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Generate Sales Fast

If you’re looking for a reliable way to bring in revenue, the best place to start is by contacting your best customers.

Start by Segmenting Your Customer List

Your best customers are the most likely to purchase. Try dividing by sales or average order size. Analyzing your customers will identify strategic breaking points between groups. When you sort your customers’ sales activity, from highest to lowest and cumulate sales and calculate percentage of total sales, you may be surprised. The top customers will reliably respond to your offers.

Let Customers Know You Miss Them

We Miss You

“We Miss You” offers

Just because someone cancelled last year, or you have not heard from them in a while, doesn’t mean the sale is gone forever. Mail a “We want you back” offer. It will produce more sales than cold prospecting letters.

The 40-40-20 Rule

Ed Mayer is credited with stating the idea that direct marketing success is attributed to:

40% List

40% Offer

20% Everything Else

As we all optimistically look forward and consider fresh marketing approaches, how can we help you?

  • Is it time to append your customer list with more details that will give you more accurate information to select new prospective customers?
  • Can we do some research for you to help you select the best possible list to meet your needs?
  • Do you have a new idea about an offer and want to ask for another opinion?
  • Are all the details for your offer and everything else clear?

Business Database Differences

BtoB Online summarized a study on Sources of B-to-B Data that reveals an evolution in how business data are collected and offered.

“The background for this study is the lack of confidence business marketers have in publicly available prospecting files,” said Ruth P. Stevens, a customer acquisition and retention consultant, Columbia University business professor, and co-author of the study. “We did find that data from these compilers was more accurate, in terms of names, addresses, company name, ZIP codes, etc.” Stevens said. “But what we found is that there are a lot of business buyers names whose records are not in these databases.

Compiled lists for use by direct marketers are assembled from a variety of sources, including directories, contacts from trade shows, public records, social sites, credit reports and even by “scrubbing” business or other special-interest websites for information about business executives.

To increase the likelihood that marketers get the data they want, the researchers advised them to develop a detailed list ordering methodology. They also urged marketers to understand what vendors mean by “complete” information, a definition which can vary; to be specific about industry selections; to watch for vendor specialization by industry; and to choose between breadth of companies, or breadth of contacts or both.

We can help you evaluate multiple direct mail list choices, we are neutral and will do research for you to find the best alternative to meet your needs.

Get more from Customer Data

DMNews recently talked with experts about the best ways to combine and leverage customer data.

Elissa Tomasetti, VP of marketing, Financial Times, suggested that creating a single view of your customer will allow for better targeting.

Sal Pecoraro, VP of database marketing solutions, Infogroup, advised looking for trends in behavior to refine follow-up with customers.

Dino Michetti, GM and VP of client services, Epsilon, reminded marketers that current technology and innovation allow for real-time marketing and better data automation.

Business to Business Data Management

The Wellesley Hills Group published a study about trends in Lead Generation. They found leads generated by companies fall into one of three categories, 25% were ready to be contacted by a salesperson, 50% of the leads need more “nurturing”, and 25% were not really qualified to be leads.

We want to help you with nurturing your sales leads. Before you can sell your service or product to an organization you will need to educate your customers about what problems you solve, provide some specific information, solidify your reputation, give some specific answers and perhaps tell about a case study.

Direct mail is a great way to communicate some or all of this information because not only will you be guiding your prospects through a stepped process to get them ready for your sales staff, you are also putting something that can be touched and felt into their hands.

A Data Rock Star?

This term got some attention in a few blogs last month. What exactly is a data rock star? A steward who understands both the complex intricacies of data management as well as the larger business challenge. A data rock star can provide guidance on both the IT and business side on how to make the data work for the business.

The author of “Data Quality From The Ground Up” suggested attributes and behaviors to further define and clarify a true data rock star.

  • Excellent communicator of business and IT concepts using common language
  • Ability to link information to business value
  • Seeks out and is receptive to advice and continuously provides the opportunity for others to provide it
  • Understands the link between clarifying expectations and how that will lead to success
  • Ability to engage and enthuse others, understands and considers body language, communication preferences, motivations and needs of others
  • Spots opportunities and takes advantage of them, especially in ways that others are unaware of
  • Pushes the boundaries in order to change things and does so in a way that others are unaware the boundary is being pushed
  • Exerts authority and uses it appropriately – all the while smiling and engaging others
  • Identifies key success measures from both business and IT perspective
  • Is well liked and respected – this will ensure access to resources, tools, other stakeholders, hidden information and will help pave the way through political and cultural roadblocks
  • Able to articulate solutions as practical and logical and tie them directly to group/organizational goals

The elevation of data experts and their importance to marketing and the entire organization is another reminder to keep working on your own database. Is there anything that we can do to help you with your customer list?

Loyalty Programs

DMNews reported the efforts of some well know brands to maintain customer loyalty. Retaining customers has taken on renewed focus for many companies recently in an effort to combat reluctance to spend during the recession. Some loyalty programs have become more elaborate and offer more rewards and discounts than in the past.

Target is looking for ways to make it easier for our guests to find additional savings,” says Target spokeswoman Leah Guimond. “We’re currently testing a new rewards program in select markets that offers guests a percent off all purchases made with their REDcard.”

Best Buy’s Rewards Zone program not only offers more rewards to its most loyal customers, but it focuses on keeping in touch with those consumers. “The rules require that we have a valid way to connect to the customers and we’ve introduced a high-value tier that gets additional benefits,” says Bob Soukup, senior director of loyalty at Best Buy. “This lets us reward those customers who are interested in having a relationship with Best Buy. It also lets us concentrate extra attention on our best customers.”

Hilton, worked on increasing enrollment in its loyalty program by reaching out to a different audience than it did before the recession. Rather than its frequent-traveling, elite customer base, the hotel conglomerate shifted its focus to more casual travelers by “being more active with promotional activity, both added-value discount offerings and loyalty program offerings,” says Jeff Diskin, SVP of brand management and marketing at Hilton. “We want to engage with all travelers primarily through our HHonors [loyalty] program, to facilitate the dialog we can have through different channels when they’re connected to us and be able to drive promotional activity and business where we need it,” Diskin adds. “In the past 15 months, we’ve pretty much had an HHonors-based promotion every quarter. What that’s done is drive enrollment, so now we’re getting the business they’ve booked for the promotion and then using that database for some really directed offerings.”

Brand marketers are also realizing the power of loyalty marketing in driving the bottom line. J&P Cycles, a multichannel retailer of aftermarket motorcycle parts, used the insights it gained from members of its Gold Club loyalty program to adjust prices on “tens of thousands” of its SKUs, says Rich Brecht, senior contact center manager for the company. “As the economy really took a dive, we found a lot of our feedback was coming on shipping charges and price,” Brecht says. “So we lowered the Gold Club shipping minimums, and if a customer didn’t order this product from us today because it was cheaper elsewhere, we started aggressively logging that to adjust prices.”

Marketers without existing loyalty programs are now taking a second look. Printer manufacturer Epson is considering a loyalty program to encourage buying ink direct from the company. Such a program was tested and killed in the past, says Chris Nickel, manager of CRM and direct response marketing for Epson, but momentum has begun to build behind the idea again.

Is there a way that we can help you implement a loyalty program using your existing customer information? Just letting your customers know that you appreciate their business may be the reminder they need to stay loyal to you. A “thank you” card sent in the mail can go a long way.

Smarter Selling

The Aberdeen Group published a report of survey results titled: “Sales Intelligence: Preparing for Smarter Selling”. They found that within Best-in-Class companies, an average 52% of sales representatives are currently achieving quota, as compared to a 26% average among Laggard organizations.

Best-in-Class companies see a 9% year-over-year reduction in time sales reps spend searching for relevant company/contact information, as compared to a 5% increase in time among Laggard performers.

Best-in-Class companies boast an average 5% year-over-year reduction in the sales cycle time, as compared to a 7% increase in sales cycle time among Laggards.

These numbers tell the story of the economy and the what a difference implementing good sales lead management and generation can do.

How can we help you find great, relevant leads?

Business to Business Sales Leads

Marketo provided the inspiration for these tips. They propose a process for growing business to business sales leads.

1. Nurture. Lead nurturing is the process of using many channels including the mail, phone, web, email, and other channels to build relationships with qualified prospects who are not ready for sales efforts. Many leads are still in research mode, so communication and offers should provide best practices, statistics, research, etc. to help the customer frame their research.

Lead nurturing:

  • Builds relationships with prospects
  • Creates understanding of needs
  • Facilitates lead scoring

2. Frame the research. Lead nurturing is not sending a newsletter to your entire database, or calling prospects every few weeks to see if they are ready to buy yet. B2B purchases are, by their nature, complex. Buyers need help to see possibilities and issues they wouldn’t think about on their own. If you can help frame the discussion, you will be seen as a trusted advisor and thought leader. This will help buyers believe that your company understands their problems and knows how to solve them. Lead nurturing is your opportunity to demonstrate the value you can provide and to position yourself as a resource.

3. Define what makes a lead “ready”. Work with your sales team to build criteria that determine the steps prospects should take before they are ready for a sales call. Criteria could include:

  • Demographic information – Geographic location, company size, etc.
  • “Push” actions – What have you done to interact with the lead, what have you told them?
  • “Pull” actions – What has the lead done to pull information to them? What pages have they visited? Have they downloaded special information?

4. Score the lead. The prospect is in control of the buying process. Monitor their efforts to pull information and interaction to know when they’re ready to move to the next stage. Interest level should be defined not just by their words but their actions. Actions speak louder than words. Track all the actions and update scores accordingly.

5. Provide detailed information to sales when leads are determined to be “ready”. Don’t just toss the lead over and leave it up to the sales rep to create a continuous experience for the customer.

  • Let sales know what marketing activities the prospect has responded to, and indicate which product the prospect is most likely to purchase based on responses to date.
  • Create tools such as templates, qualifying questions, and call scripts to guide sales reps during their initial contact with the lead. Be sure to refer to the marketing activities they have responded to.

6. Track follow up. Work with sales to create the scoring criteria to build goodwill with them. After that, regularly analyze the leads that were determined to be sales-ready to further refine your lead scoring criteria.

  • Adjust lead score thresholds based on business conditions.
  • Make sure sales follows up with leads and reassign leads that don’t get contacted.
  • When leads aren’t closed by sales as expected, recycle them back into marketing for further nurturing.

7. Track every marketing activity. Tracking every marketing activity is critical to understanding which marketing programs work. What programs directly contributed to sales? What programs generated the highest quality leads? Which programs had the greatest influence on the sales pipeline? You need to know the impact of all the programs.

8. Understand prospects needs. As you build a relationship with your prospects, you should also be learning more about their needs. Every campaign the prospect responds to tells you about their interests. Every page they visit on your website tells you about their interests. Every link they click, and every piece of information they fill out on a form, tells you more about them. Be clever with your forms – don’t ask prospects to enter information you already know, and use the opportunity to find out something new!

9. Track all traffic and tie to new leads. Simple code on your Web pages help you track prospects, whether anonymous or known. This helps tell you which companies are interested in your products. As anonymous prospects complete forms on your website or landing pages, any previous web visits can be automatically attributed to the new lead. This is important to determine the sales readiness of new leads, since you know the entire history of the relationship with that prospect – including which campaign helped them find you in the first place.

10. Data quality standards, including de-duplication. Demographic analysis has long been a part of the sales process, and the Web makes it easier to collect this information. Certain information such as company size can help you determine the lead score. With many demand generation and lead nurturing activities running concurrently, automatic deduplication is imperative. Forms which auto-complete if the visitor is recognized not only help your prospects but can also facilitate the collection of additional information for profiling and scoring.

Courting a Wary Customer

Deliver Magazine and Sid Liebenson suggest three ways to build and maintain loyal relationships when customers are running scared.

Consumers are retrenching, economizing and just plain scared. But as the saying goes, the pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity, and the optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty.

The recession presents the perfect opportunity to finetune your marketing efforts that will build loyalty among your current customers. It also is the prime time to go into acquisition mode and attract competitors’ customers to your brand. Here are three ways to do it:

1. Get personal. Consumers are vulnerable in a down market: They’re rethinking their brand loyalties as they look to economize and reconsider what they value in a brand. Keeping your customers means personalizing like you’ve never personalized before.

Mine your data to let your customers know you understand what’s important to them. For example, you might send a message on a catalog overwrap saying, “In the spring, you bought this lightweight cotton sweater from us. Now that it’s fall, here’s what people who bought that sweater are buying now.” This shows you care about what they are thinking, and there’s some logic to what you’re recommending — you’re not selling them something just to sell it.

Your marketing messages need to be not only personalized, but frequent. In a tough economy, it’s common for consumers to question where every penny is going. When they do that, suddenly every relationship is a little at risk. Their question becomes “Am I really getting value from this relationship, or is there something that will satisfy my needs equally for less money?”

2. Don’t make cuts. Now is not the time to scale back on marketing spending. If you don’t stay in touch with your best customers — while they’re continuously exposed to messages from your competitors — the idea of buying your brand gets further from their mind. This is especially true when consumers are already reconsidering their brand loyalty.

In several categories, competitors aren’t marketing as much or they’re reducing campaign frequency. With these cutbacks, some marketing media have become cheaper. If you’re not afraid to spend some money on acquisition, chances are your media costs can be a little more efficient.

3. Show them you care. Empathize with customers to demonstrate you understand what they’re going through during the recession. Health care, for example, is a big concern for consumers right now.

You should always practice good marketing — personalization, appropriate messages, frequent touches — but focus on these things even more to keep your customers with you through the economic crisis. When times are better, you’ll have your core group of customers — and then some.