Friday, August 15, 2014

A Guide to Hiring the Right Type of Salesperson for What You're Selling

Hiring good salespeople is one of the hardest things a company has to do. Typically, companies need to go through three salespeople, in order to find one who is successful with long-term closing power. That takes a toll on early-stage companies. They can only afford small teams and can’t afford mistakes that delay revenues down the road. Knowing these categories of salespeople will point you in the right direction when hiring for your business.

Read the rest of this post in Entrepreneur, which I guest authored this week.

For future posts, please follow me on Twitter at: @georgedeeb.

Lesson #186: Marketing Automation Tools

As the name suggests, marketing automation is software designed the automate your marketing efforts. There are companies that power marketing automation specifically for B2B companies (e.g., Pardot, owned by, specifically for B2C companies (e.g., ExactTarget, owned by and companies that try to power both with their solutions (e.g., Marketo, HubSpot, and Eloqua owned by Oracle), which can be tough to do, since the needs are so different between B2B and B2C companies. So, be sure to research the various features and functionalities therein, to see which platform, can best meet the needs for your business.

I just did a deep dive on this space for one of my clients looking for a B2B solution.  So, below is a summary of example types of functionality these marketing automation platforms offer.

Dynamic Content in Website/Email:  Personalize your web or email content specifically to the users' needs or interests, based on information about them mapped in your CRM.  Dynamic content can increase sales by 20% with more targeted messaging to the users' exact needs.

Smart Lead Capture Forms:  Require users to use corporate email address, not personal addresses where competitors may be fishing for information. Power walled content and white papers with a sign-up page.  And, automatically sync and de-dupe all contacts from here, with your CRM.

Progressive Profiling:  Allows you to slowly gather database information about a user over time, instead of scaring them away with a big survey form upfront.  Ask a couple different questions about them and their needs, with each different user session, that aggregates into the CRM over time.

Lead Scoring:  Determine how serious a lead is based on their website behavior.  For example, did they visit your pricing page or not?  How much time did they spend on your key web pages?  What is their work title in the CRM, and is that a logical buyer for your services?

Lead Nurturing:  Allows for automated email follow-ups to leads within the CRM, based on their user behavior?  For example, they didn't respond to initial email outreach, so send a follow up email.  Or, you know you sent a proposal and didn't hear back from them, send an automated email asking their reaction. This saves manual time for your sales team, keeping them focused on selling.

Real Time Alerts:  These will trigger automated emails to your sales team based on user behavior tracked with cookies.  For example, if one of your "hot leads" just came back to the website, let their matching salesperson know, so they can immediately check-in with them.

Dynamic Targeting:  Don't mass email all your users the same messaging.  Personalize and customize the messaging based on their user profile.  For example, send customers vs. prospects a different message.  Or, you know they already bought product A in your CRM, promote them product B.

Email Blasting Platform:  You no longer need a separate email blasting system, like Mail Chimp or Constant Contact, as all of that same functionality is built herein, typically with much deeper functionality.  So, now, both your email system and CRM will automatically be in sync for unsubscribes and other user activity.

Responsive Design Templates:  By powering your website with this platform, you can often automatically tailor the web experience to the platform the user is coming in from (e.g., PC, tablet, phone).

Auto Task Creation:  The system can create automated tasks for your sales team, based on data being stored in the CRM.  These tasks could be time-triggered or user-behavior triggered, based on whatever business rules you want in place and enforced.

A/B Testing:  Help your marketing department automatically test various creatives and various offers with small subsets of the list first, and then, pick the best performer to blast to the broader list.

Integration With Paid Search:  Many platforms allow you to tie your pay-per-click marketing activity on sites like Google to the system, to allow you to serve customized landing pages on your website, based on the keyword the user was searching for.

Integration With Social Media:  Many of these systems also offer integration with social media.  That could include tying users' social media profile information into your CRM.  Or, automatically posting target messaging to your company's social profile pages.

Reporting/Analytics:  Most of these tools come with sophisticated reporting and analytics packages to track success against objectives overall, by user and by employee.

Hopefully, this gives you a better understanding of marketing automation and the various functionalities the better systems offer.  But, worth mentioning, these platforms can get expensive, where licenses can start from around $1,000 per month for medium-grade solutions, and go up from there.  So, these tools are most-likely not a good use of limited resources for very early-stage startups, where budgets may not be able to afford it. But, these are a must-have to automate and optimize your marketing efforts, as soon as you can afford them.

For future posts, please follow me on Twitter at: @georgedeeb.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Lesson #185: B2B Marketing Mix & Budget Benchmarks

Back in Lesson #171, I wrote about the Basics of B2B Marketing.  This lesson takes the discussion to the next level, and talks about how much budget should you set aside, and more specifically, how that overall budget should be split up, across marketing tactics.

To help me here, I referenced data from the 2013 Tech Marketing Benchmarks Study from IDC.  The study basically suggested that most B2B tech companies spend around 4.5% of their revenues on annual marketing spend.  The average was 7.0% for B2B software companies, 3.9% for B2B hardware companies and 1.9% for B2B tech services companies.  So, in the example chart below, that would suggest a company shooting for $5,000,000 in revenues, would have budgeted $225,000, or 4.5% of revenues, on average.  That spend would cover both the media dollars and the team implementing such initiatives.

The study further goes on to recommend a mix of how your overall B2B marketing budget should be spent, based on the marketing mix reported by the comparable companies in their study.  I applied that mix to our $225,000 overall budget below, as a case study.  For your business, you would simply adjust the below chart for whatever revenue target you are shooting for, times the 4.5% average (or the other percentages suggested above), times the percentages by tactics recommended below.

For convenience, the first part of the chart looks at the mix by marketing type, the second part of the chart looks at the mix by marketing channel (e.g., digital vs. offline) and the third part of the chart details the suggested mix solely for the $76,500 digital marketing budget, in this case study.

Here is a link to the data from IDC's 2013 Tech Marketing Benchmarks Study, to which the above chart was based.

The above is not intended to be a perfect science, but more a rough ballpark to help point you in the right direction.  As an example, the mix of things you would do for a $1MM business, would be different than the mix of things you would do for a $10MM business. But, the above should help to get you close.

So, long story short, B2B revenues should not solely be driven by your sales team.  Your sales team needs support, in the form of leads coming to them from your marketing efforts.  And, the above, is a good way to help you calculate how much marketing budget you should set aside, and how best to spend that budget. And, thank goodness you are not a B2C business, where your marketing budgets could be 10-30% of revenues!!

If you need any help setting a marketing plan for your company, don't hesitate to contact Red Rocket.

For future posts, please follow me on Twitter at: @georgedeeb.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Should Your Startup Offer Employee Benefits?

In years past, companies of all shapes and sizes needed to offer a good employee benefits program, with which to attract the best candidates.  That was even true for early-stage startups, since that was one of the hooks to get someone to leave their big company jobs and rich benefits packages.

But, a lot of things have changed over the years, and my feeling today is early-stage startups should not worry about offering benefits.  If you can afford them, great, offer them.  But, honestly, how many startups can really afford them, on their tight startup budgets. To help me frame the topic, I am going to focus a lot of my discussion around healthcare benefits, since that is typically the most demanded, and most expensive of all employee benefits offered.

Read the rest of this post in Forbes, which I guest authored this week.

For future posts, please follow me on Twitter at: @georgedeeb.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Time and Luck: Know When Your Startup Should Dine and Dash

Timing and luck are key elements for success, but they are the hardest to identify and control. Here are the key drivers to consider when trying to optimize your odds of success.

Read the rest of this post in The Next Web, which I guest authored this week.

For future posts, please follow me on Twitter at: @georgedeeb.