This post is the result of a humorous conversation I had recently with our sales staff. We are just finishing fully implementing a new marketing automation platform, Pardot (which we love-more about this in a future post). The question came up, “are we sure we want to stalk our potential customers like that?”
I answered, “absolutely, people love being stalked!”
Before you begin preparing your rousing rebuttal, let me elaborate.
One of the many slick web tracking features of Pardot is a web prospect tracker they call Lead Deck. Lead Deck is able to track incoming web visitors based on a number of criteria including IP address. This is by no means unique, but how they handle the resultant data is one of the big reasons I chose them.
So without detailing too much of the functionality, needless to say, this allows our sales people to see in real-time when their prospects are engaged on the web. If the prospect is unknown, there are any number of ways to determine a known prospect. They can immediately see exactly which pages they just interacted with and what forms they may have completed, or send them an email through our CRM. All of this data is tracked and scored for lead conversion.
When I first introduced this to the team, I told them that they should be glued to Lead Deck and the second they see an existing prospect, they should email or call them. I was of course being completely sarcastic, but the looks I got were worth it.
The conversation that followed was definitely worthwhile to have though – When and how should you stalk your prospects?
Much of the answer to this question hinges on business type. For a B2C retailer, connecting immediately following a product search may be completely appropriate. For Pardot, what really sold me was the tailored email I received within 10 minutes of researching their site. For our software company, and for many others, the need to make far more judicious use of the visitor information is crucial.
The last thing most web visitors want after leaving a site is a phone call trying to sell the product at which they were just looking. While there may be a handful of those perusing software who don’t connect what just transpired, they are far outweighed by the vast majority for whom the immediate response is cynicism and contempt for being cyber-stalked. That certainly isn’t the first impression we want our prospects to have.
So how can you make good use of such real-time information?
Find out in next week’s post.
As I mentioned previously in "Growing Marketing Automation with a Growing Business", our business has been changing rapidly, and with those changes comes the need to adapt technology and infrastructure to keep up. So not only did I decide to implement a new Marketing Automation Platform before the end of the year, but also a new CRM - why not?
This year has brought us steady growth, and since the primary cause of growth is new customers and new sales, it was definitely time to make sure we were taking care of those customers the best we could.
Our former CRM served us adequately for a time. Not so long ago, we had a primary distributor responsible for lead generation and sales, and we didn't have many records to keep track of. Well, we let them go last July, and in the last six months have taken responsibility for everything in house.
As the last weeks of 2011 approach, we are on pace to increase sales over last year by a respectable amount. So we are not only managing our existing customers effectively, but it appears taking care of new customers better ourselves than when we had a distributor.
We are also releasing a new product first quarter 2012, which will bring in an entire new customer base.
To manage all our customers and prospects really well, cultivate leads, handle support calls, and make sure none of them slip through the cracks, we needed a capable, and fast CRM. After much research, seemingly countless demos, and chatting with as many marketing and sales folks as I could, I decided to go with Salesforce.
The primary consideration was the desire for a smooth implementation, and as little interaction from our developers as possible. With a new product release in the offing, pulling them off of production for any amount of time would mean an undesirable delay.
The other important feature we needed was efficient support capabilities and support interaction with sales.
After that, most of the big CRM companies really have all the same similar basic features. To help with implementation, having our friends over at PSN to handle setup and API integration makes a huge difference. So off we go, and will hopefully have everything ready to go just after the first of the year.
The one thing I will say surprised me, is after all the courting and demos that Salesforce has as a part of their sales process (which were solid), the hand off after purchase was oddly abrupt. There was no implementation check list, no implementation support, and the only thing I received after finally inquiring about it to the sales rep was a link to an intro webinar. I understand that it's a monster of a platform, but, given the amount of money we've committed to spend, I expected a little more than a "Good bye and Good Luck."
What is your CRM of choice?
As a small business marketer, the tools and platforms I choose or can afford haven't necessarily had the capacity to grow at the same pace as our business needs. It has been a continual challenge to find the right tool for the right phase of business development. Recently, none more so than our Marketing Automation (MA) tool.
When I first started to look for the ideal Marketing Automation provider for Big Bang a little over three years ago, our company had no internal sales, relied heavily on our sole distributor for most everything, and had just hired me to do internal marketing for the first time. So initially I needed the tool to help me get a deeper handle on web visits than Google Analytics was capable of, develop and run email marketing campaigns, and provide the ability to begin creating landing pages and other lead capture assets. We didn't even have a CRM back then.
The MA company I chose was fairly new to the game, a small company like we, and even though their product may not have contained all the greatest features and functionality, the price was right and they were more than willing to work with us in a very personally.
Over the next couple years, our two companies continued to grow. Big Bang changed the status of our sole distributor to primary, hired someone internally to start developing sales and a sales channel, and continued to increase the number of contacts and customers that we were dealing with directly. All the while, our marketing automation provider continued to develop their product and grow their customer base.
But as time went on, continued sales, product, and infrastructure growth again changed the direction our company was heading, and after firing our distributor, we had to pretty much restructure everything internally from the ground up. I began to see that our business needs were going to quickly outgrow the capabilities of our MA provider. The clearer my marketing strategy became, and the more efficiently I was able to execute, the more obvious it became that I would need a tool that was able to do a whole lot more.
I no longer had the time to build landing pages and trigger campaign emails from scratch. I needed accurate and logical lead scoring. I really needed a customizable dashboard and easy reporting capabilities, and most of all, I needed to be able to do all of these things and more a whole lot more quickly.
So I switched.
It certainly wasn't an easy process. The time and effort required for the implementation of a new MA platform is significant. But the time invested now to get the new tool operating efficiently will be more than rewarded, not just in my time, or my ability to more efficiently manage our digital marketing efforts, but in the trackable, reportable, and measurable increase in sales.
Ultimately I had to decide if the headache of changing platforms was worth it. But if I am able to begin a higher quality dialogue, or generate quicker interaction from consistent and well-delivered content, and ultimately increase sales while saving myself some time, all the while having the revenue to justify it, then I think the answer is obvious.
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|About Adam Murphy -
Adam is the President and Owner of Big Bang LLC and espouses a pretty progressive small business philosophy based primarily around hiring the right people and getting the hell out of their way.
|About Nate Bauer -
Nate is the Marketing Director for Big Bang LLC and pretty much spends his days tip-toeing on the pinnacle of how to most effectively implement strategy given the wide open cookie jar of small business marketing possibilities.
|About Kelley Burian - @kelleyburian
Kelley is the Sales Director for Big Bang LLC. Responsible for everything from GSA contracts, resellers and international customers, she has her hands full doing whatever she can to make sure our valued clients are thrilled with our fantastic products.