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Just Say No To Shitty Lead Nurturing

Just_Say_No_To_Shitty_Lead_NurturingWelcome to this edition of Just Say No to Shitty Sales & Marketing; today I’m focused on lead nurturing. No tactic that is more consistently used and important through the entire customer acquisition and success process than email. 

Email is a critical component and in many ways, it's the only channel that we truly, fully own to create a one-to-one communication mechanism. Your ability to master email in general and lead nurturing specifically has a tremendous impact on your ability to grow consistently and to grow smart. But why does so much lead nurturing suck? You know what I'm talking about. You get the same “nurturing” emails that I get and well, the nurturing is anything but, well, nurturing. 

What is the purpose of lead nurturing? Why is lead nurturing so important? The numbers are going to speak for themselves. Companies that do lead nurturing well enjoy significant enhancements in the results that they get. But, you need to understand that just because you do lead nurturing, or maybe what I should say is just because you call something lead nurturing, doesn't mean that it's gonna drive these types of results:

  • Leads who are effectively nurtured generate 20% more sales opportunities than those that aren't effective. 
  • Lead nurturing generates 50% more sales-ready leads.
  • Nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases. 
  • Relevant emails drive 18 times more revenue acquisition than just broadcast emails. 
  • 82% of prospects say lead nurturing that was targeted and specific to them influenced their ability to make decisions. 

Effective lead nurturing drives better results. There’s no question about it. When you consider that 75% or more of the leads that we generate are not ready to buy it quickly becomes clear why lead nurturing is so important.

BUT. IT’S. NOT. WORKING. It's like we’ve taken “boiler room” come out of the boiler room. Our entire approach to customer acquisition has become so flash in the pan. It’s like if you're not ready to buy then sellers don't have time for you in their approaches. 

I know how hard it is to generate the engagement of a lead/prospect that fits your ideal client profile. I know how hard it is from the perspective of the seller or the marketer. I also know how it feels from the perspective of the buyer and I'll speak for myself. 

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The 3 Biggest (& Most Common) Mistakes Made With AI

AI in MarketingFOMO: The Fear of Missing Out

It was Bill Gates who said, “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten.” Nowhere is the outlook more on display that when it comes to the topic of artificial intelligence (AI).

Make no mistake, technology in general and AI specifically are having a major impact on the work growth-focused organizations are taking. AI is absolutely something you should be aware of, and, to some degree, keeping track of. It is not, however, something that should be at the top of any small or mid-market growth company executives attention or worry list.

What Is Artificial Intelligence

Part of the difficulty with addressing AI is that it often means a bunch of different things to different people. What’s more, the term AI is often used to infer things that are not necessarily in place. AI is very confusing to many, so I turned to my friends at HubSpot, who published a nice piece on important definitions surrounding AI. Here are some of the key terms:

Artificial Intelligence: In the most general of terms, artificial intelligence refers to an area of computer science that makes machines do things that would require intelligence if done by a human.

Machine Learning: In short, machine learning is the ability of a program to absorb huge amounts of data and create predictive algorithms.

If you’ve ever heard that AI allows computers to learn over time, you were likely learning about machine learning. Programs with machine learning discover patterns in data sets that help them achieve a goal. As they analyze more data, they adjust their behavior to reach their goal more efficiently.

Deep Learning: On the far end of the AI spectrum, deep learning is a highly advanced subset of machine learning. Deep learning can find super-complex patterns in data sets by using multiple layers of correlations. In the simplest of terms, it does this by mimicking the way neurons are layered in your own brain. That’s why computer scientists refer to this type of machine learning as a “neural network.”

Natural Language Processing: Natural language processing (NLP) can make bots a bit more sophisticated by enabling them to understand text or voice commands. On a basic level, spell check in a Word document or translation services on Google are both examples of NLS. More advanced applications of NLS can learn to pick up on humor or emotion.

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The Missing Persona That’s Damaging Your Sales & Crushing Your Margins

BuyerPersonaA client of ours, who provides a uniquely designed sales performance improvement program design for a unique niche, was involved in a large, complex sale with a major company in their market. Traditional sales theory would lead to a focus on one of two roles/personas at the company:

  • The executive in charge of sales revenue, or

  • The executive in charge of training.

My client won the sale, and in the debrief we confirmed something very few people would have expected. While the client did a yeoman’s job selling to the typical roles, it was the head of technology (CTO) who was the key player that led the company to not only buy from my company, but to do so without decreasing the scope or paying less than my client proposed. It was also the CTO that prevented the head of training from “checking with outside vendors” to see if they could do the “same thing for less.”

The CTO had no formal role regarding the sales approach or training programs that were implemented by this company. Yet, because of the insights and knowledge that my client developed regarding this company, the CTO was engaged from the beginning. Looking back, it’s likely the smartest decision that was made during the several months of the sales process.

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What Is Lead Activation

activationAfter a decade of dominance, people are beginning to doubt—seriously doubt—the validity of demand generation. In the last three weeks alone, I’ve had more than eight conversations with prospects who flat-out proclaimed “We’re not interested in demand generation; that’s for low-price consumer commodity products. We sell high-priced, complex [fill in the blank] solutions. We need something more sophisticated.”

Despite the last five years, when lead generation has exploded, revenue and customer acquisition growth has actually declined per dollar invested/spent on growth initiatives, leading to a crisis of confidence for a core component of the modern revenue growth playbook.

What Is Lead Activation

Lead Activation is the process of generating active engagement from buyer personas at companies that meet your ideal client profile, before they’ve reached the point of buying intent. The Lead Activation Process purposefully advances engagement and increases their probability of becoming a high-quality sales opportunity.

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Designing a Better Demo Experience to Shorten the Sales Cycle

DougTwitter.pngI recently was a part of a debate on Twitter with Brian Moseley about the role of salespeople, especially in SaaS. As you can see, Brian was saying the sales rep is dying.

I’ve lost count of the number of times that I’ve heard about the “death of the salesmen” over the past twenty years, and I’ve come to learn that one should never underestimate the resilience and the relevance of salespeople.

Brian then made an interesting point. He tweeted in response to me, “In SaaS at least, prospects don’t want a “demo” anymore, they want a “free version” with all the features.”

That got me thinking, as I’ve had the unfortunate pleasure of experiencing a multitude of demo’s over the last two months as we’ve been spending more time helping our clients navigate the technology they need to support their sales and marketing objectives.

Shortly before I was going to agree with Brian, I realized a flaw in the thinking. Most (like 90%+) demos are bad, disjointed, boring and self-serving. While I would agree that no one wants a bad demo, I disagree that no one wants a demo.

A quick note for those readers not involved in SaaS or not involved in giving demos- you can substitute the word “presentation” for the word “demo” and this post will still play to you.

Demos are still an important, potentially valuable touchpoint and the time has come to revitalize the demo. Here are some keys to making that happen:

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Deliverability:  Conquering The Email Marketing Problem

email-marketing.pngFrom the days when Google announced their “email killer” Wave, I’ve heard marketers and consultants say things like, “Email is dead.” My response to those who say that to me is always: “Really? What do you use instead?”  

I usually don’t get an answer, or someone starts rambling on about social media, private communication networks like Slack, or they claim organic (or paid) search is the only viable strategy. They say if people want what you do then they’ll find you, and a marketer’s (or salesperson’s) job is to ensure that the right people can find you.

While there is certainly truth to the statement that people will find you (and no one can question the growing importance of social media, search and the challenge that communication networks like Slack represent) the fact is that email is still the number one tool in the toolbox for managing and developing business relationships. Consider (sources: Content Marketing Institute & Optinmonster):

  • 77% of B2B marketers use email in the marketing mix  
  • 91% rate email as a key piece of content marketing success
  • 2.7 billion people use email
  • 91% of users use email at least daily
  • You're 7x more likely to originate a customer via email than other channels
  • 58% of users cite it as the first channel they go to every day

The problem is that email is a “push” communication tactic, in a “pull” world. Additionally, when you’re sending an email to someone, you are competing for attention in what is probably the noisiest and toughest place to compete - the inbox. This means that your email strategy must rise to a higher standard. Good email marketing simply isn’t good enough.

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The Most Important Growth Dashboard in My Arsenal

growth-dashboard.jpgSix weeks ago I wrote about the only metric that matters. That metric is the number of people in your addressable market that are paying attention and are engaged with you.

Since I wrote that post I have had a number of conversations on the subject with both clients and business owner friends. The concept has had the same impact on them that it did on me when I first discovered it. There’s quickly a realization that much of the data we’ve learned to rely on as marketers and demand generation executives is often either useless or worse...misleading.

The world of data and analytics has hijacked an engineering term called the signal to noise ratio. In engineering it refers to a measurement that compares the level of a desired signal to the level of background noise. In data and analytics it means being able to separate the data that provides valuable insight from the data that merely creates noise or confusion.

The most common mistake I see when I assess an organization’s marketing and demand generation efforts is that they view a number of metrics - especially at the top and middle of the funnel - as a total, or average number. For example, I’ll often hear or see things like this: traffic is up x percent, we generated y leads, we’ve got z number of leads in our database.

The problem with averages, as the old saying goes, is that if I have one foot in boiling hot water and one foot in ice cold water, if I look at the average I’m fine...and in a lot of pain. And the problem with dashboards that reflect all activity is the data is skewed, often highly, by factors that don’t matter (like anybody not in your addressable market viewing your website).

Think of it this way. You’ve done a great job to build content designed for your desired personas so that it resonates with them, but is of little interest to others, and you’re also reviewing your web analytics. You know that time spent on site and on page is a good indication of engagement so you track that number.  

You begin to notice that, as you have developed your new content strategy, Google Analytics is showing that the average time spent on a page or on the site is down. You begin to panic. How can this be? Why are we spending all of this time on our content and site when the data shows we’re getting less engagement? How am I going to explain our investments when I talk with the CEO?

Suddenly you remember that in a typical month only about 23% of the traffic to your site is from your targeted personas. You realize that the time that 77% of your visitors (the ones that you’re optimizing your content not to resonate with) have a greater impact on that metric than the 23% of visitors who actually matter. It is for this reason that you must segment your audience and the dashboards you use to judge and monitor progress.   

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Good Content is a Commodity: The Keys to Making Content Marketing Work

Good Content is A Commodity: The Keys to Making Content Marketing WorkAaah, I remember the good old days. You remember them, don't you? You know, the days when creating good content was the key to successful content marketing and inbound marketing?

Don't get me wrong, you still need good content, but today it's a commodity. Let's admit the truth; there's more than enough good content out there on just about every subject. And while there's more bad content than good, and the volume of bad content is growing faster than good content; good content is simply not enough to drive your results.

But, before you jump to the obvious conclusion that this blog post is about the need to create great content, that is not what I'm suggesting. Frankly, as I've been studying the keys to success, I'm increasingly convinced that for most companies, creating great content is not the answer. Simply put, the investment of time and energy (and as a result - money) to get from good content to great content isn't justified - the juice isn't worth the squeeze.

How can I say this? Isn't this content marketing heresay? Look, I'm not saying having great content is bad. Instead what I'm saying is that if you're not utilizing your content (super) effectively, your focus should be on optimizing your process before enhancing your content.

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3 Ways Salespeople Can Use Social Media to Sell Better

3 Ways Salespeople Can Use Social Media to Sell BetterTake a quick minute to think through your last online purchase…how did you hear about the item? Was it while talking face-to-face with a friend? Or because of picture your co-worker posted on Instagram? When was the last time you made a purchase because of an article posted on Facebook?

If you had any doubt about the impact that social media has on purchasing decisions, let it go. According to Nielsen, heavy users of social media spend more than three hours a day on social media. In addition, 39% of heavy social users believe that finding out about products and services is an important reason for using a social network.

Is social media a part of your sales plan? Maybe you’ve been on the social media bandwagon for a long time, but it’s not generating the results you’d expect? Following are three ways that your sales team can use social media to sell better and in turn, create new, more engaged customers for your business.

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Landing Pages Not Getting Converted? Here's What to Do About It

Landing Pages Not Getting Converted? Here's What to Do About ItIn Hubspot’s State of Inbound 2016 , both inbound and outbound marketing teams consider “converting contacts/leads to customers” as their top marketing priority over the next 12 months. It’s agreed upon that ensuring landing page conversion is critical.

If you’re not getting the response that you’d expect, or it’s taken a nose dive recently, following are three important keys that will help you refresh your pages. Read on to save time and generate the leads that will make your sales team – and your CEO – extremely happy.

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