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Brian Carroll

Why Empathetic Marketing Matters and 7 Steps to Achieve It

Brian Carroll March 3rd, 2014

I am at the earliest stages of developing a sequel to Lead Generation for the Complex Sale. It’s been a decade since the first draft and I’ve been contemplating how much business has changed since then.

Today’s sales and marketing environment is a paradox: There have never been more opportunities to reach customers; yet reaching them has never been more challenging.

We have more marketing channels than ever. We’ve moved from traditional advertising to social media, content marketing and beyond. But, I can’t help but wonder, as we have more ways to talk to our customers, are they really listening? Or are they shutting us out as we hurl more pitches at them from different angles?

I believe you can’t really answer that question unless you know precisely what your customers want. This requires letting go of our own assumptions of what we think they want and putting ourselves in their place.

This requires empathy, which according to Miriam-Webster, “is the ability to share someone else’s feeling.” To feel what they feel and think what they think.

Unfortunately, too many in corporate America believe sociopathic behavior – being laser-focused on getting what you want at the expense of everyone else – accelerates businesses and careers to success.

That’s so “Wolf of Wall Street.” What worked two decades ago won’t work today. Sociopathic behavior may be why too many businesses are struggling.

I believe to succeed in the new millennium, we must embrace empathy on every level with every customer – both internal and external. Our customers are more sophisticated than ever and have access to more information and more options. There’s no room for game-playing or guessing. We have to know what they want and give that to them.

Here’s an overview of what I believe can help achieve this. I plan on expanding on these points in future B2B Lead Roundtable Blog posts:

1. Put the customer first. Instead of worrying about being interesting, we need to first be interested. Understand the customer’s motivation (what they want) and make sure that’s aligned with what we can deliver.

2. Listen and seek to understand. Do we know why our customers say “yes”? Why are they buying from us? What are the steps they need take to say “yes”? What difference have we made for our customers because they bought our product or service?

3. Stop marketing, start conversing. Focus on developing conversations, not campaigns. Don’t err on the side of pushing our agenda rather than extending an invitation to converse. To the customer, it feels like “somebody wants something from me” rather than “maybe they can help me get what I want.” We need to demonstrate that we’re interested in their world and their motivations. Invite, listen, engage and recommend.

4. Help. The best marketing and sales doesn’t feel like marketing and sales at all. It feels like helping because it is. Our lead nurturing needs to be built on this concept.

5. Give them content they’ll want to share. This organically emerges from the first four points of placing the customer first, understanding them, conversing with them and helping them.

6. Remember that proximity is influence. Empower those closest to our customer – the sales team, inside sales team, sales engineers and customer service people – to be able to achieve the points above.

7. Practice empathy personally to set an example. Our customers are everyone we serve – including our staff and our coworkers. Show them how it’s done by practicing empathy yourself.

This introduces another paradox: We’ve never been more advanced with ways to connect with prospects, but we’re still not communicating effectively with them. A good start to doing that effectively begins with empathy.

What are your thoughts? Do you think empathetic marketing is achievable for your organization, why or why not?

You may also like

8 Questions to Steer Your Marketing Priorities [More from the blogs]

Referral Marketing: 8 tips for building a powerful referral channel [More from the blogs]

Guided by Buyers: 4 tactics to create a customer-centric sales and marketing strategy [More from the blogs]

Content Marketing, Lead Generation, Lead Nurturing, Marketing Strategy, Thought Leadership

Brian Carroll

3 Important Lessons for Lead Gen and Life

Brian Carroll December 16th, 2013

This year, more than ever, has been humbling for me.

People look to me as an expert at lead generation because I wrote a book and speak about it. But it seems the more I learn, the less I think I know.

I probably am more acutely aware of this because I work for MECLABS, an organization that is laser-focused on learning and teaching others – including many global organizations – about how to continuously improve marketing.

Consequently, I’m constantly learning and constantly discovering how much more I have to learn. Read on for three important lessons instilled in me this year.

Use your knowledge resources

I have to confess: I began 2013 feeling behind. I’m charged with helping MECLABS attain Research Partnerships. This is more complex than standard lead generation – we’re not trying to sell. Instead, we’re trying to identify organizations that can fit our specific research model. We end up turning away prospects far more than we accept.

Frankly, back in January, I wanted to have more momentum in this process, but I felt like I had far too much to accomplish and far too little time to accomplish it. So, in that situation, who has time to review case studies and reports?

Who has time to strategize?

Reflecting on it 12 months later, I realize that smart, effective people do, because that’s when they discover the solutions to help them accomplish their goals.

Practice what you preach

I finally allowed myself the time to examine our organization’s vast knowledge of online testing to determine how this knowledge could be applied to conversations over the phone.

You see, much of our process for accepting Research Partner applications transpires via the phone channel. In this process, our first goal is to make sure our prospects are delighted that we contacted them; our second is to identify a potential Research Partner.

Of course, the steps to test online cannot be simply layered over the phone conversations. The human touch is different than the virtual one.

However, we successfully applied the patented Conversion Heuristic, created by MarketingExperiments, a division of MECLABS, that has typically been used as a systematic framework to analyze a conversion process.

Learn more about our experience with that here: “Lead Generation: How using science increased teleprospecting sales handoffs 304%.”

Through these efforts, we are now doing significantly more teleprospecting in less time. Here’s just one example: We wanted to learn how to structure a voicemail to attract the highest rate of callbacks.

We discovered that immediately mentioning a free Benchmark Report, as opposed to waiting until the next sentence, increased call backs by 182% – that’s nearly double! Consider the increased productivity: those are 182% fewer people our analysts have to call back.

If I had practiced what MECLABS preached earlier in the year, I could have been up to speed much more quickly in achieving my goals.

Simplicity is the true sign of expertise

As I continually learn new methods to improve my own lead generation, I understand the process better. In fact, a few years ago, I wrote this e-book: Eight Critical Success Factors for Lead Generation. If I wrote this book today, I would boil it down to just three:

  • Engaging the right people in the right companies
  • With the right message
  • And nurturing that conversation until the right time

A true measure of expertise, I realize, is the ability to make the seemingly complex so simple that anyone can understand it.

Einstein was right when he proclaimed that if you can’t explain something simply, you don’t know it well enough. Once again, I now realize how much I didn’t know a year ago, how much I know today, and how much more – really, so much more – I still need to learn.

What lead gen and life lessons did you learn in 2013? I’d love to hear about them. Let me know in the comments below.

Related Resources

Lead Management: 4 principles to follow

B2B Marketing: What an 11% drop in conversion taught a live audience about lead gen

Lead Nurturing: How a social business strategy can help you move from selling to helping your prospects

Thought Leadership, Uncategorized

Brian Carroll

Lead Generation: How using science increased teleprospecting sales handoffs 304%

Brian Carroll September 23rd, 2013

I have a confession to make.

There’s something I wish I would have known when I wrote my best-seller, Lead Generation for the Complex Sale.

It’s this:

This is a patented Conversion Heuristic created by MarketingExperiments, a division of MECLABS, that’s typically been used as a systematic framework to analyze a conversion process.

So, I wanted to see if this heuristic could be applied to lead generation through teleprospecting.

After all, we’re trying to convert people, convince them to say “yes” to whatever we’re selling, but we’re doing it in the real world, not the virtual one.

Anyone who has worked in inside sales knows that sales professionals are always informally testing to learn what works and what doesn’t.

The heuristic just applies scientific principles to that testing process.

It’s no wonder it was easy for us to find a client who allowed us to make a guinea pig of their teleprospecting program, and they’re glad they did because we increased sales handoffs by 304%.

Below is an outline of how we made it happen.

Here’s the problem we were solving for:

What messaging creates increased lead conversion and maximizes return on energy?

Simply stated …

How can we get the most sales handoffs with the least effort?

You see, salespeople are always struggling with having enough time to sell. You can only put your energy in so many places.

Test #1. We adjusted the call guide from being product-focused to customer-focused

The heuristic begins with motivation (or 4m) as the most heavily weighted element impacting the likelihood of a conversion.

Therefore, we hypothesized the more our call guide could match a prospect’s motivation for being interested in our services, the more likely they would move forward in the sales cycle.

Instead of launching a call by talking about the product and how it can help – in this case, it was professional services – we began by asking prospects about what motivated their engagement.

As an incentive, we also offered content addressing that motivation.

The result: After pulling a baseline of activities from the previous month using the same manpower and then comparing the outcomes, we concluded that we spoke directly with decision makers 46.3% more often.

But, here’s a little conundrum

While we were speaking with more decision makers, our sales handoffs didn’t have an equally marked increase.

Our hypothesis for the lack of equal increase: we were engaging candidates earlier, but they just weren’t ready to buy.

Test #2. We radically redesigned our approach

We developed a completely new call guide focusing on two objectives:

  1. Delight the prospect by focusing completely on their needs. This was the priority because by doing so, they’ll eventually turn into a sales-ready lead.
  2. Uncover a sales-ready lead.

We achieved these by also focusing on three areas that subconsciously motivated prospects to say, “Yes, I want to move forward.” Essentially, we were working toward building the ultimate yes with our prospects.

The three areas we focused on were:

Urgency: Give prospects a good reason to talk to us immediately.

In their mind, the prospect asks, “Who are you and why should I talk to you?” and we answered by:

  • Reviewing our client’s customer relationship management system to see how prospects most recently engaged.
  • Building our conversation around that knowledge.

Relevancy: In their mind, the prospect is asking, “Are you relevant to me and my company?”

We made it clear how the client’s brand is relevant by focusing on the prospects’ needs based on:

  • How they most recently engaged with the organization.
  • Only focusing on prospects who were the best fit for the client and disregarding the rest.

Importance: In their mind, the prospect asks, “Why should I talk you to you now?”

We increased their motivation to engage by offering an even more compelling incentive that matched or exceeded their motivation – in this case, it was a report worth hundreds of dollars.

Urgency, relevancy and importance were reinforced by both direct contact and follow-up emails.

The result: We increased decision-maker contacts and helped build a pipeline for future sales. But while sales handoffs increased, we wanted to see even more of a lift.

Test #3. We changed the call guides and added compelling follow-up emails to intensify urgency

We keenly focused on discovering our prospects’ most pressing challenges and responded to them.

An important difference between using the heuristic for landing page optimization and teleprospecting is with telesprospecting, you can immediately adjust the message in real time to match prospect motivations.

This test took full advantage of that opportunity.

When prospects talked about specific issues – issues that may not have been the focus of our initial conversation – we shifted our conversation to match their motivation.

We also added an email to follow-up voicemails.

The email heightened urgency and relevancy by giving prospects multiple incentives.

This was usually in the form of reports worth hundreds of dollars – but if they wanted to get the incentive, they had to call us back and let us know their issues so we could match the report to their needs.

This gave us an opportunity to learn more about their organization and identify how to increase their motivation.

The result: We increased sales handoffs by 138% and made the compounded sales handoff increase across all three tests by 304%.

Was the heuristic applicable to teleprospecting?

For me, these tests confirm my curiosity that the Conversion Heuristic would work both online and offline to improve lead generation.

It sets the foundation for creating a repeatable, scalable telesprospecting process to will help you achieve the highest ROI.

Rest assured, this is just the beginning of our discussion about the value of the Conversion Heuristic, we’ll be writing more blog posts on this subject to help you apply it to your organization.

In the meantime, feel free to join the conversation about lead generation in the comments, or if you want to learn more, check out some of the resources also below.

Related Resources:

Lead Gen: A proposed replacement for BANT

Landing page Optimization online course

Customer Connection: Does your entire marketing process connect to your customers’ motivations?

Landing Page Optimization: Addressing customer anxiety

Landing Page Optimization: Test ideas for B2B lead capture page

Lead Generation

Brian Carroll

Marketing Optimization: 3 steps to gain C-suite buy-in

Brian Carroll June 24th, 2013

A few months ago in my blog post, “How Dissatisfied CEOs Push Marketers into the Future,” I responded to an article reporting that one in five CEOs believe marketers:

  • Provide a return on investment
  • Have “solid influence” within their organizations
  • Are candidates for senior management

These marketers have the respect of the C-suite because they connect their efforts to what their leadership wants most:

  • More leads
  • More sales
  • Shortened time to revenue
  • Reduced marketing-to-sales expense

I enjoyed meeting hundreds of marketers like this at MarketingSherpa and MarketingExperiments Optimization Summit 2013, held in Boston last month. I’ve never seen a group more passionate about making a positive, measurable impact on their organization.

It felt good that we could help them through the inspiration of speakers who shared their real-world optimization success, as well as through our training and certification programs that gave them what they needed to know to:

  • Create an optimization project plan and testing strategy
  • Optimize Web assets for more conversions, leads and sales
  • Communicate clear, consistent value across all marketing channels
  • Test their way into durable, long-term success

But this year, regardless of the obvious benefits of optimization, an overwhelming number of marketers had a common question:

“How do I get buy-in from the C-suite to expand optimization?”

I believe when leadership can connect to what Marketing is doing to drive revenue, buy-in isn’t a problem. So, I offered these steps to help marketers achieve C-suite support:

Step #1: Know your leadership’s objectives

Step #2: Identify how testing can help achieve key objectives

Step #3: Choose tests that will:

  • Make the greatest impact within the next 90 days
  • Produce results that will give you clear insight on how to improve your marketing efforts. As Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director, MECLABS, has said, “The goal isn’t to get a lift – it’s to get a learning.”

A small, successful test can be all the proof your leadership needs to expand your budget to include testing and optimization. One of my favorite examples of small optimization tests is changing the copy of a call-to-action button or where it appears on the page.

Think that’s too small? Think again.

This type of test resulted in a 90% increase in traffic for one marketer.

So, if you need a few more ideas on what to test, check out this video from Optimization Summit 2012 – 30 Ideas in 30 Minutes: Rapid-fire tips and techniques to help you solve your most challenging problems.

If the feedback we received from participants is any indication, Optimization Summit 2013 was our best ever. But optimization isn’t just a one-time event. It’s an ongoing process of discovery, and I promise marketers who embrace it will:

  • Drive the highest returns from their time and resources
  • Firmly establish themselves among the 20% of marketers that CEOs adore

Flint sums it up best:

“There’s no such thing as expert marketers, only experienced marketers and expert testers.”

Related Resources:

Lead Gen Summit 2013, Sept. 30 – Oct. 3 in San Francisco

Testing: A discussion about SAP’s 27% lift in incremental sales leads

Optimization Summit 2013 Wrap-up: Top 5 takeaways for testing websites, pay-per-click ads and email

Optimization: A discussion about an e-commerce company’s 500% sales increase

Analytics and Testing: 3 tips to optimize your testing efforts

Marketing Strategy

Brian Carroll

Webinar: Inside Sales Virtual Summit reveals selling best practices

Brian Carroll June 17th, 2013

A top struggle for sales professionals is optimizing selling time and driving lead generation.

On Thursday, June 20, at the Inside Sales Virtual Summit, I will reveal how a billion-dollar telecommunications company addressed this situation by:

  • Bringing science and testing to their calling process, and
  • Reducing their time to lead by more than 60%

In the process, you’ll learn the data insight you need to drive success by making the most of every moment of your selling day.

Joining me at this free event will be 62 of the world’s leading sales and marketing professionals who will share their newest and best sales practices. They include:

Best Selling Sales Authors

- Guy Kawasaki, Art of the Start

- Jeffrey Gitomer, Little Red Book of Selling

- Matt Dixon, The Challenger Sale

- Mike Bosworth, Solution Selling

- Jill Konrath, SNAP Selling

Top Experts

- Brian Frank, LinkedIn

- David Elkington, InsideSales.com

- Liz Gelb-O’Connor, ADP

- Barry Trailer, CSO Insights

- Josh James, Domo

If you want to invest time that will provide the knowledge you need to produce better results faster, I strongly encourage you to attend.

Register here

Date: Thursday, June 20, 2013

Time: 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. Pacific / 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. Eastern

Related Resources:

How IntraLinks Used Social Media to Generate Twice as Many Sales-ready Leads as Any Other Channel

B2B Sales Cycle: 4 steps to avoid the wasteful ‘no decision’

Lead Generation: Phone calls turn first-time webinar into million-dollar leads

Sales

Brian Carroll

Email Marketing: 4 steps to relevancy 85% of B2B businesses probably aren’t taking

Brian Carroll April 22nd, 2013

Email marketing is a mature marketing tactic, yet I don’t believe B2B organizations are capitalizing on its potential to generate leads.

I realized this when I read MarketingSherpa’s just-released 2013 Email Marketing Benchmark Report. They surveyed 594 B2B and B2G marketers, of which just about half send out 10,000 to 10 million emails every month. The top priority for the entire group is to deliver highly relevant emails – it ranks above even driving website traffic and revenue.

This makes sense, considering highly relevant email will achieve the other two goals.

But, I wonder how easily they can create highly relevant emails when only 15% reported they have dedicated resources to produce content for each stage of the buying process, as you can see in the below chart, Chart 3.32 – Tactics utilized to improve email relevance and engagement:

Q: Which of the following tactics is your organization using to improve the relevance and engagement of email content delivered to subscribers?


This makes me wonder what is being sent in those 10,000-plus emails each month:

  • Do they know what information their prospects want at each stage of the buying cycle?
  • Do they know how they want to consume that information?
  • Do they have the means to provide that information through their emails?

If they can’t confidently answer “yes” to these questions, how do they expect to achieve their goal of producing emails that are relevant to their marketplace?

I discussed this with my colleague Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content, MECLABS, and he agreed with my concern and related a conversation he had with one of our company’s Research Partners. They, too, wanted to send emails that were relevant and didn’t know where to begin. Typically, as a matter of rote, they blasted out an email every week about one of their products. The marketing team knew it wasn’t the optimal approach, but didn’t have the time to think it through – the emails had become merely another part of their weekly list of activities.

Daniel advised them to ask these questions before any email send:

  • What is the goal they’re trying to achieve? What is the pain they’re trying to ease? Essentially, know your audience. (I know this is Marketing 101, but when the vast majority of B2B organizations aren’t dedicating the resources to respond to these issues in emails, I thought it needed to be pointed out.)
  • Is this a content-focused or promotional email? If it’s content-focused, then what content do you have that’s going to help them ease their pain or achieve their goals? And remember, good content doesn’t sell – it provides information to help prospects regardless of whether they buy from you.  (Promotional emails may teeter way too much on the brink of spam unless they can directly relieve a prospects’ pain point or help them achieve a goal.)
  • Why should they open your email? Does the subject line clearly and concisely convey why it’s worth it for them to use their precious time to read it? Are you making a promise you can deliver on?
  • Why should they want to engage with you further after reading the email? If you’re directing your audience to a landing page, what in the email should compel them to click through to read it? What’s in it for them if they do? Does that landing page deliver the promised value? Is it crystal clear what their next step should be? Again, what’s in it for them if they take that next step?

Taking Daniel’s advice will put marketers well on their way to achieving their goal of email relevancy, and all of the benefits that come with it.

Related Resources:

Email Marketing: How to maintain low opt-out rates

Email Marketing: Only 21% of marketers integrating mobile with email

Email Deliverability: Only 39% of marketers maintain an opt-in only subscriber list

Email Marketing: 3 overlooked aspects of automated messages

Email Marketing

Brian Carroll

Email Marketing: How to maintain low opt-out rates

Brian Carroll March 25th, 2013

I had the pleasure of attending MarketingSherpa’s Email Summit 2013 a couple of weeks ago, and while I was there, Jim Ducharme, Community Director, GetResponse, an email marketing vendor, asked me how to maintain low email-marketing opt-out rates.

My answer, in a word, was relevance. Watch the video below to find out more.

Relevance is the foundation of lead generation, which is, at its core, a series of conversations. Like real-time conversations, we can’t bore the recipients of our emails by talking about ourselves all the time – we have to discuss what they care about.

  • If all we do is focus on winning the sale, they’re going to tune out or opt out.
  • If we focus on how we can help them, we’re going to build trust, and when they trust you, they’ll stick around and likely buy whatever it is you’re selling.

The foundation of relevance is knowledge of your marketplace:

  • Know what keeps your prospect up at night,
  • Know what makes their lives easier or harder and
  • Know how your value proposition helps.

This knowledge provides the context for compelling, relevant conversations your prospects will be eager to be a part of. Below are a handful of articles from the B2B Lead Roundtable blog to help you generate these kinds of conversations with your customers.

8 Questions to Steer Your Marketing Priorities – Find out the value of asking a handful of customers questions directly – not through surveys, focus groups, digital body language or social media.

Lead Nurturing: Build trust, win more deals by helping prospects – not selling them – Find out how to execute a relevant conversation.

3 Steps that Helped Skyline Exhibits Increase New Product Sales by 18% – Learn how Skyline Exhibits identifies and responds to problems in a way that improves its value to customers.

Sales-Marketing Alignment: How consistent messaging helped ADP engage customers at a faster pace – ADP reveals how Marketing and Sales align themselves to enhance the value proposition by identifying and responding to unmet customer needs.

Content Marketing: Slow, steady pay off for manufacturer – Find out how a manufacturer’s simple email campaign, featuring one piece of relevant content a month, is producing more leads than trade shows at a fraction of the price.

Related Resources:

MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2013 Wrap-up: Top 5 takeaways for email marketers

Mining Gold through Email Integration: 3 lessons from MarketingSherpa Email Awards 2013 winners

Email Marketing: 142% higher open rate, 15% bigger list from retailer’s strategy

Marketing Automation: 25% more engagement, 0% unsubscribe in 4-email series

Email Marketing

Brian Carroll

How Dissatisfied CEOs Push Marketers into the Future

Brian Carroll February 25th, 2013

I feel very fortunate to work with some of the world’s most progressive marketers.  Whether they’re MECLABS Research Partners or attendees at one of our Summits, these marketers are driven to prove to their leadership that their efforts drive a return on investment.

They focus on measurable outcomes that translate into revenue, not vague notions like “brand awareness” that were the cornerstone of marketing back in the day. This is why they are attracted to us: We don’t believe there are expert marketers, only expert testers.  At MECLABS, we approach marketing more as a science than an art.

So, when I saw this article in MarketingWeek, 70% of CEOs Have Lost Trust in Marketers, it gave me pause. Interviews with 1,200 CEOs across North America, Europe, Asia and Australia revealed they believe marketers have “continuously failed” to prove marketing strategies deliver on business growth.

Are CEOs disappointed, or are they just waking up?

The article concerned me because these findings are completely incongruous with what I witness among the marketers I come in contact with every day. I believe the results are merely a snapshot: A static picture of what is happening right now.

It misses the point of a massive trend developing. CEOs are waking up. They’re seeing opportunity to align key performance indicators (KPIs) with clear marketing objectives. This is probably why doing a better job of acting on data to improve marketing performance is the goal of 66% of the 1,260 marketers surveyed as part of MarketingSherpa’s 2013 Marketing Analytics Benchmark Report. (Check out the report’s free excerpt.)

The Internet has closed down old-school marketing

The old-school approach to marketing, with the fuzziness associated with measuring the brand impact of traditional media like television, is running its course. The Internet has changed the playing field.

However, the Internet is more than a channel – it’s a laboratory to get into the customer’s mind and close the gap between the customer’s reality and ours. We use the Internet to focus on the customer, not the product, and to translate those findings across online and offline marketing so the organization is fully aligned with customers’ desires.

A return to true marketing

When this happens, so does effective marketing. To paraphrase Peter Drucker, the aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.

How well you’re able to do this is measured in marketing KPIs like conversions and clickthrough rates, but those need to be translated into what matters most to CEOs:

  • More leads
  • More revenue
  • Shorter time to revenue
  • Improved marketing-to-sales expense

Fortunately, that’s what the marketers we work with are mastering through leveraging the Internet. They’re testing what’s most resonating with customers, and what isn’t, and then revising campaigns accordingly to drive the best results.

I believe these marketers represent the other end of the CEO spectrum: The 20% featured in the article who believe their marketers provide a return on investment, have “solid influence” within their organizations, and are candidates for senior management.

These marketers represent the future of the profession.

Related Resources:

How to Get the CEO to Support Your Next Marketing Plan

Most important B2B Marketing Metrics For CEOs

Is Revenue Contribution the Best Executive Metric for Demand Generation Investments?

Marketing Data: Using predictive analytics to make sense of big data

Marketing Strategy

Brian Carroll

Thriving in the Pressure Cooker: 5 tips for optimize your time, knowledge for better lead gen

Brian Carroll December 3rd, 2012

It’s year-end. For marketers and sales professionals, the pressure cooker we live in all year is turned up a few notches.

What’s awesome about actual pressure cookers is that you can get great results from them. They cook as much as ten times faster than conventional cooking methods.

But, unless you know how to use the optimal amount of liquid, time and pressure, you’re going create an inedible mess and will have wasted more time than you saved. You can’t simply add pressure and expect optimal results.

So it is with generating leads – yet, when the funnel needs to be fed now, we toss in more leads, turn up the pressure, and voila! We expect robust sales.

I was reminded of this mindset when I recently taught a day-long seminar on B2B Marketing Best Practices at ExactTarget’s Connections 2012 conference. My colleague Dave Green and I were essentially giving marketers the ingredients they needed to thrive in a pressure-cooker lead-gen environment:

If you want to learn a little more about these subjects, check out the links adjacent to the bullet points.

The challenge marketers have repeatedly complained about, however, at this and pretty much every conference I’ve had the privilege of speaking at, is finding time to apply what they’ve learned. Using time intelligently, and setting aside the to-do list for what’s most important as opposed to what’s most urgent, is key to thriving in a pressure cooker.

Peter Drucker said it best in his book, The Effective Executive. He explains that time is our scarcest resource — it cannot be bought or sold, and therefore, must be used as effectively as possible. Even though this book was written nearly a half-century ago, its precepts are more relevant than ever.

This has inspired me to develop five best practices, based on Drucker’s teachings, to use your time to optimally incorporate what you’ve learn at conferences, and beyond, into your business:

  1. Shortly after a conference, block an entire day out of your calendar to synthesize what you’ve learned. Do it as a matter of course every time you register for an event.
  2. Use that time to strategically think about what would be the most valuable application of the intelligence you’ve gained.
  3. Prepare a lesson plan for your team. Educate them about what you’ve learned and how you would like to apply it to your business. Get their feedback and ideas. Not only are you empowering them, you’re also taking your own learning to a new level and multiplying the return on your conference investment.
  4. Together, strategize how you can use this education to achieve your most pressing goals, and then develop a road map to move you forward in that direction.
  5. Implement this strategy. Making a strategy isn’t the hard part, implementing it is. To paraphrase Drucker, until a strategy has degenerated into hard work, it is merely an intention. (This is where a to-do list comes in.)

When the pressure cooker is turned up so high it feels like it’s going to blow, remember, we have at our disposal more intelligence than ever before to help us generate better leads faster. We just have to make sure we take the time to absorb and apply it. I believe this is what’s going to separate the lead generation winners from the losers in the 21st century.

What ideas do you have to efficiently and effectively incorporate the vast amount of information that’s available today into better lead generation? Share them in the comments – I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Related Resources:

Email Summit 2013 – February 19-22, Las Vegas

Lead Scoring: How to pick the right ingredients for high ROI

Lead Nurturing: Market to personality and behavior, not job title
B2B Lead-Gen: Top tactics for a crisis-proof strategy

My Key Takeaways as a B2B Summit Clinic Coach: Top lessons from real-world marketers and actionable ideas to drive marketing success

Lead Generation

Brian Carroll

Ideal Customer Profiles: 5 steps to ensure your lead generation stays on target

Brian Carroll October 22nd, 2012

Joe is newly single. He met his last girlfriend on an online dating site. So, he resurrected his ad, and the new quest began.

Except it was so much harder! He had plenty of dates; he just couldn’t quite connect with anyone. They were nice enough and pretty enough, but there was no chemistry. Like when he raved about his favorite musicians — Jane’s Addiction, Cake and Liz Phair — all of his potential sweethearts stared blankly.

“Uh, who?” they queried.

The problem was that Joe hadn’t been online since 2002, and he didn’t change what he was looking for since then, either.  The women he really would have connected with were older, and maybe even divorced.

Joe’s market is no longer never-married and 21, even though he thought it was.

It’s Q4, do you know who your market is?

So it is with your marketplace. Nothing remains stagnant. That’s why it’s critical to make sure your market is still who you think it is.

How do you do this? Through developing an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) and updating it at least every six months. An ICP is the foundation of your entire lead generation program. It enables you, through database analysis, to identify the people and businesses that will benefit your organization the most. It helps you narrow your lead generation universe and provide a standard against which you can prescreen opportunities.

Here are the steps to developing an ICP:

  1. Identify your five best customers

    • Those who provide the most revenue and profit
    • Those who are delightful to do business with
  2. Identify your five worst customers

    • Those who give you the least revenue and profit
    • Those who are challenging to do business with
  3. Create profiles for each and populate them with:

    • Their SIC (Standard Industrial Classification) and/or NAICS (North American Industrial Classification) codes
    • Annual revenue
    • Number of employees
    • The positions and roles of your key contacts
    • The scope of the organization – local, regional, national, global
    • Their business situation – are they a startup, mature, in growth or decline?
    • Internal/and external factors affecting the company
    • Psychographics, such as corporate values, culture and philosophy
  4. Trigger events that attracted them into your database in the first place.

    Common trigger events include changes in:

    • Strategies
    • Financing
    • Ownership
    • Legislation
    • Buying processes, influencing roles and decision-making roles
  5. Analyze what they have in common:

    • Your worst customers should look completely different than your best
    • You should see a distinct picture of where your target market lies

Data analysis = Truth

Everyone has an opinion, which may or may not be accurate. An ICP created through thorough customer data analysis reveals the unvarnished truth. It is based on objective evidence of marketplace behavior, not on observations that can shift with every individual’s perspective.

The dangers of not having an accurate ICP: If your ICP isn’t spot on, your lead generation will be off and there will be no getting it on track.  You could have the perfect channels and execution, but it won’t attract whom you want. Or, it will turn people off.

One MECLABS Research Partner related how it tripled its Google AdWords spend and doubled its digital marketing investment, but hadn’t reviewed its ICP in two years. The result: Its lead conversion decreased by 50%. The Research Partner’s marketplace had changed dramatically over the last two years, and it was targeting the wrong people. The company didn’t bother to look at the qualities of who has been attracted to them recently.

The benefits of having an accurate ICP: An accurate ICP can increase revenues without increasing budget.

Consider another Research Partner. The company wanted to increase its average sale, which had been about $60,000. We advised the team to develop a database of prospects that fit its ICP. We then conducted a lead generation campaign. In the first year of the new program, the average sale rose to $80,000, while revenue increased by 20%. The sales team focused on fewer opportunities, but these opportunities were of much higher quality. The team achieved more revenue without spending more money or more time. Learn more about that in my book, Lead Generation for the Complex Sale.

The upshot: An ICP ensures you take full advantage of the very best lead generation opportunities and never waste time, resources or energy settling for so-so ones.

Related Resources:

Lead Generation Check list – Part 3: Develop and intensify your Ideal Customer Profile

My Key Takeaways as a B2B Summit Clinic Coach: Top lessons from real-world marketers and actionable ideas to drive marketing success

Lead Generation: 4 critical success factors to designing a pilot

Marketing Research Chart: Top-rated tactics for developing value propositions that resonate and convert

Lead Generation