Any useful tools such as ROI calculators, Service Level Agreements, etc will go here.

What Is A Marketing and Sales Service Level Agreement? How Can It Help My Company Boost Sales?

What Is A Marketing and Sales Service Level Agreement? How Can It Help My Company Boost Sales?A fair number of companies we’ve spoken with have wanted to know “what is a marketing and sales service level agreement (SLA) and how does having an SLA in place help to increase our sales conversions, reduce customer buy cycles, and drive higher revenues?” The short answer is: it’s a document that inspires symmetry. The longer answer is:

What an M&S Service Level Agreement Is

A marketing and sales service level agreement is a binding agreement between the sales and marketing teams that specifies a lead generation and management process. The purpose of a service level agreement is to broker collaboration between both departments by defining a qualification process, lead scoring criteria, and accountability standards. Typically, the goal for executing an SLA is to generate an acceptable level of marketing-qualified leads (MQL) for the sales team to convert into sales-qualified leads (SQL) or sales opportunities.

Within a marketing and sales service level agreement there are requirements for how leads will be managed by marketing and delivered to sales. On the sales side, there are requirements for follow up responsibilities on marketing-qualified leads and converting MQLs to SQLs. In some cases, there may be parameters for how demand will be generated as well.

5 Ways an SLA Aligns Marketing With Sales

  1. Provides a defined pipeline that clarifies when a lead has reached marketing-qualified status.
  2. Provides clear stages for advancing leads towards sales-readiness
  3. Provides lead scoring metrics that reflect lead engagement levels with marketing assets (sales can see how effectively marketing assets are educating leads)
  4. Provides goals for sales to generate sales-qualified leads and opportunities
  5. Establishes that marketing is responsible for de-duping, filtering competition, and removing bot-filled forms

4 Ways an SLA Aligns Sales With Marketing  

  1. Provides defined follow up time for leads received by marketing
  2. Defines an automated lead nurturing process aimed at providing the highest quality leads at the earliest possible point
  3. Provides a criteria-based lead distribution process for sales optimization
  4. Provides goals for marketing to generate marketing-qualified leads and a percentage of leads that eclipse a lead scoring threshold

Operating without a service level agreement can reduce the efficacy of your lead generation/marketing automation system. Be sure to set the standards for both departments early to get the most from your MA platform.

Strategic Marketing Tools

Strategic Marketing Tools

Millions of marketing teams struggle finding the right strategy to market their solutions. Marketing tools help marketers do their job more effectively and efficiently; however, finding the right set of strategic marketing tools can be a bear. Fortunately, we’ve compiled a list of strategic marketing tools for you and encourage you to help us build upon this list. We categorized each tool into its respective marketing bucket. If your marketing team doesn’t have these tools to support their campaign, go get them! Note, we’ll keep this list dynamic and continue adding tools to it over time. What are your favorite strategic marketing tools?

Finding Professional Business Contacts

Data.com
Hoovers (primarily executives)
LinkedIn
Lead Liaison
ZoomInfo
NetProspex

Finding Companies

Hoovers
Lead Liaison
Data.com (limited company search)

Social Media

TweetDeck
AddThis
Facebook
LinkedIn
Twitter
Radian6 (owned by Salesforce.com)

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEOMoz
SeoQuake (+ plugins for Firefox)

Analytics

Google Analytics
Adobe Online Marketing Suite (Omniture)

Revenue Generation Software

Lead Liaison
• All the other wanna-bes

Email Marketing

iContact
Constant Contact
Vertical Response
Lead Liaison (closed loop)
ExactTarget

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Salesforce.com
SugarCRM
Microsoft Dynamics
NetSuite
Maximizer

Press Releases

PRWeb
PR Newswire

Disclaimer: Lead Liaison has no affiliation with any of these tools, except our own ;-)

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Marketing Trade Shows

Marketo put together a nice wall-hanging-graphic on marketing trade shows in the United States. Attending all marketing trade shows would be exhausting; but, surely there are a few shows to highlight for attendance. The graphic groups marketing trade shows by region and orders them by month. Dreamforce and MarketingSherpa are two of the biggest shows around. SXSW is a great show that adds lots of social events to the agenda, mixing entertainment and business together. But before you invest $10K+ per show, let’s discuss how to make marketing trade shows successful.

Making Marketing Trade Shows a Success

Keep three rules in mind when you attend marketing trade shows. Plan, qualify and follow-up. A great teacher once told me, “Output equals input”. Make sure you make a list of targeted prospects or customers, schedule meetings before hand, get promotional material in place and assign roles and responsibility to your team. Next, qualify your leads at the show. It’s amazing to me how many marketing trade shows I’ve been to where the marketing person comes up to me – while I’m chatting with someone else – and asks, “Can I scan your badge”. I think they’re just doing that because they’re paid on how many contacts they can collect. Make sure you engage with attendees at your booth. Try not to sell, but to listen. Finally, make sure to follow-up. It’s amazing to me that some of these companies do not follow up after I’ve expressed some interest at marketing trade shows. So, how can lead qualification and lead follow up be improved?

Simplifying Trade Show Qualification and Follow Up

By using Lead Liaison’s revenue generation software sales and marketers cut through the clutter of qualifying and following up with leads from marketing trade shows. Using our software allows marketers to:

1. Upload collected contacts into our database
2. Send relevant email communications to their contact list (email marketing)
3. Listen to how recipients respond and engage with your communications (lead tracking)
4. Automatically qualify respondents based on how they engage with your brand and marketing content online (lead scoring)
5. Keep a complete record of the respondent’s current and future engagement with your company (lead management)
6. Nurture the contact by sending them relevant communications over time to further build the relationship and educate them on your solution (lead nurturing)
7. Surface only the hottest marketing trade show leads ready to be handed to sales (lead distribution)

We’re compiling our own list of top marketing trade shows for 2012. Are there any shows that are missing in the graphic? Which marketing trade shows are your favorites?

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Lead Tracking Evaluation Checklist

Lead Tracking Evaluation ChecklistDemonstrations often times go off on tangents causing an evaluator to lose track of what matters. We’ve all sat through those demos that go round and round and occasionally go off topic. Regardless of which way a demonstration goes, it’s important to stay focused on the critical areas. Here’s a checklist for you to follow when evaluating lead tracking solutions:

Lead Tracking Evaluation Checklist:

  • I see how we can quickly gather business intelligence information
  • This system allows sales to easily find people to contact
  • This system allows sales to easily find people to contact
  • We know exactly when someone is “checking us out”
  • This system integrates with our CRM
  • Marketing can measure ROI of their marketing campaigns
  • We know exactly who the person is

We’ll be updating this post shortly with a download link for a more detailed one page document which adds more color to the abbreviated lead tracking evaluation checklist mentioned above. We welcome your feedback, comments and suggestions. What are evaluation criteria have you used? What is important to you in a lead tracking solution?

Interested in a demo of Lead Liaison’s lead tracking capabilities? Feel free to contact us and we’ll give you one.

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Lead Nurturing Programs

Lead Nurturing ProgramsDesigning lead nurturing programs can be difficult especially if you don’t know where to start. We put together five sample programs to get you going. The programs range from simple one month programs to complex 12 month programs. Feel free to take these lead nurturing programs and customize them to fit your business. Remember, getting started is the most important part. Over time tune the “knobs and dials” on your nurturing programs to align them with your business.

First, let’s start with a simple definition of lead nurturing. Lead Nurturing is the process of engaging prospects through meaningful dialogue at each stage of the buying process. A lead nurturing program is a collection of independent nurturing events. Many B2B companies build lead nurturing programs to position their company as the best choice to help meet prospects objectives. Lead nurturing is also referred to as a drip campaign; however, drip campaigns are not “intelligent” and cannot react to buyer’s online behavior and interaction with marketing assets.

Enjoy the 5 lead nurturing programs below

1 month lead nurturing program with aggressive actionable offers:

Day 1: Email white paper download link. Recipient clicks link in email, gets redirected to a landing page then fills out a web form. Additional profile information is captured.

Day 3:: Voice mail and email from lead owner thanking lead for the download (if the download occurred) with an invitation to a webinar on relevant topic.

Day 7: Follow up email asking if the lead would be interested in learning more about the topic they are pursuing. If lead responds then schedule a demo with sales. If lead does not respond continue with the lead nurturing program.

Day 15: Email customer success story from related industry

Day 21: Email a brief note to touch base and make an offer. For example, suggest providing valuable information such as a white paper, awareness kit, case study, blog post, ROI, personal demonstration, video testimonial or a book from an industry analyst

Day 30: Send a personalized email with an invitation to evaluation your solution, start a free trial. If you are a consulting-based business offer a free consultation.

3 month lead nurturing programs optimized for different roles:

This program was designed to meet three different persona’s. However, each program is structured the same, with a single lead nurturing event over three months, one per month. Notice each lead nurturing program begins with educational content.

Marketing persona:

Month 1: Voice mail and white paper

Month 2: Follow up call and email link to analyst whitepaper

Month 3: Follow up call and email invitation to webinar

Sales persona

Month 1: Voice mail and email relevant 3rd party article

Month 2: Follow up call and email 3rd party article

Month 3: Follow up call and email link to relevant podcast

C-level persona

Month 1: Direct mail an executive report and follow up with phone call

Month 2: Follow up call and email invitation to executive roundtable

Month 3: Follow up call and ROI analysis tool

3 month lead nurturing program with aggressive initial phases and bi-weekly dialogue

Day 1: Follow-up email or phone call

Day 10: Email offering an article of interest from a third-party relating to previous communications

Day 15: Personal email from sales rep

Day 30: Email promoting a relevant webinar series

Day 45: Call from sales rep to “check-in”

Day 60: Email providing a similar case study or a best practices white paper

Day 75: Personal email from sales rep offering a product demo

Day 85: Call from sales rep to schedule a face-to-face meeting

Day 90: Submit a sales proposal via email

6 month lead nurturing program with dialogue every three weeks

Day 1: Initial phone call and follow-up email

Day 28: Invitation to webinar with follow up phone call

Day 42: Email customer success story in related industry vertical

Day 60: Personal invitation from lead owner to forthcoming webinar

Day 80: Email interactive ROI calculator or similar “tool” as prospect nears buying stage

Day 100: Email article of interest from social media site

Day 120: Send personalized email from lead owner to touch base

Day 140: Email free copy of analyst report

Day 160: Invite prospect to a personal demonstration of your solution

12 month lead nurturing program with monthly dialogue

Month 1: Email 3rd party article on relevant technology

Month 2: Follow up phone call and email industry related case study

Month 3: Leave voice mail to check in

Month 4: Email link to industry related video done by a 3rd party

Month 5: Email relevant and educational-focused white paper

Month 6: Direct mail collateral

Month 7: Follow up phone call and email relevant eBook

Month 8: Follow up phone call and email link to relevant podcast

Month 9: Follow up phone call and email quote from industry-leading analyst

Month 10: Follow up phone call and email invitation to webinar

Month 11: Leave voice mail with invitation to industry trade show and email registration link

Month 12: Email one page white paper on evaluation criteria for solutions in your industry

Lead Liaison’s lead nurturing software can save you time and help boost your sales conversion rates by sending customized emails to leads based on their characteristics, activity, interest and interaction with your marketing assets.

We welcome your feedback, comments and suggestions. What types of lead nurturing programs have you used?

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Preparing for Marketing Automation

Preparing for Marketing AutomationMarketing automation is a very powerful solution for many sales, marketing, and executive teams. The value of marketing automation is amplified when used properly along with planning and a process. Studies have shown only 25% of users get the full value from their investment in marketing automation, which parallels the early days of CRM implementations. To help maximize your return on invest we compiled a checklist to help you start preparing for marketing automation.

What else should people to do start preparing for marketing automation? What is missing from the marketing automation preparation checklist?

Download (PDF, 275KB)

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Marketing Content

Marketing ContentMarketers are tasked to continually create useful marketing content to disseminate to prospects, customers and partners. The advent of lead nurturing and marketing automation has further fueled the need to have a library of marketing content on hand. Additionally, marketing campaigns typically leverage marketing content for a call to action. However, creating effective content is hard work and takes time. Marketers can focus on two rules of marketing content creation and follow a few tips to simplify the process.

First, think like the buyer, not the seller. Marketers must empathize with their buyers and put themselves in the buyer’s shoes. If you were a buyer what marketing content would you be interested in? Second, map out the phases your buyers go through before purchasing a solution. The B2B buying process varies with each company.

After thinking like your buyer and mapping out your buyer’s stages begin creating content relevant to each phase. For example, most buyers go through an “awareness” phase. Create marketing content commensurate with this phase such as analyst reports, glossaries, industry articles or checklists. Focus content on education and problem solving. Make the messaging all about them, not you. Create fresh content that helps your buyer meet their goals such as ROI calculators and measurement or optimization tools. Useful content can have 5X return over “self indulging content”. Don’t try to close the sale with a prospect right away, that will come after you build the buyer’s trust and garner a relationship.

Here are some more tips for creating marketing content:

Marketing Content Tips

1. Start by conducting a marketing content audit to assess your resource library.
2. Eliminate rarely used marketing content.
3. Separate content that’s all about your product or service (data sheets, eBooks, website copy) from marketing content that helps the buyer.
4. Keep your content short. It’s not necessary to write multiple page documents or 5 paragraph articles. People are busy and like to consume useful marketing content in bits, not bites.
5. Consider a compilation of check lists, glossaries, analyst reports, executive briefs, and industry overviews.
6. Think about how you can repurpose your marketing content. For example, take screen shots of videos and make a transcript of the audio for a blog post or document. Produce various iterations of a “How to Buy Product ABC” based on your customers industry or persona.
7. Stay committed to content marketing. Creating relevant content is not a one-time event and should be viewed as a long term commitment.

Check out the Content Rules book for additional content marketing tips. They discuss how to create killer blogs, videos, eBooks, and webinars.

Also, our article on 101 Business to Business Lead Generation Ideas and Tips might also stimulate ideas for good marketing content.

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Service Level Agreement

Service Level AgreementFacts support a widening gap between sales and marketing teams. Read our article on sales and marketing alignment to see what we mean. Businesses must focus sales and marketing teams on common criteria; in particular, revenue generation. The first step in brokering alignment of sales and marketing teams is to establish an agreement, a set of rules, defining how sales and marketing will interact with each other. Many businesses are creating a Service Level Agreement (SLA) between sales and marketing to serve this purpose.

“Sales and Marketing must collaborate on defining leads and marketing objectives. You can make a huge impact by focusing first, on creating an Ideal Customer Profile (company-wide, for each product, service or solution). Then, create the Universal Lead Definition of a ‘sales-ready lead.’ Finally, connect the marketing/sales process to customer’s buying process.” Read more here. – Brian Carroll” company, http://blog.startwithalead.com

What should a Service Level Agreement contain?

As Brian Carroll highlights, companies should agree to definitions of leads, ideal customers, and adapt to customer’s new buying habits. These are just a few examples of items that should be included in a Service Level Agreement. In addition, businesses should include:

  • Purpose of the Agreement
  • General definitions
  • Lead scoring model
  • Lead response process and timeline
  • Lead nurturing program
  • Metrics / goals
  • Sales and marketing responsibilities
  • Review period
  • Term
  • Acceptance

Complementary Service Level Agreement for sales and marketing

Lead Liaison’s revenue generation software provides the technology to deliver many of the components of a Service Level Agreement; however, it’s a best practice to first develop a guideline for your lead management in the form of an Agreement. We understand every business is different. Small business, large businesses, different products, different markets, etc; but, we can agree most businesses are similar in a few regards. They lack efficient lead management processes and have misaligned sales and marketing teams. As a result, the “framework” of any Service Level Agreement is similar.

We took an opportunity to create a Service Level Agreement template to get you started. We will be posting the template shortly. The template will be accessible via this post. Please check back shortly.

We welcome your feedback, comments and suggestions. What else should be included in a Service Level Agreement between sales and marketing?

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