Category Archives: sales leads

SiriusDecisions Reseach: Implications for B2B Marketers

Per a press release by Sirius Decisions, the research finds that best-in-class companies are “…rejecting a ‘defensive posture’ by still working to close deals or at least lay groundwork for future business despite buyer anxiety and retrenchment,” notes Alden Cushman, SiriusDecisions’ research director and benchmarking analyst.”

The goal is to position the company for when the economic upswing happens. Key points in the release included:

  • 44 percent to reduce marketing spend for 2009
  • 25 percent will report flat spending
  • Spending on advertising will decline by 17 percent and events down by 12 percent
  • Focus is moving from lead generation to lead maturation

Next steps for your marketing efforts

What does this mean for you?

  • Be very clear about who your target audience is and what influences this audience to make a purchase decision which means
  • Refine your definition of a “sales-ready” lead by communicating with your sales team
  • Create an aggressive lead nurturing program to move prospects through the funnel to deliver “sales-ready” leads to your salesforce
  • Take this opportunity to leapfrog your competition by investing in areas that will increase your company’s awareness and value proposition to your key audiences

What other recommendations would you make?

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SiriusDecisions B2B research and what this means for your marketing programs by @csalomonlee: http://twurl.nl/zsssg1

 

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Sales Lead Generation Cycle: PR’s Role

Sales Cycle and PR

Our goal as PR professionals is to determine how our efforts impact the company’s objectives. There are lots of ways that PR is measured with regard to brand building and thought leadership. Since working in-house, I’m getting a glimpse of how PR directly impacts my organization’s sales lead generation initiative and overall sales cycle.

The crude PowerPoint representation (to left)provides a rudimentary look at the sales cycle and how PR fits into this process. This is based partially on my personal PR experience, and some insights drawn from reading MarketingSherpa’s recent report and other sources.

Simply put, there are four steps from identifying sales prospects to closing a sale with this prospect:

  1. Prospect: This is your target audience. These are the pool of people that you’re trying to reach and educate about your product, service or solutions.
  2. Lead: This is when you are able to get the contact information from your target audience. This includes completing a contact me form on your website, buying a list of names, dropping a business card at a tradeshow, and other ways.
  3. Qualified Lead: Even if that person proactively came to your website and requested more information, you want to confirm that the person is truly interested in considering your company. You “qualify” the lead based on what the lead wants to do and if your company can provide what she is looking for.
  4. Sales: Through all this effort, the ultimate goal is to finalize the sale and secure a signed contract. 

There are several ways that PR fits into this process, from building awareness to influencing the sales process. Here is how some PR tactics can be leveraged throughout each phase of the sales cycle:

  1. Prospects – build and maintain awareness: When preparing to consider a technology solution, prospects research information on the available companies and technologies. Being able to “touch” this prospect through multiple channels is key. Media coverage, research papers, trade show presence, speaking opportunities and blogs are a good way to reach this audience.
  2. Leads – educate: Once a prospect becomes a lead, education is important to move the prospect to the next stage. Webinars, podcasts, and videos (not the viral type) are ways to educate your leads, while creating a personal connection with your company.
  3. Qualified Sales Leads – influence peer and industry: A qualified lead is someone who is in the midst of weighing different options. In addition to education, this person will look to peers and industry experts to validate her decision to move forward with you or a competitor. At this stage, social media provides a level of community validation, with customers and analysts providing third party validation for your solutions.
  4. Close Sales – build community: I remember hearing that it’s easier to build business with a happy customer then trying to find new business to replace an unhappy one. Building a community helps you to hear about issues and respond to your customers, while building evangelists for your business.

In the end, each stage builds upon one another. One PR tactic, such as a feature article, may have more influence than another for a sale. However, developing a PR strategy that captures a prospect/lead at multiple points throughout the sales cycle, will have a stronger impact on that company’s business in the long run.

The more I understand PR’s role to drive this process, the better I can identify the channels by which to focus my attention on. And hopefully, identify the metrics that truly matter for underscoring PR’s impact.

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Event Marketing: Five Ways that PR Enhances Events

Event Marketing by Allison SagetThe early part of my career was focused on securing speaking opportunities for my clients. In the beginning, speakingopportunities was considered the step child of PR – something you had to include in the program but activity was (and to some degree is) relegated to the end of the month when you had to show progress to the client.

What I’ve learned is that speaking opps must be framed in the larger context of how can speaking and PR enhance a client’s presence at the conference or tradeshow.  And from a marketing perspective, drive quality sales prospects to the booth.

There are many ways that PR can bring value to conference or tradeshow. Here are  my Five Ways that PR Enhances Events:

  1. Leverage partners: If your client isn’t participating at a tradeshow or conference, determine if a partner will be at the show. If so, consider approaching the partner about joint PR or maybe get access to the media list. The key is developing a pitch that benefits both you and the partner.
  2. Sponsorship Package: Consider was level sponsorship your client has at a conference. Oftentimes a sponsor can negotiate access to the attendee list for pre or post show marketing. This can either be in email or direct mail campaigns. For start-ups and companies with smaller marketing departments, there is an opportunity for you to assist with copy writing or provide counsel on the type of information to share with this audience. Something valuable, such as a case study, white paper or webcast that will drive prospects to register for this information.
  3. Value of tchokes tchotchke: As quality of sales prospects is key, you have to weigh the value of giving out tchokes tchotchke. As you’re giving something away, you’ll attract people who are interested in the freebie vs being truly interested in your tech or service.  However if you’re giving something that is related to your company’s products and services, such as a free trial, consulting time or other valuable information, you’ll attract quality people. Update: Thanks to reader for the correct spelling of “tchotchke.”
  4. Speaking Opportunities: Speaking opps are great for driving awareness  and positioning your speaker as an industry expert at a show, especially if you have no booth. This requires dedication and working with the conference organizer over a period of several months. It’s key to provie a session that is objective and contains valuable information.
  5. Rethink the press kit: For a small company, the press kit may double as the “sales kit.” As many attendees now carry usb or flash drives, reconsider putting together heavy kits. Maybe consider using Moo to create an unusual business that limks to an online press kit. You can include unique logins and passwords for each of your media meetings or just the URL with minimal copy to show attendees. For media, you track activity on the back end while having registration for show attendees to capture prospect information.

One book I’ll recommend was written by Allison Saget, who I worked with on a previous client. She wrote a book titled The Event Marketing Handbook that quotes my former boss and myself.  Check it out to get a better sense of the value of tradeshows and conferences.

Let me know what you think and if you have any additional tips.

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