Category Archives: Customer marketing

Bad execution means poor results

One thing that has always puzzled me in business is that once someone gets good at something, they probably stop doing it.

For instance, (while its not the best practice) successful sales people are often moved up to management where they don’t do any more selling.  Great buyers get promoted so they don’t have to do the buying anymore.

The higher up you move the more likely you are to plan and the less likely you are to actually “do” and while that might be just dandy for career tracking and personal development, it means that the dirty end of the stick- the work- the executions- are handled by the least experienced and sadly often least capable people.

Am I the only one who has a problem with that?

Selling a business service, we make sales calls, hold meetings and promise benefits to Directors and VP’s, but when push comes to shove the actual campaign work is most often executed by a comparatively junior person with precious little oversight.  And that’s what there needs to be more of, oversight and supervision on those seemingly insignificant, but truly deal breaking details.

Ideas are a dime a dozen guys. What separates brilliant from mediocre is all execution.

Stop Throwing Leads Away

Generating quality leads is – according to some very sensible sources- the #1 priority for marketing and with priorities come expenses!  So just how much of your lead generation expense is being tossed out the window when your painfully generated leads don’t get timely follow up?

When research shows that 35-50% of the sales go to the vendor who responds first it makes sense that 61% of B2B marketers will send leads directly to sales.  But,  is your sales team following up on every lead in a timely fashion?  Sadly, probably not and one of the major contributing factors is the difficultly experienced by B2B callers when it comes to reaching leads, responders and even current customers live on the phone.

But, when it comes to:

  • qualifying new leads,
  • staying in touch with current customers  and
  • intelligently deciding which contacts stay with sales and which go to automated nurturing

 

There is no substitute for a live conversation.

  • Email might communicate some features
  • Voicemail can draw attention to your message
  • Downloads and web responses can hint at interest levels

But only a dialogue with someone in your company can INSTANTLY ask and answer the questions to identify which leads should demand your immediate attention.

If you are not talking with every person that your marketing programs are identifying as a lead, then why are you spending the money on lead generation?

There is a low cost, very simple way that Boxpilot can help your callers talk more and dial less. Click here to ask about it.

Want Renewals? Step 2- Customer Nurturing – Think Negative Churn

It would be nice to believe that your customers are loyal; that their relationship with you is valued, and they will give you a chance to respond to any claims or promises made by your competitors. Yes, it would be nice to believe that but not too bright.  Even though you can assume that a certain percentage of your customers will renew their agreements with you, on a case by case basis, it risks the health of your business to look at any one account and assume their continued business.

Until that renewal agreement is closed and the next period is paid, your customers are really not much more than warm leads. Until it’s time to close that next payment, you might want to think about the advantages of keeping those leads warmed up with a customer nurturing program.

“But wait!” you say.  You have an account management and/or customer service/satisfaction team assigned to existing accounts and this is part of that job.  You’re totally correct, your account management/ customer satisfaction team has that objective firmly on their plate. But, this type of customer nurturing is NOT based on building satisfaction for the current state of affairs. This customer nurturing program is truly a sales initiative with three distinct goals.

  • Reinforce your competitive preference
  • Introduce and build interest in cross sell possibilities
  • Introduce and build interest in upsell possibilities.

In terms of a communications plan, what does this look like?

Look at a quarterly message that’s distinct from your newsletter or other easily ignored (sorry, but its true) email communications.  Woo them, just like you did before they became your customers, with invitations to events, demonstrations and webinars.  Feed them a generous diet of market and issue oriented content that’s genuinely useful to them.  Don’t bombard them with your specifically self-serving propaganda. Believe me, that gets boring very quickly and will damage your share of ear. Instead, stay within your market niche and offer content on issues, trends & problems relevant to their business.  That kind of information gets read…. and remembered…. and valued.

Naturally, you’ll want that content to also illuminate the opportunities and dazzling benefits presented by your cross and upsell products and services. Afterall, this is a business you’re running, not a library. When it comes time for your renewal sales team to close the business, set them up with a reasonable chance to actually grow your YOY revenue. Without upsells and cross sells, your business has nowhere to go but down. Think negative churn.

Want Renewals? Step 1- Reach Out from Customer Service

Everybody knows that the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and your customer service or account management staff are brutally well aware of that simple axiom.  They deal with squeaky wheels every day, slathering on the grease until problems are solved, questions are answered, information is provided and clients are purring with satisfaction.

Once the intensity of the on boarding process is a distant memory, its easy to assume that a quiet client is a happy client. Sadly that is not always the case. A quiet client could also be apathetic, profoundly disappointed, lending their ear to your competition or simply taking your service for granted. All of these options are possible. None of them are good.  And every one of them is made worse by your own ignorance of the situation.

Unless you have a lot of account management/customer service talent to spare, it’s not likely that you can guarantee that your quiet clients are hearing from them directly and regularly.  But that’s what you need to do.

One way to solve this problem is to put into a play a quarterly communications outreach on behalf of your customer satisfaction team. What can you accomplish with this program? A couple of things actually and every one of them is important to smooth your upcoming renewal period.

First off, you simply need to stay top of mind, reminding your customers of the benefits they are (or should be) gaining from your service. You can’t have them forgetting about you, and in doing so allowing (where applicable) your adoption and usage levels to drop.  Would you be rushing to renew a service you’re not using?  Not likely.

Secondly, you need to look for problems. Seriously. As much as pushing problems under the rug can make for short-term comfort, unaddressed issues will come back to bite you when it’s time to renew.  Worst of all, it’s almost impossible to project with any accuracy what you’re renewal rate will be unless you know how your company stacks up on the key performance indicators.  Do you know what they are for your service?

Once again it comes down to using communications to measure and manage the metrics that will affect your renewals.  If your silent majority of customers isn’t making it easy for you to keep that communications door open so you can evaluate how your performance stacks up, its in your own best interests to proactively push your foot in the door and open it up.

Do it regularly and do it quarterly.  Less frequent communications will make your efforts entirely too forgettable.  More frequent communications will probably cost too much in time, effort and cash to maintain.

 

 

 

5 Reasons to Use Voicemail to Reach the B2B Buyer

With all the choices available, finding a way to connect with B2B buyers has never been more challenging.  Traditional offline choices such as business publications, trade shows and direct mail are expensive media choices and (other than direct mail) not targeted enough for most needs. Online choices like email, PPC and search engine marketing are highly cluttered. Social marketing is extraordinarily time-consuming and so far just about impossible for most companies to measure and content marketing,  the newest darling on the block is extremely difficult and expensive to develop.  Beyond blogging, content creation is out of reach for the vast majority of companies and even maintaining an up-to-date blog is more than most businesses can manage.

So, this is a good time to take another look at your old friend the telephone and seriously consider ways to integrate voicemail messaging with your programs this fall.

Here are 5 Reasons Why Voicemail Will Work:

  1. Voicemail is totally targeted and a proven response booster. Your messages are delivered only to the exact people you want to reach with exactly the right message for them. There is no spill into outside audiences and no waste on contacts who will never care about your message. That precise targeting is just one of the reasons why voicemail can be added to your direct mail, email or web activity and boost your response rates by an average of 25-40%.
  2. Voicemail offers outstanding timing flexibility. It can be planned strategically and when needed deployed tactically. Short lead times, fast market coverage and the ability to almost instantly switch gears (and messages) when the need arises makes voicemail a brilliantly versatile tool.
  3. Voicemail creative is fast and easy to produce and virtually free.  All you need is a script and a person to say it.  And, just for the record, scripting help is as close as your Boxpilot Client Service Director and the best voices to use are the real people in your company. No writers, researchers, graphics, videos or endless content meetings.
  4. Voicemail builds real human rapport.  The emotional power of the human voice, like a smile, is a powerful tool to communicate excitement and enthusiasm. Like eye contact, a voice has the power to communicate belief and believability. That emotional delivery means that voicemail plays beautifully with other methods like email or direct mail, which deliver facts, stats and logical proof.
  5. Voicemail is the least cluttered media environment.  Yes, it’s a media choice, no different from email, on or offline advertising, broadcast or social messaging, with one big difference, it’s nowhere near as cluttered. In fact, it’s a pretty safe bet that when contacts are listening to your message, you have their full attention.

Not as sexy as social, as tech savvy as marketing automation nor loaded with the bragging rights of video content, voicemail is still a fast, easy, direct and persuasive way to communicate with the B2B buyer.

The Big Data Issue is BAD DATA

Will the fascination marketers have with buzz words never end? (Well, no actually it won’t)  and now it seems that the talk of the town is Big Data.

For the minuscule percentage of marketers with pristine data and the wherewithal to afford the talent and tools to create added value for their organizations through the manipulation of enormous data-sets- big data is a genuine issue. And, when something becomes a genuine issue for the marquis marketers, everybody hears about it. Leading edge issues are the subject of white papers, conferences and blue ribbon reports, not to mention the marketing of the software to deal with those issues, but they are not what everyday small or medium sized companies should be looking at right now.

Right now, the big data problem is bad data, it’s unbiquitous and tedious little cousin. But make no mistake, bad data is hurting you.

Bad data is limiting your lead generation programs

  • You’re wasting time and money to market to contact who are not there
  • Your response metrics are useless when you can’t tell the difference between not interested and not there- so how will you every improve?
  • Improved targeting and audience segmentation programs are impossible to build with garbage data

Bad data is killing your sales team

  • You’re wasting money on contact attempts to companies and contacts who are not there
  • Your sales team are wasting their time and your money trying to make contact with contacts who will not be involved in a buying process
  • You’re getting far fewer leads to your sales team than you could be

Bad Data is hurting your customer relationships

  • You’re sending communications to contacts who are no longer there. not only does it just look bad, you’re missing out on up-sell, resell and renewal opportunities.
  • Your A/R is stalled when the contact info is out of date
  • Your apparent lack of interest in your customers is creating a hole your competitors will drive a truck through one day

Why is this happening?

Most companies are struggling with data problems because they are holding too many inactive records in their active databases.  A report from SiriusDecisions identifies that every 12-18 months the volume of customer and prospect data is doubling.  List building is like lead generation- first everyone wants more and bigger, until they realize that small and accurate is the only way to go.

If you’re like a third of businesses, you’re struggling with bad data, but not doing anything about it. Roughly another third is relying on their sales teams to update the databases, which is probably worse than admitting to doing anything at all. Sales reps were not hired and have not been trained for their superb attention to detail, patience and perfectionism. You think you’re staying up to date, but in reality your data is degrading and you’re in denial.  Besides, with 3 sales people and 20,000 contacts in your database, how can you possibly think that “sales updating my database” is going to have any impact?

Here’s what you need to do: Use it or Lose it

Bite the bullet now and concede that your database needs some help- or maybe a lot of help.  Consider refreshing your database using an append service to clean up some of the empty fields in your records- although it won’t do much to help you with a lot of your contact information that looks ok but is actually wrong.

You need to use the data. Your first priority is to identify and isolate the good stuff. Email campaigns are where most companies will start because they’re fast and cheap. So start there and flag both your confirmed deliveries and your hard bounces. Start to migrate your data to a mirrored base, only moving what you know is good and when you’re qualifying data bases on a parameter like confirmed email delivery- take the opportunity to immediately ensure you’re moving a completed record with name, phone, address, company, title- the information you need.  If, like many companies your marketing and sales teams are sharing the same database, allow your sales people to flag records that they personally confirm to be good.

Take the data that you know is bad and either start a program to update it and reintegrate into your new active base or lose it.  Hold your unconfirmed data in its own isolated base, ready to update and migrate or trash when you know more about it. It will take time, effort and some money to work through your base, so put data hygeine steps into your sales and marketing processes so you don’t just end up in the same place 2 years from now.

Good data, not more data is your only qualification.

Are you SURE Your Clients are Sold on Your Service?

Last week I talked with a client who thought we used computer dialers to deliver messages.

It seems like an impossible thing to believe, given the number of years that we have built our differentiation from a ground zero of NOT using computer dialers, but actually confusion can happen quite easily.  There are many clients for whom we have worked for several years and with staff turnover, we regularly inherit new main contacts- or I guess you could say employees regularly inherit us as a new vendor.

It happens a lot with a great many customer/vendor relationships.

New contacts are using a service for a specific series of tasks, because we’ve been added to their job description or they’ve been directed to use that supplier because they already work with their company, but they’ve never been sold on using that service by the vendor.

While I love being grandfathered in once in a while, it occurred to me that in never trying to actively communicate the benefits of our service to new contacts, within existing and often long term clients, we’re doing them and eventually ourselves a major disservice.

By not “selling” your current contacts on the value you offer and making sure that they have a full understanding of what you do, how and why you do it….and why they buy from you, you deny them the opportunity to take advantage of your help when faced with a new and potentially unrelated challenge.  They won’t be able to make the leap to see how you can fit in to a different situation.

By not completely communicating the value, you place your contacts in the potential position of using your product or service and not being able to adequately defend that decision should a management change result in program or supplier reviews.  “Because (your predecessor) told me to do this” is not the kind of answer that will endear a marketing program manager to their next department head.  While their careers are certainly not in our hands, I’d rather not be a reason they were reviewed poorly.

I find a small irony here, given all the marketing play to the concept that most buyers don’t want to talk to a rep until they’ve more or less already made up their mind about what to buy. So it’s easy to understand how ensuring that ALL the contacts within a long standing account have a complete understanding of your value might not be a big priority with the sales team. But it should be. The competition will step into your shoes if you’re nice enough to leave them empty for long and that junior marketing coordinator who is charged with executing the details without being given the benefit of buying into all of them may very well be making those decisions one day – here or some where else.

Respect every contact you have and be certain they’re completely educated about your company. It’s only fair.

By not communicating our value, our contacts will not defend us, or the decision to use us. We will be vulnerable to our competitors, no matter how unscrupulous or inferior they are.

More Renewals and Better Forecasts with Guided Voicemail

Background:

A large non-software client needed to improve their renewal rates and the accuracy of revenue projections.  In a weak market the contract renewal rate had been declining and even with over 61 dedicated phone reps, over 40% of renewal sales lapsed without any sales follow up.

Challenge:

Because the previous sales management had supported aggressive, high pressure selling tactics, the new sales team was subjected to many negative customer encounters when making renewal calls.   As a result call volumes were well below objectives.

Alternatives:

  • Email was considered and rejected as it created very low response rates. It also failed as a means to rebuild a personal and positive relationship with some irate customers.
  • Replacing reps who did not meet calling quotas was rejected since the problem extended to over 80% of the sales team.

Solution:

The Company selected Boxpilot to execute an intensive calling campaign with voicemail plus synchronized email left 60, 45 and 30 days prior to renewals.  The messages were recorded by the sales reps and provided information about renewals with a concerted effort to communicate the emphasis on better customer service and a positive tonality.
Results:

Within 120 days the percentage of resolved renewals increased from 56 to 75% and the positive response for renewals increased from 25 – 33%.  While the positive responses were lower than desired, they were significantly better than before and the company management was able to create benchmarks of anticipated renewals to create new incentives for both the customers and the sales team.