Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sharing Space: Marketing and Sales

Although we’re in a down economy I’ve still been able to travel twice out of the last three weeks meeting with clients, working until all hours of the night and seeing first hand what is on the minds of marketers these days. I personally wouldn’t have it any other way.

During my travels, I saw the following parking space that made me stop and consider the message that it was saying (had to take a picture of it – thanks Andrew!). Take 30 seconds and really think about the message this is conveying:


Here are some items to consider:

  • The only parking spaces reserved were for outside sales and customers
  • There were enough parking spaces available for everyone (reserved spaces were not essential)
  • What do other employees (including inside sales) think when they see this?

You may have the following reactions:

  • I don’t think this is a big deal. Sales are coming from all across the country and need a special place to park when they visit headquarters
  • Outside sales are getting the recognition they deserve for making the company what it is. They should repaint the white lines and repave the cracked pavement.
  • Why should sales get their own parking spaces? I work my but off yet have to find my own parking spot or take public transportation.

Any of these opinions are valid but here is something to consider – we’re in a down economy right now and sales are not as easy to come by as they once were. You may be selling the sharpest and finest knife set ever created with a brand that everyone knows, loves and trusts but at when money is tight, people will consider all of their options. At your own company there still may be plenty of interest for your products or services but companies may not have the budget to purchase from you which means longer sales cycles and missed forecasts. How are the best in class companies still reaching their 2009 targets?

Come Together. Right Now. Over Me

SiriusDecisions, a leading source for business-to-business sales and marketing best-practice research and data, recently indicated that while the sales team may be suffering, best in class companies are repositioning their marketing strategies and tactics to help them out.

These marketers are not focusing on programs that are strictly lead generation campaigns but rather geared to existing clients and deals in the pipeline. Alden Cushman at SiriusDecisions notes that:

“Instead of focusing on generating new leads, these programs represent a more effective way for marketing to impact the extended sales cycle by helping to move deals that have stalled in the pipeline. Without question, the economy is driving this trend, as the program numbers we're seeing are now more in balance with specific sales requirements."

This entails a greater emphasis on sales and marketing being in tune with each other and supporting each other during these rough times. Heather Foeh over at the Marketing Insights blog has delved further into some tactics that marketers can employ which I would recommend having a look at. I would also recommend sales and marketing have joint goals, clear definitions of each stage of the lead management funnel (which are approved at the highest levels), and metrics that support those definitions. All of these items should be reinforced at regular meetings where sales and marketing are working off the same dashboards and/or spreadsheets.

Here are some additional tactics to consider:

  • Ensure that marketing is communicating any activities that it’s partaking in to the rest of the company along with the results. This can be in the form of a newsletter, webcast, blog or podcast.
  • Marketing needs to involve sales as much as possible in their marketing efforts. This includes coordinating on marketing campaigns, looking for opportunities where leads may have fallen through the cracks, and better understanding what potential buyers are looking for at different stages of the buying process and their challenges
  • Provide useful tools to sales. Just the other day a marketer showed me a custom link they added to salesforce.com that integrated LinkedIn to the contact and lead records. It literally takes 5 minutes to add this custom code and the rich data that sales now have access to is unbelievable. I have other clients that are passing over activity data to sales (such as web visits) so sales can better prioritize who to follow up with. Other tools can summarize web activity at a higher level. The key here is to make this is as easy as possible for sales to work with and execute on.

The message I want to leave with you is that companies need to break down the walls of exclusivity that may have created for sales so that marketing and other areas of the company can better serve them. It’s time for sales to give up those reserved spaces to improve the alignment across the organization. It's the best in class companies that get this concept that will thrive in this down economy and capitalize on the opportunities that exist.

Chad H.

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Sunday, March 08, 2009

Social Media Success Stories

I get a few blank stares at times when I talk about social media technologies with friends and colleagues but I’m starting to win people over day by day. How am I doing this? With real stories! Today, I want to share these stories with you to help you better understand the power of social media and to hopefully inspire you to continue on your social media efforts or to jump in for the first time.

LinkedIn: Starting an Alumni Group

When Linkedin started a groups feature (like Facebook groups) I thought about how I could network with former colleagues. Some of the smartest people that I knew were from a technology post-grad college that I attended called the “Information Technology Institute (ITI) in Toronto. I decided to create an ITI alumni group to pool together these brilliant people and the results have been terrific thus far.

In a few short months, the group has 32 members without having done any advertising. There is also an active discussion going on about how ITI grads are succeeding and how ITI has contributed to this. I now have 32 new people (and growing) that I can network with who share my similar background and interests. Did you go to ITI? Join the ITI Alumni group (now I can say that I have done some advertising).

LinkedIn tip: Look for ways that you can create niche groups that pull together people with similar interests.

Twitter: Maximize Your Travel

In the past, I had blogged about why I use Twitter so it’s exciting for me to provide a success story for Twitter. In today’s economy, many companies are limiting travel in order to save a few bucks. In my new position, I not only manage my own clients but manage clients across an entire segment. I of course lead an amazing team, but this new position requires me to be active with as many customers in my segment as possible to support my team. Twitter helps me keep in touch with various clients and colleagues as well as better understand what people in my network "have on the brain". Besides the virtual interaction of Twitter, it has far greater benefits.

In my recent travels to Atlanta, I posted the following after I just arrived in the city and was doing some prep work from a Starbucks:

Visiting clients in Atlanta. Beautiful day! Beautiful city! Now to get down to work.

I then received a direct message (DM in Twitter lingo) via Twitter from a client in my segment in the Atlanta area asking me what my role at my company was and if I service clients in the area. I sent the client an email later that night after I verified who they were explaining to them who I was and suggested meeting for breakfast as I had time before another scheduled meeting. We ended up meeting and I was able to help this client out as much as I could in the short meeting time that we had. Here is the response from the client on Twitter after I tweeted about a successful tweet up:

Ohhh...knew I didn't have the lingo down @chadhorenfeldt ! Great success indeed - Eloqua crew welcome in Atlanta anytime!!

Twitter tip: Keep your network updated as to where you are. Twitter is a fantastic networking tool and it can help you maximize your travel time.

Twitter tip #2: Make sure you add your Twitter URL to your LinkedIn profile. I just connected to someone as I was writing this post.

Tripit: Maximize Your Travel #2

Tripit is a great application that allows you to post your travel plans so other people in your network can see them. A recent improvement has made this feature even more valuable – integrating with LinkedIn. Now, when I update my travel plans to Tripit, it will display my travel plans to all of my LinkedIn followers. This is helpful as I can keep track of people I work with and clients and partners have a greater insight into my travel schedule. For example, our sales team can see my travel plans and perhaps pull me into a prospect meeting if I'm in that area.

For my recent trip to Atlanta, one of our partners saw that I was visiting Atlanta and asked if I would be visiting them. I followed up and let them know why I was travelling and that I didn’t think we needed to meet this trip. I think it’s great that our partners are following our travels and offering up to meet. This definitely shows that power of Tripit.

Tripit tip: Use it and ensure that you have tied it into your LinkedIn profile. If you’re a manager or higher up, get others in your company to use it as well.

PS: The Tripit people have also made it very easy to post your trips – just email your travel itinerary to plans@tripit.com and it will update your network automatically. That is very cool.

Blogger: Blogging is the Differentiator

Some people may have written off blogging and I admit that I have a love/hate relationship with it but in 2009 I’m definitely seeing it as even more important social media tool. While anyone can sign up for the networking tools I listed above, blogging acts as a differentiator as it forces you to come up with good content that people will want to read (if that is your goal). While Twitter does this as well, Twitter is limited by its 140 characters (this is a debate for a future post). I see blogging as a way of connecting many of the dots in social media - let me focus on a recent story to show you what I mean.

Back on December 21, 2008, I wrote the post “10 Tips for Using Twitter And Email Marketing for B2B”. Perhaps because it was the holidays it didn’t receive that many page views at the time I published it. About a month or so later, it was picked up by another blogger, Kathy Pay, and then quickly by the Twitter community. Here is an example of what this looked like on Twitter search:


The result was a surge of traffic to my blog, additional Twitter followers, and blog RSS subscribers. The post was then picked up by other social media hubs such as StumbleUpon and Digg which pushed additional traffic along with search engine traffic.

Blogger tip: While I use Blogger, you can use any blogging platform that works for you. The real point is that good content drives traffic and your blog can be the driver for all of your other social media efforts.

Blogger tip #2: Make sure your blog is featured in your Twitter profile, on LinkedIn, Facebook and any other social media app that you use.

Best Story for Last

Almost three years ago I married my wife. That in itself is an accomplishment but it’s how I met my wife which is the interesting part. I found my future wife on Jdate.com which was a social media site before the term social media was widespread. We are happily married and are expecting our first child in August.

Takeaways: Before I sign off, I did want to point out that my stories demonstrate a few things to keep in mind:

  • The power of social media tools. My stories are at a very small scale and something I do in my spare time. Imagine how you can use social media tools for your business

  • Social media tools are interrelated. Think about how you can blend in various social media tools to increase your own voice in this digital world as well as your company’s.

I hope you enjoyed these stories and I encourage you to relate your own stories in the comments area. Did this post help you better understand the power of social media?

Chad H.

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