Tag Archives: generate sales leads

How To Prioritize Your Methods Of Generating Software Leads

Software Sales Leads

If you’ve been following the status of Facebook’s stock market performance, then you’re well aware of the debate that ranges around its value for advertising. On the other hand, the value of online advertising itself has long been called to question. If this is already a problem for B2C brands, how much more for B2B brands like those in ERP software? Cases like this are a good reason to seriously re-evaluate the ways with which you generate software leads.

 

Generating software leads starts with getting a prospect’s attention. Naturally, marketers assume that online advertising will get them that attention. After all, these are advertisements are on the Internet. Like anything on the Internet, they’ll be presented to an audience of over a million people.

 

However, that value is being put to question because, ironically, both online and social media have diminished the role of advertising as a source of information. (Then again, some might even argue that advertising was never that informative to begin with.) Customers (both B2C and B2B) have been empowered to obtain more information on their own as well as from their own peers. No doubt, advertising still gets attention but by itself, it has lost much of its capacity to push prospects all the way through the sales process. You don’t need to just grab their attention. You need to first avoid making assumptions about that interest, learn about the finer details about their need for an enterprise solution, and set an appointment should the sales team specify the moment where you pass over the baton.

 

This means that it’s about time to consider the alternatives. And by now, you might already be familiar with several of them: email marketing, social media, telemarketing, direct mail etc. These alternatives have to be prioritized according to how effective they might be. Of course, with so many advocates each saying that their method works better, it’s hard to come up with some proper guidelines. Fortunately, just take the following steps to come up with an objective conclusion:

 

  • Find what appeals to your target market – Since you’re an ERP software vendor, your target market comprises of influential decision makers and high-ranking business executives. And as you can already tell, getting their attention won’t be easy. These people are clearly a bit above your average consumer so appealing to them is about appealing to their preferences. Most likely, these decision makers would want a one-on-one, direct marketing approach. This could mean telemarketing or email. You don’t have to start cold calling immediately or firing off email blasts but engagement through these channels must be done early.
  • Play to your strengths while outsourcing – Your market can suddenly shift their preferences to any popular channel and it might be hard to constantly invest in a fully multi-channel approach just to keep up. Your resources could get painfully divided. You should play according to your strengths and maintain your mastery over a certain approach. Meanwhile, outsource those other tools so that their respective channels can still be covered. Outsource a web design team if you need a website or outsource a telemarketer if you need a call center.
  • Use the others methods as support – The other methods don’t have to be entirely discarded. They just need to be directed to give support to the main component of your ERP lead generation process. Find ways to integrate them all.

How To Integrate Telemarketing With Other B2B Lead Generation Methods – #5: Direct Mail

Software Leads

With today’s technology, from mobile SMS to email, most people are assuming that direct mail is dying (if not dead already). Electronic and digital forms of communication are making the old-fashioned mailing system look not only obsolete but also more expensive.

 

However, new findings from the DMA’s 2012 Response Rate Report are showing that people actually give more response to direct mail than they do to digital forms of marketing. In the graph below, you will see that despite the relatively low percentage of responses for direct mail, email is quite dismal by comparison:

 

Another thing you will notice from the graph however is that the response rate to the phone is actually higher than the rest of them! This could be good news for telemarketers but what’s truly interesting is that both telemarketing and direct mail have been popularly depicted as behind the times.

 

And make no mistake, they both possess flaws which justify this depiction. For telemarketing, you may have already heard enough about the typical objections of being pushy and disruptive. It’s why B2B telemarketers have to contend with gatekeepers who in turn indirectly delay your efforts to generate sales leads.

 

Direct mail, on the other hand, suffers similar though not as disruptive deficiencies.

 

  • It can be slower in comparison to digital and electronic channels.
  • The costs of printing an appealing and well-designed marketing letter significantly add to the costs.
  • Responses are even harder to measure. There’s no magical way to know that your letter was opened.
  • Like email, it can be just tossed in the trash but it’s slightly worse given the physical space it actually occupies (as well as additional environmental concerns).
  • B2B software can be a complicated thing to market. You need to be careful not to overwhelm or underwhelm the prospect with excess or insufficient information respectively. It’s far more difficult considering the physical restrictions of a letter.

 

Still, despite that, the higher response rate of direct mail can actually make it a more powerful tool to integrate with telemarketing. Email marketing and telemarketing can also be used together to improve the rate of connecting with a B2B prospect. The mail is meant to either signal the arrival of a call or encourage a call from the prospects themselves. This minimizes the disruptive effect that people hate about telemarketing. Either way, you can actually think of direct mail as an upgraded version of using email. It may be slower and more expensive, but the response rate is higher.

 

And at this point, you might be wondering, “How is this possible?” This might surprise you but some of the guesses are based simply on common sense. Because of the mass use of SMS and email, messages have lost their personal touch. It can be argued, for example, that even a decision maker is more likely to look at a message when they can tell the effort it took to design and print it. This is something worth considering if you feel that email is not doing enough for your telemarketing services and would like to turn it up a notch.

How To Integrate Telemarketing With Other B2B Lead Generation Methods – #3: Social Media

Appointment Setting

Of all the latest forms of online communication, social media is the youngest but also fastest growing medium of choice for business. Even in B2B, the value of using social media to engage with a target market has challenged the value of website and email marketing. And with B2B sites like LinkedIn dominated by high-tech corporations such as IBM and Oracle, this medium is definitely worth exploring if you’re also in the business of enterprise software.

 

This sounds like bad news for the much older methods such as direct mail and telemarketing. However, is the value of social media really so exclusive to the social networking sites that embody it? To determine this, you should first try and identify the things that appear to put social media above the rest:

 

  • It’s not disruptive – Unlike telemarketing, notifications share the same advantage as website and email marketing. It doesn’t disrupt anybody’s day, whether it’s a busy IT manager or the regular techie playing Call of Duty at home.
  • It drives engagement – When you post something interesting on Facebook or Twitter, you will attract a lot of responses. Websites and emails don’t necessarily do this right compared to social media. Websites are publicly exposed on the net but might not have as many people browsing them. Emails can start conversations but they’re often ignored due to spam filters. Oddly enough, this capacity to engage and grab attention is actually shared by telemarketing (if it’s done right).
  • It’s not as messy – In social media, you don’t need to worry about having to clean a flooded inbox or a trash bin full of old marketing letters.
  • It gives new insight – Plenty of people see potential in analyzing the data that comes from social media. Things like the number of ‘Likes’ and having certain affiliations have allowed even the social sites themselves to reach their targets more accurately. It also allows businesses another way to hear what customers are saying and see if there’s anything that can be done to improve products and services.

 

 

From the looks of it, perhaps the reason why social media seems to top all three of the other methods is because it has managed to integrate what worked best for all of them. It allows engagement and the acquisition of information straight from the market just like telemarketing and email. Meanwhile, it attracts the same amount of attention as a website (if not more) without being too disruptive.

 

In the process though, it has managed to integrate some of the biggest weaknesses. Like email, discussions on social networks can take forever. Like websites, you shouldn’t try and talk too much about yourself on your social media profile. Like telemarketing, there are still obstacles to watch out for when making attempts to connect.

 

This might surprise you though but even a telemarketing company can make up for those weaknesses. The reason is because there are companies like them who see the strengths and weaknesses of information gained from social networking sites. It tells them, for instance, the name of the company. It also tells them who the decision makers are and what industry they’re in. However, they also know that they need to go beyond that and try to shift the online discussions into more real forms of conversation (like those over the phone), and perhaps even ending it with appointment setting to finally meet the prospect in person!

How To Integrate Telemarketing With Other B2B Lead Generation Methods – #1: E-mail

B2B Lead Generation

With so many new means of communication, you can’t possible think that only one is needed to successfully connect (and stay connected) with clients. Today, more B2B marketing professionals are starting to see that relying on a single medium for contacting prospects is inconvenient and counterproductive to the whole process. The best solution is no longer based on rejection but integration. What methods can you use besides the one you just tried?

 

But before that, you’re probably wondering: why is it so counterproductive? Many people are often in favor of one method over another. In fact, lead generation companies have a natural tendency to defend the method with which they use to serve their own clients. Who is to be believed?

 

The problem is just that. They’re not comfortable discussing the shortcomings of their methods. You can be a direct mail, email, or even telemarketing company and still this would be something you all would have in common. There are flaws to each, singular approach but instead of thinking outside the box, they resort to defensiveness and business apologetics.

 

Speaking of which, consider telemarketing as the main example because it’s one of the oldest yet still common means of contacting business owners and decision makers. However, it’s not without its limitations. Gatekeepers pose as one of the major obstacles to telemarketers. It takes a lot of skill and preparation to know the right words that will convince them to let you through. If not gatekeepers, voice mail also poses as a problem because that too is being monitored (be it by the decision makers or one of their secretaries).

 

Now there’s another method which has been gaining increasing support ever since the internet has begun impacting the way businesses engage with their market: email.

 

Granted, there have been signs indicating the email isn’t all that new anymore either. Regardless, it’s the type of message that’s more likely to bypass the gatekeeper. It’s fast too and you don’t have to wait too long with the handset to your ear before hanging up (or rehearsing a message to leave in voice mail). You’re just leaving the message directly at their online doorstep. If the prospect replies, there can be plenty of room for a very detailed discussion.

 

And yet, just like telemarketing, it has its own flaws. Where telemarketers have gatekeepers, email marketers have spam filters. And even in the event that you managed to bypass it, you have to be careful with how you word everything from the subject line to the content. When you think about it, that’s hardly any different from rehearsing a script to make it not sound like a sales pitch.

 

At this point, this is where you should consider integration. Combine the two methods so that you can bypass both their obstacles. In the following, you will find several ways this can be done:

 

  • You can send an email to announce the call. Even if the message wasn’t read, you can tell the gatekeeper about it. If it was sent successfully, you have a really high chance of being let through.
  • If you’re not really eager to disturb, simply make the call first and tell them you’ll send an email later. Just to be safe, you might want to give this message directly to the decision maker.
  • When a prospect responds, there’s also the wise option of asking them how they’d like to continue. Decision makers are still people too and they have preferences on how they’d like to communicate.

B2B Leads From Social Media Need To Be Social

B2B Lead Generation

The recent wave of doubts regarding Facebook’s advertising platform isn’t actually new. A couple of months before talk of its IPO, Matthew Ingram of GigaOm wrote a blog about struggle of social media sites to please advertising prospects.

 

How is this connected to B2B leads? Isn’t there are world of difference between marketing B2B and B2C? While this may be so, plenty of B2B groups are already delving into social media as part of their overall online marketing plan. With regards to Facebook though, Ingram implies that the value of social media doesn’t lie in putting ads but actually making use of the social experience between company and customer:

 

“And if you don’t want to just inject ads into a stream or onto a Facebook page, then you might have to develop an actual conversation with your users in order to get your message across, and that can be a lot of work — so much so that some advertisers might not see the payoff as being worth it.”

 

But unlike advertisers, lead generators aren’t shy of putting that much work seeing as how the entire process is about finding out needs and establishing a relationship even before the sale. It’s one reason why most B2B companies use more direct means of communication (e.g. targeted email, telemarketing) in order to establish contact instead of the usual route of advertising deployed by B2C companies. Social media shouldn’t be different. In fact, the name of the medium itself should already tell you that much. If you want to make good use of it, you should be social!

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