“5 Steps To Creating A Lead Gen Machine & The Predictable Revenue CEOs Love” was a webinar I held with Brian Carroll in early 2011.  We covered some Predictable Revenue basics (like specialization), and a answered a lot of Q&A; much of which is written out below…

Webinar Overview / Content:

How do you build a lead generation machine that generates quality leads, creates predictable revenue, and meets your CEO’s goals without your constant focus & attention?  How do you make yourself indispensable to your CEO & Board?

During this complimentary webinar, Brian Carroll, CEO of InTouch welcomes special guest Aaron Ross, who created a sales lead generation team at Salesforce.com that helped add $100 million in recurring revenues.  Aaron is CEO of PebbleStorm and the author of “PREDICTABLE REVENUE: Lessons Learned From Growing Salesforce.com’s $1 Billion Sales Machine”, who will be sharing:

  • How to build a lead generation machine that will predictably generate leads month-after-month
  • How to ensure sales follows up on every lead
  • What “Unique Genius” is, and why it attracts big marketing results
  • Why you need to distinguish “Seeds, Nets, and Spears” leads for your CEO & Board
  • The two things CEOs care MOST about that you must understand
  • A simple 6-step call agenda to help salespeople convert new leads into qualified opportunities

Q&A From The Webinar:

Q: When sending outbound emails is it better to send them directly rather than through templates in salesforce or Marketo so they aren’t looked at as spam (or get bounced)?

A: If you mean sending them directly through your email servers, no, you should send them through systems like Salesforce.com or Marketo. By sending them through your email servers/Outlook, you lose all the benefits of reporting, tracking and keeping your data organized.

Q: Could clarify what you mean by Internal Referrals?

A: Calling or emailing someone at the company who is NOT your ideal person…and having them refer you to the right person at the company.  For example, if you sell to the VP Sales, you could contact the VP HR and get an internal referral to the VP Sales.  Internal referrals vastly increase your response rates.

Q: Just to clarify…the cold emails should be to ask for internal referrals which you can then follow up on?

A: Yes.  You can also take the same approach with your “cold” calls: see here.

Q: Could you share some example email templates or subject lines?

A: Ha!  A dozen or more people asked this question.  Listen to the webinar in our Resources area.

Q: All this info is great, I wonder though if this works for a small business <5 employees.

A: Yes!  All you just need someone dedicated (or 90% time) to outbound prospecting.  

Q: What kind of Can-Spam issues should we be aware of with the Cold Email?

A: Here’s the simple version of what to do around compliance…with commercial email, you can send unsolicited email, just make sure that it has:

  • No misleading subject lines
  • No misleading header lines

  • A way to opt-out
  • The physical address of your business

Q: Any suggestions for how to show a manager and VP of Sales to see the value of moving from cold calling 1.0 to cold calling 2.0?

A: Show them this webinar (slides or recording), or point them to Why Salespeople Shouldn’t Prospect or our home page.

Q: I’m a believer, but many/most companies are mired in Sales 1.0 tactics, what is the one/two thing(s) you would recommend to shift the culture & change the paradigm w/in an org.

A: See the above answer.

Q: What do you consider an acceptable cost per lead (qualified lead)

A: This all depends on your Lifetime Customer Value.  If a new customer is worth $100,000, then an acceptable cost per qualified lead could be $5000.  So – first go calculate what a rough Lifetime Customer Value is for your customers, then work backwards. I can’t give you a rule of thumb, but this also depends on your conversion rates.

Q: How does al of this affect a marketer’s MBOs and how do you suggest a marketer set up their MBOs in light of this?  What is the new way to be measured as a marketer if not # of leads?

A: I answered this live in the webinar Q&A, but…a suggestion: a portion based on the number of qualified opportunities generated, and a portion tied to revenue closed from those leads.

Q: How can a marketer get measured on qualified pipeline/leads/revenue when your sales cycle is 6 to 18 months long?

A: What do you do with your salespeople’s comp and metrics, who also have to wait 6 to 18 months?   Or the VP Sales?  Align with them and how they do it.

Q: I generally experience a pretty low response rate to whitepaper leads…do you have any recommendations as to some good questions to ask based on your experience at SFDC?

A: Whitepaper leads are nurturing/education leads, they always have a low response rate.  Nurture them with more great content.  Or, when calling them, find out who else in their organization matters – whitepaper people often aren’t decision makers.

Q: Is there a certain percentage you should aim for from each type of leads (seeds, nets, spears)?

A: Answered this live in the webinar Q&A.

Q: Why not “is this a good time?” vs. “did I catch you at a bad time?”

A: People have a natural tendency to say “no” to questions…you can turn that to your benefit. “Bad time” is my personal preference…but asking either way works.

Q: How is cold calling 2.0 not perceived as spam?

A: If you’re pushing Viagra or porn it would be!  If you’re honestly offering a valuable product and just sharing the message with people who could benefit from it, then it is unsolicited email, not spam.  In my mind, the difference is in being VERY TARGETED (not blasting randomly) with who you go after, and being HONEST in your communications and intentions.

Q: As a very small business, is there any solution that marries the best of e-mail marketing solutions like Aweber and CRM’s like SalesForce?

A: A very popular Salesforce.com-integrated solution for small businesses is Vertical Response.  New: We are liking Toutapp.com a lot and are beginning to recommend it to clients.

Q: Great work Aaron…what is the revenue size/deal volume were breaking out specialties makes sense?

A: At least a few thousand dollars. Even more important is how many calls/meetings it takes to close, and if there’s any negotiation.  If your deals take 1-2 calls to close over 1-2 weeks and there’s very little negotiation (fixed prices, paperwork, online purchasing…), you don’t need to specialize.  Once you’re getting into 3+ calls and 30 day+ sales cycles…time to think of specializing.

Q: Aaron, we are a small but well established organization.  We have only 2 people in BizDev, and little to no sales or marketing support.  The 2 bizdev people have to prospect, sell, close and maintain relationships in addition to admin…invoicing etc…we have a lot of different media offerings we sell, as well as software.  We are always running up against sales deadlines because we sell print media.  As we focus on making goal on print media, Then our sales of online media positions suffers….With these slim resources, is there anything we can do to improve results?

A: Assuming the two bizdev people have equivalent responsibilities, I would split the two bizdev people into two separate roles: one acquires new business, the other maintains it and upsells, and manages the backend.  You’re in a tough spot until your CEO is involved. 

Q: Specialize Sales Function Question; Currently staffing 8 outside reps, 2 inside reps – Is that a good ratio? The sales cycle is 8 to 24 months.

A: Yes, ratios are often 1 “Closer” to 1 Sales Development Rep, up to 5 max “Closers” per Sales Development Rep.  On prospecting rep can really only support up to about 3-4 salespeople and still maintain the necessary great relationships with them to maximize their output and minimize errors.

Q: How do you reach out to Small and Medium Businesses in absence of credible database/lists?? Or, how can you make them reach out to you? :)

A: Through partner marketing.  Find partners with audiences of small and medium-sized businesses, and then co-market with them. The best approach is to find partners with a common purpose or vision, that want to really make a difference to their customers, and money is not their #1 priority. These partners are much easier to work with and more supportive than purely ROI-driven partners.

Q: How should an effective e-mail subject look like? Which makes them to open the e-mail at the least. Too salesy does not work!

A: Keep the subject short and sweet.   “Quick question”, “Hi [First name]“, “Best contact?”… that kind of short and sweet, simple non-tricky subjects work.

Q: I am a niche based recruiter, own my own company (small Virtual Asst. staff)  and do everything you spoke about in your process… For these types where would you suggest focusing time?

A: Go back and really clarify and focus on who your Ideal Customer is. If you’re following my process or proven marketing processes, usually the thing blocking results is a lack of focus on ideal targets. Yes you can sell to all kinds of people, but who is IDEAL? (Highest revenue potential + highest likelihood of closing + highest enjoyment to work with).

Q: If a rep asks “DId I catch you at a bad time?” and the person says yes, should the rep try to get their entire sales pitch in during the next 5 minutes?  And what do you suggest the rep do when the person does not wish to speak to the rep.

A: Hell no!  Never jam your pitch into someone who doesn’t want it – yet.  If they say it is a bad time, then ask “when’s a better time?”  If the person just doesn’t want to speak to the rep (after the rep politely introduces themselves and asks if its a bad time/etc., hang up and move on.

Q: is there a way to modify this framework to make it applicable to selling through channels/consultants/SIs/the like?  Or is selling through organizations like that always frustrating? (especially for younger organizations that don’t have a lot of brand rec)

A: Yes, this works when selling through channels as well in two ways: the channel partners can adopt the methodology, and you can use the method to recruit new channel partners.  Also, selling through partners can be frustrating but doesn’t have to be – if you’re having challenges, chances are either a) you are working with the wrong partners, or b) you aren’t appreciating how much work it takes to make even good partners successful.

Q: If you gather a referral from a prior happy client, what do you think of offering a discount to the person referred – say that you would like to offer a discounted intro rate as a courtesy because we enjoy working with “friends of friends”

A: It sounds fine, but you don’t think you need to offer them a discount. This is a marketing decision since there is no wrong/right way: are you going to have a referral program that gives discounts to referred customers…or not?  Whatever way you go, standardize it across the company.

Q: We are doing cold calls (mandatory inside sales) and have no success in setting appointments – what do you suggest we do.

A: Share Why Salespeople Shouldn’t Prospect with your managers, and then check out our Learn area.

Q: We use Salesforce.com and have lead status that are not relevant to leads or very confusing (the were created by someone at our firm) what do you suggest would be good lead status to have?

A: Here are the three key inbound lead status settings for leads coming in through your website: “1 – Open” (Untouched leads), “2 – Working” (You’ve reached out and either having conversations or trying to), “3 – Nurture” (Unqualified, there’s nothing more to do here). If it’s a qualified lead, just convert it into an Account/Contact.  You also might have status settings for “Press”, “Consultant”, etc. depending on your business and market.

Q: Do you have a template for a salesperson to keep track of their daily activities such as sending emails, calls, webinars, faxing info, canvasing tracking etc

A: See My 10-Step Morning Personal Success Routine (it’s out-dated now that I’m a father of a big family, but you’ll get the idea).

Q: With Sales generating emails for lead gen, how do you see marketing’s fits in nurturing the same contacts?

A: Marketing should do more high-value webinars, nurturing campaigns, blogging, etc.  Create material that teaches prospects something useful and positions your company and people as experts in the space.

Q: What would you consider the essential attributes a person needs to be a Rock Star in LeadGen.

A: Ambition/drive/energy, good business sense, process-oriented, cares more about self-development than money (though money is important), great team player!  Perhaps most importantly though, they are coachable.

Q: What is a mapping call?

A: When a rep calls into a cold account, at high levels, and gets passed around from person to person…mapping out how the organization works, who is who, and what the needs are.  It’s not a cold call.  The objective of a mapping call is to LEARN, not sell.  Once you understand that there is a fit and need, then the selling can begin :)