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Winners, losers, and customers

Peter Drucker, the inventor of modern management, said, “Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two – and only two – basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs.” It’s fair to say that many business leaders agree with that statement. And yet, not a lot have perfected a strategy to win and keep customers that work for their brand. It’s easy to forget that staying competitive comes down to understanding what the customer wants, as well as who you are and why you exist. The importance of these questions depends on the product or service. Do you have something that’s unique or one that needs to be unique? Is your company more like Apple, who focuses on innovation? Or like Nike, who relies on marketing? Either way, you need both. Apple wouldn’t be Apple without compelling ads. And Nike would slowly be forgotten without its trendsetting designs.

Your company needs to build brand trust, and that comes from having a compelling marketing strategy as well as an innovative product or service. When customers, lapsed or otherwise, agree with, feel enthusiastic about, and gain interest in your brand, that’s when you know you’re onto something. At which point, it might even be possible to achieve customer loyalty. It’s not enough to focus on just one thing, and the reason for that is simple. We’re all fighting in highly competitive markets, meaning every transaction, and every decision has one winner and lots of, well, non-winners.

The right combination of marketing and innovation that works for your brand, and its lapsed customers, comes from good insights and ideas. Here are several things to consider when diving deeper into how to detect, understand and avoid customer lapse, with thoughts from Joe Amaral, (VP and Creative Director at advertising agency, Clever Samurai) and Leigh-Ann Clarke (Director of Sales at sales lead generation company, 360 Leads):

1. Never leave a question unanswered.

Everything happens for a reason, an adage that’s particularly true when it comes to customer relationships. Like friends who’ve drifted apart, consumers who haven’t made purchases in a while, always know why. And it’s important to find out if they’ve been let down or taken for granted, bombarded to the point of burn out or tempted by something new.

2. Be different in a way that makes a difference.

Determine your unique value proposition and run with it. What is it about your company that makes it worthy of attention? Why should they buy from you and not the competition? Most importantly, have you updated or upgraded the products and services that prompted customers to lapse in the first place? Nothing will matter if you don’t. Joe Amaral, who has built and marketed many major Canadian brands like Bell and McDonald’s, says “Customers don’t mind being persuaded, rewarded, or wined and dined, as long as disappointment isn’t right around the corner.”

3. Let the product or service speak for itself.

Clarke says, “People pay attention when it’s genuine. It pays to be real, to tell it like it is, and, this is the crucial part, to be an effective use of time.” Customers are more like “prosumers.” They’ve got product reviews and competitive information in their pocket. Buying into anything is influenced by a million voices at all times. Their decision path is typically more than halfway set before they even click on or step foot in your store. Whether you choose social, email, notifications, partner pages, or direct mail, treat the availability of these channels as an open invitation. When they need you, they’ll find you, and when they do, make sure it’s a great experience.

4. Pay attention to habits.

Habit primarily drives human behaviour (including consumer behaviour). These routines and unconscious decisions fuel our way of life. Consider whether you have removed a trigger, made an action harder, or caused a negative experience. Maybe it’s a change in packaging that prompts customers to assume their go-to product is out of stock. Or a slowdown in service that encourages them to switch temporarily. Amaral suggests that whatever the reason, they’ve only fallen out of habit. So rather than lapsed or lost, it might be more useful to think of these customers as latent. All you need to do is find out how to get them back into the routine again.

5. Use data to predict the point at which your consumers are most vulnerable to leave.

For example, when Amaral was working on the Petro-Canada business, he found that when gas hit a certain price point, customer loyalty disappeared. Once you can recognize that data point in the consumer relationship, you can form a tactic.

6. Make it simple.

In other words, make it easy for customers to interact with your business. Whether you decide to optimize operations, rethink a layout, or add technology, look at it from their perspective. Make it make sense to them, not you. Keeping it simple sounds like advice that goes without saying. But sometimes a thorough re-evaluation is what your company needs, especially when you’re talking to customers who might be willing to give you a second chance.

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Twelve million solutions to build a sales-driven culture

Twelve-million, one-hundred thousand results, to be exact. That’s how many direct hits on sales culture best practices come up on Google in less than one second. It seems there are loads of solutions to the age-old problem of how to get sales people to sell more.

Like the latest diet fad, there’s no shortage of writers who sell books, seminars and speaking engagements to unleash their version of how to let the sales beast crush the competition. And like the latest diet fad, there is a short-term adoption of some new idea, thinking or mantra; that’s until something new comes along or the head of sales is summarily dismissed for lots of talk and little results.

Leigh-Ann Clarke, Director of North American Sales for demand generation agency 360 Leads® (www.360leads.com) is no stranger to sales cultures. Clarke who spent twenty-three years leading sales teams at Yellow Pages Group has hired, trained, coached and promoted hundreds of sales people through her career. Her view on sales culture is unpretentious in that she believes that a sales culture starts at the very top of an organization. “Clear objectives need set and embraced from the top, down. Key activities in the company need to revolve around achieving sales objectives. Period”, says Clarke.

Clarke is adamant that one of the common missing pieces in creating a sales culture links to creating a value-story. “When the entire company understands the value-story and all activities revolve around delivering that value-story to every customer, then the sales results will follow.” Clarke cautions however “the value-story needs to be a good one. It’s pretty tough to engage a sales team if what they are selling is of poor quality or has no resonance with the potential customer.”

Stuart Lewis is President of Clever Samurai™ (www.cleversamurai.com), a marketing and communications agency and sister-company to 360 Leads. Lewis echoes Clarke’s view on the value-story and his team consistently focuses its efforts on creating value-stories for sales teams to communicate.

“We’re presently working with our 360 Leads’ team and their international client in the software space, whose sales people believe their job is to simply demo the product. And while the product is terrific, their customer value proposition is not the focus of their sales dialogue, being buried within mouse-clicks and screen shots being demonstrated”, says Lewis. “Greater success will come when the company better articulates their value-story through all their media, and most importantly, their sales team transitions their messaging to showcase their highly compelling customer benefit versus a simple product demo.”

In the twelve plus million Google search, countless listings discuss sales training as critical to a sales culture. Clarke views sales training as critical. “The value-story must be the core element of any training and everyone in the company must understand what that value-story is. The process must be ongoing and updated based on market conditions and product offerings.” Clarke’s view “treats sales professionals as professionals”, as she puts it, “but we need to give them the tools to be successful. Successful sales results can breed a successful sales culture.”

“It’s leadership’s role, with the support of marketing, to help craft that value-story”, comments Lewis. “However, there are often major disconnects between sales and marketing, which yield to a compromised sales culture and comprised sales results.”

A global study, conducted by 360 Leads, surveyed three-hundred and twenty five C-level managers, sales executives and marketing leaders. The study which is available at the 360 Leads’ website, published as The Black Report™, cited that only 17.3% of respondents were meeting their sales lead generation targets. Interestingly, 72.8% of companies with the best lead generation results have a well-defined, clearly articulated value proposition. They know their story, and how to tell it.

The Black Report highlights that marketing professionals say their lead generation activities are 35% more successful than sales professionals think they are. And, the disconnect doesn’t stop there. Marketing and sales differ on most every measure, except for one. They both believe and agree that the biggest factor impacting company sales performance is internal issues.

Both Lewis and Clarke see clients struggle with internal issues, putting them in the awkward spot of telling their clients with sometimes the painful truth. Their clients’ people are getting in the way of progress and sometimes that progress is impeded from the top. “Effective people management will always be a core driver of business success. The key to building the right sales culture includes actually hiring the right people to begin with”, says Lewis.

Clarke understands all too well that, “sales is hard. You have to keep a lot of different balls in the air. You have to know how to manage the customer conversation to deliver the value-story in a fluid and honest manner. It takes a special work ethic that connects to the emotion of a win or loss and the meeting sales targets. There is so much riding on what sales people do and company leadership needs to embrace and foster a culture where sales teams are motivated to perform because they believe their mouse-trap is simply the best mouse-trap there is.”

In the case of the international software client, their mouse-trap really is the best in their space. “Their CEO has personally championed the development of their sales culture and their value-story. He understands the critical importance of his leadership and that business growth depends on selling effectively”, adds Lewis

If you ask Leigh-Ann Clarke what’s the most important thing that she is doing at 360 Leads to support her sales culture, her answer is very clear, “stay on message.”

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A novel way to drive loyalty

“The demand has been so strong for our new launch products, there’s no question we could’ve sold more,” said Kurt McNeil, General Motors’ vice president of Sales Operations. According to GM, its retail sales are up more than 1 percent and GM retail share is up 0.6 percentage points, the largest retail share increase of any full-line automaker. Their all-new Chevy Malibu continues to gain share in a very competitive segment, with retail share doubling to more than 10 percent year to date.

Stuart Lewis, President & CEO at Canadian marketing communications agency Clever Samurai (www.cleversamurai.com), believes the reason that GM is fairing so well is because “The company is making products people want at the price they want them. Data informs marketers on actions they can take in the context of their customer acquisition or loyalty strategies. But if you make a product somebody really wants, customer loyalty will generally take care of itself.”

In an increasingly more complex marketing landscape, marketers are faced with how best to use the data available to inform their loyalty strategies. Does data drive the strategy or does data drive the nuances within the strategy? Or, is it perhaps a blend of both?

Nicholas Bianchi is VP, Sales & Loyalty Marketing at SPC Card (www.spccard.ca). SPC is Canada’s leading student loyalty program and includes countless brands like American Eagle, Boston Pizza and Forever 21 as part of its offering. Bianchi says, “Any discussion of data must begin and end with your customer. The core word in customer is custom. Exemplary retail loyalty strives to use data to achieve a unique experience for each and every customer. Only when this customization is achieved does marketing data truly prove its value to loyalty.”

Lewis agrees with Bianchi’s notion of customization, when it comes to the fickle millennial customer. “Restaurants understand that millenials are the only current source of growth in the foodservice industry. Brands like McDonald’s have responded to menu customization with their Create Your Taste burger offering and many others are providing menu flexibility. The overall concept is simple, perhaps tough to execute, but they do everything they can to give customers what they want at the price they want it.”

The notion of customization and giving the customer exactly what they want, all comes at a cost. And that’s where the financial decisions around margin, quality and marketing investment need deep consideration. Eugene Duynstee, is a veteran of such challenges having been the CFO at both Loblaws and Holt Renfrew. Today, Duynstee guides large-scale North American retailers through his consultancy practice KPM Enterprises.

“The saying is you can’t manage what you don’t measure. So, the use of financial data allows for the setting of the value equation by matching the brand’s quality and cost. This provides for the right product or service. The use of marketing data allows for the most effective means to communicate the message to the customer, creating awareness and promoting the brand promise. Repeatedly delivering on the promise drives loyalty”, says Duynstee.

Simplifying loyalty strategies is an important consideration for Duynstee’s clients and he counsels them on streamlining the use of information to gain better clarity. “If you don’t know what you are looking for then data review becomes an overwhelming task. Strategy provides a hypothesis and assumptions and these should lead the data analysis. This order narrows what answers you are seeking and gives you a focused review of the data. Decide on what you are looking for and then seek the information to support or disprove your premise”, adds Duynstee.

Bianchi agrees with Duynstee, ”What people often forget is that big data is not the new oil, it is rather the new crude. Marketing data is only useful after it has been refined. Smart analytics allow loyalty marketers to improve the way they build intimacy with their customers, reward them in a targeted way and recognize them for their faithful patronage. But the top factors that drive retail loyalty are product value and customer service. Period.”

According to Stuart Lewis, top marketing agencies in Canada support their clients with either a strategy-lead value proposition or one that is data-lead. “Complexity has created a new wealth of opportunities for agencies to bill clients for all kinds of things; some of which don’t really add value to the clients’ business. Smart clients are looking for big ideas, a challenge to their status quo and for good return on their investment. Getting lost in the data weeds provides both agencies and clients a comfort zone, but this needs to be effectively balanced with proactivity around strategy that links back to a meaningful customer value proposition.”

A 2015 report from Accenture states that the potential revenue available due to changes in consumer spending and switching among brands and providers is $1.6 trillion, a 29% increase from 2010. Accenture also confirms that only 28% of consumers are loyal to their providers and brands. Lewis believes that “Brand defection is a huge opportunity for our clients. And it won’t be data that makes these customers switch. It will be providing a product or service that these defectors just can’t wait to embrace. We’re seeing that in both the B2B and B2C space.”

You’d think that Eugene Duynstee being a former big brand CFO would be a data fiend. And he is, sort of – but within the focused confines of the strategy. “Loyalty is driven by the brand meeting its promise. Consequently, you need to execute the right product or service, at the right place, and at the right time. In order to drive loyalty, one of our clients has promised its products as being of the highest health standard and free of many harmful ingredients. They have charged their vendors to supply the company with products that meet that standard. It’s the right set of products and the right pricing, for their market.”

Duynstee adds, “Loyalty is a journey and needs to evolve. Start with the goal in mind and engage actions that improve your current state. Continue to seek feedback and analyze data to modify your actions and move you forward to target.”

Author:

Leigh-Ann Clarke is Director of Sales, North America for 360 Leads. The company provides qualified sales opportunities through digital, direct, inbound and outbound services. She has been with 360 Leads since 2014, following her progressive management career at Yellow Pages Group.

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Data Intelligence Driving Key Decisions for Lead Generation

Intelligence. According to Merriam-Webster it’s “the ability to learn, understand or to deal with new or trying situations”. Intelligence is what market trailblazers like data centre giant Q9 and health benefits manager Express Scripts Canada has in massive proportions.

Express Scripts is a Fortune 50 company with over $100 billion USD in annual revenue, and is one of the top twenty largest companies in the North America. They have served thousands of Canadian pharmacy patients over the past few years, as the company transforms the way organizations and employees think about and participate in their drug benefit plan.

Steve Nowak, Director, Sales & Marketing of Express Scripts Canada, believes that their commitment to data intelligence informs their marketing strategies when it comes to acquiring new patients and better managing patient outcomes, giving them a huge competitive advantage.

“We diligently track marketing analytics across all channels. Our data analysis supported the creation of clearer, more direct new member acquisition communications, resulting in greater member enrolment in the Express Scripts Canada Pharmacy. We also gleaned from our data that our members want us to be more active on social media. For example, the data indicated that they want us to post more information on health-related topics. Our blogs, tweets and LinkedIn posts have focused on the disease states that the data tell us are most relevant to our members. This element of member satisfaction has also generated positive changes to our member outreach processes,” says Nowak.

Q9, a BCE company acquired for $1.1B in 2012, has data centres across Canada and houses a secretive and secure who’s-who of corporate information. Peter Kerr, Director Marketing Communications at Q9 has a similar sentiment to Nowak. Kerr, whose career beginnings were as a database marketer, knows that gathering market intelligence and interpreting it into go-forward strategies that his customers will buy is critical.

Kerr explains “There is a disconnect in the marketplace in terms of how IT decision makers want to be communicated with and how technology companies speak to them. Using analyst research reports, digital analytics and marketing automation tools like Pardot, we are always able to drill down to understand this communication gap and transition to more customer-benefit messaging.”

For Q9, who has just repositioned its brand and launched a new customer acquisition campaign, ongoing data review is critical. Kerr feels that “Twenty-five years ago data driven marketing existed almost exclusively in the direct mail or telemarketing field, where database marketing emerged. The data coming out of digital campaigns today is very similar, but on steroids. The challenge now isn’t accessing the data – it’s knowing what information to look at, given how much is available.”

Toronto-based advertising agency, Clever Samurai, has the formidable task of guiding and supporting both these trailblazers with their marketing and communications strategies including new national campaigns for each. And with data intelligence at the core of the campaigns, guessing what will work is not a strategy requirement.

Stuart Lewis, President and CEO at Clever Samurai says, “Sophisticated and market-leading organizations understand that anticipating customer requirements, even before the customer does, can be a winning formula. In the case of both Q9 and Express Scripts Canada, they absolutely have a better mousetrap than their competitors. The key is to simplify messaging for their complex offerings, constantly analyze what channels are working and understand that the application of ongoing intelligence leads to continuous improvement. It removes the guess work and allows for incremental and sustainable new business wins.”

In today’s digital marketing world, Steve Nowak believes that providing ongoing content that delivers his members value is akin to increasing profitability. “Data analytics provide us with insight into how to create better, more targeted content. Our content is relevant and valuable to our audience because the data helps us come up with our next blog or our next tweet. If we don’t leverage our marketing data then we are missing out on key opportunities to improve our company’s marketing strategy and ultimately our return on investment. “

Kerr echoes the sentiment and believes his content strategy was a key decision-point in Q9’s repositioned brand. “Developing a content strategy in B2B technology marketing is a daunting task. We’ve been able to short-cut trial and error by understanding what information IT and Line-of-Business decision makers need at each stage of the buying cycle. This has made content decisions far easier.”

Underpinning Q9’s strategy is their new Clever Samurai developed ad campaign, which delivers the customer-focused message of “make your business thrive”. Express Scripts Canada’s campaign messaging promotes better health decisions for plan members, while managing and reducing drug benefit costs for plan sponsors. Stuart Lewis says, “We’ve got clients that understand the notion of channel analysis, ABC testing, lead scoring and what’s brand building. But, we don’t have the luxury of simply building these brands, we’re here to ensure that potential customers sign deals with these great organizations. And there’s one thing that’s easy to measure, you sold the deal or you didn’t.”

Kerr does have a cautionary voice however regarding the use of data. “All of the data available today is fantastic and I get very excited by it. The trick is to not fall victim to analysis paralysis. Marketers still need to make decisions quickly and sometimes it can be difficult to see the forest from the trees. Start out at a high level with key metrics and drill down where you need to. It is a more practical approach and you can still be market responsive.”

Nowak points out that data isn’t only for new business wins. It also helps Express Scripts Canada better manage patient outcomes. “The analysis of key member data pointed to the need for a better first touch point with our members. This resulted in the creation of a better, more streamlined member welcome experience.”

While both Q9 and Express Scripts have very successful and very different businesses, one future thing they may have in common is this. Merriam-Webster might just add their names to the definition of intelligence.

Author:

Leigh-Ann Clarke is Director of Sales, North America for 360 Leads. The company provides qualified sales opportunities through digital, direct, inbound and outbound services. She has been with 360 Leads since 2014, following her progressive management career at Yellow Pages Group.

 

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Spray Foam Insulation is the Perfect Product for Direct Mail

And so are lighting control systems, computers, long-haul trailers and more

If you were to ask Betsy Cosper, former Vice President Marketing at Icynene, if direct mail generates excitement for her business, she would say “Absolutely. And, who knew this could happen to spray foam?”

Cosper, an experienced marketing authority from working at Mars brands, Scotts and Novopharm, is the first person to acknowledge that her product category may not be the sexiest. But people need to properly insulate their commercial and residential buildings; so promoting Icynene’s effective solution is of strong interest to certain buyers and buyer-influencers. One such influencer group is the commercial architects, who specify insulation in their projects.

Joe Amaral, Creative Director at Clever Samurai and Icynene’s advertising agency, was tasked with the challenge of creating a connection between Icynene and commercial architects from leading firms in the United States. In looking at spray foam insulation and considering its major competitor being rigid board products from companies like Owens Corning versus other spray foam companies, Amaral believed that spray foam allowed architects to create buildings with fluid curved lines and provide for more ingenuity in building design.

The insight resulted in a highly personalized campaign, released in January 2016, where a hand drawn illustration was created of a building designed by the targeted architect. The illustration was then printed on a subtly branded Icynene t-shirt, accompanied by a letter, and packaged in a beautiful tube. The plan was for the Icynene sales team to follow-up the package with a sales call to arrange a time to discuss the benefits of spray foam in commercial building construction. But the plan slightly changed.

Cosper has been receiving inbound requests from architectural firms asking for more branded t-shirts, with one firm wanting twenty-five. Meantime, the sales team is running through its list of targets and Cosper is now evaluating running a similar program in Canada.

“Direct marketing can form an effective part of the media mix, despite the ever-changing channel landscape. Digital and social channels, access to more data and more specialized publications all provide leverage to improve direct marketing results”, says Clever Samurai Account Director, Joanna Carbajal, who has a masters degree in management analytics and works on the Icynene business. “Nothing works in isolation”, she adds.

Beyond the insight-based creative, developed to attract the attention of the architects, Amaral comments that, “Demand generation campaigns in any category have many things in common. The most important of these is to ensure that each component of the campaign has a specific purpose and that purpose is not compromised by asking too much of the specific media. In the case of Icynene, the purpose of the DM was to get past the gatekeeper, hold the attention of our target and make them receptive to an inbound call from sales. It worked.”

When it comes to direct mail, there are no shortage of companies that pepper potential buyers with coupons, special offers and ‘act now’ deals that promise everything from quick delivery pizza, office products or a home kitchen renovation. Buyers and marketers alike are becoming increasingly fickle regarding the efficacy of the media, yet they continue to spend in the billions.

The Direct Marketing Association in the United States estimates $46B was spent on direct mail in 2014, up $1.2B from the previous year. 51% of American consumers find postcards the most useful type of direct mail, when sifting through the 19.1 pieces their household receives each week.

Postcards aren’t only successful for consumer campaigns but they also are impactful in the B2B space, promoting everything from computers, to lighting control systems and even long-haul trailers. Each of those campaigns has something in common. “The sales forces of these companies have a hard time keeping up with the sales leads, with campaigns needing to be paused due to too much market response”, says Amaral who regularly works on campaigns for clients across a diverse range of verticals.

George Cobham Jr., is Vice President Sales and Marketing at Glasvan Great Dane, the world’s largest Great Dane dealership, and a client of Clever Samurai and its sister company, 360 Leads. And, he wants to grow his family-owned company even bigger. His long-haul trailers are some of the best built and most expensive that one can purchase. As Cobham puts it, “We are unable to reach the number of prospects we needed to grow our company.” So he embarked on a demand generation campaign that included postcards.

“As soon as we started, we were inundated with sales leads. As many as four or five per day. These were bonafide prospects that we hadn’t been able to connect with in the past. We actually had to pause the campaign to catch up with the number of prospective customers who wanted to talk with us”, says the affable Cobham.

But how can a simple postcard sell a thirty to fifty thousand dollar trailer?

“The postcard doesn’t sell the trailer. The postcard sells the meeting with the sales professional, and their job is to sell the trailer”, reveals Amaral. “The key is to build a process where you have a set of media that carries the sales prospect along the buying cycle to make them sales-ready. For Glasvan, a flight of postcards had the role to pique the curiosity of the sales prospect and warm them up for a phone call from one of our sales appointment-booking agents. Without the postcards, Glasvan would have obtained a much lesser number of sales meetings.”

Glasvan is far along its growth plan and has written business with a myriad of new customers because of its direct marketing initiatives. Icynene’s business results remain unknown. But one thing is for certain – architects in leading firms in the United States know exactly who they are, and that bodes well for educating them on the merits of specifying spray foam in their most advanced commercial building designs.

T-shirts, anyone?

tshirt

Author:

Leigh-Ann Clarke is Director of Sales, North America for 360 Leads. The company provides qualified sales opportunities through digital, direct, inbound and outbound services. She has been with 360 Leads since 2014.

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CRM is much more than software

50% failure rate acknowledges something is VERY wrong

There are many fortunes being made on the purchase, licensing and consulting associated with CRM implementations. Big brands in the category like Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics and NetSuite all promise great riches for their customers after heavy IT investments, training and database deployments. But are the only companies truly benefiting the CRM vendors themselves? While numbers differ depending on the sampling, respondents and methodology, research firms like Gartner, Merkle Group and AMR all cite CRM failure rates ranging from 30% – 70%.

Stuart Lewis, President & CEO of marketing and communications agency Clever Samurai™ believes there is a fundamental flaw in most programs stemming from the most forgotten aspect – the customer. “CRM program design tends to focus around software rather than focusing on people, prospects and customers. Implementations have the misplaced primary objective of tracking more customer information. The real objective should be how to apply and deliver relevant, personalized and contextual communications which create a positive connection with the customer.”

David Mack, Vice President Retail and E-commerce at SCI Logistics and a client of Clever Samurai, is no stranger to CRM. His objective is to help his customers effectively manage their supply chains in the context of selling more products to their customers. Mack believes “this is all about the customer and that means listening to them and how they want to be communicated with. It’s not always what the customer tells you directly, as it’s often about tracking and understanding their behaviors online and offline.”

“We’re in a technological world, but that shouldn’t mean technology should drive the customer relationship. It’s the relationship that should drive the application of technology to support greater customer intimacy”, says Lewis. “This isn’t to say that technology isn’t a big enabler, but rather the technology should wrap-around the company’s business objectives and a big effort should be directed up-front and ongoing on how to define customer communication and interaction protocols.”

Lewis believes that CRM investments will be fundamental, particularly in certain business verticals in the next few years. Lewis cites financial sectors, IT services, CPG and telecom as important growth areas.

Gartner research estimates that it’s a $25B industry in 2014 and growing, with cloud-computing representing 50% of that. “CRM will be at the heart of digital initiatives in coming years. This is one technology area that will definitely get funding as digital business is crucial to remaining competitive,” said Joanne Correia, research vice president at Gartner.

Gartner’s Market Trends: CRM Digital Initiatives Focus on Sales, Marketing, Support and E-Commerce highlights that marketing technology is a hot area for IT investment, but solution decisions are increasingly being driven by CMOs and the marketing organization, with little to no IT involvement. CIOs will need to work more closely with CMOs and marketing leaders to adapt to the increasing technology demands emanating across the marketing organization. Mounting pressure on CMOs to drive growth, improve accountability and reduce costs is pushing marketing organizations to make significant marketing technology investments across a broad set of applications and functionality.

Betsy Cosper, Vice President Marketing at Icynene, also a Clever Samurai client, has the challenge of marketing spray foam insulation to homebuilders, commercial developers, architects and consumers. Cosper ‘s company sells through distribution, so her lens on CRM includes essentially a third-party sales force, whom she also needs to treat as somewhat of a customer.

“We started with a really clear understanding of what we were looking to achieve and a clear plan of what, who and when we planned to communicate. We understood what assets we had at our disposal and what would be useful and relevant to our wide audiences”, comments Cosper, a seasoned marketer from CPG and the pharma industry.

“It’s very simple to say, but most marketers forget to be consistent and clear in their messaging and ensure that they are touching the target audience that they are trying to convert consistently – without being overwhelming. Key is finding the right balance in providing useful, informative pieces of content while helping them along your cycle without being annoying or confrontational”, adds Cosper.

In looking broadly at why CRM implementations fail and gaining an understanding of market data available, one thing is evident. Details aside, CRM was generally referred to as an IT project. And perhaps, that’s the fundamental reason why failure is so common. Sure there are obvious ones like choosing the wrong vendor, having unclear goals or perhaps a lack of executive sponsorship. But since when did IT drive the relationship between the company and it’s customers?

Stuart Lewis believes that effective customer-centric CRM initiatives need to include a multitude of stakeholders who not only represent the customers’ interests but also are responsible for interactions with the customer. “Traditionalists might believe that marketing are the brains and sales teams simply need to execute. And customer service – what do they know? There is no question that a functional area of the business needs to lead the CRM initiative, and that might well be marketing, but without the input and commitment of other key stakeholders, the initiative might be doomed to fail. That input may well include that of customers, with some more advanced brands creating ongoing customer panels to provide feedback on a myriad of matters.”

When asked about how to successfully apply CRM, Dave Mack states, “build your strategy around Test, Learn and Optimize. Far too often we focus on one strategy, tweak it slightly and tweak it when it doesn’t perform. This can lead to repeating the same mistake over and over without truly understanding why and hampering the maximization of an ROI from your CRM strategy. A/B test strategies have never been easier to implement.”

Cosper’s view aligns, as her team regularly reviews their KPIs to drive and understand what is working and what isn’t. “We always tweak the communication and the assets to better suit the needs of our audiences.”

Despite the complexity of CRM, Mack, sums things up quite simply. “Put your customer at the center of your plan… and get started.”

Author:

Leigh-Ann Clarke is Director of Sales, North America for 360 Leads. She has been with 360 Leads since 2014, following her progressive management career at Yellow Pages Group where she led their sales efforts in digital products, print, telephone sales and neighbourhood directories.

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If you build it, will they buy?

There will be 1.32 billion – yes billion – digital buyers across the globe in 2016. This is up a staggering 60% from 2013, as more B2B and B2C shoppers direct their spending to e-commerce sites like Amazon, eBay, Rakuten and Alibaba. And while there are dominant online players around the world that deliver solely online revenue, there are also business behemoths like Apple, Walmart, Staples, Sears and Macy’s that have effectively combined their bricks-and-mortar business with their online sales to deliver a diversified revenue mix.

“Opening your doors to feed the growing appetite of online shoppers does not necessarily mean you’ll be successful”, says Stuart Lewis, President and CEO of sales lead generation company 360 Leads. “Aside from having a product or service that somebody actually wants to buy, there are a number of factors that can make the online purchase experience a winning transaction for both the buyer and seller.”

Lewis, whose company serves a blue-chip client base across North America and Australia, cites customer research and precise targeting as the most critical elements in delivering an effective e-commerce strategy. “Identifying who your customer really is, executing an effective channel strategy to reach them and then presenting your products or services in accordance with your buyer’s preferences will yield a much greater return than a less focused approach to marketing.” Lewis adds, “Companies need to be honest with themselves about their business strategy and their place in the market. An e-commerce strategy should be exactly that – a strategy – versus simply an online shopping cart.”

An area where online purchasing is extremely prevalent is the IT sector. And with the rapid changes in technology, purchasing patterns shift at the same rapid pace. In 2010, only 1.2% of the world’s population used a tablet. In 2014, that number was up to 20.7%. Trevor Dantas, VP Marketing for the Digital Products Group at Toshiba Canada knows all too well about market shifts and the need to offer first-in-the-world type products like the Toshiba Portégé.

Dantas says that to drive conversion rates you need to really focus on delivering a spectacular user experience. “As marketers, we tend to focus too much on what we want to say or how we want it to look. It’s not about us, it’s about our customers and making sure they have a positive experience on our website that will lead to a sale.”

Gray Tools, Canada’s preeminent hand tools for the industrial mechanic, also offers an online shopping experience. Marketing Manager, Frank Dominguez believes that “Effective online selling relies heavily on trust since there is no physical interaction between the consumer and the product. It is imperative that the consumer trusts that our company will deliver on the product being offered.”

Site stickiness is key to ensuring the shopper completes the transaction and Dominguez is adamant about the integrity of the process. “It’s about secure payment options, a clear shipping policy, and a design that looks professional and allows users to find products quickly. Consumers dislike negative shopping experiences such as hidden fees, back orders or images and descriptions that do not accurately reflect the product.”

A major consideration for Gray’s e-commerce strategy is to manage any channel conflict in terms of offers, pricing and availability. Gray Tools mirrors its featured products, product bundles, and special offers to those offered in their traditional channel. This ensures they have uniform offers and eliminates possible channel conflict.

Trevor Dantas believes that you can also offer different choices in different channels and tailor-make your bundling to different types of buyers. “Toshiba uses various analytics tools to determine which pages, products and promotions are getting the most hits, and where the traffic is coming from. Knowing what’s successful and what isn’t helps us optimize our efforts as we go along, so we’re not just shooting in the dark. The beauty of digital marketing is that everything can be measured giving us the data to make informed decisions and demonstrate the ROI of our choices.”

40 percent of worldwide Internet users have purchased products and goods through their desktop, mobile, tablet or other devices. This is more than 1 billion online buyers and is projected to grow. But one major factor e-retailers need to consider is the devices being used to make their purchases. Dantas feels “The number one priority for all e-stores right now should be mobile optimization. More and more people are researching and shopping using their mobile devices, many of which we actually sell them. If your website is not mobile friendly, you’re already losing prospects and you may not even know it.”

Stuart Lewis, whose clients at 360 Leads include Toshiba and Gray Tools, recognizes there are many factors that make a company a successful online seller, with an important factor being to build trust with the buyer. “When a customer is making an online purchase, especially from a lesser known brand, everything needs to focus on building the most positive user experience. They best way to avoid shopping cart abandonment is to ensure the customer knows exactly what they are going to get by showing pictures, videos and compelling product copy.”

Lewis adds that shopping cart abandonment can also be managed after the fact through email follow-ups and persistent shopping carts that address comparison shoppers.

Dantas agrees, as keeping shoppers from leaving the Toshiba site means providing a great user experience through data based decision-making. “If you make your e-store easy to navigate and provide deals that you know will be attractive to your customers, they’re less likely to leave in search of better options. It comes down to simplicity and knowing your audience.”

Author:

Leigh-Ann Clarke is Director of Sales, North America for 360 Leads. She has been with 360 Leads since 2014, following her progressive management career at Yellow Pages Group where she led their sales efforts in digital products, print, telephone sales and neighbourhood directories.

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Three letters that will make or break your lead generation

Stuart Lewis, President & CEO of 360 Leads®, knows what it takes to build a major brand – not only for his own company but also for the global brands his organization serves. 360 Leads supports the domestic and export oriented sales lead generation efforts of its clients across the globe from its operations in Canada, United States and Australia. Jonathan Farrington interviews Lewis about why the CEO can make or break sales lead generation programs.

JF: A CEO has the ultimate responsibility for company success. Stuart, how would you define their job in simple terms?

SL: Being a CEO is a tough job. Being a great one is even tougher. While there are many facets to doing a great job, there are three things that really matter.

  1. Establish a vision for your company to compete and win;
  2. Ensure you’ve got the right team to help execute that vision; and
  3. Create the circumstances for your team to be successful.

360 Leads’ recent global survey of C-levels and sales leaders uncovered the number one reason for sales lead generation campaigns missing their targets. That reason, given by 58.1% of respondents, was insufficient resources were provided to be successful with another 47.3% citing internal issues being obstacles. Bottom-line, the CEO did not create the appropriate circumstances for success.

JF: While I agree that the CEO needs to create circumstances for their team to be successful, how is the CEO responsible for failed sales lead generation itself?

SL: One of two things is true. There truly are insufficient resources dedicated to sales – or sales leaders claim this excuse as a reason for missing their targets. Either way, the CEO is responsible. A poorly resourced sales function means less sales. Managers that make excuses for missing targets versus taking personal accountability need support, leadership or possibly the exit door. It comes back to the premise – a great CEO needs to do all in their power to create circumstances for their people to be successful. Or if they have the wrong people to execute the vision, then maybe it’s time to change the people.

JF: Do you believe that everyone in an organization is a salesperson, even the CEO?

SL: My job isn’t sales. I have too much to do. Whether we’d like to admit or not, we are all salespeople and that starts at a young age. Remember trying to convince your mother to buy you the lollipop or convince your dad to let you go to that Friday night party with friends? How is it been forgotten that we all need to sell our ideas and promote our work product to someone else either internally or externally?

Great product engineers should be building things that somebody else wants to buy. Great creative directors understand that effective advertising isn’t about art; it’s about taking complex ideas and simplifying them for someone to buy the product. And as for the CEO, they are selling their vision to ensure clarity inside and outside the organization. At 360 Leads our vision is one we sell everyday – we will deliver more qualified sales leads than any other company. Our people, our clients and our sales prospects all understand that vision. As our CEO, I have no more important job than to sell that vision and ensure we have the people and circumstances to deliver on it.

JF: Some CEOs believe their sales people should handle all the prospecting and there is no need to invest in sales lead generation programs. What’s your thought on this?

SL: The role of a salesperson, like any other job, is comprised of countless potential tasks to have a full pipeline and to reach sales targets. When it comes time to actually close a deal with a prospect, most salespeople receive technical help and finance support to decide on how a product or service should be priced. When a contract is developed, in some complex situations it requires negotiations go through layers of management and legal. So why is it that when it comes time to negotiate a deal, a salesperson receives back-end support, and yet when it comes time to actually find qualified prospects, salespeople are often left on their own to find them?

The answer is – the culture of the company may have expectations of salespeople that are unrealistic. By investing as much in the front-end of the deal as is done on the back-end, sales numbers will go up. More qualified sales leads means more opportunities and more business. Salespeople alone can’t do this most effectively.

JF: What advice would you give CEOs looking to grow their sales?

SL: Every company has a different set of circumstances. But they all have one thing in common. They all need sales. CEOs have a tough job and part of that job is ensuring an appropriate revenue path from the products, services, sales and channel strategies they employ.

Best advice – make growing sales a top priority and take personal responsibility to find the people or third parties that can deliver on those sales objectives within the company’s vision. Then, create a set of circumstances for the team to be successful.

I look at 360 Leads, we play an important yet focused part of our clients’ sales process. We provide qualified sales leads for our clients’ sales teams to then manage through to completion. Our client CEOs or sales leaders have taken a step they believe creates conditions for their sales team to produce better results.

To learn more about Stuart Lewis and 360 Leads, please visit 360leads.com

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Four principles of effective lead generation

Top Sales World – Top Sales Hard Talk

Jonathan Farrington discusses the 4 Principles of Effective Lead Generation with Dan Cadieux from 360 Leads®

Today we are going to be talking about the 4 Principles of Effective Lead Generation and I have an expert in the industry with me to share his insights.

Dan Cadieux is the Vice President of Strategy at 360Leads. 360 Leads finds new customers for their clients by connecting them with key decision makers to grow their business, anywhere in the world. They integrate digital, direct, inbound and outbound marketing services to deliver qualified sales leads to their customers. Thanks for joining me today Dan.

Dan

It is a pleasure to be here Jonathan and I am looking forward to discussing Lead Generation. After all that is what I do every day at 360 Leads for our clients. We deliver qualified sales leads to our clients and I am happy to share our insights with your listeners.

Jonathan

Lead Generation is a hot topic today with many companies and marketers attempting it, some more successfully than others. What are the 4 Principles for effective Lead Generation?

Dan

There are many ways to perform Lead Generation but there are 4 Key Principles that apply to all Lead Generation Activities, they are:

1. Target your Audience – you have to know who you want to be attracting with your Lead Generation activities.
2. Communicate your Message – Today, communicating your message involves a lot more than just telling your audience who you are or what you are selling. When you communicate your message you have to demonstrate your expertise, communicate the value proposition and show them that you are worth listening to.
3. Collect Data – Lead Generation is ALL about collecting data, all of your lead generation activities have to incorporate or support the collection of prospect data so you can follow up with those leads.
4. Nurture the Leads – This is the last and most often overlooked step. You have to Nurture the leads you have collected and build a relationship with them. So many companies spend a lot of time, energy and money on the first 3 steps and stop, then they claim Lead Generation doesn’t work because they don’t get sales. You have to perform the 4th step of Nurturing those leads you have generated.

Jonathan

I really like your 4 Key Principles, it takes some of the mystery away from Lead Generation. I think many of us have heard about the term Lead Generation and understand the concept but can’t clearly express what it is. Let’s explain each Principle in a little more detail for our listeners. The first Principle you mentioned is Target your Audience. With so many different marketing mediums, like a company’s website, Social media, etc, how do you target your audience?

Dan

Targeting your Audience first involves identifying who you want to attract. What are their titles, what industry are they in, how many employees are in the company? Answering those questions begins the process. Then you have to find them…

Jonathan

How do you go about finding them with all the information available today and all of the different social media sites?

Dan

Great question, all the information actually makes it easier to find those prospects today than it was in the past. Here are a couple of examples.

LinkedIn

  • Most business people are on LinkedIn today and the LinkedIn search function allows you to search by title and geography, use it to look for the prospects you want to target
  • When you have found them, look at their profile and see what groups they are in
  • Those groups are where you will want to Communicate your Message

Twitter

  • If you are a Twitter fan you can search Twitter bios.
  • Websites like FollowerWonk.com and LocaFollow.com allow you to search Twitter bios by geography.
  • When you have found the Twitter prospects you want to target, follow them and when the time is right communicate your message

Google Adwords

  • Companies should be using Google Adwords to find people interested in their product or service
  • Knowing who your prospects are and what they quote “look like” you select the words they would use to search for your product
  • Purchase those key words on Google targeting by city, time of day and day of the week and drive them to your landing pages.

Website

  • Even a company’s website should be targeted to those people you are trying to attract.

After you have found the prospects to Target you begin crafting your message.

Jonathan

Some great tips there for both sales reps, small business owners and larger companies. A lot of people can find their prospects but they think the 2nd step of Communicating your Message is difficult and expensive. How would a sales rep or small business Communicate their Message?

Dan

You are correct, many small business owners struggle with the 2nd step but they don’t have to today. The 2nd step is about demonstrating your expertise, which is the message you are communicating. Let’s go back to social media.

LinkedIn

  • On LinkedIn you want to demonstrate your expertise by sharing or writing articles about your industry
  • That sounds easy enough but how do you find the time to write them or where do you find the articles to share.
  • Google to the rescue again – set up Google alerts for keywords related to your industry.
  • Google will deliver those alerts to your email every day. The alerts will comprise websites, new stories and blog entries, your job is to scan them and read the best of them.
  • When you find a good article applicable to your business share it on LinkedIn.
  • Or if you want an article that is customized for your business, find a company to write if for you – we do that for some of our clients.
  • Voila you look like the expert.

Twitter

  • If you like Twitter, using those same Google alerts, you will find that many of the blog posts will have statistics all ready for you to Tweet with the click of a link.
  • Use them – the writer wants the exposure and you want to be viewed as the expert.

Newsletters & Emails

  • All businesses should be on LinkedIn and Twitter but they should also be communicating their message via Newsletters and Emails.
  • Demonstrate your expertise in your company Newsletter and in your Email offers that you send to your prospects and customers
  • This should be done to both prospects & customers, you want to continue nurturing those relationships by communicating regularly
  • If you are using email be careful to adhere to the SPAM laws, just about every country has them and there are expensive fines for breaking the laws.
  • In the US it is called CAN-SPAM, in Canada it is CASL, in Australia it is the SPAM ACT and in the UK it’s the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations

Just remember when you Communicate your Message, make sure you are providing a way to Collect Data from your prospects.

Jonathan

People do so much research themselves today before they begin to engage in the buying process, demonstrating your expertise is very important. It makes you stand out from the crowd. Now for the 3rd principle – how should companies collect data in their lead generation activities?

Dan

So many companies either don’t collect data from their prospects or if they do collect data they don’t use it effectively. Collecting Data is the Key to Lead Generation! You have to be constantly collecting data if you want a continual stream of qualified leads. There are so many ways to do this, too many to mention now. But…

Social

  • In the Social world, you should be tracking who is following your company on LinkedIn or Twitter
  • For sales reps & small business owners, who is viewing your profile
  • There is a wealth of information you can collect from Social media and use in your lead generation activities

Email

  • An overlooked source of information is your email signature
  • You can embed links and downloads into your email signature that can be tracked using software
  • That software will tell you who visited your website or your company LinkedIn page from your email signature
  • That is very valuable information to collect and then use in your Nurturing activities

Google

  • With your Google adwords campaign, direct those people who click on your ad to a high quality landing page
  • On the landing page make them an offer of something for free (a download or a free service)
  • For them to get the free offer they have to provide you with their data like their name, email and company

Website

  • Even your company’s website should be a source to collect data on your prospects
  • Offer your newsletter, whitepapers, make the same free offering from your landing page on your website and in exchange collect their company, name and email address

You should now have a plethora of data – companies, people and email addresses. Make sure you USE the data and NURTURE those leads.

Jonathan

Wow, you have some tremendous suggestions for ways to collect data. I had not thought of some of those ways. It certainly does provide a business owner with an opportunity to obtain a lot of information about their prospects. What should they do with all of the data? How do they Nurture those leads?

Dan

The word Nurture means “to care for and encourage the growth and development of someone”. Nurturing in a business context is “encouraging a prospect to develop into a customer”. Prospects will be encouraged to become customers if they have a need that you demonstrate you can fill. You can do that by further demonstrating your expertise and putting yourself in your prospects shoes, showing you understand their needs.

Social

  • On social media sites like LinkedIn and Twitter you have to Nurture & develop a relationship
  • Comment on and Like the LinkedIn posts of your prospects
  • On Twitter re-tweet your prospects tweets, show that you care about them
  • They will then watch you and give you a chance to further demonstrate your expertise

Email

  • In business so much is done via email but often times email is not used to just keep in touch.
  • Email has replaced pen and paper, use it to write personal notes to prospects.
  • A company should use the email addresses of prospects it has collected to provide them with valuable information, newsletters, whitepapers, etc.
  • Automated email software can also improve the nurturing process if used properly

Phone

  • Don’t forget what you carry around in your pocket, a phone
  • Most people use their phones for everything except talking on it
  • Pick up the phone and keep in touch with prospects, nurture the relationship
  • Company’s might need a reason to call,
  • Do a survey: a customer satisfaction survey for customers
  • For prospects do a research based survey finding out their challenges in relation to your industry or product
  • Share the findings with them, it’s a way of showing you understand their needs
  • Make appointments for your sales reps, have a company call your prospects and try to set up appointments for your sales reps to meet with them

There are so many ways to nurture relationships, you have to think about your industry and get a little bit creative.