Monthly Archives: July 2014

Qualifying Your Leads for Quality Pitches

The Holy Grail of any hard-working sales team is a multitude of high-quality leads that will generate that all important new business for your company, not forgetting a well-deserved bonus.  But the disheartening truth is the majority of leads don’t result in a purchase and no matter how practiced your sales pitch there are factors outside of your control that can impact your chances of a sale.

So what are the most effective ways to sift out the lucrative from the dire? How can you take that all too familiar despondent sales team who are tired of putting in long hours with no payoff, one that has been disconnected with success for too long and help to transform them into a super efficient and productive sales force ready to embrace all the day has in store?  Incorporating these simple steps, if you don’t already do so, could make a marked difference.



Depending on the source of the leads you’re working with, many of the contacts on your list can be identified as non starters before you even need to pick up the phone. According to a report issued by Marketing Sherpa, only 56% of B2B organisations will have qualified their leads before passing them on to their sales team.  A simple bit of online research into the companies should provide enough insight to see if they are likely to buy.  Establish what their business does, how many employees they have and where you can see your product or service fitting in.  A simple grading system from 1 to 3 with will allow you to prioritise your list and identify where you start directing your energy.


Identify, Listen, Bond

Your next task, and often a tricky one, is to identify the person who has the buying power and the ability to make decisions regarding the purchase of your offering.  Don’t waste time on anyone else as chances are key messages will be lost in translation or information will be filed in the bin.

Now you’ve got the attention of the decision maker it’s time to pitch, right? Hold your horses for a minute.  The most important thing you can do now you have them is to listen, and I mean really listen.  Introduce your product/service and delve to find pertinent information that will help you qualify the lead.  Important points to ascertain should include:

  • Do they currently or have they previously used a product/service similar to yours?
  • If they are looking to buy then what is motivating them to make the purchase? Is it cost savings, are they looking for greater functionality or is it an RFP in a tender process?
  • If there are any concerns around implementing a product of its kind, or even your product in particular?
  • Establish their objectives for implementing your product/service
  • Are they in discussions with any other suppliers or considering alternative solutions and what attracts them to these competitors?
  • Who would be involved in the decision making process and what are the timelines. This will help you identify leads that can be parked for the time being.

Beware.  The way your gather this information is as important as gathering the information itself. Any questions you ask should come across as conversational not interrogational if they are to have the desired result.  In his book Questions that Sell, Paul Cherry cites a study conducted by Gallup that suggests people are 12% more likely to purchase if an emotional connection has been made, and Hudson, a US-based consultancy, believes that using emotional intelligence (EQ) is the key to developing an authentic approach that leads to greater insight, intuition and the development of positive results.

If it’s apparent your product or service cannot meet their requirements or expectations let them know why and then step away gracefully.  There’s no point wasting days or weeks worth of developing a lead that will not progress to a sale.



Give my pitch last? Um, yes. If you think about it, it’s pretty obvious. For starters, there’s nothing quite as infuriating as taking a sales call and being forced to listen to a five minute sales pitch before having established if there’s a need.  If you’re fortunate enough to have made it through the pitch without having had the phone hung up on you, then you’re likely to have left the prospect with a bad impression of your company.  Most importantly though, by pitching last you’ll have listened to what your potential customer has to say and have identified their aspirations for their business, the vital elements your product or service would need to deliver and their concerns for implementing it or the issues surrounding a change in supplier.  You can deliver a pitch that addresses these points specifically.  You’ve developed an emotional connection, you have tailored your pitch, now see where it takes you.


As a final pointer, a key area to assess within your sales team is their general approach.  Gone are the days where aggressive sales tactics are expected and tolerated.  People in general are incredibly wary of sales people so tread lightly.  From personal experience I can say that the sales people who came across as being highly personable got my budget, even if they were more expensive.  From a customer point of view, you want to work with people you can get on with and whose values reflect your own, especially if it’s likely to be a lengthy business relationship.  Who wants to work with a company that is cantankerous and ignorant of your requirements? In the world of sales, those who shout the loudest don’t always win.

The Impact of Big Data on Ecommerce

People are spending more time online than ever before and this has affected the way in which they purchase products and services. Easier, more convenient and often cheaper than real world alternatives, ecommerce is at an all-time high. With this in mind, companies are continually striving to find ways in which to benefit from this trend. One such method is the through the use of big data.


What is big data?

Big data isn’t a particularly new concept but it’s one that is becoming exceptionally important within modern society. The basic definition for the catch all term of big data is any large data set which cannot be processed using traditional techniques. These large data sets represent a wealth of valuable information, across a range of different sectors, whether it be government, finance or business. Specifically in the business world, big data represents an opportunity to not just boost sales but completely change the way in which they are made.

With so much information being generated online, data is being collected each and every day and businesses are utilising this information to tailor their services. You have probably already experienced the results of this process, whether it be Netflix recommendations or Amazon’s ‘Customers who bought this item…’ reminders. Even Google utilise search phrases to send personalised and informed advertisements to their users. These techniques may seem relatively simple but they are only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the impact big data could have.


What does the future hold?

One such example of the future we can expect within big data are neural networks. Neural networks have been at the forefront of artificial intelligence for a long time and are fundamentally the method in which a computer learns. These computer models are capable of advanced learning and pattern recognition and have to ability to recognise useful information within huge amounts of abstract data. Put simply, these machines can see patterns where humans can’t and the knowledge that can be gained from this will open up a world of possibility.

As analysis of big data changes it is likely that the method in which the data is collected will also change. Much of the emphasis is placed on quantitative information but as technology advances we are likely to see a shift into qualitative data. So for example, instead of collecting information on what people purchase you could gather information from product reviews or even social media. This has already been seen recently within cutting edge language processing software programmes such as Pluribo, which employs artificial intelligence technologies that scan user reviews and summarizes them down into a single paragraph.

Another way in which qualitative information can be used includes image recognition. This technology is currently in its infancy but has the ability to match real world and online images with matching or similar products. Therefore the hypothetical implications of this mean that in the future, you could snap a picture of a piece of clothing or a DVD and the item will be automatically shipped to you. This could be especially useful for general grocery shopping as a picture of your cupboard or refrigerator could automatically generate a shopping list.


The effect on the consumer

The overall effect of big data on consumerism is already being felt and is likely to be significant. We are already accustomed to smart shopping and online store recommendations. Companies like Amazon are already working on the next step in the form of patent they’ve recently been granted for ‘anticipatory shipping’ were they will ship products they expect people to buy before an order has been placed so that when it is they can deliver it the same day because it’s already on a delivery van in their neighbourhood.



Overall, customers can look forward to an online shopping experience that is not only faster and easier but also much more intelligent.

Simple Steps for Lead Generation on a Shoestring

Not all companies are blessed with mega bucks to market their products.  In fact many companies don’t have a marketing budget at all. But whatever your organisations size or budget there are some simple, purse-friendly activities you can do to generate quality leads.


Are you making the most of Social Media?

Some companies are still dithering about on the edge afraid to dip their toes in.  What are you afraid of?  Jump right in! Those companies that are making moves to social media based engagement activities are those who are getting people to engage with their brand and according to a study carried out by LinkedIn, 82% of SMBs find social media an effective activity for generating leads. It’s cheap, if not free, you can reach hundreds if not thousands of potential customers and if you’re generating timely, interesting content you’ll get regular followers. Timely is the key here – don’t fall into the trap of bombarding people or they’ll easily switch off, no matter how compelling the subject. Likewise, don’t post for the sake of it and always make sure that any questions or feedback received through social media are responded to professionally and in a timely manner.  Today, social media should be a part of every company’s marketing strategy as a key part of client engagement, no matter what their industry or product.


Capture data… and then actually use it!

Capturing data when an enquirer first engages with your company is an extremely simple and effective way to build a first class database of contacts.  At every point of engagement make sure there’s some form of data capture, for example a clearly marked ‘contact me’ form on your website, logging details when someone calls and not forgetting all those contacts from your recent trade show.  So simple and yet so many company’s still don’t put in place steps to gather and record this information.  However, as more people become internet savvy don’t forget to ensure you have a simple, robust and easily accessible privacy policy in place, as, according to a recent report by Ipsos Mori , of those using the internet a massive 89% said they would avoid a company they considered would be unable to protect the privacy of their information. (Ed: Don’t worry, at First Directory we use banking level encryption to protect user information).


Ditch the ‘one size fits all’ approach

You may already have an ongoing marketing plan in place, but is it suitable for a new product? Don’t spend time, effort and money blanket marketing.  Really use the data you’ve captured to fine tune your marketing campaigns and use the information to establish the best targets for your new product.  Analyse existing customers’ previous purchases to see who the most likely purchasers are.


Once you’ve got them, don’t lose them!

Gaining a tight control over your client journey and ensuring every touch point is fine tuned is a fabulous way to ensure you are retaining as many customers to purchase as possible.  This is a bit of a spring cleaning activity to assess every aspect of the journey – where are people coming to your website from? What pages of your site are they visiting? How long are they spending on each page? Are they repeat visitors? How are your incoming calls answered?  How quickly are the calls answered? Bear in mind, the more touch points you have, the more likely you are to lose people in the funnel so try and keep the journey as simple as possible.

Companies with sizeable budgets can implement software to track the customer journey right from initial engagement through to final purchase and everything in between, allowing them to generate an accurate diagram of how ‘leaky’ their journey is and allowing them to pro-actively address areas of concern.  For smaller organisations, simply combining the implementation of some kind of data capture with subscription to a service such as Google Analytics will provide a great insight into how people navigate your site and at what point they’re dropping out of the funnel.


Don’t knock a gift horse in the mouth

When you’ve captured data, please use it!  So many companies go to the effort of capturing data, and then don’t use that information at a later date [sound of head hitting a brick wall]. These are THE best leads you can generate.  These people have specifically shown an interest in your product or service… are you crazy! Change your thoughts of ‘I don’t have time to do anything with the data’ to ‘I can’t afford NOT to do anything with it’.

Trends, Predictions and Statistics You’ll Wish You’d Known Before

As the world of marketing, PR and advertising changes at lightning speed, it’s important to keep track of current trends and expectations in order to determine how to better reach, nurture and convert customers.

One of the most heavily discussed predictions for 2014 is the importance of creating highly personalised content across all different digital marketing platforms (ie website, blogs, social media, email marketing etc).

To help you identify current trends to boost your marketing strategy, we have compiled some useful facts and statistics below:


Trends, Predictions and Statistics to Consider

  • Industry experts predict a whopping £80 billion pound spend on new digital marketing collateral in 2014.
  • Nearly 50% of companies have content marketing strategies.
  • Social media marketing budgets are set to double in the next five years.
  • Internet advertising will make up nearly 24% of the entire ad market by 2015.
  • B2B companies that blog generate 67% more leads than those that don’t.
  • 65% of audience are visual learners.
  • Visual data is processed 60,000 times faster by the brain than text.


Social Media Marketing Stats

  • Social media marketing budgets are predicted to double in the next five years.
  • The top three social networks used by B2B marketers are LinkedIn (91%); Twitter (85%); and Facebook (81%).
  • 43% of all marketers found a customer via LinkedIn.
  • 52% of all marketers found a customer via Facebook in 2013.
  • Google+ averages more visits per month than Facebook. Google+ receives 1.2 billion visits per month compared to Facebook’s 809 million.
  • 83% of B2B marketers invest in social media to increase brand exposure; 69% to increase web traffic; and 65% to gain market insights.
  • People spend, on average, four times longer on Tumblr and Pinterest than they do on Twitter.


Online Advertising Stats

  • Landing page optimisation is highly regarded as the most important tactic for optimising the performance of paid search advertising; targeting by segment is most important in optimising display ad performance.
  • 8% of internet users account for 85% of online display ad clicks.
  • Videos on landing pages increase conversions by 86%.
  • In 2013, internet advertising expenditures surpassed newspaper ad spending for the first time. Internet ads also now account for 21% of all advertising costs, second to television at 40%.
  • Of the 100 largest global advertisers, 41 are headquartered in the U.S., 36 in Europe, and 23 in Asia.
  • The average click-through rate (CTR) for online display ads is 0.11% (roughly one click per one thousand views). CTRs are highest in Malasia (0.30%) and Singapore (0.19%), and lowest in Australia and the U.K. (both at 0.07%).
  • Among different display ad formats, large rectangle ads (336 x 280 pixels) generate the highest CTRs on average at 0.21-0.33%, while full banners (468 x 6) generate the lowest at 0.04%.


Email Marketing Stats

  • In 2013, 62% of emails were opened on a mobile device (48% on smartphones and 14% on tablets).
  • 48% of consumers say email is their preferred form of communication with brands.
  • Emails that feature social sharing buttons increase click-through rates by a whopping 158%.
  • 4 out of 5 consumers use smartphones to shop.
  • 40% of shoppers consult 3 or more channels (often while shopping) before making a purchase.
  • By the end of 2014 mobile is predicted to overtake desktop Internet usage.
  • 70% of mobile searches lead to online action within an hour.
  • 78% of retailers plan to invest in mobile this year.


The facts and figures above are a mere snapshot of information available out there. Try to get the most out of your 2014/2015 marketing strategy by studying data collected by industry professionals and integrating findings into your own campaigns. Current findings indicate that an integrated marketing strategy across social media, SEO, content marketing, email, PPC, PR, and event marketing platforms will help to create a cohesive experience for potential customers. It’s therefore important to research all marketing avenues and identify areas that can be developed successfully in light of trends and predictions found.

If you have any interesting marketing facts or statistics to share, please comment below. We would love to hear from you.


* Sources: The statistics above have been compiled from sources which we believe to be current, reliable and up to date. Sources include: Social Times, B2B Marketing, iMedia Connection, Smart Insights, and Heidi Cohen’s Actionable Marketing Guide.