B2B Selling - How to handle “I’m not ready to talk to sales yet” - Part 2

handsoverearsIn my last post B2B Selling - How to handle “I’m not ready to talk to sales yet” - Part 1 we talked about asking a compelling question to quickly qualify and engage a new prospect. Our intent is to quickly establish trust and begin our process of influencing the end-user’s decision criteria to favor our solution.

For those who have not read the post, here’s where we left off:

First, the initial follow-up should ask the Golden Question - via Phone or Email

“Mr./Ms. Prospect,
I completely understand you are in the early stages of your project so may I ask you a question (builds curiosity)?

Have you defined the requirements for your SAN Storage project, or no?

If not, I’d be happy to send you our “Top 20 Customer Requirements for a SAN Storage Solution”. This list was compiled from dozens of our storage customers and could be a starting point for your project.

I’d be happy to send you an electronic version to use however you wish, just reply with “send me the requirements doc” and I’ll get it out to you, no strings attached. Then, you can contact me when you are ready.

Thank you for your interest.

Sincerely,

Top Sales Guy”

At the end of the post (after asking the Golden question) I mentioned that you should be prepared to send a “Top 20 Customer Requirements” document to help set the decision criteria. I offered to provide an example document in both Request for Proposal (RFP) and Request for Information (RFI) form. As promised, The RFP version can be found below.
[Read more →]

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B2B Selling - How to handle “I’m not ready to talk to sales yet” - Part 1

One of the toughest tasks for a sales person is engaging a prospect that is in the early stages of a new project and dismisses the need for help. Their response sounds something like this “I’m not ready to talk to sales yet, we’re just researching solutions right now…”. This is often followed by the dreaded, “I’ll contact you if I need more information”.

This is surprisingly easy to handle if you’re prepared, but a momentum killer if you aren’t.

Since the majority of the 70,000+ B2B leads that we’ve captured for our IT Technology clients over the last 4years fall into this category, I thought we might share one way to handle the objection and turn it into your advantage.

Our approach to solving this is based on 20 years of selling high-end IT gear to large commercial organizations and the Federal Government in both the pre- and post- internet era. To sell at this level, you must capture the customer’s curiosity and then wire the customer’s future requirements to fit your solution. This will work wonders but there are no short cuts!

Step 1 - You must create value in the eyes of the prospect at their current stage in the buying cycle - research

Resist the temptation to “sell them”. They don’t care about your solution. What they really need help defining are PROJECT REQUIREMENTS.

For a project of any significant size ($50K and up), most organizations will need to thoroughly define their requirements. So why do you launch into your product features and/or benefits?

Take a different approach, give them what they NEED by asking the Golden Question.

Yes, there is a Golden Question that you can ask to 1) instantly elevate your value, and 2) start the process of “wiring” your solution into their project requirements.

The Golden Question - via Phone or Email

“Mr./Ms. Prospect,
I completely understand you are in the early stages of your project so may I ask you a question (builds curiosity)?

Have you defined the requirements for your SAN Storage project, or no?

If not, I’d be happy to send you our “Top 20 Customer Requirements for a SAN Storage Solution”. This list was compiled from dozens of our storage customers and could be a starting point for your project.

I’d be happy to send you an electronic version to use however you wish, just reply with “send me the requirements doc” and I’ll get it out to you, no strings attached. Then, you can contact me when you are ready.

Thank you for your interest.

Sincerely,

Top Sales Guy”

That’s it. Now you don’t have to buy my new book “The Golden B2B Sales Question” (grin).

This may sound simplistic but it accomplishes several key things.

First, it builds trust because you are listening to the customer and understand he is just researching.

Second, it asks the Golden Question in a way that the prospect is compelled to answer “Have you defined the requirements for your XYZ project, or no? The “or no” part is important because it gives the prospect an opening to tell you no, he hasn’t.

Third, any prospect that is serious now or in the future will want that “Top 20 Requirements…” list that was created by other customers…trust me. Just be ready to provide it in a form the prospect can use internally to help sell your products/services; no marketing fluff.

Creating the Top 20 Requirements Document

In Parts 2 and 3 of this series (one week apart), I will show you an actual example of a SAN Storage Project “Top 20 Requirements” document. You would, of course, need to tweak it to fit your specific solution but I’ll provide two different versions.

If you want it faster than that, email me. Otherwise, see you next week!

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2012 B2B Demand Generation Benchmark Survey Report

Research consultancy Software Advice recently released the results of a five month-long investigation into which channels, content and offers business-to-business marketers find most successful.

The project called the “2012 B2B Demand Generation Benchmark Survey” asked 156 professional marketers which channels are most productive for producing a high quantity of leads, and which produce the highest quality prospects.

The poll also asked similar questions about content and offers, such as live demos, free trials, webinars, videos and more. Finally, the group was surveyed about their spending priorities next year and how that might change from 2012.

Overall, digital channels – particularly those related to search – dominated the results. Email marketing to a house list was the most popular channel and voted most as producing quality and quantity of leads.

Price Quotes were a surprising second for lead quality and were only beaten by a live demonstration from a sales rep (we at LeadLifter are not sure if those qualify as marketing generated leads).

Oddly, social media was among the most popular and a top spending priority next year, despite receiving low marks for quality and volume.

Perceived Quality of Leads by Content or Offer


We asked marketers whether they would describe each content or offer as producing high, medium or low quality leads.

Live demonstrations with a representative received the largest percent of votes for being a high quality offer. These personal experiences are definitely more memorable than one of 50 email blasts everyone receives in a day, but they also are not very scalable. It’s very expensive and time consuming, particularly if the demonstration is on site.

Price quotes came in second with about half the sample calling these leads high quality. As mentioned previously, these leads have already expressed significant purchase intent. Prospects that fill out associated Web forms for price quotes are more than likely pursuing real projects and gathering budget information early in the sales cycle.

 

B2B Content Offers Quality

Percentage of Marketers Using Each Content or Offer


As part of the survey, we analyzed which content and offers marketers use most for demand generation. Not surprisingly, ‘learn more/contact us’ was the most popular, with about 99 percent of the sample using it.

Videos came in second in the report with about 91 percent, despite earning lower marks for quality and quantity of leads. Still, videos are popular because most customers want to consume this kind of content. They are fast and easier to digest for many than written content. Also, videos are increasingly easy and low-cost to produce.

White papers, case studies and live demos with reps were the next most popular with about 84 percent, 84 percent and 80 percent of the sample using each, respectively.

More than three fourths of the group said the use price quotes for demand generation, or about 78 percent. We actually expected this percentage to be higher. Price quotes demonstrate a very high-level of purchase intent. You still have the propensity to receive a lot of responses from people just researching. But this does provide an opportunity to put them in your sales funnel and slowly cultivate that lead over time.

B2B Content Offers Popularity

 

EchoQuote™ Takeaway


This excellent survey reinforces our contention that using a Price Quote mechanism like EchoQuote™ ranks near the top in quantity and quality of leads. It has for years, yet marketers continue to ignore it as a B2B Lead Generation tool.

I think a big part of that is the myth that a prospect asking for a quote request is “ready to buy”. That could not be further from the truth. Having used a Self-Service Quote service for years to market high-end B2B solutions ($25,000 and up), we can safely say that it attracts serious early stage, “future” buyers. These are the leads that sales really needs so they can sufficiently influence their decision criteria when the do in fact become “ready to buy”.

About the B2B Lead Generation Sample


We collected 155 responses from Sept. 26 to Nov. 12, 2012. Below is a breakdown of the sample by industry, business size, marketing budget and seniority.

 

B2B Samples By Industry

B2B Samples By Industry

 

 

B2B Samples By Business Size

B2B Samples by Business Size

 

B2B Samples By Marketing Budget

B2B Samples by Marketing Budget

 

Follow the link to watch the full discussion on the B2B Demand Generation Benchmark Survey Report with Elle Woulfe, the Director of Marketing Programs for Eloqua.

 

About Ashley Verrill
Ashley Verrill is a market analyst with Software Advice. She has spent the last six years reporting and writing business news and strategy features. Her work has appeared in myriad publications including Inc., Upstart Business Journal, the Austin Business Journal and the North Bay Business Journal. Before joining Software Advice in 2012, she worked in sales management and advertising. She is a University of Texas graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.

 

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Why IT VAR Marketing Dev Fund (MDF) programs don’t work

Are your VAR partners failing to generate demand for your products?

Are you spending time and money signing up new partners only to have them produce mediocre results?

Every IT manufacturer knows that VAR channel leverage is the key to growth. OEMs can’t scale without an increasing number of good channel partners to leverage their sales efforts. The problem is that today just about every IT manufacturer has basically the same story–good products and a “channel only” VAR program.

So why are VARs just fulfilling demand instead of creating it?

The answer may lie in how buyer behavior has changed.

OEMs spend a significant amount of Marketing Development Funds (MDF), time and effort trying to get partners to create demand and sell their solutions.

The buyers, however, aren’t biting. In fact, they can find all the information they need by bypassing the VAR and going right to the manufacturer, wasting marketing funds.

varjump

Figure 1 - Serious buyers ignore VARs and go right to the manufacturer wasting money and opportunities

Storage manufacturers themselves have healthy websites with unlimited information about their products; information that is much more up to date and relevant. Why would an end user waste time in the early stages of a project (a critical time for the vendor that wants to win high margin deals) with a reseller when he/she can research solutions directly with the manufacturer? Answer: They wouldn’t.

Quite simply, VARs don’t create demand any more, they fulfill it.

To solve this problem and get back on track, OEMs must realize that they hold the key to channel growth. A strong channel is built by finding new sales opportunities that can be transferred into the channel for fulfillment, not signing new partner agreements or wasting MDF.

OEMs can increase channel width (new partners) and channel depth (more deals per VAR partner) by putting in place a strong program that surfaces sales opportunities and gets them to their channel partners quickly.

Here’s the 3 steps:

  1. The OEM must create compelling content that draws in anonymous, potential customers to the manufacturer’s website(s). Think blogs, non-gated whitepapers, etc.
  2. There must be a strong offer that appeals to an early stage, serious prospect and compels them to reveal their contact information.
  3. Once captured, there must be a standard “hand off” process that connects the new prospect with a new or existing channel partner.

The following diagram shows how a pull process works. Since serious buyers always research solutions directly with the OEM, it makes sense that the OEM takes the primary responsibility for B2B lead generation. As inbound visitors check out the OEM’s website, strong calls-to-action can entice and motivate serious buyers to respond.


Figure 2 - The pull method places the OEM front and center in lead generation activities on behalf of channel partners

The power of this method is evident when a new, potential customer engages with the OEM. Suppose a prospect responds to the website offer and contacts the sales group of the OEM. With a simple question, the sales rep can “seed or feed”. Here’s how it might go.

Hello Jim,
This is Bob at SnazzySAN. I approved your request and it has been sent. If you have not received it, please check your spam filter.

May I ask you a question?

Do you have a specific Value Added Reseller you prefer to work with, or no?

 
 

The Seed (increases channel width)

Now, if Bob responds with “Yes, I like to work with DataPart, Inc.” and they are not yet a partner you have the opportunity to seed a new partner relationship and bring DataPart into it’s first deal.

The Feed (increases channel depth)

However, if Bob responds with “No, I really don’t have a preferred VAR” then you are in a unique position to “feed” one of your existing partners a new opportunity.

Either way, as long as you the OEM is capturing and distributing the inbound leads, you can direct them to where it suits your channel program the best. When you leave it up to your channel partners to find new customers you may find yourself spending a lot of money on co-marketing events with few results.

Summary

In today’s self-service environment, IT Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) are turning to a more direct approach to channel building. As buyers resist and ignore channel partner marketing efforts, smart OEMs are picking up the ball and driving the lead generation/capture process. Focusing on great content, strong website offer(s) and a formal hand-off process for new/existing partners can help any IT vendor build a successful channel.

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Do your Calls-To-Action meet these 5 criteria?

All marketers are familiar with B2B Calls-to-Action (offers) used to motivate a prospect to take action. In the pre-internet era this usually manifested itself as a “Double your order by calling our 800 number now.”

The 800 number is certainly still in use today but is gradually being replaced with the more modern “Visit our Website”. For many company’s, 100% of their marketing spend is focused on driving traffic to their website and good SEO/SEM processes can help with traffic. However, once visitors arrive at the Corporate website the hard part begins; qualifying and converting the prospect.

Is there a magic formula for creating a B2B call-to-action to filter serious prospects and convert them to leads?

Typical web based calls-to-action are for things like Whitepapers, Webinars, Free Trials and [recently] Self-Service Pricing. B2B marketers depend on these offers for a reason - they work. The reason they work is that they meet the 5 criteria of a strong call-to-action.

Specifically, for a call-to-action to work effectively, it:

1. must have high value to the prospect

2. should only be available on the vendor’s website (scarcity)

3. should appeal more to a serious prospect than a casual prospect

4. should appeal to prospects in the early or “research” phase of a project when the vendor’s value proposition has the most impact

5. must be easy to act on for the prospect

Common calls-to-action may satisfy portions of this list, but not all.

Item #1 (high value) is hard to determine because most prospects realize that some offers are simply warmed‐over sales pitches. Keep whitepapers and webinars fresh with current issues and stick with solid whitepaper tactics.

Scarcity (#2) is an issue with the ubiquitous nature of the internet; make sure your content is not available via an easy Google search. Whitepapers suffer the most here.

Having run a business focused on landing page conversion for 4 years, we can safely say that items 3, 4 and 5 represent the true sweet spot for a B2B calls-to-action because the combination ensures high quality prospects that can be influenced early in the sales cycle.

Self-service pricing with sales’ approval strongly meets all 5 criteria.

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Publish B2B Pricing and Lose-Lose

It seems almost daily that I have a conversation with technology marketers about whether or not they should publish pricing on their websites. I’m an opponent of publishing pricing for one simple reason; it will lose you website conversions.

Here’s why…

Say you are researching IT storage arrays and are familiar with the leading mid-tier players like Coraid, EqualLogic, Lefthand, Nexsan, etc. As you visit each vendor’s website you know there is much more information available in various forms than you could possibly review. So, to shorten your vendor list you decide to look for solutions that only fit in your budget.

So far, so good….

Most of the sites you visit have no way for you to easily request pricing without filling out some ridiculously long Contact Us form (you have a small voice inside your head saying “your request is very important to us and if you fill out this form we’ll be sure NOT to get back to you in a timely manner”). You move on.

Finally, you land on a site that surprises you. You search for “pricing” in their very own site search box and wham-o….you get to a hidden page that tells you the price for that particular system. You’ve just run across what I call a Lose-Lose for the vendor but a winner for the visitor. The visitor did not have to give up any information to get the pricing; good for them, but bad for the vendor marketing team and their B2B lead generation efforts.

This creates a Lose-Lose because if the end-user CAN afford the price they see then there is no reason to contact you. They have what they need to continue on their search. If they CANNOT afford the price, they may not realize that it is overbuilt for their purpose so they to will not contact your sales team.

The bottom line is that pricing is valuable to an early-stage end user, publishing it is like throwing marketing dollars down the drain.

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Ben Franklin’s 14 Lessons For Getting Things Done

Benjamin Franklin was a man of action. Over his lifetime, his curiosity and passion fueled a diverse range of interests. He was a writer (often using a pseudonym), publisher, diplomat, inventor and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States.

His inventions included the lightning rod, bifocals and the Franklin stove. Franklin was responsible for establishing the first public library, organizing fire fighters in Philadelphia, was one of the early supporters of mutual insurance and crossed the Atlantic eight times. Self-development was a constant endeavor throughout his incredible life.

Benjamin Franklin was clearly a man who knew how to get things done.

Here are 14 action-inducing lessons from him:

Less Talk, More Action

“Well done is better than well said.”
Talk is cheap. Talking about a project won’t get it completed. We all know people who constantly talk about the things they are going to do but rarely ever take that first step. Eventually people begin to question their credibility. Taking action and seeing the task through to completion is the only way to get the job done.

Don’t Procrastinate

“Never leave that till tomorrow which you can do today.”
This is probably one of the first quotes I remember hearing as a teenager. With an impressive list of achievements to his credit, Benjamin Franklin was not a man hung up on procrastination. He was a man with clear measurable goals who worked hard to turn his vision into reality. What are you putting off till tomorrow that could make a difference in your life today?

Be Prepared

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
You need a plan to accomplish your goals. Charging in without giving any thought to the end result and how to achieve it, is a sure way to fall flat on your face. Think like a boy scout. Have a realistic plan of attack and a systematic approach for getting where you need to be.

Don’t Fight Change

“When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.”
Whilst many of us don’t like change, others thrive on it. Either way change is inevitable. The stronger we fight against it, the more time and energy it consumes. Give up the fight. Focus on proactively making positive changes, instead of having change merely thrust upon you. Wherever possible, try to view change as a positive instead of a negative.

Get Moving

“All mankind is divided into three classes: those that are immovable, those that are movable, and those that move.”
There’s a reason we use the expression, movers and shakers. Movers are the ones who take action, the people who get things done, while the immovable are sitting around scratching their heads wondering how others could possibly be so successful. Which group do you want to belong to?

Avoid Busywork

“Never confuse motion with action.”
We are always running around doing things. We rush from one meeting or event to the next, sometimes without achieving a great deal. At the end of the day, how much of our busywork are we proud of? How much of that running around improves anyone’s life (including ours) for the better? Make your motion mean something.

Give Yourself Permission to Make Mistakes

“Do not fear mistakes. You will know failure. Continue to reach out.”
If we fear making mistakes, we become scared to try new things. Fear leaves us nestled in our comfort zone. Staying in your comfort zone rarely leads to greatness. Taking risks and giving yourself permission to make mistakes, will ultimately lead you to whatever your version of success may be.

Act Quickly on Opportunities

“To succeed, jump as quickly at opportunities as you do at conclusions.”
Opportunities are everywhere. The trick is being quick enough and smart enough to seize them when they arise. Instead of jumping to the conclusion that something won’t work or can’t be done, allow yourself the freedom to ask what if?

Continue to Grow

“Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man.”
We all have vices of some description. The key is to keep them under control or preferably eradicate them entirely. Be kind to those around you, whether they are neighbors, family, co-workers or friends. Never accept that you have finished growing as a person.

Keep Going

“Diligence is the mother of good luck.”
Have you ever looked at a successful entrepreneur or business person and thought how lucky they are? Most of the time, luck has nothing to do with it. Hard work and sacrifice on the other hand have everything to do with it. Successful people deal with failure. They tackle their demons head on. They pick themselves up and keep going.

Know Yourself

“There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one’s self.”
Understanding ourselves is not easy. Sometimes we just don’t want to see ourselves for who we really are. It’s much easier to hold onto a romanticized version of ourselves or to simply view ourselves through other people’s eyes. Start by being brutally honest with yourself. Follow through with understanding, compassion and acceptance.

Don’t Self-Sabotage

“Who had deceived thee so often as thyself?”
We spend so much time worrying about other people hurting us, yet fail to comprehend the damage we inflict on ourselves. If you are using negative self-talk, lying to yourself or indulging in addictive behavior you are self-sabotaging. Life can dish up enough challenges without us adding to the mix. Be kind to yourself. Treat yourself like you would a best friend.

Don’t Give Up

“Energy and persistence conquer all things.”
Achieving our goals can be downright exhausting. There will be days when you want to give up. There will be times when your energy levels flatline and you wonder why you bother getting out of bed. Yet you push forward, day after day because you believe in yourself and you have the determination and strength to back up that belief.

Wise Up

“Life’s tragedy is that we get old too soon and wise too late.”
Benjamin was definitely onto something with this one. Who hasn’t had the thought - I wish I could know then, what I know now? Unfortunately there is no time machine; there is no going back. The key is to wise up as early as you can to start forging a life of purpose, achievement and happiness.

By Thea Easterby, a freelance writer. Her blog www.writechangegrow.com offers inspiring tips on writing, career change and personal development.

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Adopt Zero-Time Selling and Boost Sales Now

zerotimeimageI just finished reading Zero Time Selling by Andy Paul, which was selected as one of the top 3 sales and marketing books in 2011. The book details 10 essential steps that can accelerate sales for companies large and small.

The book is refreshingly simple to understand and focuses on several concepts that will give sales professionals immediate results. It got me to thinking about how our clients can employ Andy’s concepts to sell more effectively using EchoQuote™.

MILT and EchoQuote™

The central take away for me from the book is MILT, which is an acronym for MAXIMUM IMPACT in the LEAST TIME possible. There’s nothing that will increase your sales faster and we all want faster sales.

They key to MILT is RESPONSIVENESS.

Here’s the golden formula:

RESPONSIVENESS = CONTENT + SPEED

For any business the speed of selling is inextricably linked to responsiveness. Why is responsiveness so important? It’s simple. If you’re a seller and your prospects, or buyers, as we’ll call them, are working their way, step-by-step, through their decision-making process (otherwise known as the buying cycle), they won’t move on to the next step until their information requirements for the current step are completely met. Without responsiveness a sale, or a buying cycle, will come to a screeching halt.

Andy continues….

Responsiveness is composed of two elements: content and speed. A quick but incomplete response to a customer’s question is the same as no response at all (eg. an auto-response “thank you” for filling out a request form is not what a prospect wants). A complete but slow response to a customer is marginally better than no response. This has always been the case, and today it’s more true than ever. Given the trove of information available on the Internet about every type of product and service, if a buyer still has a question for a seller after doing their online research, then their need for an answer is, by definition, urgent and critical.

Think about MILT and EchoQuote™ in these circumstances.

1. CONTENT - In a MarketingSherpa study of B2B buyers, the #1 piece of information they want in the first step of the buying cycle (”Awareness” phase) is budgetary pricing.

shutterstock_19393804text

Prospects don’t want to waste their time talking with a sales person or attending a Webinar when they are just starting to research a solution. They want to simply understand if they can afford it before they commit their time. That’s why generic “Request a Quote” or “Contact Us” forms don’t work very well.

2. SPEED - An MIT study on B2B buyer behavior shows that you lose a prospect’s interest after just 5 minutes of them waiting for a [pricing] request.

Your sales team needs to have the tool(s) to receive, research and satisfy a prospects request for pricing, anywhere, anytime, within 5 minutes. That’s where EchoQuote™ comes in.

Here’s how a typical MILT transaction happens with EchoQuote™

  1. EchoQuote™ empowers end-users to create their own quote requests via a link on the client’s website
  2. The requests are routed instantly to the appropriate sales team members
  3. Within seconds they can research the requester and make an approval decision
  4. If approved, the budgetary quote is sent back to the waiting prospect immediately

The customer gets the exact content (budgetary pricing) they want faster than they ever imagined. Sales gets a high-quality, inbound lead and can follow-up easily. The whole cycle takes less than 5 minutes.

Now that’s MILT to the HILT!

This is just one of the many golden nuggets in Andy’s book. Whether you sell widgets, digits or time, get a copy of Zero Time Selling and start selling in Zero-Time! Your customers will thank you.

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Red Zone Response Plan for Inbound Quote Requests

This is a special post for LeadLifter clients currently using our EchoQuote™ lead capturing solution who want to maximize their marketing and sales results. My thanks go out to dozens of contributing customers that have helped us design and shape this process. If you are not an EchoQuote™ user, many of these concepts still apply because the goal of responding quickly to website visitor requests should be a goal for every B2B company.

 

What is a Red Zone Response plan?

Do you have a formal process for how to handle incoming B2B leads from your website or blog? Most marketers do for leads generated from traditional, non-selective calls to action like Whitepapers, Webinars and Contact Us forms.


But what about specialty Calls to Action like EchoQuote™ where the sales team, not marketing, handles and approves the requests?

Since EchoQuote™ captures serious, early stage prospects, they need to be handled by sales quickly, within 5-10 minutes if possible. To make this happen consistently, we’ve developed a process we call our Red Zone Response plan. This article explains why it’s important and how to implement it.

Why a Red Zone Response plan is critical for Sales Reps

Inbound leads captured by EchoQuote™ are not your typical marketing leads. For the 60,000+ that we’ve captured thus far, we know that they are generally much better qualified and most share the following characteristics:

  • There is a real project underway
  • The project is in it’s early stages
  • The decision criteria has not yet been defined
  • Budgetary estimates are in flux
  • Potential vendors are not yet engaged


Early stage prospects that have real projects underway are exactly what most B2B sales teams are looking for. These inbound leads are not “ready to buy”, they are “ready to design”. Although they have not formally reached out to the sales team and are engaging with us indirectly via a quote request, we can connect and engage with them IF we understand their position and give them what they want.

What you need for this Red Zone Plan

As I mentioned earlier, this is a specific plan for sales and marketing users of LeadLifter’s EchoQuote™ service. You will need, at a minimum, the following:

  • A current, active EchoQuote™ instance running
  • Link(s) from your website to EchoQuote™ (see samples)
  • One or more designated Sales reps to receive the EchoQuote™ requests
  • Email and Web access via iPhone, Blackberry or any smart phone is highly recommended but not required

Speed is the key to earning trust

The Red Zone Response plan focuses on the first 30 minutes following an inbound quote request from a prospect. It begins when a prospect responds to a “Self-Service Budgetary Pricing” Call to Action on your site and completes the EchoQuote™ process. The EchoQuote™ system will send your designated Sales rep(s) a special email notifying them of the request.

You just received an “EQ-ACT-1″ email from EchoQuote….the clock is now ticking….

There are 3 critical steps in the Red Zone Response plan:

  1. First, DO NOT CALL THE CUSTOMER BEFORE APPROVING THEIR REQUEST!
  2. Approve or Deny the request within 5 minutes
  3. Follow-up via EMAIL within 20 minutes and open a dialogue

Step 1 - STOP - DO NOT CALL THE CUSTOMER BEFORE APPROVING THEIR REQUEST!

Sales reps using EchoQuote™ only have one decision to make; “Do I approve or deny this request?

The potential customer is sitting there, right now, waiting for their quote. He’s thinking about you and wondering if he can trust you to do what you said you would - deliver a budgetary self-service quote.

Don’t hurt your future chances with this prospect by violating that thread of trust and calling him, even if he is an existing customer (in that case, just approve it and then follow-up). For unknown Requesters, what you need to do is research them quickly so that you can move to Step 2 as fast as possible. Use the provided LinkedIn and Google links in the EQ-ACT email, or whatever means you have, to learn as much as you can about the Requester.

Step 2 - Approve the requested budgetary quote within 5 minutes

Since everything has been pre-loaded and automated by EchoQuote™, the Sales rep does not have to spend any time putting together a budgetary quote. They simply need to use the tools that are readily available to research the requester QUICKLY, and make that decision.

Who should approve the request?

The best way for organizations to handle this varies but in our experience you do not want to designate someone who will be a bottleneck. We have seen Sales managers try and manage these requests but are soon overwhelmed because of their other responsibilities. It may make more sense for the Sales manager to control the process initially to get a feel for it but then assign the duty to one or two designated inside sales people.

If a Sales manager holds onto or ends up denying these requests because they are too busy, then the process will fail. The end-user must get their requested budgetary quote quickly for Step 3 (engagement) to work.

Assuming the requested quote in Step 2 has been approved within 5-10 minutes of the request (and delivered by the EchoQuote™ system), a sales person simply follows up via EMAIL within 20 minutes to start the sales process.

Step 3 - Follow-up within 20 minutes and open a dialogue

Within 20 minutes of having approved the request, send the Requester something like this:

Hi Jim,
My name is Dale with LeadLifter. I approved your quote request and it has been sent. This is a courtesy follow-up to make sure you received it. If not, please check your spam filter.

May I ask you one question?

Have you defined the requirements for your XYZ project, or no?

[OPTIONAL]
If you are just beginning to research solutions, we have compiled a “Top 20 Customer Requirements List” from our hundreds of customers and would be happy to share it with you. Just reply with “Send me the top 20 list” and I’ll send it over.
[END OPTIONAL]

Thank you for your interest in WWW.

 

Now, think about your own experience as a consumer. First, wouldn’t the quick response to your request make you start to trust them just a little bit? Doesn’t the follow-up email give them a “human” quality that seems easy to do business with?

The reason we know this sequence works is because we have tested it. Over the past 4 years we have processed over 60,000 of these requests for sales and marketing clients. Through trial and error, we’ve shaped and honed the method and have discovered that there are no short cuts.

Red Zone Response Wrap Up

We are all consumers. Many of us use the web daily to research and make buying decisions. We want information on our own terms and we don’t want to be bothered by sales people or worse, being promised something and not getting it.

Creating a Red Zone Response plan can give forward thinking companies a competitive edge. By acting on a prospect’s request quickly and respectfully, we can build a larger sales funnel and close more business. Engaging early stage prospects with EchoQuote™, we can help establish the decision criteria, add more value, and sell our solutions at better margins.

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How LeadLifter was born on LinkedIn

We are in the process of rebranding our EchoQuote tool into a broader company we’ve dubbed LeadLifter. EchoQuote is a good name for our lead capturing tool because it attracts our customer’s customers when they visit our client’s websites. The name EchoQuote, however, did not resonate with OUR prospective clients; B2B marketers. EchoQuote will continue to be the tool name under the LeadLifter umbrella so nothing will change for our existing clients.

How we got to LeadLifter using LinkedIn

Instead of embarking on a secret campaign of finding a new name, we decided to come up with a basket of potential names and then put it out into the marketing community for feedback. It was a bit risky but we pre-bought several domain names to make sure we could get the name we would ultimately choose.

We posted this on LinkedIn in the B2B Technology Marketing Discussion Group:

“Help us name a new company, watch it get built

We are starting a new “umbrella” company and need help naming it from the tech marketing pros here.

Our current problem is that we are using one of our tool names as the company name and it confuses our target clients. The tool will become one of several offerings for this new, high-level company.

Since companies these days must have an internet presence, we are limited by the names we can register. Here are our choices so far:

ActiveFunnel
ConvertandSell
EchoLeads
FunnelMax
FunnelSage
LeadLifter
TwinFunnel
VortexBuilders

and a few other derivatives…

The value proposition for the future company is: “Our solutions maximize your marketing team’s efforts and supply your sales team with quality leads, fast. We do this by helping B2B marketers capture more high-quality leads from their existing websites quickly and inexpensively. We then help deliver those leads directly to the sales team for quick response, shortening the sales cycle and increasing sales. ”

Our target client is a VP/Director of Marketing and/or Sales of a mid-sized B2B company; generally technology based.

We want to choose a name that implies: action, fast, quality, lead conversion, funnel building, sales opps, etc.

The company is yet to be built. We’ve been agonizing over choosing the right name and I thought “go to the pros”. I’d rather use this method to get better feedback than a simple poll (which we will probably do once we get to a short list).

Of the name choices above, which would catch your attention? Which sound corny?

Suggestions and input will be greatly appreciated!”

The Response

LinkedIn members immediately began commenting on the posted names and came up with some terrific alternatives. There was considerable disagreement on several points but everyone backed up their positions with good data. We ultimately chose LeadLifter because it truly reflects what the new company does for its clients. Our flagship offering is our Lead Launch Program, a fixed price lead generation service that runs for 90 days.

Whether you are considering something major like rebranding or rolling out a new service, consider using social media channels to help guide you in the process. It worked for us!

Here’s our new LeadLifter logo with associated tagline “Maximize Marketing. Boost Sales.”


logo_leadlifter_mmbs
www.LeadLifter.com

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