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Let's Talk Lead-Gen: Qualifed Vs. Not

As I state in my marcom materials and in proposals, if you engage me - you will get LESS meetings/opportunities, but when you get them - they will be qualified. And I mean, QUALIFIED - what that means is that the prospect really wants to do business - they understand the product or service, it fits their needs, and, they have money - now or in the future. If they don't have the money now or the timeframe or need is out a bit, or they are just doing a "looky -loo", I know that and will convey accordingly.

To some people, less means less - while as I have written before less can be more - particularly when the meeting/demo is worth $25, $50, or $100K - named account or not. Even I would rather have another SMARTFormulator, Clear-Demand, or SkyStem then some dumbass who goes to market unprepared and does a 3 month trial thinking they have the "IT" product. I want quality, my clients want quality, the client's prospects - want quality.

I had a conversation with a prospect for myself, he was "concerned" about the time and the fact that he may only get one demo/meeting a month. He wanted TWO and the cost per lead was high to him. I tried to explain, that what I deliver - that one meeting a month is generally "sales ready" - it is beyond a lead. His response, "yeah, yeah, I know the difference between a lead and sales ready lead", but it was clear he really did not - because he was using cost per lead for a lead that had a very high likelihood of closing. What is cost per lead? I spend $200 to generate an appointment to introduce the product/service or I spend $200 to generate an appointment where the person is fairly informed about the product/service and understands key differentiators and is 80% sold already? How do you calculate cost per lead? $200 for entry into a months long sales cycle with yet a lot of work - that is expensive for sure, $200 for a meeting where there is another meeting and decision to buy - within a short timeframe - well that isn't expensive at all!

It is like someone stated somewhere on the internet, some sales "guru" - cost per lead in complex b2b sales is an archaic measure. I use ROI - how much the client invests in me per year and how much sales they close to earn that investment back and then some. If the client pays me off - which most do - then I did good.

One time a client worked with a well known pay for performance firm, you pay for a meeting regardless of outcome. Twice the company set up meetings that I, in a matter of minutes, disqualified - a little research and I knew a competitor contract was signed, in the other instance the COO had someone call me to inform me that a competitive product was rolled out. You pay for a meeting, but not for a sales-ready or qualified lead. I was told actually that that is another service level and costs more. It costs more to do something which naturally should be part of the process.

If a client spends $15K and gets $300K back in closed sales or gets $24K+ in repeat year-over-year business, isn't that a better condition to consider? What is the cost of everytime I leave a voicemail, email, or talk to someone where they learn the name of the company and solution? What is the cost of when someone you talk to calls back 2 years later and hands you a $50K opportunity?

We are so short-term in our thinking and ways, that we lose sight of what really matters. Quality leads that mean real opportunity, real business - not necessarily today - but tomorrow. What the real definition of ROI actually is.

Permalink 08/30/13 -- 07:18:14 am, Categories: Background, Information

Why I Chose Not to Work with You

So at the end of Spring, one client who was faring poorly - was faring poorly and I knew their effort to introduce a new service was not getting legs and another client threatened to end. The client who threatened to end, by the way, was not aware of how many leads he actually had - once he realized and closed a deal or two - he quickly changed his tune. I reached out to a former client to see if they would be interested in working together again.

The answer was "Yes", almost immediately, an email came in saying that the new owner wanted to talk about re-enagaging. They had a new product to launch and my timing was great, plus I knew everything about the old company, their products, and had connections. It was a perfect scenario on both sides, no training or ramp up even needed! The company had come under new management, but I did not know why.

We set up the first meeting, 2 hours of talking about past and present. The owner went on and on about how awful the prior management was, how mismanagement nearly caused the company ruin, but he treasured the employees there - one or two named who were "the best" - one who practically SAVED the firm cause of her tenacity and connections. It was a long conversation, but meaningful from a business update perspective.

There were a few interim meetings, I joined a hastily scheduled impromptu call with the team and he glowing spoke of strategy and all this great stuff. I submitted a proposal. Oh, he would pay me almost double my hourly rate and generous commission. Wow!

Then nothing. I called, I emailed. Nothing. Finally, we scheduled a call - supposed to be one hour to go over the proposal and discuss next steps. Well, when I tell you that that is NOT what happened! The owner not only suddenly became the penny pincher - "forgetting" what he stated as a rate and commission - clearly not having a whit of an inkling as to what he should offer, but he rambled for another two hours in what I term a vitriolic diatribe against everyone and everything associated with the prior company, the culture (which he mentioned over and over), and the products. It was all I had to not only tell the idiot to shut the fuck up, but my god - stay the hell on track. Holy Ravioli Batman! And, he kept going on about "the culture" and how even I exhibited "the culture" which is IMPOSSIBLE given I never went to their facility, worked with anyone in any kind of super close/direct fashion - how the hell could I have any "culture". I wouldn't have approached this company to re-engage if I had a bad experience, which I told him clearly - I was unaware of any issues, didn't care about them (past is over), and I was treated really well and did very well with them. The clod couldn't take the hint.

Even after I told the owner, I had to cut it off, he still rambled on - clearly with a need to control when the meeting ended. I was blown away. Already angry at my time and my remaining client's time being wasted and disgusted by the vitriol, I thought it over and emailed the next day - that he didn't have to worry about sending me anything - cause I wasn't going to go forward. His reply, "U R Making a mistake....".

A month later, the "hero" of the company whose tenacity and relationships were so crucial to their success changed her LINKEDIN profile to "Looking for Sales Job" and there were 3 people listed for the firm.

The only mistake I made was letting this guy waste my time as much as he did. Wow! Was that not the right move or what! Bye-bye!

Permalink 08/04/13 -- 01:33:46 pm, Categories: News, Background, Information

Managing Expections: A Story of Opportunity Blown

The number one reason why client engagements end is that business owners have unrealistic expectations about what it takes to compete and win, particularly in this difficult economic environment. I have, in prospecting adventures, spoken with sales leaders and owners who tell me that one demo or meeting a month is NEVER enough for them (even though when I get a demo or meeting it is sales ready and fully, and I mean FULLY, qualified). One guy I had spoken with about 2 years ago, upon learning how my fractional business worked, was like I need five demos a week to happen. To which, I told him, he would probably need five or 10 people making calls on a full time basis - which 1) he could NEVER afford and 2) given he sold data center technology - was unlikely to happen anyway with such long sales cycles and such.

Recently, I had a client engagement end. They were selling a B2B combination "app" and desktop solution for sales productivity. Something I could sell in my sleep and even partner with them to build an even better tool and provide services.

So, we go to market. They had been out there under a different name, but failed to really gain traction. This time - they had a more relevant name, they had support, even investor interest. I used their sales productivity tool which was OK, used their own lists of contacts, and even had some leads to follow up on. In the four months I worked with them, the equivalent of 2 weeks level of effort, they had 4 meeetings including one kind of strategic deal. They ended the relationship on a Friday and on Tuesday, I had a call that the deal was likely to go forward - covering most, if not all of my costs. And, they had a nice pipeline building with folks who were interested, some now, some later - some wanted different functionality added. Fairly typical situation.

Well, in spite of what was developing into a real success. They ended the engagement - citing my fees as reasonable and the effort good, this is what was stated:

"Well, as you know, we expected to have more interest. We expected to build an app and have people download it and use it and a LOT more people. Plus, the support from the partner - it wasn't what we expected".

Let's interpret that: What we wanted was for a billion people to download a b2b sales productivity app and use it as is, with no need for enhancement, and for our partner to drive us lots of leads, so that we could sit on our ASS and make hand over fist money. We really just wanted to to make a phone call or two, hit it, and generate a ton of demos, and follow up on the billion inquiries.

Let me say that I abhor people like this, people who spend little investment and time, developing some "app" that they think is revolutionary - feel that they have no need to meet customer needs, provide service, know nothing about what sales and marketing really involves, and expect to get rich. Even Zynga is just a passing fad.

Had they taken the real development/entrepreneurial route and invested time, money, and effort in building out their tool (which was OK, but honestly, probably didn't meet the needs of 75% of the sales/marketing people today), they may have had a winner on their hands - something that could be a $25 - $50K - real solution.

Maybe they will invest more time and money into the "Golden App" for the next time, my feeling is like a great meal that looks lovely at first blush, successive efforts will come out as another poop going down the toilet.

Permalink 08/04/13 -- 01:12:53 pm, Categories: Announcements [A]

The truth about landing the whale

Recently, my clients have gained entry into many mammoth companies with large deals pending.

Now and in the past those firms included IBM, walmart, Goldman Sachs, other Fortune 500 - names like Jetblue, and more.

Jill Kornrath has written books and people talk about doing all kinds of stuff to get the "C" level and enter accounts. Now stupid crap is floating about no cold calls, social media, and no follow up - can you believe that?

It is very simple:
1. Relevancy of product, person, message
2. Good communication
3. Follow up and follow through. No wasted or wasteful communication.

And - most importantly Time. It took me a minimum of two YEARs to land these accounts in a prospecting cycle. That's right, YEARS. Continuous follow up, follow thru, and upkeep.

That is the secret no one tells you. There are no shortcuts or special tricks. And - cold calls do work very well.

Permalink 08/04/13 -- 08:00:43 am, Categories: News, Information

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