New marketing demystified for Indian SMEs

Archive for the tag “lead generation”

An illustrated primer of terms used in CRM

When we discuss B2B CRM processes, it is important to know some terms. I wanted to go back to basics but, this time with some screenshots from an actual web-hosted CRM product, Salesgenie CRM++.  Whether we discuss CRM 1.0 or CRM 2.0. For a basic understanding of CRM, please visit my previous posts on CRM in the blogroll where all my articles on CRM for small businesses are posted.
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How to generate productive sales leads

.. a unique solution to a universal problem for startups

When we set out to build Salesgenie CRM++, we were actually onto our second inspiration.

We had set out to build a different product/ service and as we were creating the specs, we started thinking of marketing it. The challenges and the process of overcoming those.

Lead generation was key. We were confident of closing business if we knew who to talk to, but, not on a large scale, we did not.

So, we abandoned the idea, well, not quite. It is still there and probably some day we will give it a go. But, we got together to crack what we consider fundamental to any startup success.

1. What are sales leads?

2. How do you generate them?

3. How do you prioritize on the ones to follow up so that you maximize the returns on your efforts and time spent?

It was clear to us that visiting cards were poor leads. Most people we called hung up on us. If the folks who had willingly passed on their calling cards on us could be so unreceptive, what would be fate of phone numbers obtained from purchased mailing/ phone lists? We knew the answer, and did not even bother.

Think of your own situation as a buyer. Other than daily essentials, how many times and how many minutes (not even hours) do you spend in a year in actively purchasing something (figuring out that you need something, figuring out what you need, researching the market, talking to others, comparing alternatives, technologies and prices and so on)?

Very few times, in a full year or even years, on any single class of product. And, when you are not buying, you could not be bothered.

When we think as marketers though, we think we and our product is all our customers think about. All the time. Let’s get real. They don’t. Unless you are in the business of selling pipeline valves. And, then, it may not be good news, if your product is always in his mind!

In a B2B product category, you want the customer to keep you in mind when they are actively considering a purchase.

The challenge is to stay engaged in the long interim period between two purchases.

Another challenge,  is to court a first time purchaser through the entire pre-sales consideration period.

And, consider that the customers have little time to spare when they are not ready to buy.

With our CRM product, we take a crack at the first problem: how to stay engaged with your installed base, nurture them, read their signals before your competition does. Which is why, we have a automatic lead scoring algorithm, that identifies a lead based on what you, an experienced sales manager would have called a lead, when the evidence piles up, in terms of customer actions, that the customer is actively seeking a solution.

Often, these are subterranean, seemingly disconnected events that point to an inquiry on its way. Salesgenie logs these signals, connects them up using our unique and smart algorithm, and alerts you to the possibility of a lead and the contacts to follow up to bring that lead to fruition. This leaves your salesmen free to sell, not worry about which are the contacts he must chase to create or nurture an opportunity. We think, this is the single biggest contribution that Salesgenie CRM++ makes today among all the other competing products in its class. And, for a small business, unable to invest in large-scale “lead qualification” processes to separate the wheat from the chaff, this is a boon.

As for the second problem? How to engage with a first time buyer?

Watch this space!


If you have a startup, you will run into brand-building soooner or later. Here’s a nice post, to get you started.

Hunting, Farming and CRM

We all know the mindset difference between hunters and farmers. “Hunters” have a strictly “one-time engagement” model with their prey as to salesmen or companies who have modelled their business on hunting. “Farmers”, on the other hand, cultivate their customers, their accounts and take a long term view of every relationship.

Both are useful. And, at different stages of the company, one role is better suited than other. It is however safe to say that as in the history of human evolution, farming follows hunting. And, it is a rare business model and in my opinion, even rarer to find a successful one, which stops at hunting.

Closed loop marketing: it takes a lot of effort to convince a customer to buy from you the first time. As you move the customer from a state of non-awareness to indifference to active interest to trial and purchase, it is important to understand that each purchase is potentially the door-opener to another, future opportunity.

So, even if you are a month old start-up to whom new business from new contacts is life-blood, I hope you treat your first sale as an opportunity to gain a customer for life. And, what better way to do that but to invest some little effort to log what you know about the contact, about his/ her employer, about the transactions that you have with her and her company in a systematic, easily retrievable way?

Memory is short; you are better off trusting a computer program to do that. That, in a nutshell, is all there is to CRM. A CRM system/ software is an important facilitator to close loop marketing. Happy farming.

A better way to recognise “leads” in CRM

… why we need to re-define “leads”

In most common CRM systems, a lead is what marketing produces for its labor and a deal is what the sales guys make or chase. The system treats them differently.

If this is your worldview as a B2B marketer, be ready for strife, disagreement and worse across the great sales-marketing divide.

First up, let us agree on a few things:

Sales-guys may be rock-stars but, they could not do much without the company, its products and the reputation that precedes them. And, we like to think of sales as a linear process, with customer moving from a stage of low awareness to high engagement and making the transition from being hand-held by marketing to sales.

Worse, when a “lead” is exclusively “tainted” with the marketing origin, sales do not take it seriously. When faced with a lead-inbox full to the brim on a Monday morning, the impulse of the sales executive is to do one of the following:

1. Trash the lot

2. Scan through the lot and mark most as useless and the rest as “already existing in the system”.

Sales leads are a result of many factors (company brand name, past experience and purchases) and activities undertaken to make the customer aware of our products and services. In B2B scenarios, sales and marketing both have a role to play.

Why not recognize that?

There is a reason. Over a period of time, B2B marketing departments, under pressure to justify their existence, have bought into a metrics system that recognizes only “lead generation” from marketing campaigns as a measure of success.

So, marketing is eager to tag every little sneeze from the customers as a lead and ascribe that to the cold they caught from the aircon running in their own office. This has led to the exact opposite of what was intended. The more numerous marketing leads have become, the less useful they are.

We define a lead as a signal coming from a buyer organization which needs follow up. A lead, upon qualification can become an identified opportunity for a sale.

A lead is NOT an individual. However, a lead arises out of actions taken by one or more contacts working in a buyer organization (account).
In this view,
1. A lead transforms into a deal
2. We recognize that many activities jointly contribute to creating a lead. It is no longer  “we ran a seminar and we got 200 leads”. Now it is more like “we have logged customer activities (attending a seminar, asking for literature, asking for a salesman’s visit or wanting to see a product for evaluation purposes) all showing interest in a certain product/ product category of ours in the past month. Something is happening here; let’s have our sales guy investigate.”

A CRM system’s job is to log activities. A lead should be created automatically as an aggregation of those activities related to a certain product or class of products.

Involve sales managers in scoring the activities that make a lead, and communicate to the sales that each lead is recorded because of multiple validations from  activities. I expect this process will be a winner.

What do you think?

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