Restricting your appointment setting campaigns to certain business sizes is common knowledge. However, doing it all the time may not be healthy. Small businesses do not always stay small. So just when you thought you would never have to qualify certain businesses again, it still helps to use your appointment setting too to keep an eye on them.
The appointment setting process is not just about marketing or sales. In fact, both marketing and sales are not just about getting your software sold. All of them should also be for the purpose of education. If you do not use those tools to help prospects learn, any interest or profit will lose significant value.
The field of lead generation is not always as stable as other fields of business. Tools. Strategies. Beliefs. These are constantly in a state of change (especially now with the introduction of social, mobile, and online elements). On the other hand, this need to constantly adapt can have the risk of being short sighted.
Like in SCM, you need to be aware of how many leads that are being processed by your appointment setting service. Many of those in the practice of monitoring supply flow will attest that numbers alone are insufficient for a well-functioning system.
U.S. manufacturers might have reason to rejoice as web giant Google is currently testing the waters of local manufacturing. From the New York Times, there are reports that Google is turning the Nexus Q into a product that many concerned Americans have long been wanting to see:
“Etched into the base of Google’s new wireless home media player that was introduced on Wednesday is its most intriguing feature. On the underside of the Nexus Q is a simple inscription: ‘Designed and Manufactured in the U.S.A.’”
However, the real good news is that Google is no longer the only company that is considering the option of ‘reshoring’: a term used to describe the relocation of manufacturing operations from overseas (like those in China) to stateside. In the article, a report by Boston Consulting Group cites some very promising statistics:
“The firm reported in April that one-third of American companies with revenue greater than $1 billion were either planning or considering to move manufacturing back to the United States. Boston Consulting predicted that the reversal could bring two million to three million jobs back to this country. ”
This is not only good news for those looking to create more jobs for Americans but also for those who are marketing to American manufacturers for SCM software. Still, don’t get too excited. While this shift in demand could be more natural than relying on government incentives and imposed regulations, you still have competitors who also want to take the advantage.
In the end, the race is on once again for SCM software firms to provide streamlined solutions for organizing supply chains and manufacturers. This time the course is domestic with manufacturers within the U.S. serving as the finish line. On the bright side, this same course is now fully laid out for everyone to see. It’s only a matter of who can get to the goal first.
As usual, the following strategies are advised:
- Speed up your B2B lead generation campaign – You need to find a way to connect with your prospects and have them qualified before the competitors do. It helps if you have a long but comprehensive list of contact information.
- Ensure your methods are thorough – Speed is useless without control. Make sure your lead generator knows how to exhaust all options to contact a prospect. Once a connection has been established, try to evaluate their interest and how it reflects their needs (even needs that are not easily identified by the prospects themselves).
- Set an appointment once qualification is complete – Use software appointment setting as the final test of the prospect’s interest. Through it, you can see if they’re interested enough to consent an actual business meeting with your sales team.
When a rise in demand is brought about by a collective desire in any market, those who target said market can only expect genuinely interested clients. In this case, they are not being compelled by anything but a desire to try something they have long been wanting to pursue: a product that says “Made in the U.S.A.” SCM software firms should realize that the race is now stateside and it’s time to change course!
Before, there were huge differences between B2B and B2C in terms of marketing. Unlike B2C, determining the success of a B2B sale can go even beyond the actual signing of the deal. Few things can paint this picture quite clearly like ERP software. Despite the successful attempts of attracting a prospecting, discovering their interests and needs, then finally closing the sale, many companies still struggle terribly with software implementation and miscommunication.
Ideally however, the process of generating and qualifying software sales leads for ERP is supposed to teach your business on how to avoid such obstacles. If you had truly understood the needs of a client and kept in constant communication, then you’d know the best course of action. There’ll be no surprises, no power struggles over ownership, and no unexpected protests from parties inside the client company.
B2C however, does it on a worse scale. Or at least, that’s what’s being implied by this Forbes article where it describes the sort of marketing done prior to the rise of social media. These days, social media is the new channel through which marketers are looking to promote their company’s brand. However, the styles often used remain to be as impersonal and overgeneralized as the more ‘traditional’ forms of marketing have been:
“Social has undoubtedly influenced daily client conversations as well (‘We need more fans’).”
“How many brands really know the people who are in their circle (buying their product) or in their communities? As old as it may seem, many brands still define their audiences by demographics – for example, 21 to 44-year-old women. It’s not how you’d describe a friend. Who is that person? What do you really know about them? We need to work harder at really knowing people as people. It’s even truer with social media. You’ve gained fans. Do you know who they are? Are they people you want as fans? What’s their role in your social group? What’s their value within your community?”
But with ideas like this pervading the B2C marketing sphere, it’s becoming clear that even they are being directed down the same path as B2B. That path being the path of connecting more deeply with each individual client and prospect. Take cloud computing providers as another example. Offering SaaS has allowed for lower costs of ERP and given software companies a more global reach.
This leads to a wider market but while such a market can promise more leads, it also tempts companies to start adopting the impersonal habits of B2C. This must not happen. The fact that B2C marketers are already walking down the same path of sociability and connecting even more deeply with each customer proves that B2B businesses should stay true to that path themselves.
Why? Because you all now know the importance of treating your customers as individuals with individual needs. Acknowledging that individuality is not only a way to succeed in social media marketing. It can apply to any marketing approach (from email, website, and even telemarketing). Social media has only made it harder for company’s to be impersonal. The fact that B2C companies are beginning to share your path should only mean that you need to keep walking that right direction.
As you’re well aware, security remains a top concern even among companies who have begun to put faith in cloud-based software providers. Unfortunately, many of these providers are still emphasizing on cost-efficiency as the primary reason to shift to the cloud.
If you still aren’t convinced that data security should remain a high priority, take note that the Federal Trade Commission charges heavily against companies who they feel aren’t doing enough to protect customer data. In this article from CNNMoney, a representative explains further details, followed by disturbing statistics emphasizing the gravity of the dishonesty.
“’We have always said that it is not a violation to be hacked,’ said Kristin Cohen, an attorney in the F.T.C.’s division of privacy and identity protection. ‘We can only go after companies that have misleading privacy policies — either they did something that was deceptive or unfair.’
Over the past decade, the F.T.C. has reached settlements or sued around 35 companies for misrepresenting their data security. For example, RockYou, a social game site, settled with the agency earlier this year while Twitter did so in 2010.
The number of cases pales next to the proliferation of successful hacker attacks in the United States. Last year alone, there were 419 breaches reported affecting 22.9 million people, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center, a group that tracks the problem. The number of successful attacks is almost certainly higher, however, because many companies fail to disclose when their defenses are defeated, said Rex Davis, director of operations for the center.”
If you’re considering to offer cloud based software for CRM, be ready to have security brought up as an objection. As such, you should be ready to take responsibility and report breaches to all the parties that should be concerned. This not only means disclosing to the FTC, but also acting immediately to inform your clients. Another reason why this is so important is that it also makes for an effective lead generator on the side. Clients who can see that you’re doing what you can to protect their information are more likely to maintain trust in your software. This means more retention of subscribers and therefore, you can keep drawing in sales without necessarily having to search for all-new software leads.
But as always, a challenge lies in effectively reaching out to these clients and clearly communicating to them the urgency of any breach. Use emails that demand a response showing that they’ve read your notification, are aware of the threat, and are taking your prescribed course of action. If there’s no response, don’t be afraid to follow-up with something more direct like a phone call. Don’t worry about investing in an expensive call center and just outsource telemarketing companies for the actual callers.
Honesty will always be the best policy so be honest when there are security issues with your product. Sure, some people might people might get upset when they know that your security failed to uphold their expectations but at the very least, you told them the truth. On the other hand, the FTC has made it clear that worse consequences await those who betray their customer’s trust and don’t admit to any breach in security.
With all the hype regarding Facebook’s IPO, business and marketing professionals are once again buzzing on the subject of social media marketing. Since the days of Friendster and Myspace, more and more businesses are using these social media platforms in order promote their brands and engage customers. This applies to everyone from regular consumer brands to high-end B2B products such as BI software.
However, not everyone is eager to jump on the bandwagon (or at the very least, the Facebook bandwagon). What people are forgetting is that Facebook does not comprise the whole of social media. There’s also Twitter. There’s also LinkedIn. And just recently, business2community.com has released an article that further confirms the shape of the online landscape for social media.
Now the internet has long been hailed as the new frontier for businesses to conquer and yes, the rise online marketing and online businesses are showing signs that this frontier already has territories established. These territories are of course the websites and domains where companies choose to establish their presence.
In the case of social media, think of it as one area of the map where everyone gathers. Each area has a certain population of a certain market. For a long time now, people have been considering the use of Facebook as a marketing tool to have a heavy B2C bent. The article only goes on to confirm this:
“When Facebook began allowing companies to set up their own profiles, the real boon for brands was the ability to occupy the same online space as consumers’ friends and acquaintances. After all, online space very quickly translated to occupying the same mental space. Consumers could think of their interaction with brands in the same way they thought of their interaction with people: they could have conversations, share content, and exchange information. They could have a relationship with their Fans”
Translating that into some sort of landscape, the region of Facebook is rife with consumer brands and with the consumers themselves. On the other hand, this does not sound like the ideal environment for B2B leads. As stated before though, Facebook does not necessarily stand for the whole of social media. For B2B businesses, there can be other places to go such as LinkedIn:
“LinkedIn’s special place in the social media pantheon has always been professional networking. Additionally it has been a central source of truth for corporate information, and many companies are encouraging their employees to connect their profiles to the company profile in order to bolster their presence. It is not surprising then that large corporations would dominate the LinkedIn leaderboards.”
Needless to say, this is the ideal B2B region of the social media realm. With a population comprised of professionals, corporate executives, and discussions on big business, LinkedIn is a good place to get information needed for a lot of lead generation methods such as telemarketing and email marketing. Unlike regular B2C marketing, there is greater emphasis on establishing relationships and connections with prospects before attempting the sale. Conversations and exchanges of information are highly encouraged, leading to the heavy use of everything from outsourced telemarketing to webinars.
Ultimately however, this should teach you the importance of mapping out the virtual landscape of social media so that you can set allocate your resources to the proper area.
One of the convenient things about making appointments out of software leads is the way it helps plan out your schedule. It also obliges a client to set aside some time for you and thus, it means their attention is focused on your B2B software business.
However, perhaps another reason to throw in appointment setting in your lead generation campaign is because it gives your potential client some time as well. Now you may understand why having time on your end is convenient. It allows you to plan ahead. It gives you more freedom to deal with current (and more pressing) matters within your company (e.g. development, implementation, research). On the other hand, how does extra time benefit the other party? Sure you may as well cite your own reasons but are you sure that’s all?
Remember, like any other B2B software product, HR software is not just for the one in charge of HR management. It’s also for those being managed as well. One of the most problematic issues regarding the implementation of any B2B software application is that the decision to implement it was done without input from those who would be affected by it. The time you give your clients with a scheduled appointment could be the time that they need in order to inform the rest of the company.
You’d be surprised that even a decision straight from the top can be reversed if everyone else below would make it a regrettable one. In the case of HR software, a lack of education on how it works for the company as a whole is often a common implementation problem. And even before that, it might also affect the chances of a sale no matter how qualified the lead, how hard you worked on it, or if you outsourced very reputable lead generation services.
Those will all go to waste if your lead generation plan not only has appointment setting but the kind that gives your potential client plenty of time. Just because you had agents telemarketing or emailing specific decision makers for your leads doesn’t mean that those are the only people who need to know about what you’re about to do. Your product is for the benefit of many, not just one. Still, of course you wouldn’t want to spend too much time informing all of these people. That’s why giving time to your prospect will allow them to do it for you and may even raise questions or concerns that the decision maker hadn’t thought of. The more information they can relay to you through that person, the better. Isn’t that what a lead really depends on for qualification?
Regardless if you use outsourced telemarketing, online marketing, or even paid the company a visit to their office, you all have a busy schedule and implementing something as big as a new HR system will only take more time if the people it’s supposed to serve don’t understand (or worse, may even reject it). This doesn’t mean you should consult them as well but it does mean you need to give their company some time to do that themselves.
First off, a quick review on the importance of B2B lead generation. No matter how top quality you claim your B2B software can be, it’ll be wasted if you don’t put too much effort in locating prospects and generating interest among them. You should also be well aware that the capacity to make sales doesn’t guarantee that either. A lead may not necessarily translate into a sale but that is in fact its way of making sure you don’t waste time with the uninterested.
Another important feature of lead generation is data. It helps to know the type of people you want your product to serve. Could it be something just for a company’s HR department or is it something meant for those all the way up to the top like BI software?
Secondly however, there will always be the reality of competition. Now when you’re ever sitting at your desk wondering why a rival company has managed to make more sales than you, please don’t say it’s just luck. The truth is they may know ways of finding prospects to sell to that you don’t. They’re neither lazy nor inexperienced with their lead generation methods.
This is why it’s best to pick up the pace yourself on that task. You need to start being more direct and find subtle ways to draw more interested prospects to you. Your information gathering should be at top speed all the time so that you can also act upon that data post-haste. Furthermore, that data needs to be fresh so that you can be sure that you’re way ahead of everyone else in fulfilling a need that you know is there. A schedule that is constantly being filled with meetings from parties with qualified interests has a higher chance of churning out sales (especially when you’ve already established confidence in your sales-making capacity).
So how do you get started? There are obviously a sizable number of different lead generation methods out there. All with their pros and cons. You have e-mail marketing. There’s website creation. Some B2B firms still make use of classical methods such as telemarketing and offline advertising. With so many to choose from, it’s no surprise if you ask yourself if you can even afford them all.
What’s worse, perhaps it would even be best to do use them all. Relying on only one method may not do you any good once their flaws start kicking in. E-mail invitations get caught in the spam filter. Telemarketing calls get ill-received by gatekeepers. Website investments become the target of juvenile hackers.
How are you ever going to afford investing in them all?
Well who says you have to? Has it ever occurred to you that there might be lead generation services out there that have already done that for you? That’s what outsourcing is for.
Even the telemarketing industry nowadays makes use of more than just the telephone for call campaigns. Different tactics actually require the aid of other methods. Inbound telemarketing relies on snagging prospects via emails, websites, and ads for example. How about you outsource to them and get the data to catch the competition?