Our latest interview is with Mike Damphousse. Mike is a leading sales and marketing executive, leading the growth of Green Leads while sharing b2b demand generation knowledge with others. His success with Green Leads and previously as CMO of two software companies combine with his thought leadership in social media lends to some great insight in this B2B Marketing thought leader interview.
What is B2B appointment setting? And why is it important to marketers?
B2B appointment setting is exactly what it says. It's the function of setting appointments for sales execs so that they can focus on selling versus cold calling and prospecting. It is a way to bypass all the top and middle of the funnel stages and get straight to relationship building event.
When it comes to leads, quality or quantity?
Depends on your industry actually. If you are highly transactional, then by all means, go for quantity. Beef up the inbound activity, rally the troops and turn on the hose. If you are more of a high ticket, longer sales cycle type of sell, then quality pays off. There is nothing that can drag a sales (or marketing) engine to a grinding halt than having to focus on too many marginal leads. Ask any big ticket sales person if they would rather have 10 appointments with VP level decision makers or 50 leads of VPs that have downloaded a whitepaper. The former wins over the latter every day.
You specialize in reaching CXOs and VPs. Can you give marketers three tips to connect with these hard to reach decision makers?
Respect their time. A con call/web meeting is more acceptable as a way to first introduce yourself now than it was five years ago. Ask for a meeting and take what they give you. A twenty minute con call is better than "not interested". Gone are the days of booking an hour meeting at 11:00 am and then taking a 90 minute lunch.
Respect when they delegate below them. They build solid teams for a reason. Everyone asks us for C and VP level meetings, but the reality is that even though we start there, 40% of all C/VP prospects we talk to refer us down to a director or other team contributor.
User your resources. Nigel Edelshain uses the term Social Calling. Know your prospects, use tools such as LinkedIn, twitter, Google alerts. Use everything in your arsenal to hone in on a prospect. If a CFO of a company is quoted as saying "our focus this year is on the top line," then when you approach them talk about revenue impact, not strategy or investments.
How does lead nurturing play a part in reaching these executive contacts?
Executives are information sponges. They want nuggets of data and knowledge that will help them do their jobs. They also know how to find it themselves. They Google topics of interest. They read discussion groups. They subscribe to RSS feeds. They read whitepapers. All of this has to be part of the marketing mix, and propagating it so they can find it, or pushing it to them so they have it is key. Just remember, if they downloaded a whitepaper or clicked through a newsletter, it doesn't mean they are ready to buy. It means they are thinking of you and they will most likely be more receptive to additional touches.
We've done a study that shows that executives that were nurtured prior to us attempting to set an appointment actually resulted in more appointments and higher quality appointments.
I noticed you use Twitter frequently and have an active blog. How have these helped the success of your company, and what kind of budget and resources do you have to be so active in social media?
We've had a blog for quite a while, but until we started aggregating followers through twitter and LinkedIn groups and blog comments, we never saw the true value. Once we put a concerted effort into blogging and social media marketing though, the stats took off. First web traffic, then rises in SEO rankings, then increases in inbound leads, then more brand recognition when doing outbound marketing. Ultimately resulting in new business.
The glory of it all is how it can be done in such a grass roots fashion. I'm not a big fan of hiring an agency for these tasks; I'm a cult fan of getting some passionate internal contributors to participate. If they blog, tweet, network on LinkedIn and post comments on other's blogs, the rest of the process comes naturally. Have someone be the social media team lead though. Keep the efforts happening daily. A day gone by without exposure is a lost day you'll never get back. A great place to start is Chris Brogan's blog article: 19 Presence Management Chores You Could Do Every Day
What metrics do you use to measure your social media success?
At first we struggled with this and then we had the "ah-ha" moment. It was the web traffic report over 6 months and a stack of 6 month lead gen reports. We started seeing spikes in traffic that correlated with increased social media activity. Once you lined them up it became obvious. Big article on Monday. Promotion and commotion on twitter increases traffic, comments fly, viral things happen and then traffic spikes Wed-Fri. Within that week and the next, inbound activity spikes. We also use some valuable tools that trigger outbound activity from web traffic. If we get a visit from someone or someplace we can identify then we decide if we want to handle the lead. Do we want to Pounce, Pause, Nurture or Wait? Knowing they are active can be a key time to call and attempt to set a meeting.
The one measure I'm in love with the most is what I call the c-factor, which is how many of my competitors re-tweet or blog about content generated by Green Leads. Good branding for them and us. It's all good.
What are three tips that any marketer can use to increase their social media or blogging?
1. Make a concerted effort to actively post blog comments on other's blogs. When you do, don't just write the comment, but write it and insert a link back to your site or blog that is relevant. If you can, learn how to use "<a href" links in your responses and embed your links under the keywords. Same thing when you write blog articles. Never publish an article without relevant links.
2. Encourage links back to your content. If you see another blogger write about your stuff, don't be afraid to email then and ask them to use a specific URL and to surround specific keywords when linking back to you. Don't be shy.
3. It is all supposed to be viral, but every virus needs a host, right? Find some friends and industry leaders that you know have good followings. Ask them to do cross posts with you, blog roll exchanges, re-tweets. Start the virus…give it a nudge. Just don't overdo the good will. I've had one blogger email me 4 times a week asking him to retweet his stuff. I don't see him reciprocate, and I've gotten sick of the volume, so he's now in my trash folder.