It’s all about the data.
While executives in high tech sales agree that marketing automation and social media generate more responders and data, many have told us that their investment in both has not had much of an impact on their lead-to-revenue conversion rate. We believe that it is not the leads or the methods of generating them, but the lack of deeper insight into what is motivating the customer, that is leaving companies lead-rich but intelligence-poor as a result.
More than 15 years in this business have taught us that, in high tech sales, business cycles drive purchases, not marketing campaigns. Companies look for new solutions when there are changes in management, fiscal or regulatory changes, acquisitions, mergers, and reorganizations. Catching them at the right time means staying on top of what’s going on, or risking not being in the deal at all. A very costly oversight, since you’ll likely have to wait 5 to ten years before that account becomes active again, adding lost client lifetime value to the lost opportunity cost.
However, with the right intelligence, you can be in the right position at the right time to guide the buyer’s journey — because you know more about what’s driving their need to buy and can focus your resources based on that knowledge. In other words, by adopting a sustained approach to capturing real business intelligence, you can improve the quality of your data, take back some control from the prospect, and go to market armed with facts rather than faith.
To illustrate, we’re going to analyze a typical teleprospecting engagement to get an idea of the makeup of the data and the results from a sustained teleprospecting relationship.
As a basis for this discussion, we took a data sample from a teleprospecting engagement that consisted of 40,000 contacts, made up largely of inbound responders, and supplemented by internal and external contact lists, all representing mid-to-large sized enterprises in North America. Our client, like most software solution providers, takes a broad-brush approach to marketing, including MA and social media, and leverages multiple data sources with various marketing campaigns.
Using this data sample, this is what we learned:
- Only 50% of the contacts were “callable,” due to suppression lists, duplicates, missing information etc.
- Through intelligent outbound tactics, we discovered that only 11% of the 40,000 contacts had a defined project (10%) or were already in the buying cycle (1%), and were actively engaged with product candidates and vendors.
- The remaining 39% were conducting research, for consulting purposes, career advancement, or simple curiosity.
- Conclusion: a responder pool of 40,000 realistically means an addressable market of about 4400 suspects.
In a pool representing both inbound responders (received via MA, social media, website, and other sources) and non-responders, direct conversation through teleprospecting also yielded several other interesting facts:
- It took an average of 5 call attempts over a 14 day period to reach an interested inbound responder; however,
- It only took an average of 3 call attempts over 9 days to reach an interested non-responder.
- Outbound responders converted to leads at the same rate as inbound responders – 3%-15% depending on the type of offer or solution.
Although common theory says that inbound inquiries are more qualified and will convert to revenue faster and more often, our experience says that’s not necessarily true. In fact, we find that non-responders convert at the same rate as responders, but with much less effort.
A review of responder titles brought out another noteworthy detail, one that emphasizes the importance of going beyond the responder to talk with other stakeholders. You may think your ideal target title is obvious, but teleprospecting often uncovers additional targets who may be the real decision makers within organizations.
Because we talked directly to the customer, we were also able to obtain deeper insight into the customers’ business drivers, buying behaviors, and propensity, using the tele-channel as a research platform as well as a lead qualification tool. This created an opportunity to not only better align marketing resources and relevancy but to keep prospect data current and continually refreshed. By the way, we reported 1,655 MQLs from this project, but also established a foundation of customer intelligence, from which meaningful analytics could be derived and used to drive targeted campaigns, segment the buyer market, and infuse relevance into messaging and timing.
So what does this tell us? It tells us that responders do not necessarily equal buyers, in fact, only a very small number of responders are even in the game. The belief that an inbound-generated inquiry has a greater likelihood to advance in the sales process should be and is being challenged. Intelligent outbound tactics need to be embraced as a critical step in the demand generation effort, to capture business insight that cannot be gained without a conversation.
The power of a conversation arms your team with facts, not faith, and takes the “gut feeling” out of messaging and content development. When you let the facts fuel marketing campaigns and strategies, we guarantee you’ll improve sales velocity and increase lead-to-revenue conversions as a result.
We encourage your comments and insights about your experience with demand generation and the part teleprospecting plays in your process.
Jeff Drilling, CEO, Leap Analytix LLC
Next blog: Top Ten Things You can Learn from a Customer Conversation