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Posts Tagged ‘Technology Sales’

Helpful Practical Advice for B2B E-mail Marketers: Note the Out of Office Replies

Interesting tidbit from WSJ this morning on B2B marketing:

Pay attention to out of office replies- they may contain useful information on contacts and other stakeholders in decision making process.  One B2B marketer points out that this technique accounts for 6% of his new business.

Same article has some stats on the “typical” business email box (created by Radicati Group).  It points to the fact that nearly 20% emails are spam. No clear definition of what spam is in this study, but my guess is that if you include all opt-in mail lists, this percentage is much, much higher.

Implications for marketers revolve around building meaningful and relevant content and being able to track and monitor what is relevant to your audience.  It also highlights the importance of branding, which I have blogged about here.

Link to WSJ article is here.

Enterprise Selling is Like Dating, so Shower Before You Go

April 27, 2011 Leave a comment

You’ve done your homework on the prospect- checked them out on Linked in, looked at their Facebook profile, checked out what they have had to say on Twitter, maybe even confirmed that they are not on a predator database.  Now you are ready to meet.  After all of this effort to find the perfect mate, would you not want to look your best before you go?

Pretty basic right?  And yet I am continually shocked by how poorly many B2B firms approach the initial sales meeting.   Over the past 6 months, I have had exposure to half a dozen firms (primarily SaaS companies) who finally get to their first meeting and then create questions about competence, trust, and capability based on what and how they present.

Whether it is the quality of the pitch materials, quality of the demo, or knowledge of the personnel involved on the call I have seen lots of failure points that severely hamper a selling organization’s ability to build an ongoing dialogue with a customer.

Specifically, here is a sampling what I am talking about:

  • Presentations- Why do so many people insist on sticking with slides they have prepared for a pitch? If the slides are not facilitating productive conversation with your client, ditch them.
  • Unrehearsed demos- Why should you ever have problems doing a demo?   Presenters should know the capabilities and potential failure points of their applications inside and out.  If they don’t, you’ve got the wrong people.
  • Webex technology failures- You would think that people know how to create back up plans for this type of contingency.  I have seen it happen more that I care to mention and have seen how clients react to this most basic failure.  Have a contingency plan.
  • Mismatch of skills/knowledge- I have seen situations where customers are more knowledgeable about technologies/processes than those on the sales team.  Make the extra call/email to get a sense for who will be in the room and what they will be interested in and bring the folks on your team who can address the issues.  Don’t save follow up for another meeting- you might not get it.

I originally hesitated on writing this post for fear of restating the obvious, but the last demo I participated on was too much for me to bear.  Too many people wasting time and money out there!

Implications- If you are a sales or marketing leader, routinely involve yourself in that first customer contact from time to time and ensure that your firm is putting its best foot forward.  Have you recently checked to make sure the basics are covered?  Consider all the investment that has gone into getting just the opportunity to talk to that one prospect.  Start off creating your perfect match with the right impression and for heaven sake, clean up before you go!

Enterprise Selling- Not Just for the Salesperson Anymore

April 16, 2011 2 comments

Great thinking from Sameer Patel on Saleforce.com acquisition of Radian6 and discussion of implications for Customer Experience Management (CEM).

Most relevant points/learning for me in the article that resonate with my own experience in selling enterprise solutions:

  • Customers now come informed before they are ready to buy
  • This is pushing a shift in marketing which requires involvement of entire organizations, not just sales/marketing (marketing fluff won’t cut it with these educated prospects).  Note: just because this is needed doesn’t necessarily mean that this is what the selling organizations are offering
  •  This is in turn driving increased need for all parts of the organization (not just sales) to be listening and engaged in the discussion with customers- and where social networking tools can provide additional value
  • The combination of Radian6/Salesforce.com provides an opportunity to begin to manage and mine these interactions, but it has a ways to do this before the vision is realized

One hole in the “stack” that Patel points out in the combined offering is the ability to generate leads.  He coyly suggests Marketo/Hubspot as solutions for this, but my question here is how effectively an application can do this.  In my view applications help manage the lead generation process, not execute it. If anyone has experience in the effectiveness of these tools or has come across resources which point to the success of these tools, I’d welcome your thoughts and input.

Link to the article here:

http://bit.ly/f9aSIT

HubSpot: Innovator in B2B Marketing

March 24, 2011 1 comment

Was recently introduced to a company that is leading the charge in driving the efficiency of B2B marketing called HubSpot.   HubSpot makes a platform for SMBs to manage content, campaigns, leads and conversion across all of the social media channels.  There’s lots to like about this company, but a couple of things stand out:  1) the way that they are on the cutting edge of using social media for their own marketing and (check out how their lead in terms of twitter followers vs. other top B2B SW firms- http://b.qr.ae/igVyJM ) and 2) the content that they provide on their own site.

If you are a business that sells to other businesses, this is a company worth watching.

Erasing the Stigma of Enterprise Software

March 23, 2011 Leave a comment

I read an interesting article last night (thanks to @JHaughwout) reporting that Andreessen Horowitz (Silicon Valley VC) is bulking up its capabilities in enterprise computing and solutions.  There were a couple of great points made in the piece:

1) many VCs have shied away from investments in enterprise solutions because

  • Sales cycles are long
  • IT purchasers are a difficult sell (are a pain)
  • The companies they fund compete with industry stalwarts such as IBM

2) there is a great divide between the quality and usability of B2C software and that of B2B solutions

Why is the elegance we find in consumer applications so blatantly missing on the enterprise side?  As the author of the article points out, our experience at home increasingly raises the bar for those who want to play in the enterprise side.  People will demand solutions at work that are as functional as those they use at home.  Companies who get this will not only be highly differentiated, but  will be able to bring a new set of evangelists and advocates for their solutions.

We believe that this “consumerization” of the enterprise space is a very important trend.  It is driven by the proliferation of Saas models, infrastructure on demand, outsourcing and increasingly efficient marketing and distribution methods.  Its why you will see more content from us on successful tactics used in B2C social media and how these can be applied to the B2B/enterprise world.

Through my experience with small enterprise software companies I have lived through the painful truth of the points above, but currents in the competitive structure of the enterprise software space that suggest that they may not be the status quo for long.

Link to the article:

http://read.bi/eyjCM8

Why Branding Matters

March 19, 2011 1 comment

I was at a forum this week focused on helping a specific B2B technology/services company gain traction on an offering that was designed to provide enterprise security for mobile devices (target market is $1B+ in revenues).   As with many of the clients that I have worked with they struggled with the following:

1)      Shortening sales cycles

2)      Building brand recognition for a new offering

3)      Moving into an adjacent market with different decision makers

I will post more on my blog in future posts on topic #1, but I wanted to share the thoughts of one of the panelists on the forum- a CTO of a major hospital system- precisely the target customer for the company’s offering.  I got two main insights from his contributions to the talk.

1)      Brand recognition matters in so far as it helps in weed through deluge of communications that he gets from vendors on a daily basis .  “I get 60+ emails a day from people trying to sell me stuff.  If I have never heard of the company before, there is no chance that I will open an email or take a call from them.”

2)      References from his peers matter.  From same CTO- “If my peers are other organizations are talking about a new technology or company, I take notice.”

In my operating experience and as a business owner and entrepreneur, I have struggled with investments in branding not only because of the expense, but also because of the difficulty of tracking what meaningful results, if any, might result from these “investments.”

But clearly, as  the example of the CTO mentioned earlier- it helps drive effectiveness of sales and marketing and makes the path to the decision maker more efficient as well.

The good news here is that with social networking there are new and inexpensive ways to not only drive brand awareness, but also to begin tracking the effectiveness of these efforts.  To be sure, effective use of B2B social networking for the purposes of effective lead generation is in its infancy, but we see it as a critical means of driving efficiency and advantage versus some of the older methods that many B2B companies struggle to generate results from today.  In future posts, we will explore more specifically how this is done, but for now you may want to check out the following:

For B2B Social Networking: http://bit.ly/fslfC6

For B2B Brand Measurement/Tracking: http://buswk.co/e1tQgp

B2B Survey Indicates Online Marketing Investments Focused on Lead Generation

March 11, 2011 Leave a comment

A recent study by AMR International finds that B2B marketers are concentrating nearly 40% of their online spend on lead generation. What’s more interesting about this is the fact that among those who do not formally use metrics to track paid search effectiveness, less than a third saw paid search as being effective. Leads to some interesting questions regarding effectiveness of digital channels, which we will continue to investigate further in subsequent posts.

Link to article can be found here: http://bit.ly/eNPXfc

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