Mar 27, 2006
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By Anne Holland, President
If you're a business-to-business marketer in the Fortune 1000 marketplace, you know how incredibly frustrating it can be to try to reach every single critical member of a prospect's committee with your message.
For example, Ken Woods, Director Americas Marketing for Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories, told me he needs to start a permission-based relationship with 10-20 different execs at each prospect company.
No matter how wonderful your search marketing, white paper syndication and webinar offers are (the three most typical b-to-b tech marketing tactics these days), your chances of engaging all 20 needed execs in a single organization at the right time are, well, chancy in the extreme.
Which is why, in addition to all the standard branding, online and DM campaigns, Ken started an outbound telemarketing campaign with partners, The Massini Group last year. The goal is simply to get more of the perfect execs to agree to be emailed with educational offers.
Key: His team *does not* merely ask, "What's your email address?" Nor does anyone ever ever ever ask a staffer "What's your bosses'/co-worker's email address?" in an attempt to flesh out the list.
That's because Ken recognizes the address alone is WORTHLESS.
If email alone was worth anything, he could get addrsses far more cheaply from any of the list brokers or online systems that offer that pure contact info. By investing (far more) in an outbound call team, Ken gets three invaluable things.
#1. Lead qualification
In corporate America, job title vs actual job function can be completely different things. You can't guess who's on the vendor selection committee, you have to ask them.
Plus, the extra tidbits of insider info you may get on the committee during that quick conversation can be invaluable for your biz dev team down the road.
"People wouldn't stop talking to us," Ken told me. "I don't know why that was. Maybe it's the way we approached them." (Note: I suspect the fact that Ken's brand strength made a big difference here. Another reason PR and brand ads have better ROI than you may think.)
Your biz dev reps are hoping to close a six-or seven-figure deal with these folks. Why would you risk the deal itself (and/or your ability to get any email past their corporate filter in future) by sending messages they didn't proactively ask you for?
It's a bit like farting in the conference room. Yes, it will get people's attention, but….
Instead of asking for blanket permission to send marcom email, after qualifying folks they reached on the phone, Ken's team offered a specific white paper he'd developed for the campaign. "Just signing up for emailed news isn't motivating enough," he notes. Next, in addition the callers asked "May we also send you other educational info from time to time on this subject?"
The prospect got their white paper via email within 24 hours with a nice text-note. Then a week later they got a polite text-follow-up offering a second info piece, along with a reward for responding (first 20 responders got an iPod). And so on.
"We're getting people to be consumers of our information," explains Ken. "We're telling them what's going to come next and rewarding them as we go on."
#3. Prospect "heat" measurement
About 19% of the qualified prospects Ken's team reached on the phone agreed to become email info "consumers." Over the next two years (a standard sales cycle), Ken will carefully track how these execs respond differently than execs who joined the list in other ways.
But there's one data point he finds most useful right away: "We look at the number of people within a company who respond. If, for example, 10 people at United responded vs only two at say Williams Sonoma, given our druthers, we'll follow up with United first."
And this is the kind of info a business development team can never get enough of.