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My 2009 Word of The Year, So Far

One of my most-used words these days is “scrutinize.”  Merriam-Webster says it means to examine closely and minutely.”

At ESR, we find ourselves using the word fairly often:

  • VPs have been asking us about how to determine which sales reps to keep and which to redeploy.  In this current economic situation some of what salesreps depended on to win in the past will simply no longer work.  It’s the old, “the past does not equal the future.” We recommend scrutinizing past performance as well as all the reps’ strengths and weaknesses against the new set of required skills and traits. And we strongly recommend psychometric testing. It’s very effective objective scrutiny.

  • We know from work with our clients that business acumen is more important now in B2B selling than ever before.  Salesreps need to scrutinize their customers, clients and prospects.  (More about this and some disturbing data when ESR reports on the results of our social media in B2B sales survey, which closed today.)  By the way, I was recently briefed by Chip Terry, Vice President and General Manager Enterprise Solutions at ZoomInfo.  He demoed their product.  Within two minutes I could see how ZoomInfo can provide the breadth and depth of information about not only companies, but equally as important, people within those companies, on whom salesreps would be calling.)

  • Messaging.  How relevant are the messages your salespeople are delivering to your customers and sales prospects?  Those need to be scrutinized and relevance to what and how your customers are buying must be determined.

  • New approaches and tools.  I’ve written a lot about the new social media as well as Sales 2.0 (again here).  These are very hot topics. (Just the number and flavor of comments to these three blog posts will attest to that.)  ESR’s recommendation is to… You guessed it:  thoroughly scrutinize any new direction or investment with respect to either or both of these promising technologies. The time may be right.  But then again, it may not be.

  • Lead Generation and Lead Nurturing.  Brian Carroll (podcast) and I are working on a project together.  Just yesterday we were discussing the challenges most companies are facing these days in those challenged areas.  What’s required for many companies is significant scrutiny. Bring in experts if you need to.  Get the right one—someone like Brian perhaps—and it will be money well-spent.

  • Sales training.  I’m very concerned about the significant drop in sales training during the past quarter.  Sales training may be precisely the right area to scale back in certain companies.  But certainly not in all, or even most.  Again, here’s where some significant scrutiny will enable you to determine where to spend your limited funds so that you have the biggest chance of making it through this economic situation.

  • Here are a few more areas that should be targeted for some scrutiny: Territory assignments, compensation, coaching mechanisms, measurement and analytics, sales process, sales support and readiness.  The list goes on.

Photo credit: © Sandor Kacso – Fotolia.com

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The Bridge Group: Some Insight Into Lead Generation

Lead Gen is a big, big issue these days for many companies.  Those companies that didn’t have an effective Lead Gen function coming into this economic crisis have a big challenge: investing the time and money now to get this done the right way.  It’s like trying to change a tire on a racing car as it’s going around the track.  If you’re in that situation, you’re not alone.

There is some good news.  It comes in the form of research and advice.

In Q4 of 2008 The Bridge Group, Inc. surveyed over 125 North American technology companies on inside sales implementations.  The focus areas were metrics and compensation.

There are some points from the survey worth considering:

  1. Where Lead Gen Reports. In 74% of the companies, Lead Generation reports to Sales, up from 68% in 2007.  This aligns with other recent research.  The reason for this is that Sales believes Marketing isn’t getting the job done for them and they need to take control of their own destiny, or at least a component of it.

  2. Mistakes. The Bridge Group points at three mistakes sales managers make that limit productivity for the Lead Generation group: a) providing product training and not sales training,  b) not providing a documented process supported by compelling sales tools, and 3) not providing coaching.  ESR’s research bears this out as well.

  3. Touches.  To the question, “On average, how many touches (from both sales & marketing) does it take to convert a ‘suspect’ to a ‘prospect’?” the response was an average of seven!  For companies focused on SMBs the average number of touches was five.  For enterprises, it was eight.  Clearly an effective lead nurturing approach can make a significant impact.

There is a reason that President Trish Bertuzzi and The Bridge Group possess an unusually high level of experience and depth of practical knowledge in the area of lead generation. They completely understand their customers and their market. This report must be required reading for every sales and marketing leader in small to mid-size technology companies.

Photo credit: © James Steidl – Fotolia.com

InTouch With Brian Carroll On Lead Generation

One of ESR’s clients has been engaged with Brian Carroll’s InTouch, Inc. team for lead generation and nurturing.  We sat in on a meeting with Brian’s team and the client the other day.

I asked Brian for permission to share with you the Lead Gen Portfolio graphic he uses with his clients.  Take a good look (click on the image for full size) and you can see which components of a total approach to lead gen you are employing and which ones you aren’t.

It’s no wonder Brian’s company is doing as well as it is and he is seen as a  thought-leader in the area of lead gen.  Brian understands selling as much as any marketing expert I’ve run into.  That came through loud and clear during the client meeting, on the podcast, and in a few articles Brian suggested I share with you about lead nurturing. (How Lead Nurturing Drives Better ROI and Lead Nurturing – Ripening the Right Bananas.)

Another critical factor in Brian’s clients’—and therefore his—success is his practical employment of process as the means for delivering qualified and nurtured leads to his clients.

By the way, I interviewed Brian for one of my podcasts a while back.  It’s worth listening to again if you’ve already heard it.

Podcast: Brian Carroll on Lead Generation

We’ve just published my interview with Brian Carroll for my sales thought-leader podcast series. 

Wait!  Brian Carroll is a sales thought-leader? 

Absolutely. 

All of us in sales face a significant and ongoing challenge.  I’ve written about it again and again.  It’s the lack of mutual understanding, alignment, and ability to effectively and jointly execute among many sales and marketing organizations.

Brian understands the issues and has pragmatic approaches for overcoming them. Here is Brian’s blog.

In this podcast, we talk about:

  • What works to get sales and marketing alignment
  • How the marketing funnel impacts the sales funnel 
  • Reengaging and optimizing past sales leads
  • Teleprospecting and nurturing tactics

Listen to the podcast.  (Also available on iTunes.)

My-Pipeline

One of the interesting things I get to do as part of my job is to interview smart business people with new approaches to sales effectiveness. One such person is Mark Morris, founder and president of My-Pipeline, an out-sourced relationship development firm.

Mark owned, built, then sold a successful ad agency. In 2001 he started My-Pipeline.

Here is the value statement from My Pipeline’s website: 


Your pipeline to more reliable and profitable sales growth with less risk

Does your sales team sell products or services to other businesses, confront long sales cycles, communicate complex value propositions, and seek high value customer relationships?

We work with business leaders like you who recognize the value of a permanent, disciplined new business development solution that coalesces people, processes, infrastructure and strategies to confidently achieve more reliable and profitable sales growth with less risk.


Having spoken with Mark a number of times and having interviewed one of his customers, I’m convinced he delivers on what he promises. (Disclosure: this blog entry is not a recommendation for his services. ESR may or may not decide to perform its full evaluation of My-Pipeline in the future. This blog post is merely educational. Neither I nor my company have received any compensation or promise thereof from My-Pipeline.) Continue reading