Please share any thoughts or experiences you may have with this topic. Contact us if we can help you with your marketing in any way, or point you in the right direction.

B2B Lead Generation: 7 Proven Steps for More Sales with eMail

B2B Lead Generation
B2B Lead Generation

​There is no denying the power of social media, SEO, and other inbound marketing programs to attract and engage prospects.

​However, direct B2B lead generation still has it’s rightful place in the mix if aimed at the right people, with the right messages, and in the right way. With the addition of tightly-focused outbound campaigns, you can greatly enhance your marketing effectiveness and increase sales.

The following framework outlines a 7-step process that offers a practical way to create new leads and opportunities. It’s best to think of these steps as an on-going cycle of multiple activities that form a series of campaigns over time. The fact is, you need to repeatedly reach out if you want to create interest and engagement. If you connect with prospects during the buying cycle with a strong call-to-action, your odds significantly improve.

B2B Lead Generation

​Key Success Factors for B2B Lead Generation

As with most marketing programs, B2B lead generation is a complex system with many moving parts. In order to make it work, you must flawlessly execute, or risk creating a bad impression and perhaps lost opportunity. Your chances of success will dramatically rise based on a combination of the following factors:

  • ​How well your target audience is defined and the quality of your lists.
  • How valuable and relevant your offering is to the people you are reaching out to.
  • How well your messages resonate with those receiving it.
  • How differentiated your company and offering appears to be.
  • The number of “touch-points” over time, consistently reinforcing your value proposition.
  • The timeliness and quality of your sales follow-up.

​By using the following steps, you will increase conversion rates and also build a solid foundation for on-going activity. As with most things, the more thoughtful and creative you are, the better the results!

​1. Create Strategy

  • ​Define the objectives and key metrics of your campaign. Leverage your historic data and be realistic.
  • Decide on the campaign duration and the number of distinct activities that will be part of it.
  • Select the vehicles you will use (email, direct mail, webinars, events, telesales, etc.)
  • If the campaign is complex enough, create a project plan and build an execution calendar defining the task owners, due dates and dependencies.

​2. Define Target Audience

  • ​Create “ideal prospect profiles” grouped by attributes such as geography, company size, industry challenges, etc. Clear market segmentation helps ensure you are talking with the right people. The shot-gun approach is far more time-consuming and ultimately more expensive.
  • Identify the titles in the organization you believe are important to connect with – those who will benefit most from your offering.
  • Define what problems your products or services will address for the people in those roles.

​3. Build Account / Contact List

  • ​Leverage your CRM and other data, or consider buying new lists based on one or more of the attributes defined in Step 2. You should end up with multiple key contacts for each account.
  • Validate key contacts leveraging LinkedIn, web searches, or subscription services such as Data.com or ZoomInfo. This is great part-time work for a student or intern. You can rely on what you have, but it’s often outdated and this step will improve the quality of your list for follow-up initiatives.
  • Merge any new data with your existing CRM records and ensure a field is tagged in CRM at the account, contact and campaign levels in order to isolate these records for reporting.
  • If you are using an automation tool, ensure it’s synchronized with your CRM.

​4. Create Theme / Messages

  • ​Decide on the central theme of the campaign. What is the single most important idea you want to convey? What will the “feel and tone” of the campaign be?
  • Create high-impact messages to support your theme for each functional target contact. For example, the message for a VP of Marketing will be different than a CFO’s. Focus on benefits, not features!
  • As a backdrop to your thinking, consider the client pain-points, your competition and why the receiver should care. Your perspective should always be from their point of view.
  • If possible, include a call-to-action and / or value offering (promotion, whitepaper, research report, etc.) Give people a reason to engage.

​5. Develop Content

  • ​Create your copy using the theme and key messages for each group of potential buyers and influencers. Your copy should be concise, differentiated and compelling.
  • Decide on the appropriate graphics to create or buy, and ensure they effectively support your copy. As a rule, images have far more impact than words.
  • Optimize your final layout to deliver a crisp and professional appearance. Make it stand out as you only have a few seconds to grab attention.
  • Personalize and customize your content as much as possible. Talk to the recipient in their industry terms for a stronger connection.
  • If you have the resources, consider A|B testing different variations of your content to find out what works best. If you go this route, early results monitoring will be important.
  • Leverage unique landing pages for web-based content as this provides an easy way to isolate and measure the progress.

​6. Execute Campaign

  • ​If you are sending email to Canadian prospects, you must understand and comply with Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL). If you haven’t already, do the homework.
  • Send a communication internally to make sure your sales and marketing teams are aware and prepared once the campaign starts to run.
  • Deliver your communications as planned in Step 1. Consider the optimal timing to get the highest response. An event on Friday afternoon before a long weekend is bad timing!
  • As responses start to build, update your CRM. Be sure to “score” or “weight” your responses so you can prioritize accordingly. Marketing automation tools such as SharpSpring  provides strong capabilities for managing the lead nurturing process following initial contact. These companies are also great sources of marketing and content information.
  • As leads and opportunities become qualified, pass them immediately to inside or direct sales for follow-up, and make sure this happens in a timely manner.
  • Immediately unsubscribe contacts who request it and confirm back once you have.

​7. Measure / Follow-up

  • ​At regular checkpoints during the campaign, monitor the results to see how you are tracking.
  • When the campaign ends, report the results achieved compared to the projected metrics. You may want to do this a week or two after completion as well in case late responses come in.
  • Document and analyze the final results and review the insights and lessons learned. This is an important step for continuous improvement.

​With the barrage of emails and advertising people receive daily, it’s extremely difficult to get noticed, never mind have someone engage. However, delivering the right messages, to the right people, the right way – will produce results. There is no “silver bullet” though and it takes commitment, investment, and a structured approach over time to be effective. If you are focused and patient, however, you will undoubtedly find more than enough new business to make it well-worth the effort. This process has worked extremely well for me and hopefully you found some of this helpful.

If you are so inclined, please share any ideas, thoughts or experiences you may have with this topic. Contact us if we can help with your B2B lead generation, or simply answer a question.