Category Archives: Sales

When Your Phone Rings Does Your Cash Register Ring Too?

TelephoneAre phone calls the life blood of your business?

It’s not true with online-only companies, but brick-and-mortar stores can live & die by the phone call. I have a client who claims that he can close one sale for every four phone calls versus closing one sale for every ten “contact me” forms completed on his website. Wow, that’s a big difference and I learned that he didn’t know exactly how many phone calls he was getting or whether they could be considered legitimate “leads.”

My client uses for managing leads and deals that are in the sales cycle and at various points of closing. Even though his website has a “leads-to-forms” application that automatically puts completed forms into Salesforce, phone calls that turn into leads must be manually entered by the sales people. He was very disappointed that his reports would only show a few phone calls per month. Knowing the difference in close ratios for phone calls, he was desperate to see more calls coming in.

I was introduced to a marvelous service called IfByPhone by a colleague who indicated that it might be very valuable to me. Was he right, or what?

I spent some time researching this service. Essentially, IfByPhone provides, among many services, call forwarding to your main business telephone number. When someone searches on Google for instance, your PPC ad or organic listing is displayed. If the searcher clicks on either, they are taken to your website page, however, and this is pretty cool, IfByPhone presents a unique, dynamic telephone number, which if called, is used to track that searcher’s call all the way through to completion. If the searcher calls within 60 minutes of viewing your webpage (and unique number), IfByPhone can report on the keyword phrase the caller used to find you. In addition, you also receive the caller ID in reports that can be generated “on demand.”

Imagine what you can do. You know who called and when; you know, in most cases, for what they were searching; and you know the length of the call (did they talk with anyone or just leave a voicemail). Not only are you able to see if the salespeople are putting leads into Salesforce, you’re able to accurately determine which keywords and phrases are generating the most calls and can then alter your SEO or PPC strategies accordingly.

I would think that the energetic salesperson could also use the caller ID information to place a “cold” call, knowing in advance where their interest lies. That’s about as warm a “cold” call as you can get.

This has been incredibly helpful for my client. He feels better informed and that he now has a better handle on what kinds of phone calls he’s getting as well as the accuracy of his Salesforce management system. We are also using the keyword data provided to improve conversions through SEO and PPC.

So, does your business rely heavily on the phone call? If it does, you may want to consider IfByPhone.

I’d love to know your thoughts.


Live by the Data or Die by the Data


I know that there are hardly enough hours in the day to take care of your customers and run the business, let alone, study and correlate all the customer-centric information which is now available at your fingertips. But, it’s never been more important than now. As Mr. Dave Frankland, an analyst with Forrester espoused, 2010 and beyond is the “age of the customer.” Customers are in more control than ever, and they are wielding that power by responding to companies that understand them and their needs.


Natalie Zmuda, with Ad Age talks about the obsession with “understanding, delighting, connecting with, and serving customers,” as the only real differentiator that many companies have. I would add to that, the intelligence to predict behavior as well.


Never in history have business owners had such a vast amount of information available to them about their customers’ behavior, which can be a strong predictor of a “potential” customer’s behavior.


Facebook can tell you how many people in your area have expressed interest in what you do based upon specific terms? Google has reams of information available on what people are searching for. There are software companies that have created social media dashboards that provide the ability to see what conversations are taking place about you, whether you “follow” them or not. And just as important, there are your own sales statistics that you keep.


It is not only important to track sales, but also to be able to know the source of the sales lead. Those lead sources should be broken down sufficiently to understand what action the interested party initially took to become a lead. What products were purchased from what lead sources? As an example, if you only track that a sale of product A came from the Internet, what you don’t know is what action was taken. Did the lead fill out a “contact me” form or did they pick up the phone and call you? Did they ask a question through Facebook or were they referred by one of their LinkedIn contacts? Did they click on a QR code that you had on a print advertisement or did they come to you from your YouTube video?


Being able to tie sales back to a very specific lead source allows you to calculate which kind of lead results in the highest likelihood of a sale. Where should you spend precious sales resources to get the highest return? Where should marketing dollars go to stimulate these high value leads? What kind of message is successful in generating quality leads? Would extending that message to other sources for leads generate the same kind of quality lead there? Would it be better to focus on those products that generate the highest margins?


So, your business can prosper by paying attention to the data that’s available or not, it’s up to you. And, if you need some help with this, let us know.


All my best in your “data mining”




How Not to Make a Marketing Call

Our home is our haven, a place of rest, relaxation and the ability to unwind from the turmoil of the day.  The invasion of this space by unwanted calls is the reason Congress enacted the now infamous “no-call” designation, where by placing yourself on a list, you can limit the solicitation calls you receive to only those parties to whom you give specific permission.

This “no-call” list does not apply to not-for-profit entities, and since we give to a number of organizations whose mission we believe in, we do expect to receive calls from them occasionally.

The other night though, I received a call that I just had to post about.

With the phone ringing, I leave the couch and see on the caller ID that it is an 866 number, so I know in my mind, oh, this is probably a solicitation call for a donation.  I debate answering but decide, I’ll listen to their pitch.

Once I answer, a computer voice says, “Your call is important to us, please hold for the next available agent.” Are you kidding?!?!

You called me and you want me to wait?  What’s more, if my call was so important to you, why wasn’t there a live person ready to speak with me?

If you are making a sales or marketing call, please be sure that you are sensitive to the other person’s time and show enough respect to be ready and prepared to speak to them when they answer the phone.  It is only common sense.

Needless to say, I hung up the phone promptly and went about my business.  I didn’t learn which organization was calling me but if I find out, they will get no more of my money!

Have you had a strange marketing call you’d like to share?


The CMO Outsource

Do You Have a Disconnect Between Sales and Marketing?

Road closed sign

I was talking with a business owner the other day at a networking event and when the subject came up about the importance of having a marketing plan to follow, he said, “well isn’t marketing just sales?”

I don’t mean to poke fun at this individual because I strongly believe he is not alone.  I can’t count how many calls I have received that have asked for a marketing person when in reality, they were looking for a sales person.  This distinction between marketing and sales is important to make, particularly in Business-to-Business (B2B) sales, where the buying cycle can be complex and take much longer, particularly on bigger ticket products and services.

Marketing’s objective is multi-faceted: to raise awareness of the company, product or service; to educate the public on the product’s use or value; and to generate qualified leads.  Once the lead information has been captured, regardless of how that took place, it is then handed to sales to negotiate and close the deal, resulting in the transfer of money.  But is this the way it really works?

As we all know, this overly simplified scenario above is not exactly reality, because it doesn’t take into account the quality of the lead.  As the buying cycle of many products and services lengthens, a prospective buyer at a moment in time can be at any number of stages in their process of making a purchase.  Marketing may have captured their lead information, but do they really know at what stage of the buying process the lead is?

Now we move to what I call the disconnect in this process.  So many times, when it is determined by sales that the lead is not ready to purchase now, it is simply discarded as a poor quality lead.  Depending on how the lead information was collected, if the prospect made the effort to provide information, then it could probably be considered a valid lead and therefore should not be discarded.  What should take place in this process is a method for sales, after having discovered the lead is not ready to purchase now, to be able to return the lead to marketing for what we call “nurturing.”

Nurturing a lead through their buying cycle involves a unique set of communications messages.  Hopefully sales was able to determine at what stage the prospect was at: awareness, interest, intent, consideration or comparison.  Based upon this information, a schedule of specific messages can be established to stay in front of the lead and remain in the forefront of their mind, helping them through their buying decision process.  Once marketing can determine that the lead is ready to buy, it can then be shifted back to sales to close, and the circle is completed.

In order for this process to not become too onerous, it is imperative to have in place the proper technology to automate this function to help maintain consistency and to improve tracking and measurement.

I thought the following chart from MarketingSherpa was interesting in how it relates to this topic of lead quality and the challenges all marketers face.

New Chart: Today’s Most Significant Challenges for B2B Marketers to Overcome

Marketing Challenges chart

I would love to know your thoughts on this.