Not too many marketing or sales people can point directly to the company CEO as the one who personally made the first connection with a prospect and introduced them into the sales funnel. Indeed, the company CEO is an almost universally untapped marketing and sales resource – for many obvious reasons. Still, if your sales team needs to crack the C-Suite of your prospects in order to achieve any possibility of a sale, a peer to peer outreach by your own CEO can smash through clutter and gain attention and responses.
Here’s how a one retail software marketer created a personal outreach by their own CEO to drive peer responses from their target accounts. This company provides retail analytics software to some of the major names in North American retailing and in keeping with the business impact of their software and the investment to purchase, C-Suite buy in is a non-negotiable requirement for the sale.
Unlike several industries, the retail segment still has a strong trade show -the NRS Show which runs annually each January. Unlike many shows, this one enjoys high attendance by C-Level retail executives. One of the main attractions for this event for exhibitors and vendors is the timing. In January, many potential prospects have requirements and budgets in place and are ready to begin to evaluate possible purchases.
Scheduling in person appointments with prospect executives attending this event is a key priority project for the marketing/sales team.
It was determined that the best opportunity to generate a response from CEOs would be created by their own CEO. Therefore the marketing team created a program consisting of 3 rounds of email supported with two rounds of direct mail from their CEO to the prospect counterparts.
The event timing, which is a strength, is also a challenge. Falling close on the heels of the Christmas holidays and many corporate year ends, there is an extremely small window to gain the attention of the C-Level audience. There is also a high concentration of vendors competing for their attention.
Finally, after the first rounds of the email/direct mail campaign, results were not on target.
It was decided that to gain responses from the target audience an additional touch using a different medium was necessary. With it’s personal touch- telephone was a natural choice for the appointment/meeting invitations
Supporting personal emails and letters from the CEO with a personal call from the CEO would have been ideal – but totally out of the question, so it was planned for the inside sales team to make the calls. They appeared to be the only option. But even for them, reaching 400-500 C-Level contacts judged difficult to reach at the best of times within a very small window of 1 post holiday/pre-year end week was a tall order. Worse, the calls were needed during a peak sales activity period.
Having worked with Boxpilot earlier in his career, the VP Sales and Marketing recommended exploring Guided Voicemail from Boxpilot. The service offered some unique advantages that were a perfect solution to the challenges presented by the program:
1. Guided voicemail delivery created an opportunity for the CEO to record a message and create the effect of a personal contact from the CEO which could not have been achieved any other way.
2. The program could be set up within 48 hours of contact.
3. All the calls could be made well within 24 hours of starting with both on hours and off hours calls to maximize voicemail deliveries.
4. The cost to outsource the delivery of a higher-quality-than-otherwise-possible-message was considerably less expensive than the man-hours cost to redeploy the inside sales team.
5. Detailed reporting available verified the exact contact details on the list and confirmed message delivery.
6. Dial in recording allowed the CEO to record at his convenience and also to listen back to a series of recordings before making his selection of the best message.
It was decided to deliver a message from the CEO immediately ahead of the final email appointment invitation to allow both communications to work together and use the voicemail to ensure that the follow up email was more visible within overcrowded executive inboxes
The initial email/personal letters generated 1.4% responses. The final email, led with a personal peer-to-peer voicemail from the CEO produced a 6.1% response rate, a whopping 435% improvement. While some responses declined the meeting, they allowed the sales and marketing team to better concentrate on the best prospects and stream the declines into nurturing programs for much later follow up. Improvements to the list quality also allowed for more focused follow ups. Brand recognition was noticeably improved among the prospect group.