Monthly Archives: September 2012

Can Lead Generation Depend On Superstar Investors?

Lead Generation, Software Lead Generation, Business LeadsQuestions like the title pop out every now and then. Those who’ve already had experience in lead generation tend to think the answer is obvious. On the other hand, even they don’t know its full implications when you consider the hype surrounding influence marketing.

Many of them seem plenty convinced that influence marketing is either the new marketing revolution (with social media leading the charge) while others think it’s playing with fire and hanging your PR over it. Both have actually valid points and showcasing any investors who just happen to be superstars is not much of a different strategy.

But as an enterprise software vendor, do you think it’s a good idea? This article from Fast Company poses a set of four very important questions to challenge your decision:

Are they Beliebers in your product?”

In that sense, it doesn’t matter how many followers a celebrity has on Twitter or how much engagement they could potentially create. If they’re not the right fit for your startup–and your product–then it won’t matter.”

The article starts off with what’s possibly the most crucial of the four: Do you they actually believe in your product? More importantly, is their image even relevant to that of yours? The article talks about involvement. Can you imagine a celebrity having that sort of involvement (for instance, demonstrating proper use of your CRM application or HR management tools)? That’s an image you need to project to your prospects if you want to spark their interest that way. Granted, there are a lot of major influencers out there in your own software market but is there a high chance you’ll find the best in Hollywood?

Are you starstruck?”

“‘Name recognition hasn’t meant anything to us,’ says the entrepreneur with A-list backers–a celebrity endorsement can’t mask a poor product. The product has to be able to stand on its own.”

Celebrity influence isn’t the end-all of your software lead generation campaign. And given that your targets can include highly critical executives and decision makers, you might only just embarrass yourself. (Do you really want to dangle your PR over that lighter?) Furthermore, even your own marketers can’t help you unless you actually deliver what has been promised. Hype and marketing are no major substitute for fulfilling your prospect’s needs and giving them what they pay for.

Is Kim Kardashian really the new Reid Hoffman?”

So be warned: Don’t expect Kim Kardashian to lead your Series B round. But also remember that celebrities entourage–for every Vincent Chase, you’re likely going to get an Ari Gold. “They have smart managers, smart lawyers, and smart agents–they’re looking to bet on companies and categories that are going to be winners,” says the startup founder.”

Here you can find a flip side. So if you insist on marketing your enterprise solution with the image of having celebrity backers, you should at least consider consulting who actually advises their decision to invest in your company. Who knows, maybe they’re the ones who can give you an idea on how to use their influence to attract ERP leads.

Have you considered the downsides?”

‘One source deeply involved with the celebrity investment community describes the downsides of working with artists and actors: “The problem is most of the higher-level celebrities do not know or understand good design.’”

Getting the wrong people involved is also a bad idea. Again, if they don’t know how your products actually work, you are only going to regret it when they give you feedback without a clue.

Software Lead Generation – Bust Myths, Don’t Make Them

Lead Generation, Sales Lead Generation, Lead GeneratorCreating myths might sound fun if you’re a fan of the subject. That doesn’t mean they’re good in other fields like software and marketing. Unfortunately, sometimes lead generation and marketing campaigns add to that problem by contributing to hype.

It’s a common point of criticism against both B2B and B2C marketers. Yes, their job is to promote. Yes, you need to let potential clients know about you (even if you have to outsource the process).

No, you do not create excess hype to that end. Your sales lead generation strategy mustn’t attract prospects through common software myths and misconceptions.

If you a want an example, and a recent one at that, consider cloud computing software. Many cloud service providers always pitch the same (but still believable) benefits. It reduces costs, eases infrastructure, and even opens up greater possibilities for businesses. Unfortunately, too much focus on these benefits causes prospects to overlook what it takes to really experience them and thus, they act based on common cloud computing myths.

For a brief review on what these myths are, Gigaom has published a list of 6 pitfalls that your prospects must know to avoid when going to the cloud. In the following are just a few citations from it and how your marketers can take part of the blame for the misconception:

2. Go public…if you’re big”

How big is your enterprise? How costly is downtime? How much of a control freak are you? If you answered “massive,” “massively costly,” and “massively type-A,” then the public cloud probably isn’t for you. Outages—though extremely rare—can still occur. “Four nines” uptime sounds great, but it’s also unrealistic. Can your org can handle downtime if your public-cloud data is unavailable?”

This is not just about determining the business size of your cloud computing leads but also relating that size to the kind of customer service they must have. Whether you’re marketing your cloud service to large or small businesses, you need to both make sure that the shoe fits and make sure you lay out the kind of customer support they will have.

4. Don’t worry about security”

Your proprietary data’s safe there. Probably. But public-cloud breaches — though extremely rare — (say it with me) can still occur. And they can be costly. (What’s your cloud data worth to you?)”

Security always has and always will be a major issue for cloud service providers. There’s no getting around the reality that putting something online makes it good game for hackers and cyber criminals. The good news is a combination of good marketing and quality service will demonstrate that it’s more than worth the risk. Don’t be intimidated by popular hacking groups and their publicized threats. What you need to focus on is transparency between yourself and your customers in terms of your security. Be ready to share information and advise them during such events.

The beauty of myths comes from the fact that they’re too good to be true. That’s nice for telling stories but not for promoting your software product. The best way to bust myths though is through replacing them with facts. Facts should be what runs in your messages, not myths.

One Tip For Lead Generation – Give Tips To Your Prospects

Lead Generation, CRM Lead Generation, Generate LeadsHere’s a simple tip if you want a successful lead generation campaign: offer tips to your prospects and customers!

It’s a common notion that both software vendors and more traditional businesses sometimes just can’t connect. Although, with IT and advanced communications driving the world through information, both industries inside and outside software are drawing closer because of increasing, common needs. Two of those would be lead generation and marketing. That’s why it’s all the more important for these two parties to connect and relate.

For example, tools like big data CRM are becoming mainstream throughout the entire business world. Though despite that, many traditional businesses often struggle when using the technology for the first time. Derrick Harris of Gigaom affirms this in his own article:

Big data is going mainstream, but there are still plenty of lessons to be learned from Silicon Valley data scientists whose businesses depend on data to survive. Although their use cases don’t always align with what more-traditional businesses are doing, they know enough about the science and technology to save big-data newcomers a lot of frustration.”

This is where you start giving tips in your marketing materials for your CRM lead generation campaign. In fact, you can consider Harris’ article as one example. Take some of the following ideas he’s presented. Some of these can be posted on your own website (with added input from your own experience). Furthermore, it has applications in marketing as well:

Idea #3: Knowing what to kill

Rather, he explained, using data to determine what features aren’t doing help a company like Salesforce.com decide to put those resources into more-valuable features. “Sometimes it’s more important to know what to kill,” he said.”

Not all features are going to be a big hit and not all tips are that useful. That’s why getting customer feedback and understanding satisfaction are important. Learn to prioritize what kind of advice to give with regards to a customer’s experience.

Idea #4: Providing context

To put it another way, if users know why they’re being shown a particular piece of content or offer or recommendation, they’re more likely to check it out. As a senior data scientist at StumbleUpon, explained, his company invests heavily in big data technologies and data science techniques in order to put the most-relevant web content in front of each user, but knows it’s not enough to expect those users to just trust the service’s judgment.”

Each of your sales leads are unique so don’t just limit the knowledge of context to just marketers. Make sure they inform your salespeople about a prospect’s own software priorities, specifications, and preferences.

Idea #5: Transaction data VS search data

PayPal is trying to traverse this gap, however, beginning with the transactions it processes and using the other data at its disposal (both internally and from external sources such as Facebook and Gnip) to try and figure out who its customers really are and what they really want.”

You can find a connection between ideas 4 and 5. Make sure salespeople are also willing to share knowledge with marketers from their own experience on what customers are like when they’re viewing marketing materials. This should help them grow dynamic when it comes to disseminating tips on how to use big data.

Customers like an expert, especially a credible one. Thus, it’s only common sense that you share some of your expertise so that they can have more benefits than pains when they acquire your product.

B2B Telemarketing VS Consumer Privacy – A Pointless Debate

Telemarketing, Telemarketing Company, Sales LeadsCRM software vendors are no strangers to contending with consumer privacy advocates. These are the same advocates that contended with telemarketing firms and, further back, door-to-door salesmen. But now, as businesses have grown more sophisticated in analyzing their markets, these advocates are sniffing every legal nook and cranny to make sure that even retailers put a leash on incorporating new technologies.

This does not only pose a challenge to retailers but also to vendors who use telemarketing and other B2B marketing tools to approach these retailers. The reactions of the consumers will reflect on retailer’s interest and willingness to adopt their technologies.

But first, as an example of what some of these technologies are, here’s a report from Christopher Matthews of Time Business about how retailers are employing them to compete with their online counterparts:

As I detailed in a recent article, store managers have been fighting back by trying to re-create in physical stores the sort of analytics available to e-commerce firms.”

And of course, the reaction from consumer privacy advocates gets a strong mention as Matthews cite Pam Dixon, an executive of the World Privacy Forum:

That kind of tracking is, according to Dixon, unethical and contrary to shoppers’ expectation of privacy. ‘Legally, stores have the right to put up security cameras, but the consumer expectation of privacy is being circumvented here,’ she says. ‘Because when a consumer looks into that camera, they expect it’s being used for security, not marketing purposes.’”

Fortunately for both retailers and software vendors, you have as much right to challenge these accusations. For example, if you’re qualifying CRM leads and a prospect raises this concern, pose the following questions in return:

Is it truly illegal?

Take note that even Dixon admits:

And even if retailers were using facial-recognition software to identify individual shoppers and combining that information with other data like financial histories, there is nothing necessarily illegal about doing so.”

Just as telemarketing laws actually have exceptions when it comes to businesses, so should you and your agents be quick to rationally defend the use of such technologies. Their customers are the ones entering the store and providing information. In the same manner, your target businesses provided information that allowed you and your telemarketers to call them. How are any of these illegal when there is still a fair amount of responsibility on the part of both customer types?

Is it such a big deal?

Citing Bill Gerba, CEO of WireSpring Technologies:

He thinks consumers should be informed about these marketing tactics but believes most retailers are too wary of the public backlash to use facial-recognition software to individually identify their customers.”

This should carry over to your business. As a matter of fact, a telemarketing company would also tell you something similar and add that you may be confusing reactions from consumers with that of B2B customers.

Is it not transparent?

Says Dixon: ‘I think it’s absolutely crucial for these companies to come clean with the public and disclose what is happening.’”

Coming clean isn’t as difficult or horrible for either retailers or software telemarketers. The technology exists and everyone knows about it just as businesses know their numbers are public and anyone, even other B2B marketers, can call them.

Ultimately, it just goes to show how pointless this debate is. No matter how the more extreme anti-marketing advocates decry this technology, even those who genuinely defend consumer privacy realize there’s not much to really argue over.

How The Same Sales Leads Can Be Generated But At Different Costs

Sales Leads, Software Sales Leads, Lead GenerationWhen faced with the decision between outsourcing for sales leads versus having your own B2B marketers, cost will eventually make itself a factor. On that subject however, one can logically conclude that leads generated in-house can be produced but an outsourced company can accomplish the same at a significantly different costs.

In business software, examples of this reasoning exist as well. In fact, when it comes to big data CRM databases, both marketers and IT professionals have common grounds when it comes to sales leads.

Speaking of big data however, GigaOm just recently published an article about how even an in-house group of a large company can share similar levels of capability as small businesses that operate the same function. The large company in question is none other than Disney and its Technology Solutions & Services group:

By the sheer power of its will (and ingenuity), a small team has been able to craft a large custom platform out of Hadoop, NoSQL databases and other open-source technologies.”

So what’s the counterpart to this in marketing and generating CRM leads? Simple. What they did was not much different from an in-house group using a mix of cheap but effective marketing strategies and trying to get them to work. On the other hand, these are usually the same strategies being deployed by smaller lead generator companies. In fact, even the head of Disney’s tech team treated his own group not much differently:

Initially, Jacob said, “We treated ourself like a small consulting organization and we had something to sell.” When a division wanted it to use the platform for a particular function, Jacob would say yes and then get busy actually figuring out how to build it.”

Now at this point, here is where you’ll see the difference in costs despite the similarities (if not exact replication) of the results.

Building custom tools is fine when you don’t have a choice, but it’s not always wise when buying something could save untold man-hours and headaches.”

Most of the article explains the exact process through which Disney’s own in-house team developed their big data platform. But despite attempts to reduce costs, there will always be the challenge of more man-hours and the painful process of overcoming mistakes. And unlike a Fortune 100 company like Disney, your business might not have the right marketing team willing enough to generate the same amount of software sales leads as an outsourced company.

To conclude, here are some factors you should review when comparing the possible costs of your sales leads to that of many outsourced providers:

  • Time: Just as Arun Jacob decided to spend time in learning how to manage the open-source software, so must your in-house marketers be willing to pour the extra time to learning what form of marketing works best for them. Keep in mind however that when it comes generating leads, you have to be quick as you’re in a race with competitors.
  • Experience: On the subject of learning, this is where experience plays a critical role. How adept are the people you recruited in terms of promoting your software? It’s not just in terms of individuals by the way, but as a team.
  • Will: And of course, whoever is in charge of your marketing must have the will to actually push on despite failure and despite the pressure. This is where the headaches come in. If you’d think they’d perform other tasks better when free of such pressure, then outsourcing seems a more logical option.
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