GReader Shared Posts

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Building the Right Fences Between Marketing and Sales

Good fences make good neighbors
Traditional wisdom stands up because it's proved over time. In the case of this quote, it conveys the significance of setting clear boundaries and knowing how to respect those boundaries.

This is often a challenge for Sales and Marketing teams. Neither wants to give up control over the fruits of their labors but each has expectations of what the other will do when leads or prospects are "passed over the fence" so to speak.

This post is going to talk about the theoretical boundaries and then how to implement real fences. Both pieces are important and many companies get through the first step. Let's start with that, see what it looks like and if you can see why it's not enough.

A couple of specific criteria that Sales and Marketing should define are:
  1. What triggers a lead passing from Sales to Marketing (MQL)
  2. What actions must Sales take with every accepted lead (SAL)
  3. What triggers a stalled lead passing back to Marketing (Lead Nurturing)
  4. Who decides which current Prospects to include in Marketing campaigns
  5. How can Sales remove Leads or Prospects from Marketing campaigns
Once you have those, or other definitions that make sense for your business, you need to build fences. Fences means you remove ambiguity from your database about who owns what and what actions can be taken.

I'm going to use for my next set of examples because it's what I'm most familiar with.
  • Lead Owner -- The Lead Owner should be assigned to show who will primarily will be interacting with the person.
  • Lead Status -- Each value should be "owned" by one team or the other. There should be clear reasons when a lead status should change, and who is responsible for doing it.
  • Lead Score -- If you are scoring your leads, make sure you can act when a score reaches your defined thresholds. Who takes ownership and what is the next specific Touch that needs to happen to these leads
  • Opportunity Stage -- Marketing doesn't typically contact "Open" opportunities on which the salesperson is actively working. However, for Stalled opportunities that would make good candidates for nurturing, marketing should help retain and re-activate these prospects.
  • Customer by Segment -- Once a customer has purchased, the relationship likely changes again. By setting up some clear marketing tracks around segments you can define and mark in your database, you can help your existing customers learn more about other products, upcoming events, and other opportunities to continue interacting with your company.
So, as a marketer, how do you know if you've got good fences? An easy litmus test is if you have to get your lists approved by Sales, 0r if you send them a list, and they return it with "Include/Exclude these...", then you have not built good enough fences. Giving each team responsibility for keeping their own data clean will make it easier for both sides to work together.

How are your fences? And what can you do to make them better?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Why ROI Matters to Marketing

Marketing can be seen as either a cost-center or a revenue-generator.

Which makes tracking the return from our marketing efforts of utmost importance. You are integral in the perception of your organization towards marketing.

In a recent position, I was the first full-time marketing hire for the company, and one of my primary tasks was to step up demand generation. After a few months, I had successfully increased the size of our database and had a decent response rate to our campaigns.

But, looking ahead, I could see that executing lead gen activities wasn't going to be my objective. The sales team was going to look at how many opportunities they got out of the leads, how many deals they got from those opportunities.

If I kept my focus on putting new leads into the top of the funnel, I'm wasn't going to be aligned with the rest of the organization.

That was when I started tracking the metrics that Sales was going to be looking at - Opportunities they worked on that came from Marketing Leads, and percent of new business that was generated by adding a marketer.

How are you looking forward to the metrics that will be important next quarter or next year?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

ProductCamp Austin -- Content Driving Sales Process

The first session that I attended at ProductCamp over the weekend was by Fernando Labastida about using Content to Drive the Sales Process.

Fernando made some excellent points, starting with one that particularly stuck out to me at the beginning of his presentation.

He said that companies should not forget the role of relevant outbound marketing (getting your message into the right hands) or the tenacity of a Sales 1.0 mindset (making judgments about prospects and pursuing those that are most likely to close). The rise of content as a marketing tool, should not derail the objectives of marketing and sales.

The second point that was about creating a "buzz piece" of content. This is a piece that requires more effort, goes deeper on a topic, looks at a serious industry problem, or produces new research. When you have put in the time and work on a buzz piece, it becomes a foundation for your content strategy.

With this foundational piece, you have something that can easily be distributed by other people. It's not an advertisement for your products but content that makes the people sharing it look smart for passing it along. It gives you a piece to break smaller chunks of content out from -- allowing content re-use and enabling you to get the message into channels that might not have worked for the original. And, it builds your credibility simply because of the effort required to produce it.

How are you using content to make a big splash in your space?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

On Symbols, Value, and Shared Meaning

The purpose of media is to facilitate communication. The purpose of media is not to deliver messages. That can be done in-person, a slower but effective method. What media does is intermediate - allowing communication to scale, asychronous, repeatable, and add elements like video or audio not possible in-person. Different media channels have taken advantage of different strengths of media. The broadcast model of the 20th century focused on scale but required audiences to consume what was presented to them. This was true for traditional media (print, radio, television) as well as non-traditional sources -- movies, plays, museums. This model distributed content which was then used to star between other people (e.g. think 'water-cooler' conversations). Social media, in contrast, lowers the barrier of intermediation because it focuses on enabling person-to-person communications. (Because the tools are flexible, it can also be used similar to broadcast media but the consumer landscape has changed enough to make this less effective.)

Social media is also different from other media channels in a distinct way -- distributed, near-real-time interaction. This creates an immediate feedback loop, allowing not only for instant reaction to content but active audience participation in creating the direction of future content. The purpose of social media is to facilitate communication. Trying to adapt the tactics of broadcast media tools simply cannot be successful. We must bring a fresh set of eyes and learn anew how to use these media effectively.

On Symbols

The point has been argued that we are not able to distinguish the symbol from the thing the symbol represents. I agree with the argument and would add Social Media to the list of places we confuse the symbol and the meaning. As I mentioned above, the purpose of social media is to facilitate communication. This is a deliberately broad meaning because the diversity of social media allows for significantly different kinds of communications to take place. The most common symbol in social media is a connection -- often called following or friending. These connections (the symbols) signify both parties willingness to communicate with each other (the meaning).

What frequently happens in social media is that the symbol (the connection) is seen at the reason for joining a social media network. The number of connections then changes from an expression of how interested they are in listening to and communicating with diverse voices to a symbol of broadcast-era authority based on how widely they can distribute their content. The pursuit of the symbol fails to recognize the value of the meaning behind it.

On Value

The immediacy of the social media feedback loop as well as the volume of connections being made on social networks is leading to a culture that makes snap judgments of unsolicited connections. Social networks are considered to be the potential next step for search, in which the network of connections filters content and helps the searcher arrive at their answer. This is happening with the connections themselves as well, the network acts as a filter. A connection from someone through a shared network is more likely to be accepted than a request from someone unknown.

The way to gain acceptance in these networks is to look past the symbol (the connection) and begin with an understanding of the value you can you offer to create meaning. The ethos of sharing in social media requires all participants to have some value they can add to the communication. The definition of the value is co-created by the connected parties but requires each participant to join prepared to share what they consider to be of value. This often takes the form of information but it can also be notifications -- as pointers to information or to transactions.

By considering the value that can be added to a social media channel, the participant is forced to look past the symbol of being connected and into the meaning of how they can facilitate communication.

On Shared Meaning

Related to the immediacy of feedback through social media channels is the concept of 'shared meaning.' I feel this term is more accurate than 'relationship' because not everyone wants to join a toothpaste community. In some cases, the need for close, personal connections is neither necessary nor desirable. Rather, the connected parties co-create a space in which they are able to provide value in a way that is meaningful in that context. Again, this is one of the strengths, and differentiators, of social media -- successful experiences are created by both the producer and consumer of content. Where in a broadcast model, the producer of content would look at measures of consumption and make assumptions about what the audience is willing to accept, under a social media model the consumers are much more likely to state their preferences directly.

The greatest challenge facing participants in social media -- especially as social networks include more company/consumer connections -- is tempering the desire to push one sides desired meaning onto the other. The mantra of "Listen First" is not a platitude; listening intently to the other participants in social media helps you understand what value they have to offer and where they are looking for added value. The strongest ties are created when shared meaning is truly co-created by the community. And when a community reaches this point, people can remain active for years.