Monthly Archives: September 2012

Data From Sales Leads – Sometimes Less Is More!

Sales Leads, Cloud Computing Sales Leads, B2B LeadsWhen gathering the data for sales leads, having more isn’t always the best. Think of your salespeople for a minute. Do they always sound like they can’t get enough leads? More importantly, do they even need that many leads despite how many software projects your business is already working on?

No matter what your size, there will be times when you’re at capacity. Of course, that can be seen as a good thing. Your business is finally underway when it comes to doing what it does best. It shows that your previous sales leads have been highly qualified and resulted in successful deals.

Realism still needs to kick in though. Despite that success, you don’t want too much work to handle. It stretches your resources and could compromise what otherwise could have been good results. For example, if you’re still developing a new software upgrade but your salespeople are harping about another opportunity because of it, that upgrade might not deliver as well as you’d hope because you were rushing to meet expectations.

It’s like when you’re storing data (e.g. customer data, documents, even a collection of pictures). Is having all that data stockpiled somewhere (in your private database, flash disks, hard drives etc) really necessary? Is there ever a point where it isn’t?

As a matter of fact, even online storage isn’t spared. If you’re providing such a service, do you encourage this type of data-hoarding behavior among your own cloud computing subscribers? Daniel W. Rasmus just posted a very informative article on Fast Company detailing the symptoms:

What are we hoarding now? Online storage. Have you collected Microsoft SkyDrive, Google Drive, Box, and Amazon cloud storage like flash drives to some virtual key ring? Do you have images scattered across Apple’s Photostream, Google + and Picassa, Flickr, and Facebook?

If your answer is yes, then you have Distributed Data Disorder (DDD). This is no imaginary aliment. I spent nearly five hours over the weekend rationalizing the gigabytes of data that I had stored in SkyDrive and Dropbox. Duplicates, in some cases–folders with the same intent but with different names, each containing bits of my writing, my business, my personal life.”

If this sounds like your clients, or worse, sounds like you, then it’s time you realize that having all that information on your cloud computing sales leads won’t always spell success. The article may describe the disease in cloud storage but hoarding data can clearly be a bad marketing and sales habit too. Here’s what you should do:

  • Start setting a limit – When you’re working at capacity, start telling your salespeople to slow down but also go beyond that and make sure the marketers providing them leads also get the message. If you’re outsourcing, you should at least be just as familiar with your provider and collaborate closely on how to get them out of overdrive.
  • Share your advice with customers – If you have customers that are suffering this same habit in terms of data storage, share your message with them. A good suggestion would be to use your outsourced marketer to send out an advisory or survey via telemarketing. Show them what you’ve learned from the lesson of organizing data and evaluating its importance.
  • Market supportive applications – In the article, Rasmus recommends a few tools. If you’re offering similar tools, then have your marketers and salespeople focus on those instead of giving your business too much work.

Again, there are times when less is in fact more. Minimizing the demand for software leads isn’t always a bad idea when you’re already at capacity.

How Telemarketing Is The Precursor To Online Marketing

Telemarketing, B2B Telemarketing, Lead GenerationGiven the Internet-based model of cloud computing, the use of telemarketing seems out of place. It makes more sense to use social media, online marketing, and web advertising to promote your cloud-based solution and communicate with your market.

However, are you aware that what telemarketing is the precursor to all of those?

It all goes back the same way the Internet you know and love goes back to the telephone. Telemarketing made use of available technology. It targeted a certain audience. And most of all, it was eventually faced with opposition and restriction. The first two are also important for attracting your cloud computing leads and increase subscriptions. If you think that last one is the exception though, you’ll soon find yourself wrong.

Now, here’s how telemarketers specifically fulfilled each objective:

It made use of technology.

The telephone may have advanced a long way when telemarketing was first used in the past 20th century. However, when telemarketing was first introduced, it was just as much a new thing for businesses then as internet marketing is the new thing now. Furthermore, even today’s telemarketers are coming to apply much of their experience on new tools like email.

It targeted a certain audience

Both B2C and B2B companies have always used a form of targeting when sending out their messages. Today, Internet marketers have email listings, the power of social media profiling, as well as behavioral tracking to identify the people viewing their sites. But back then, they had similar counterparts in mailing lists, call lists, and good, old-fashioned market research. In either case, both acknowledge the importance of keeping in touch with one’s customers.

It faced opposition and restriction

Speaking of behavioral tracking though, here’s the part where you’d be wrong about how online marketing is not facing a restriction that strongly parallels that of telemarketing. According to Venture Beat, this restriction is none other than the new, “Do not Track” option:

For advertisers, behavioral tracking is an effective way to develop a strong profile on web users so they can better target ads. But for privacy groups and web users, it’s a massive breach in privacy that goes against the most basic tenets of the web. Originally proposed in 2009, Do Not Track is the “Do not call” of the digital age, a way for users to tell advertising companies that they want to opt out of behavioral tracking.”

Honestly, one big mistake people make when pitting new marketing tools like websites against traditional ones like B2B telemarketing is they forget they share the same opposition. The Do-Not-Call registers were developed in the same way. Customers grew fed up of intrusive calls and wanted them locked down.

Be it B2B or B2C, it’s this demand for customer privacy that has always kept marketing, as a whole, in check. No matter what you do, that is the customer’s right and no new form of marketing is going to change that demand.

The bright side to this however is that it calls everyone on the side of marketing and sales to look back and realize how history is only repeating itself. As a cloud service provider, you yourself would know a thing or two about customer privacy. Instead of figuring out new ways to violate that privacy, why not look to how the old ways have come to respect them instead? That’s the thing about consulting precursors like the telemarketers. They’ve long learned lessons that are still being learned by their successors.

Get Telemarketing Groups To Help Monitor Cyber Threats

Telemarketing, Outsourced Telemarketing, Sales LeadsTelemarketing groups might not boast the high-end computer expertise to evaluate cyber threats but they can focus on one thing: the users.

Make no mistake, even telemarketers will turn to software professionals when it comes to the actual heavy work of identifying and addressing a cyber threat. On the other hand, the effects of these threats tend to be understood on far more simpler terms by the users themselves. They may not understand how or why something is wrong but the fact remains: something is wrong. This makes engagement very important when evaluating a threat and that is where telemarketing comes in.

You also don’t have to be a security vendor just to have this obligation. Most business software providers are still called to a considerable measure of software security, especially when it comes to handling sensitive business data. Two major examples would be payroll and CRM.

But more than that, even the IT security firms prefers to take matters into their own hands rather than wait around for the support of law enforcement and federal action. What more reason do you need in order to do the same?

Though speaking of which, take a look at this Forbes article if you’re still not convinced that software companies shouldn’t be as active in monitoring these threats on their own. Asides from the argument about how the route of government intervention will only be a wasted effort, the author also says:

As new threats have developed– from cyber crime, to nation state espionage, to weaponized malware targeting uranium gas centrifuges– the industry has reacted. There are now tools that collect intelligence, identify previously unknown attack attempts, and alert network operators to successful intrusions, giving them the ability to track down and eradicate them. Major security vendors already gather threat intelligence from hundreds of thousands of deployed devices. New firms are even actively infiltrating and gathering information from hacker and cyber criminal forums.”

But again, while outsourced telemarketing may lack the specialized IT and computer knowledge, they can get feedback from your users. These users, in turn, are likely to exhibit one of the many noticeable symptoms of cyber attacks. Some of the things you could already try are:

  • A customer service call center: Many business decision makers don’t have time to wait for an email response and if it’s an automated one, that will only aggravate their impatience. That’s why your customer support should always give a number to call and a real representative to receive it.
  • A brief phone survey – While you’re generating ERP leads, have your strategy emulate a survey. Like a survey, your telemarketers can ask questions that touch upon the usual signs of software difficulties. You may not qualify all the time but at least you have verifiable information to work with.
  • Small advisory – In case your specialists have already identified a threat beforehand, you can use the telephone as a means of spreading the word. Even if some threats are easily remedied, there’s always the human element when it comes to your customer’s security policies and protocol.

Having eyes on the users is just as important as focusing on a cyber threat down to the level of hard code. For one thing, not all users are really capable of grasping the finer details of IT or computer science. They can, however, easily realize that something in their system is going berserk or critical information has been compromised. Get a telemarketing firm to help you monitor signs coming from them so as to be even more on the alert for cyber threats.

How To Tweak Telemarketing To Discover Overlooked Problems

Telemarketing, Outsourced Telemarketing, Software LeadsOutsourcing telemarketing doesn’t always make it cheap. The actual process can be tweaked to discover software problems that tend to be overlooked. Of course, you can’t entirely put people at fault for underestimating these problems. On the surface level, some of the tasks the involve business software tend to look mundane and repetitive.

Underneath that though is a very important system that handles information critical to the daily functions of a business. Any problems that occur within these systems can cause multiple business processes to halt. Why would you be in this industry if such dangers were non-existent? With the right targeting, you can use telemarketing to draw attention to these problems as well as keep in touch in case more come up.

Below is just one case of underestimating a software problem’s impact, taken from Crain’s Chicago Business:

United Airlines has been experiencing a systemwide outage of their passenger service system (PSS), SHARES, since at least 3:20p Eastern time. This system is used for reservations, ticketing, check-ins, etc. It is not operationally involved with safety of aircraft, but is critical for checking in and, in some cases, boarding passengers. It is expected to have a significant impact on United’s airline this evening as flights will be delayed substantially because passengers will be unable to checkin for their flights as well as the other operational roles of SHARES.”

Read closely. It says right there that while the system isn’t involved in the safety of aircraft (a major concern for both passenger and airline employee), it’s still critical for another important business process: check-ins.

While compared to, say, the dangers of aircraft malfunction, you’d be tempted to take trouble at the check-in counter any day. That still doesn’t take away the reality that check-in time can poses as a major hurdle when catching a flight. If any of you have ever taken a single business trip, you’d admit this to be true.

Starting with outsourced telemarketing, you can determine similar information software problems so as to prevent delays in similar business processes. A few advantages you can make use of are:

  • Getting a prospect’s attention: Some information problems tend to take a higher priority on a prospect’s mind. That’s why it’s important to ask them questions that would point to a problem they consider a lower priority. A well-timed phone call will not only get their attention, squeeze in a brief conversation will give them a cause to rethink about their priorities.
  • Determining a problem: Be warned, not everything that is perceived to be a problem turns out so. That’s another advantage of telemarketing. You have agents that are trained to easily adjust their message and their questions in order to really get a clear picture of their prospect’s situation.
  • A surefire follow-up: Not everyone will automatically consider so it’s only proper for a telemarketing crew to call at some other time. They might even leave a calling card of some sort, like an informative email. This sets everything up for the next time they call.

Qualifying sales leads requires problem identification. This includes identifying problems that are often overlooked because they don’t seem so urgent at first glance. Tweak your telemarketing advantage by focusing on its ability to draw attention to a problem and follow-up on it to make sure it’s not underestimated.

How To Attract Sales Leads With Simplified Stats

Sales Leads, Software Sales Leads, Lead GenerationLike many software companies, vendors of SCM technologies like to use case studies, reliable research, and impressive statistics to attract sales leads. After all, it’s not very easy to argue with solid proof.

Despite that, many people not only underestimate the amount of effort required but also the effort of determining what actually drives the point home to your prospects. The numbers, percentages, and sheer size of data is double edged. As an analogy, think of it as staring up a giant. For some, a giant’s size is impressive but for others, it’s terrifying. That is the risk you’re taking each time you present findings and research in the hopes of generating software sales leads.

Although, it’s also hard to argue against the inevitable event that a prospect will have people look into the finer details. Many SCM professionals are all about looking more deeply into the flow between suppliers and retailers. The slightest anomaly in any phase is enough to be of grave concern.

Regardless, it’s still a fact that you grab their interest by citing things that hold a lot of significance to them. Attract your SCM leads by using the sales funnel as a guide to focus on the basics of what your prospects want. Only after that should you expound upon them.

  • Step 1: Start with what’s simple – How you begin the conversation between yourself and your prospects slightly depends on your main channel of communication but mostly depends on focusing first on their simple grievances. You should also simplify the research results and find out which of these results are the ones your target businesses are looking for. Speak more in their language but avoid too much jargon (even of the business variety).
  • Step 2: Maintain focus during the conversation For example, if your case findings are available for download on your website, there’s a chance that you’ll get emailed about a certain quotation. Focus only on that. They expressed concern about this part for a reason and that reason it’s something they consider very relevant to their own situation. When elaborating, still keep simplicity in mind. Exert all effort if you want but don’t demand the same from your prospect.
  • Step 3: Qualify within reasonable parameters – All right so your conversation is going good. The prospect is getting more interested in the results and wants to experience the same for his or her company. Yet despite that, there’s still a desire to keep the discussion going. You (or at least your marketers) are hitting the limits of their own knowledge. Signs like these are indicators that it’s time to qualify. Politely tell them that your salespeople know more and are willing to go deeper into what solutions can be offered.

Generating sales leads has always been about starting with simple information and then diving deeper into the complex. SCM professionals aren’t total strangers to this as some of them actually have to exercise these same skills when reporting findings to their own superiors (as well as subordinates). But like them, you have to start first with the simplified stats.

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