24
Sep

A Disciplined Application of Coordinated Promotional Campaigns with Direct Telephone Contact is an Optimum Strategy for Enterprise IT ISVs

It makes little sense for enterprise IT ISVs to maintain daily telemarketing outreach efforts without a promotional component. In our experience, the best return from efforts is to be obtained from coordinated campaigns that include a promotional component in the form of a piece of marketing communications carefully designed to deliver information in a manner that will elicit an optimum response from recipients, along with a telemarketing follow up program that will commence no earlier than 24 hours after receipt of MARCOM by recipients, but no later than 3 days from the same date of receipt.

In our experience daily telemarketing campaigns undertaken without a marketing communications component are almost always perceived as “cold calls” with all of the negative connotations that usually accompany this type of telephone call. Some technology businesses pin their lead generation efforts around “cold calls” and, further, consider this approach to be a least cost solution for business expansion. We think the low cost of this type of activity stems from the fact that the personnel usually charged with this activity are rarely, if ever compensated for their time in any manner beyond a contingent share in a sale as the result of sales commission. Yet, when costs like these are calculated, we think that it is a rare business that factors in the cost of personnel turnover (as the result of a very low return on personal investment) in the total cost of this lead generation method.

In fact, we think that repetitive cold calling, undertaken independently, without a coordinated promotional campaign that includes marketing communications content is, actually, a very expensive approach to lead generation. Further, habituating on this method can actually result in a retardation of the otherwise normal growth rate for a technology business like an enterprise IT ISV.

Better to put together periodic, coordinated campaigns that couple marketing communications content with a telemarketing follow up component. Approaching lead generation from this angle, and monitoring historical campaign results, can produce data that will, undoubtedly, prove to be very useful for business planning purposes. Of most importance, the impression that these campaigns will make on the prospects that receive collateral and follow up telemarketing calls, will be substantially more favorable than the result of the “cold calls” that we have characterized, above.

If you head up a technology business and understand the importance of a successful effort to generate leads, then you ought to seriously consider building a set of coordinated campaigns that include a marketing communications piece along with a follow up telemarketing effort. If you lack the internal resources to produce these campaigns, it makes sense to contract with a third party firm that can get the job done correctly.

IMB Enterprises, Inc. has the resources to successfully execute on this type of requirement. Please contact us to learn further. You can call Ira Michael Blonder at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion about our services plan. You may also email Ira at imblonder@imbenterprises.com.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

13
Sep

Marketing Lead Generation Programs for Enterprise IT Software Need to be Tightly Coordinated If Best Results are to be Gained

Lead generation programs for enterprise IT software, for example, a campaign to set appointments for product marketing and/or sales to speak with prospects, need to be carefully coordinated if top results are to be achieved. It is important to keep in mind that commencing a direct outreach effort via telemarketing, rarely makes sense where promotional collateral has not been successfully developed (and tested). Further, once prospect interest has been identified, the next phase of marketing lead development needs to be carefully scripted. Missing on either of these points can entirely obliterate the value of identifying prospects. We think it makes more sense to delay the launch of lead campaigns until all of the campaign features have been certified by a test sample of contacts, etc.

As we have written elsewhere in this blog, we think that market surveys provide an excellent basis for developing prospect opportunities for enterprise IT software vendors. However, it is key to keep in mind that the objective of a survey is not to sell a product, but rather, to collect information about market sentiment on office automation software, as well as to identify specific prospects who would like to be added to mailing lists. The addition of a features “satisfaction” gauge to the list of points to be covered through a survey questionnaire certainly affords the survey respondent an opportunity to identify areas of potential needs. Once a survey respondent voices some significant level of dissatisfaction with features of an application, it certainly makes sense for a telemarketer to request the respondent’s permission to push contact information along to the next process in the lead development cycle. But it does not make sense for the next process to proceed in any other way than to simply continue to collect information on the specifics about the missing features in effort to properly assess the likelihood of solving a possible need that the prospect may have to improve these features.

In sum, it is imperative that the marketing and sales teams work very closely to completely orchestrate a plan for a lead campaign from first step, to last. Building these campaigns from a “ready, fire, aim” methodology should only be attempted as the campaign plan is in the formulation phase, certainly not with the finished product.

If you understand the importance of successfully designing marketing lead generation campaigns, but lack the internal staff to coordinate each step in the design, look to IMB Enterprises, Inc. We maintain a highly talented network of contacts, which we can call upon to match your requirements with the right individual to get you the expertise you need to deliver a campaign with a high probability of success. Our monthly retained services plans start at $3200.00 (3 month minimum commitment). Please call Ira Michael Blonder at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion about how we can help you improve your return on investment in online promotion. You may also email Ira at imblonder@imbenterprises.com.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

3
May

Limitations on Cold Call Lead Generation Methods

We think it makes sense to thoroughly qualify prospects prior to proceeding on sales campaigns. The rationale here is that sales campaigns and, in fact, outbound telemarketing programs to develop sales leads may consume an inordinate of time and effort on opportunities that, once qualified, prove to be limited and even non existent. Therefore, better to get most of the qualification work done as soon as possible.

Our method for sales lead generation is to develop a prospect profile and qualifier questionnaire for each of our clients. Armed with these two critically important bits of information we can then explore a market for sales opportunities. Our first pass following an introductory telephone call (where we gain permission from a prospect to engage in a discussion about how a condition or product is used at his/her organization) is to schedule an exploratory call where the entire subject will be a discussion of the prospect’s organization. We do not endeavor to proceed into any presentation of our client’s product at this very early stage in a sales lead development process.

But we were surprised recently when we presented individuals at prospect financial services companies with our invitation to learn further about how xyz product is used. Our invitations were respectfully declined. Facts are that these financial services companies (which are all heavily regulated here in the United States) had limited the rights of these individuals to discuss company specific information with otherwise unknown contacts (meaning our telemarketers). Our team could present information, but the parties on the other end of the telephone line were largely constrained as regards the information they could share with us.

We think that restricting employees to only approved topics of discussion with unknown third parties will grow wider spread across enterprise businesses in the near future. For this reason we place a greater emphasis on the mapping phase of our lead development efforts. Through mapping we have an opportunity to unearth a trust worthy and familiar contact with whom we can engage without the level of restriction enforced over other conversations where our representatives are unknown entities. Often referred to as a “Yoda” or “bird dog” these familiar contacts have become that much more useful to our efforts to utilize direct marketing efforts to develop sales quality leads. Mapping calls still fall within the realm of cold calls, but the intent and process for these activities differs substantially from other types of cold calling activities.

If you offer innovative software products to financial businesses and are planning direct marketing activities, then you may want to speak with us. then please contact Ira Michael Blonder at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion. You may also email Mike at imblonder@imbenterprises.com.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

19
Apr

A Cohesive and Integrated Direct Marketing Strategy is an Imperative for all Planned Events

One of our client recently subscribed to our recommendation to coordinate email newsletter campaigns with telemarketing outreach. As we have recently written in this blog, we pieced together much of our strategy in this area from Ernan Roman’s “Integrated Direct Marketing” published by NTC. We regret that this useful book has gone out of print. We did manage to obtain a used copy through Amazon and expect that others can do the same. Bottom line: we highly recommend reading this book and implementing the pieces of the strategy that makes sense for one’s business.

Our client enjoys a very high open rate on his email newsletters. He distributes his copy through iContact. When we accessed the receipt data we were amazed at some of the corporate names in the list of recipients. Our amazement arose from the fact that our client had been largely unaware of the important enterprise prospects (and even customers) that receive each of his publications without fail but, nevertheless, remain lurking on the periphery of his business focus. Now, with an added telemarketing follow up within no more than 72 hours of an email open, we are able to add considerable value to his publication by contacting the most important prospects from the group. All contact information is added to our client’s CRM.

We are pleased to say that the ratio of engagement with these leads has been far greater than is the general rule for unsolicited telemarketing outreach programs; therefore, we can confirm the statistics that Ernan Ronan includes in his book, approximately an engagement rate of 15-20% as measured against all outbound calls placed. We carefully scripted our presentation to recipients around a simple “thank you” for their interest in our client’s offering and an offer to field any/all questions that they may have about our client’s market message.

The result has been a bonanza of information. Our contact staff has strictly adhered to a diagnostic approach to the remainder of each of these calls, peppering prospect engagement conversations with many questions which have facilitated collection of invaluable information on our client’s value proposition, market place perception of his products, and areas of enormous potential still untapped but readily accessible. With specific regard to the latter, we identified a government agency with well in excess of 100K staff members where our client’s penetration, to date, has amounted to no more than sales to 20 of these staff members. Thankfully, the 20 customers are quite influential at this government agency, which sheds a favorable light on the likelihood of our client penetrating further into this opportunity. The old story “your best customer is your customer” still holds true.

If you would like to hear further about this success story, then please contact Ira Michael Blonder at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion. You may also email Mike at imblonder@imbenterprises.com.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

13
Apr

How to Skillfully Follow Up Direct Marketing Communications with a Telephone Call

eMail messages sent to lots of recipients at the same time are synonymous with direct marketing communications. We think most of the guidelines for how to implement printed and mailed direct marketing communications hold true for bulk email message campaigns. The difference is that we think much higher numbers of targeted recipients must be reached in order to drive any level of useful response.

Ernan Roman in his book “Integrated Direct Marketing” published by NTC in 1995 contends that an Integrated Direct Marketing (IDM campaign) can deliver anywhere from a 5 to 18% total response rate through the inclusion of a “carefully timed follow up phone call” (p59 of the text). Of course, for direct marketers used to a typical 1/10th of a percent response rate from bulk email messaging, these types of numbers are earth shaking and quite encouraging. The question that invariably arises is how to skillfully coordinate an outbound unsolicited telephone call within a day or two of sending an unsolicited email message. Obviously it benefits neither your business, nor the recipient to intrude in an unwanted manner.

The solution, per Mr. Roman (to which we entirely concur) is to carefully frame the telephone call around a sincere interest to collect any questions that the recipient may have about the information sent. The method of framing the telephone call carefully is to thoroughly script the planned discussion so as to transform an unexpected telephone call into, at best, a helpful contact and, at worst, simply a friendly contact that a recipient can opt to ignore.

The intended outcome of the telephone call, of course, is to stimulate the recipient to engage further with your business in a dialogue specifically focused on the points made in your email message. Therefore, care ought to be taken to carefully construct the email message into the principal communications vehicle for this engagement with the prospect. Any topic targeted for your message and a follow up telephone call has to be implicitly included in the text of your email message. Having your telemarketing effort inject any additional content into the discussion can end up undermining the opportunity to engage with recipients; better to keep the telephone calls carefully scripted around the topics created by the email message.

A carefully orchestrated campaign, as we have sketched out here, will result in good opportunities to nurture conversations along. Some of these conversations will emerge as sales leads. Therefore, the best team to handle the telemarketing effort is your sales team.

If you are contemplating a campaign like the one that we have sketched out here, we’d like to hear about it.

Please contact Ira Michael Blonder at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion. You may also email Mike at imblonder@imbenterprises.com.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

10
Apr

Telemarketing Calls Deliver More Return as a Follow Up to Marketing Communications

Tech innovators with products and services for complex markets should include telemarketing programs within their sales efforts. But telemarketing campaigns will deliver much higher results when they are initiated subsequent to completion of electronic and/or print marketing communications efforts. Simply placing telemarketing calls from “out of the blue” to unsolicited recipients will deliver substantially less favorable results.

Obviously, the trick is how to obtain addresses for mailings, email blasts, etc. Certainly the best solution for accumulating addresses is to reach out to existing contacts (prospects, customers, industry participants, etc) to collect addresses; there is a stronger likelihood that these “familiar” contacts will be willing to provide addresses. We don’t see much value in purchasing address lists. We think participants in these lists have little “skin in the game” and, therefore, constitute a low probability as regards sales development. Therefore, better to collect addresses through any/all ongoing market outreach activities. Over time a sufficient number of addresses can be accumulated to justify an initial marketing communications campaign.

As Ernan Roman pointed out in “Integrated Direct Marketing”, NTC Publishing, 1995, the telemarketing campaign should commence within 24 to 72 hours of distribution of marketing communications. If your marketing communications effort is an email blast, we think it makes sense for you to use an email delivery service that will provide you with statistics on the number of times your email piece is opened and, even better, by targeted recipient. This type of tracking can be obtained by popular services like Constant Contact or through Outlook Services for Microsoft Office 365. Obviously, telemarketing should reach out to known recipients before working on the larger group of recipients who do not appear to have opened the communications piece.

Where truly opt-in recipient addresses are in short supply, another method of contacting the market is to distribute a press release. There are lots of services presently available in spring, 2012 to distribute press releases. It must be noted, however, that contacting a market through a press release will produce a bunch of contacts from the press, itself. Any sales prospect contact will have to be forthcoming from readers of your press release who opt to reach out to you for contact. These responders will be much fewer in number than participants throughout the rest of the market.

The best use of telemarketing in the aftermath of a press release campaign is to call media contacts who received the press release through the campaign. Once again, time is of the essence. Therefore these reporters, etc. should receive calls no later than 72 hours after your press release has been opened.

If your firm would like to learn more about how to coordinate telemarketing with print marketing communications, then please contact Ira Michael Blonder at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion. You may also email Mike at imblonder@imbenterprises.com.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

27
Mar

Telemarketing in 2012 should be implemented to unearth bigger software sales deals over the long term

Software products and services for enterprise business markets generally sport hefty price tags. We have excellent recent experience working with a client who has offerings in the market for governance, risk and compliance (GRC) solutions required by financial firms. The sweet spot price tag for implementing one of these systems, as crafted by our client, ranged from $100K to $150K and up. Businesses that understand the purchase realities for these solutions will need at least a year, and perhaps longer, to actually place an order. The fact is that a six figure price tag is a price tag that must be carefully scrutinized by management prior to an approval.

The impact on sales development planning for businesses with similar offerings is to assume that current activities will generally not pay off sooner than a year out and, in many cases, even longer. Orders received today for comparably priced products and services have been in development over the last year. The rare occasion where what seems to be an order that just came out of nowhere is, typically, an opportunity to capture an order as the direct result of the failure of a designated competitor to deliver. Never lose sight of the fact that the purchasing window can be as wide as a year or longer from initial contact to order where costs to the purchaser are in excess of $100K.

Accordingly, telemarketing efforts should be entirely focused on identifying needs, decision-makers, purchasing plans, etc. The information gathered through telemarketing calls should be added, entirely, to a CRM that should be analyzed on a regular basis and sifted for actionable intelligence. By no means should telemarketing be restricted from placing so-called “cold call”; rather, methods should be identified to actually increase opportunities to reach new prospects through telemarketing. Some useful methods include gathering industry opinions through surveys, engaging with industry participants on known topics of interest, conference themes, etc. Keep in mind that next year’s buyers may very well emerge from the contacts unearthed through today’s telemarketing efforts. Therefore, maintaining an ongoing telemarketing effort, as we have noted throughout this blog, must be a key piece of the sales and market development plan for the business.

Winning at a numbers game is also important. In other words, the daily volume of telemarketing contacts should be maintained at a healthy level of anywhere between 15 and 20 conversations per telemarketer per day. In our experience a call list of 70 to 100 calls will be required, at a minimum to produce our healthy level of contacts per telemarketer.

We have extensive current experience in this area. Please call Ira Michael Blonder at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion. You may also email Mike at imblonder@imbenterprises.com. We will be happy to show you why you should be thinking about the Internet and Social Media to engage with your marketplace.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

11
Mar

Mapping Prospect Opportunities by Account is Sales Lead Development Activity 101

Account mapping is an essential activity for sales personnel marketing IT products to enterprise business customers. Too often, sales personnel simply speak with one or two contacts (almost always from an IT organization) and render a ranking opinion as to the likelihood of business to be forthcoming from enterprise business opportunities.

This level of prospect engagement is too superficial and, of most importance, simply restricted to the IT organization. For example, we recently followed up on some aged leads for a client at a major financial services firm. Two of the individuals with whom we spoke were members of the IT organization. One of the individuals is a technology architect for the global IT organization, the other a manager. Both of these individuals refused to engage with us in conversations. We suspected that there might be further opportunities at this prospect. We had gained almost no information about the prospect and, therefore, decided to look further for opportunities to engage with contacts.

Our business CRM system included contact information for the CFO for this prospect. We placed a call to his office, spoke with his administrator who was entirely willing to provide us with direct contact information for the current CIO as well as direct contact information for a prominent business manager, in communications, who, she felt, owns much of the prospect’s engagement around the IT product that our client services. On merely a first attempt to reach the prominent business manager we engaged with the individual who let us know of his interest in hearing further about our client’s product offering. Best of all, this individual committed to ensuring that a member of the IT organization would participate in a follow up conversation with us.

In sum, it is essential to scale sales integrated direct marketing efforts and, specifically, outbound teleprospecting, in keeping with the size of a business prospect. The bigger the enterprise at the prospect, the more effort required from the integrated direct marketing effort. Where ever possible, engagement should include business contacts along with IT contacts. Simply restricting contacts to an IT organization will not deliver an adequate amount of information to use as the basis of a decision about the suitability of a prospect for your product. Any/all conversations should be thoroughly documented and analyzed to glean as much meaningful information as possible about the prospect business. Sales milestones should be relaxed enough to permit the effort that may be required, over time, to collect an adequate amount of information about prospects.

IMB Enterprises, Inc offers considerable experience in this area. We welcome opportunities to expand on the type of detail that we have included in this post. Please call Ira Michael Blonder at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion. You may also email Mike at imblonder@imbenterprises.com

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

18
Feb

Sales is still a numbers game and the phone is a great way to get those numbers

Talk to enough people and you will find someone with an interest in what you’ve got to sell. This adage has been true for ages and is still true today. Telemarketing provides a terrific method of reaching enough people to achieve sales objectives. When properly orchestrated and staffed with experienced practitioners, the telemarketing method is methodical, akin to a contact-friendly variant on carpet bombing. The turf upturned as the result of conversation upon conversation will ultimately prove fertile enough to feed even innovative emerging technology businesses with precious revenue.

It all comes down to a question of timing. Given enough time (together with an ongoing analysis of documented conversations and a complete dedication to changing whatever may turn up as needing change) presentations can be refined and focused to deliver objectives. We’ve written extensively in this blog about the present-day phenomenon of a broken down purchasing system for some types of technology, largely with regards to larger businesses (often referred to here as global businesses) and/or larger public sector groups. No matter. Focus telemarketing efforts on information gathering rather than persuading or pushing a market that is obstinately unwilling to be pushed to get positive, progressively healthier results.

A two pronged approach that combines persistent, flexible direct marketing over the telephone with interactive marketing that exploits online search portals and social media can produce very effective results with comparatively few personnel and leaner facilities. For products sufficiently branded as commodities in a marketplace inbound leads are generally more promising. Look to interactive marketing techniques to stimulate such inbound lead activity. At the same time, a constant rumble from telemarketing can and does motivate less mature aspects of markets to move forward, over time, to generally bigger deals that usually incorporate a combination of products and services.

Coordinating both efforts is a mandatory requirement. By no means does it make sense to entirely focus on simply one approach. We have recent experience with such efforts and can say, conclusively, that clients would have done much better had they availed of interactive and direct simultaneously. There is absolutely no reason that we can find why one approach necessarily precludes the other. Further, we have more recent evidence of the success of just this type of combination.

We have excellent recent experience working extensively with interactive and direct marketing media for software technology innovators committed to global business markets. We welcome opportunities to elaborate on our experience. Please call Ira Michael Blonder, IMB Enterprises, Inc at +1 631-673-2929 to discuss your product and your near term market plans.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

25
Jan

Look to Teleprospecting for a Superior Business to Business Lead Generation Program

Useful Sales leads are food for any business, nutrient rich supplements that promise to enrich cash flow and sales staff alike.

But what constitutes “useful” with regard to leads?

Leads are useful when they include information that can be used to forge successful sales campaigns with appropriate prospects. There is no better way that I know of to accumulate this type of information for innovative technology providers targeting global business and other large organizations than teleprospecting, meaning an outbound telemarketing effort that eschews hard selling for information gathering. Business to business lead generation requires a “hands off” attitude on the part of the teleprospector. Further, top teleprospecting talent will communicate a genuine interest to contacts in the subject of discussion, thereby encouraging a free exchange of information that typically leads to collection of useful sales information.

I do not believe in the value of buying contact lists. The task of identifying companies that constitute realistic targets for products and services is very useful endeavor that will help train a teleprospecting team to qualify contacts; therefore, why hand the team a set of businesses from a purchased contact list? If sales has participated in the business from inception (as I have advocated elsewhere in this blog) then there ought to be plenty of time to canvas the marketplace slowly and carefully to identify businesses that ought to be contacted once selling efforts begin. With regard to contacts within the prospect businesses that pre sales efforts identify, once again, researching contacts online, through address books, etc. and, generally, through sales team collaboration is superior route. Once again, the process of working to identify these contacts helps sales to refine the qualification process that will have to be in place to land the business. It is safe to say that the process of qualifying leads cannot be too precise an activity. The finer the grain the better as far as leads are concerned.

Once a lead list has been assembled, then a teleprospecting program can be successfully implemented to deliver very high quality selling opportunities. There is no error in combining this type of direct marketing effort with online product promotion. With recent improvements in online marketing communications opportunities, as well as with a tendency of today’s prospects to research just about everything they need to know about a product or service by themselves, with little to no hand holding from sales, online promotion can be successfully crafted to support the sale of complex products to global business.

I am wholly engaged with clients who are implementing teleprospecting programs with web 2.0 online marketing. I welcome opportunities to discuss specific needs that may be at hand for your business or your business plans. Please call me at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved