Sales Force Automation: Friend or Fool?

May 10, 2009

I was recently asked:

“How could sales force automation (SFA) affect salesperson productivity, marketing management and competitive advantages?”

To which I resonded:

If you automate non-compelling marketing drivel in an intellectual, ineffective attempt to generate qualified leads that in turn motivates incompetent sales people to meet and/or exceed quotas blindly assigned by a narcissistic CEO you are simply accelerating the pace at which the marketplace discovers the weaknesses in your offerings and you all get re-acquainted with

Most SFA implementations I endured as a sales person became little more than expensive spreadsheet-producing torture devices whose manipulation and hourly generation were used by confused and inept sales managers to justify their further isolation from their staff.

These same managers then used the 87 different reports as enhanced interrogation techniques (EITs) to cajole inflated pipeline guesses out of their scared, under-quota sales people during weekly sales beatings meetings.

The answers the sales staff gave – and the managers accepted – reminded me of Darren Stephens explaining to his boss on “Bewitched” why he had a monkey wearing a tutu riding a donkey in his living room.

During the boom-boom years of the late 90’s and early 2000’s most companies didn’t have to sell because people spent money more freely than drunken politicians on a Madoff junket investigating the viability of franchising Nevada brothels.

Instead of looking inward to see who and what needs to be reassigned or released, companies turn to SFA platforms in a technological attempt to cure what ails them. But rotten eggs carried in a Rolls Royce still can’t be used to bake an award-winning cake.

Now the good news: “Perfect practice makes perfect,” as Vince Lombardi used to say. If you create and automate tested, effective, constantly-updated marketing campaigns with proven “next steps” that are triggered by key events, i.e. a prospect downloads a free report or white paper, signs up for a webinar, requests a quote, your sales staff will become exponentially more productive and profitable because they will be spending more time with educated, hot leads ready to buy rather than chasing “investigators” and “SeeMores” who cannot make a decision.

When you spend less time educating and more time connecting with decision-makers that are able to buy sales cycles are shortened.

And in sales it’s all about compressing sales cycles.

If you can do more, faster and better with fewer people you will bury your competition and dominate your field and you’ll do so despite working less hours than your competition, charging higher prices, selling at higher margin, with less stress and more fun.

It’s all about automating the proper message to market to media match. How fast do you want to bury your competition? Contact me if you’d like to start today.


How to Choose a Lead Generation Company

May 6, 2009

lead generation, telemarketing, prospecting, seo, sem, ppc, google adwords, direct mail, selling over the phoneYou may have asked yourself this question and never gotten an answer:

“What are the key factors to consider in choosing a lead generation partner for technology leads. We are an IT services company aiming at the SME market. We have heard many horror stories of relationships that do not work out?!”

Lead generation, marketing, prospecting…whatever name you give it, this is the most important thing a business owner must do to grow the business.

To get granular for a moment I would say that a business owner’s job is to market, a sales manager’s job is to recruit and a salesperson’s job is to prospect.

The better the business owner is a marketing the easier the recruiting and prospecting, but those are topics for another message.

Back to the lead generation question. This is how I answered:

This can really open Pandora’s Box.

  • What is your budget?
  • What is your time line and time horizon? By that I mean are you looking for a “quick fix” that can be generated with a direct mail and/or PPC / SEM campaign and/or are you looking to develop a more organic/holistic approach via SEO, webinars, seminars, etc?
  • How much are you willing to do in qualifying the leads? Do you want a firm to make outbound calls for you and turn over warm leads to you or do you want them to make calls and then direct the prospect to a website where they sign up for a free whitepaper or report and then they are put into a drip campaign that coordinates a multi-media, multi-step approach to nurturing them along?

I can’t think of an outsourced telemarketing firm that has lasted long term with any of the firms I’ve ever worked with so be tough when you interview a so-called lead-gen company.

Ask if they charge by the hour, by the call, by the appointment or by revenue generated.

Ask and verify their referrals and testimonials.

Make sure they have a track record both in your industry and with firms your size and even in your part of the country if you are not national.

Ask them how their success has been in the last 12 months since this recession really took hold. (We’re seeing who has good business models and leadership in place now that people aren’t spending like drunken politicians…er…I mean, sailors, these days.)
Ask them if they provide any type of trial period or even money-back guarantee.

And prepare all of these questions ahead of time and have them written down before you go in to negotiate.

Then put on your sales manager’s hat and “recruit!” By that I mean retain two or even three of them and have them start at the same time and see who performs the best. After a week fire the worst one. After the second week keep the best one and then recruit another.

Remember, life is good. It’s “gooder” when you’re selling!

To get good at generating your own leads you may want to check out my newly updated Inner Circle.