23 August 2010

Becoming Dolly Parton to Thwart Insane Telemarketers

Fun fact#1 -  I can mimic a variety of accents and phone personalities.  Now you may wonder, why the heck does that matter?

Well recently, I've had a couple of persistent telemarketers routinely call my office every other day in the hope to get connected to me or to one of my colleagues (both in Boston and Paris).

Fun fact #2 - I routinely use those accents and personalities against telemarketers - just for fun (I would say that I am trying to teach them a lesson - but they obviously don't learn).

Telemarketing is defined as "the act of selling, soliciting or promoting a product or service over the telephone." Now, let me be crystal clear - when done correctly, to the right audience, with the right tactic and message - telemarketing can be highly effective.

So what makes these gnat-like telemarketers so bad that I pull out my Dolly Parton accent?

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again
 and expecting different results.  - Albert Einstein 

Without naming names, I'll explain a bit about why these folks are destined to fail (and remain insane):
  • They never explain up-front what they are offering.
  • They never clearly explain who they are.
  • They lie and say that the person that they want to speak with has spoken with them (trust me, they haven't!).
  • They refuse to give proper contact details for actual call-backs.
  • They ignore requests to be taken off of their call list.

At least in ambulance chasing lead generation, which I recently blogged about, they at least try to form a suitable reason as to why they are calling,

What these insane folks don't understand is that people like me know all the tricks - I check caller ID, I run a google search on you when you have me on the phone, I look you up on LinkedIn to see if you are SOMEHOW connected to me, and when you violate my request to be taken off their call list, I will submit a complaint to the FTC.

By the way, here are the links that you may want to identify do-not-call violators:
So what could they do differently?

Learn my business needs - if you read my company's website, it is pretty clear that we are not a classic business - and probably don't have a classic B2B business need.  How does your business service actually apply to my business model?  Show me that you understand me (and my company).

Stress your value up-front to whomever answers the phone.  You may think that you have reached an assistant - but you could be speaking to a director, vp, or to an assistant.  And if you don't understand that each has power in their own right within a company, then you need to grow a brain.  Most assistants run their offices, most junior people have friends that are mid-level people, and word travels fast amongst departments when the encounter idiots.  Plus, when you make rude comments to said "assistant" when you can't get past the initial gatekeeper, those comments WILL be relayed to the the person you are targeting.  NOTE: I don't like being called a liar by a sleazy British biz dev guy who doesn't realize that he is actually speaking to his mark.

Identify yourself clearly.  This one snarky telemarketer chooses to identify him by the initials of his company versus the full name of his company.  In the era of Google, that will not stop me from knowing who you are.  

Analyze why you haven't succeeded thus far with your telemarketing.  If I am just a "task" in your Salesforce.com calendar - and between appointments, they have not thought of why they still haven't connected with their prospect (me), shame on them.  Especially when you have tried at least 20 times to reach me.  Just a clue: there may be a problem to your approach.  Just sayin'.

If the telemarketing community decides to not follow these "hints", get ready for some more Dolly Parton.

22 July 2010

Crawl, walk, run - otherwise, prepare to trip

I've always loved to understand how things work - "this lever pushes this and this turns"...that sort of thing. Systems and logic and a healthy dose of OCD make me very happy.

But time and time again, I see marketers tripping in their delivery of campaigns/emails/phone calls/data management simply because they tried to run before they walked. Or worse yet, they are trying to run when they have not mastered crawling yet.

I think that everyone should aim high, dream big, wish for world domination. But one does not get there (and more importantly stay there), without a solid foundation of tested steps, logical sequences, and flawless delivery.

If you want to build a strong lead generation model, you must do a thorough due diligence of what you are trying to achieve, what your current tools are (and perhaps what you are lacking), and what goals do you want now (not five years down the road).

Once that is vetted, then you can start on the process.

If you do lead capture through a web form, make it the best damn web form it can possibly be. Worry about the traffic later. Worry about the annual renewal email later. Focus on the now. Once the web form is rockin' - then you have a couple of options: what happens after the form is filled out or how to get them to fill out the form.

My personal choice is sort of a hybrid:

  • You figure out enough of an infrastructure once they have filled out the form (straight into SFDC, start them in a drip campaign, do a phone call) that your prospect does not feel like a web form one-night stand. The follow-up does not have to be 1,000 steps (or dates) long - but at least cuddle with them for awhile.
  • Once that is in place, you can turn your attention to how to get the traffic you need to fill out the form: do you run banner ads or PPC, buy paid placements in 3rd party channels like newsletters, optimize your SEO, leverage social media channels, send mailers, buy a TV spot.....the list is endless.

Again, start by crawling. Leverage the channels most closely aligned to your buying market and max the heck out of them. Then start to walk by radiating outward to other channels that are similar. Run by fine-tuning timing/messages/tracking to really make things hum.

Building a rock solid lead generation plan encompasses the need to prioritize, organize, and optimize. If you aren't doing all three, you'll just waste resources, time, money, and sales cycles - and it becomes a "spray and pray" game.

The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of tiny pushes of each honest worker. ~Helen Keller

20 July 2010

Double Rainbow

If anyone is in doubt of the power of hashtags, social media, or YouTube - check out the term "Double Rainbow" in any of those locations.

You'll find celebrities tweeting, Wikipedia entries, and a whole gaggle of folks who mark their updates with #DR references.

27 June 2010

Ambulance Chasing Lead Generation

Recently at Nuxeo, we had the pleasure to announce that our investors funded an additional $3.3M in our company to continue the expansion of our North American business.

What I had forgotten about is that the "Ambulance Chasers" in lead generation would start calling once the press release hit the wire.

Typically, the term "Ambulance Chaser" is reserved for lawyers that solicit business from the victims - at the scene of the crime.

However, in lead generation/sales, there are a group of bottom-feeders that troll for business based on such business announcements. Keep in mind, 99% of these folks have never done nor asked for our business before - nor do they understand our business pains. They are simply trying to get a slice of that money.

It is one of my biggest pet peeves.

They have no understanding of my business issues, they don't care why we got this funding (or how we plan to use it) - and worse, they set themselves up for me (as the consumer) to never want to use their services. It's not just that they annoy me temporarily - it actually makes me turn to other vendors if I do want that type of service.

You may ask "why" it annoys me so much - especially in light of the fact that I'm a staunch supporter of creative ways to find the next hot lead.

It is my pet peeve due to the fact that it is the equivalent to "spray and pray" lead generation - aka SPAM, mass mailings, cold calling centers that have NO background about your specific business.

In the era of Google, one can find out a wealth of information. Both about the company itself - and its principles - but also the management (including their Facebook pages, Twitter streams etc).

Why in the world would anyone elect to give business to someone a) who doesn't have a freakin' clue about their goals, b) who can't articulate how specifically their service can help with those business goals, and c) puts a classic "sales cycle theater" pressure on them to make a decision ASAP (thanks to Cheryl McKinnon for teaching us about sales cycle theater) before the end of their fiscal quarter?

If any of them think that they are going to be successful with me, you're not. Good luck finishing out your fiscal quarter bottom-feeders.

15 June 2010

The shelf-life of contact data

Have you ever had bad milk in your fridge? Or rotten veggies? They stink - and you have no way of using them (despite how much you may want to).

Same goes for lead data - I've advocated in previous posts, a routine cleaning of leads - but what is the real shelf-life of a lead? When does a lead start to smell like rotten milk?

In the era of downsizing, restructuring, and acquisition amalgamation, how realistic is it that someone will be at the same email address in six months? By leveraging drip marketing campaigns, you can relieve the burden off of your insides sales team to maintain this data point - instead, you can let your automated system do the work for you in contact communications and the ultimate smelling of bad milk (hypothetically).

Think about it - let's say you have 10000 new leads per month - if you enact a drip campaign based on interest, you have 10000 follow-ups that don't have to be handled by hand.

As for marketing automation, I had a recent discussion with a peer about the fact that he routinely receives emails from "bots" (as in email robots). His commentary was that he hated bot communications - and that he could spot them a mile away.

I partially agreed - how many times have you received a routine email that contains some sort of variable data field that is inaccurate - and therefore, when received, you roll your eyes?? But isn't the reason that you roll your eyes is because of bad data - not the fact they came from an email robot?

In light of how vast the universe is - and the fact that everyone is trying to do more with less (i.e. be more efficient), why not have an email robot handle the smelling of the milk?

By looking at the data that I've had access to, the true shelf-life (on average) of a lead is six months - within six months, something has changed....the lead has changed companies, the company has been acquired, the sales rep has left your company. This is why you must automate this type of follow-up - so that you are not dependent on people. After awhile, people/leads start to smell like bad milk.

An automated system never minds smelling bad milk! :)

03 June 2010

Having nothing to say...or so you think

In the constant stream of 24x7 communications - as my Tweetdeck keeps chirping at me - it seems inconceivable that a marketer would be at a loss for something to say. Everyone is talking, texting, tweeting, emailing.

But for marketers who have a niche market, or who have been in the industry more than a few years, I bet you find yourself cringing as you think you "have I already said this before?". Or worse, grapple to find something to say at all - the ultimate death knoll for a marketer.

Before you start worrying that your career as a marketer is over, stop for a moment - and think as a consumer.

How many newsletters, emails or online catalogs do you receive in a given week, month?

You may have the time to read their message when they first arrive - but I'll bet that you often delete it, or lose it in your inbox and basically wait for the company's next message to you to arrive to actually read it.

Consumers want their information when they want it - not when marketers send it. It is almost impossible to align the two tangents on the same consumer curve.

Instead, as a marketer, when you think that you are out of things to say - say those things again. Work to rotate messages, delivery schedules, subject lines, plain text versus HTML.....say it funnier, enhance it with research, write it in another language - something to break up the monotony.

Someone, somewhere, is reading/listening.

26 March 2010

Being Snarky and Not Having An Original Idea

Over the past few months, I have had many moments of contemplation on certain marketing tactics that some organizations have elected to use to entice/entertain/gain audience views and demand generation. Some have been through social media outlets, some through website design/language/tactics, and some have been in classic email blasts. Often, I've been left with a nasty taste in mouth upon viewing.....

At the same time, I've been working with my colleagues to continue on the momentum that we've started - and I've decided to "pledge" that my efforts will not fall into these camps of demand gen that I've seen way too often recently:

  • Being snarky, petty, underhanded in tactics (buying competitors terms in AdWords come to mind).
  • Having not one bloomin' original idea.
  • Not willing to try and fail - and stopping there.
I will pledge to be:
  • Cheeky
  • Provocative
  • Fun and Funny (hopefully)
  • Smart
  • A listener, not just a talker
For the KISS Question, what do you pledge to do as a marketer?