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Demand Generation Has Evolved: The Convergence of Lead Generation & Lead Qualification

October 14, 2011

Image source: TechTarget, in a presentation delivered at the TechTarget Online ROI Summit.

Introduction

Demand generation is evolving. In the days of old, marketers focused primarily on “getting the lead,” whether it was via a banner ad, white paper listing or search ad. And while getting the lead is a critical piece of demand generation, leads become worthless if they’re not qualified well and passed on to the right individuals in your organization.

Lazy marketers put up an offer, generate a lead list and then “dump” those leads into a telemarketing queue. Now, lazy marketers have evolved into smart marketers. Smart marketers engage with leads in real-time – or, if they can’t engage with them directly, they study their leads’ interactions with content to make qualification decisions on:

  1. Where leads are in the buying cycle.
  2. What purchasing authority they have.
  3. Who is the best individual to engage with them, and how.

In my book, “Generate Sales Leads With Virtual Events,” I called this “accelerated lead generation.” That is, marketers generate and qualify leads in the same step.

Activity Intelligence™ from TechTarget

At the TechTarget Online ROI Summit in San Francisco, Justin Hoskins introduced a concept called Activity Intelligence™. By adding this service to demand generation campaigns, TechTarget not only generates leads for advertisers, but provides them with a wealth of insights on those leads, in the form of this activity intelligence. Let’s take a further look.

Holistic Account View

It seems elementary, but all too often, demand generation campaigns do not group leads from the same company together. As a result, a sales rep may call on the same company multiple times. Or, multiple sales reps place calls into the same company at the same time. Yikes!

With dashboards provided in Activity Intelligence™, I see that Sandra, Joe, Peter and Barry are from the same company. They may all be on the same team, or they may be in different teams, but at least I get a holistic view, allowing me to plan offers and follow-up activities strategically.

Undiscovered Contacts

Next, there’s the concept of “undiscovered contacts.” These are people from the same company – they didn’t view your content, but they looked at similar content. Activity Intelligence™ won’t provide you with the identity of these contacts, but it’ll tell you how active they are in topics related to your content.

Now, you know that there are other influencers in the prospects’ organization. This is useful, as it indicates an active need. And active needs provide you with better leads (rhyme intended).

Account Mindshare

Related to “other” content, Activity Intelligence™ dashboards provide you with insights into “mindshare,” which comprises:

  1. Your content.
  2. Your competitors’ content (in aggregate).
  3. TechTarget editorial content.

If your competitors’ mindshare is higher than your’s and your prospects are not returning phone calls from Sales, perhaps they’re closing in on a decision with your competitor.

And while that’s not a great result, the intelligence provided can help guide you. Perhaps you have your Sales team focus on more qualified prospects. Or, you re-orient your marketing content to focus on competitive assessments or special offers.

How to Apply to Virtual Events

The concepts of Activity Intelligence™ can be applied to virtual event platforms, to enhance online events oriented around demand generation. Consider the following:

  1. Reporting: provide sponsor reports oriented around holistic account views.
  2. Undiscovered contacts: let sponsors know that “undiscovered contacts” attended the virtual event and provide a measure of their activity within the event.
  3. Mindshare: provide “report cards” that show prospects’ engagement with a sponsor’s content, compared to an average of the other sponsors. In other words, “tell me how this prospect interacted with me, in comparison to my competitors.”

Conclusion

TechTarget’s Activity Intelligence™ is powering an evolution in demand generation: the convergence of lead generation and lead qualification.

The closer you can bring the two steps together, the better chance you have on turning leads into opportunities and opportunities into bookings.

For the digital events industry, we need to be thinking about how we can bring “activity intelligence concepts” into our events, to the benefit of sponsors’ demand generation campaigns.

Disclosure: I was formerly employed by TechTarget.

Related Resources

  1. TechTarget’s presentation on Activity Intelligence™.
  2. Buy the book: “Generate Sales Leads With Virtual Events
  3. Blog posting on Virtual Event Lead Management

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Chapter 6: Generate Sales Leads With Virtual Events

April 28, 2011

Introduction

“As the virtual event market takes off, organizations need a blueprint for success: UBM Studios’ “Generate Sales Leads with Virtual Events” provides just that. Simple and clear, this essential guide can help organizations at every stage, from planning and promotion to lead scoring and follow-up.”

Chapter Excerpt

UBM Studios has published an edition of my book, “Generate Sales Leads With Virtual Events”. Chapter 6 of the book is titled “Engage with Virtual Event Attendees.”

One of the most critical elements of this chapter is the section that covers roles and responsibilities of your booth staffers. Especially for virtual events that draw large crowds, having a coordinated team leads to more goals in the net. And to continue that analogy, as the leader of your internal team, you need to serve as the head coach.

This entire chapter is now available to you. Visit the UBM Studios page for more info:

http://www.ubmstudios.com/sales_leads_book.htm


Book Supplement: Virtual Event Lead Management (#leadmanagement)

January 22, 2011

Introduction

In “Generate Sales Leads With Virtual Events,” Chapter 6 is titled “Score and Follow Up with Leads”.  This really could have been Chapter 7 – and instead, Chapter 6 could have focused on important steps to consider before scoring.  Before you import your virtual event leads into your CRM system, consider these important steps first.

Step #1: Beware of the “Drive-By Viewing”

Someone visited your virtual booth – congratulations! Not so fast.  Make sure the booth visit was not a “drive-by viewing”.  I define a drive-by viewing as:

  1. One (and only one) visit to your booth
  2. “Visit time” of 5 minutes or less
  3. No engagement with others while in the booth (e.g. group chat, private chat)
  4. No interaction with booth content (e.g. booth tabs, documents, links, etc.)

I see plenty of drive-by viewings from booth visitors. Some visitors simply want to see which companies are exhibiting at the virtual event.  And, some virtual platforms have “previous” and “next” buttons in the virtual booths, which means that drive-by visitors may simply be doing a quick tour of all booths.

Drive-by visitors are not leads – they’re NAMES!  My recommendation for drive-by visitors:

  1. Go ahead and import them into your CRM system
  2. Schedule a “thanks for visiting” email
  3. Using simple text links, provide them with a few options (e.g. receive more content, schedule an appointment, etc.)
  4. Respond accordingly – and, if they do not open the email or respond to the offers, cease communications [for now] and nurture them over the long term

Step #2: Beware of Existing Leads and Business Partners

Your virtual event leads can look like a pile of dominoes.  You may not be aware that within that pile of dominoes are existing sales prospects, along with current customers and business partners.  When you exhibit at a virtual event, your sales team is inclined to invite current prospects to come visit – and, your existing customers and partners are inclined to stop in to see what’s new.

Warning: LEAD IMPORT CAN BE DANGEROUS TO YOUR HEALTH.

If you don’t manage your leads well, you may import “hot prospects” (who are already in your CRM system) and trigger a follow-up email to them.  The result is a turning back of the clock with those prospects – imagine finalizing your purchase decision, only to have one of the potential vendors call on you and ask if you’re in the market for their product!

Personal Story: I attended a virtual trade show and did a “drive-by viewing” through an exhibitor’s booth.  I’ve been a long-time subscriber to this exhibitor’s email newsletter and know some of the employees there.  My drive-by viewing was done simply to see who was staffing the booth.

A few days later, I received an email from the exhibitor, asking if I’d like more information.  This exhibitor probably should have known that I was a long-time subscriber – and, routinely click on the links in their newsletter.  Given this, the follow-up should have been more tailored, or skipped entirely.  If I was contemplating a purchase  decision with this exhibitor, that follow-up email could have cost them my business.

Step #3: Build and Import Engagement Profiles

Virtual event platforms have built-in RFID, which means that all interactions from sales prospects (with your content) are tracked and recorded.  The platforms assemble a detailed “engagement profile” for you – the worst thing you can do is throw away that profile when the lead is imported into your CRM system.  My guess is that the majority of marketers today do just that.

Instead, create custom fields in your CRM system to capture this data (e.g. number of visits, documents downloaded, transcripts of chats, etc.).  The more data, the more informed your sales team.  Just like an auto insurer reviews your past driving record and a loan officer reviews your past credit history, your sales team should have the benefit of a prospect’s past engagement data.

Step #4: Curate Leads as You Would Fine Art

You can automate portions of lead management, but you can’t automate the entire process.  It’s easy to automate the de-duping process, which ensures that new records are not created in your CRM system when there’s an existing lead record.

However, it’s not as easy to automate the business intelligence that needs to be applied to your leads (e.g. you can’t do AI on your BI). Examples of business intelligence rules:

  1. Knowing (and spotting) competitors
  2. Knowing (and spotting) existing business partners
  3. Knowing (and spotting) industry experts, analysts, media [who should not be followed up with]
  4. Spotting “creatively submitted” leads, such as “Mick E. Mouse” or “Barack Obama”

Sure, you can automate part of this by filtering on a list of company names, but there are bound to be some leads that slip through the cracks.

For instance, users may have a typo in their company name – or, may list their company differently that what you’ve entered in your filter list.  Your leads are the lifeblood of your business, so you should curate them as if they were fine art.  This means that manual review will always be a part of the lead management process.

Conclusion

Lead Management is not easy.  However, perform these steps before your first virtual event lead hits your CRM system – and you’ll be better off.  Your sales team will receive a far higher percentage of qualified leads – and they’ll thank you for that.


The Virtual Book Tour

January 21, 2011

Introduction

I recently read the excellent book “The On-Demand Brand: 10 Rules for Digital Marketing Success in an Anytime, Everywhere World,” by Rick Mathieson. In addition, I published my own book, “Generate Sales Leads With Virtual Events”.

To uphold the “on-demand brand” of the new book, I’ve decided to forego the traditional book tour. Instead, I’ll embark on a virtual book tour.  I consider the virtual book tour a “virtual event”, which is what my book is about, after all.

Virtual Book Tour

OK, so it’s not even a full blown virtual tour, I admit. That may come, some day.  In the meantime, I will be handing out 5 free copies of the book.  Here’s how you can grab a copy:

  1. Visit the book’s Facebook page.
  2. “Like” the book’s Facebook page. If you’ve previously “Liked” the page, I thank you for that – as a special reward, skip to step #3.
  3. Post a “valid question” about the book to the Facebook page’s Wall.

“Valid questions” must show that you’ve read the description of the book – and, understand the premise. I promise to answer all questions deemed valid.

How to get your copy

The first 5 people to complete the three steps (above) will receive a free copy of the book, which includes free shipping to the address of your choosing.

Unfortunately, I need to restrict the free shipping offer to continental U.S.  only – I’ll contact you to arrange shipping if you’re a winner who resides outside of the U.S.


Just In Time For The Holidays: Generate Sales Leads With Virtual Events

December 16, 2010

Introduction

Virtual events can be a dream for marketers.  In 2011, you can leverage virtual events to generate more leads to fuel your sales pipeline.  And, you can qualify those leads “on the spot”, in what I call “accelerated lead generation”.

With a virtual event, you have the opportunity to engage in real-time with your sales leads and review a rich engagement profile that uncovers their degree of interest in your products – and, their position in the sales cycle.

Got marketers on your holiday list?  The printed version of “Generate Sales Leads With Virtual Event” is now available at a list price of $12.99 (UPDATE: the book is now listed for $11.69).

Amazon

Buy the Paperback: at Amazon.com

Barnes & Noble

Buy the Paperback: at BarnesAndNoble.com

Additional Resources

  1. Find more information about the book, including where to buy it for assorted e-readers.
  2. Read the Introduction of the book online.

Happy Holidays and Happy Reading!


How I Published A Virtual Events Book

December 4, 2010

Generate Sales Leads With Virtual Events

For more info: New Book, Generate Sales Leads With Virtual Events

Introduction

Publishing a book has never been easier. Today’s Web 2.0 tools (e.g. self publishing, wikis, crowdsourcing, etc.) completely empower the aspiring author.  If you’ve got the inspiration to create a manuscript, then the logistics of going from completed manuscript to Amazon.com has gotten a whole lot easier.  Here’s the approach I took to publish my book, “Generate Sales Leads With Virtual Events“.

Self Publishing

With self-publishing, you’re in complete control.  You dictate all the details of the book (e.g. title, cover image, etc.) and you define the schedule.  At the same time, you become your own editor, producer and PR agency.  Those are some key trade-offs.  In the end, I decided self-publishing was the way to go.  Its immediacy is a huge advantage – with a completed manuscript, you can self-publish a book in as little as a day, whereas a traditional book publisher requires several months.

First, I selected my self-publishing service, FastPencil. While there are a number of services available, I had used FastPencil for a family project and found it quite intuitive and easy.  It also helped that their support team (especially Dave) was helpful and always responded to my emails sooner than I anticipated.

As you can see above, self-publishing looks a lot like blogging. And it really is that simple. For me, publishing a book was like writing a series of blog posts in Microsoft Word – and then copy/pasting them into a blog editor, with a little bit of formatting afterwards.  I then purchased the “Wide Distribution” option from FastPencil and they took care of assigning the book an ISBN and listing it for sale at Amazon, BarnesAndNoble.com, Ingram and Apple’s iBooks Store.

Community Publishing

As I was working to complete the manuscript, I posted the book’s introductory chapter here on this blog and on a PBworks wiki.  My objectives were to get some early promotion of the book (and give potential readers a taste for what I’d cover) and see if the community would want a hand in editing it.  Anyone who created a PBworks account could edit the introduction.

Copy edits were welcome – and, I invited folks to make changes to the content.  If I liked the edits or contributions, I’d apply them to the manuscript and acknowledge the contributor(s) within the printed book.  While no one made edits to the wiki, I think we’ll see a trend towards community publishing of books.

Authors will leverage the web to source spelling and grammatical corrections from a global network of copy editors.  And industry peers will participate to become co-authors.  You see it today on sites like Quora or FOCUS.com – in the near future, the collaborative discussions sourced  there will be excerpted into printed books.

Cover Image via Crowdsourcing


It doesn’t get much better than this: you name your price for a cover design and have a global network of graphic designers bid on your project.  You then receive several submissions of the actual (proposed) book cover, which you then need to whittle down to a final few.  For submissions you like, you request some adjustments or alterations.  Those updates are made by the designers and you make a final selection on the eventual book cover.  This was all made possible by a great site called 99Designs.

I’ve worked with some design shops who limited the number of iterations they’d allow on a design (i.e. since each iteration increases their cost). With the crowdsourced model at 99Designs, I received messages from designers that I had not rated their design or provided enough feedback! Such is the dynamic when the incentive model is inverted: you get paid only when your design is selected.

99Designs has done cover design projects for other books, including “The Purpose Driven Life” and “Tim Ferriss’s 4-Hour Body”. “Crowdsourcing is a great way for book authors to see the many different ways in which artists interpret the title and subject matter of the book. They get ideas and concepts that they would have never gotten otherwise,” said Matt Mickiewicz, co-founder of 99Designs.

With a neat polling feature from 99Designs, I invited friends and family to review the submissions – they were able to rate each submission and leave comments.  The number of submissions received will correspond to the dollar value of your reward – I happened to set a moderately priced reward, but still received 67 submissions, which I thought was a fantastic amount.  The biggest challenge was in narrowing them down to a single selection.

Conclusion

Aspiring authors have more tools at their disposal than ever before.  If you’re a high frequency blogger who loves to write, then turning you expertise and passion into a printed book (or, e-book) may be the thing to do.  The power is in your hands (and fingers).


New Book: Generate Sales Leads With Virtual Events

December 1, 2010

Book Cover: Generate Sales Leads With Virtual Events

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links to sites on which the book is available for purchase.

“Virtual events can be a dream for marketers. They can generate leads cost effectively and they facilitate real-time interactions with sales prospects that can lead to quicker and more efficient marketing qualification.”

That’s the premise behind my new book, “Generate Sales Leads With Virtual Events”.

Previously, I posted the introduction of the book – you can find it here:

Introduction: Generate Sales Leads With Virtual Events

And here’s what I cover in the other chapters:

Chapter Listing

  1. Get Started
  2. Assemble a Plan
  3. Build Your Virtual Booth
  4. Use Social Networks to Generate Interest and Awareness
  5. Engage with Virtual Event Attendees
  6. Score and Follow Up with Leads
  7. Conclude Your Virtual Event Campaign

The book also includes an eloquent Foreword, written by Craig Rosenberg (@Funnelholic), a lead generation expert.

Purchase for Kindle

Purchase for Kindle

“Generate Sales Leads With Virtual Events” (Kindle version) ($9.99)

Purchase for iPad, iPhone & iPod Touch

“Generate Sales Leads With Virtual Events” – via iBooks ($9.99)

Purchase for NOOK (BarnesAndNoble.com)

NOOK Reader

“Generate Sales Leads With Virtual Events” – NOOK ($9.99)

Purchase the Paperback

Purchase from FastPencil, the publisher of the book:

http://www.fastpencil.com/publications/818-Generate-Sales-Leads-With-Virtual-Events ($12.99)

Buy the paperback on Amazon ($11.69)

Buy the paperback at BarnesAndNoble.com ($11.69)

Praise for “Generate Sales Leads With Virtual Events”

“This book should be required reading for any event producer or marketer that plans on using online events to engage with customers and prospects. Done properly, using virtual events for lead generation and lead nurturing as well as sales acceleration can yield impressive ROI and drive customer relationships. Dennis is one of the few experts with real-world experience from having produced lots of virtual events across many markets.”

— Michael Doyle, Executive Director, Virtual Edge Institute (@virtualedge)

“Interacting virtually is now a must-have marketing skill.  In Generate Sales Leads With Virtual Events, Dennis Shiao shows you exactly how to run a successful virtual event from end-to-end. What’s amazing is that the opportunities to engage with leads virtually can be as productive, or more so, than attending events in person.”

— Ardath Albee, author of eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale (@Ardath421)

“Dennis is one of the pioneers when it comes to virtual events.  He certainly knows and understands the environment, and his information is right on target!”

— Susan Friedmann, CSP, The Tradeshow Coach (@Tradeshowcoach)

“As interactivity becomes an increasingly important element of marketing campaigns, virtual events offer marketers a cost-efficient solution to engage with prospective buyers. Dennis’ book offers real-world examples and turnkey tactics that marketers can apply to increase their success with virtual events. Whether a marketer is just getting started with virtual events or just looking for tips on improving their metrics, Dennis provides the insight marketers need and want to know to maximize lead flow from virtual events.”

— Amanda Ferrante Batista, Associate Editor, DemandGen Report (@Amanda_Ferrante)


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