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Lead Nurturing and Scoring
Drilling Down Newsletter #101 6/2009

Drilling Down - Turning Customer
Data into Profits with a Spreadsheet
Customer Valuation, Retention, Loyalty, Defection

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Hi Folks, Jim Novo here.

Summer again, I hope you have a chance to take some time off and relax a bit.  One of my favorite economic forecasters, ECRI, is saying the economy looks poised for an upturn.  These folks have a great track record and let's hope it's not "different this time".

Upturn or not, businesses will still be looking to increase productivity - do more with less - and that's the main topic of this newsletter.  In this case, were going to take a look at sales force productivity and how measuring the "rhythm of a sale" can be used to increase close rates.

Over on the blog, there was a discussion  about the difference between Marketing Analysis and Marketing Justification.  Who the analysts report to may influence the quality of the analysis you receive more than you think.

Let's get to that Drillin'...

Sample Marketing Productivity Blog Posts

Analyze, Not Justify
June 19, 2009

”You really don’t want analysts reporting organizationally to the group they are responsible for analyzing.  This set-up tends to create a lot of pressure on the analyst to prove a program is working by torturing the data to get a desired result.”

And about half the heads in this good-sized auditorium - the majority of them belonging to web analysts - bobbed “Yes”.

Continue reading on the blog:
Analyze, Not Justify

I will respond to any comments you might leave.

Questions from Fellow Drillers

Lead Nurturing and Scoring

Q: I received this article (Norms of Reciprocity) via a friend's Twitter account.  Very interesting.

A:  Glad you enjoyed it!

Q:  It has made open up my ACT! database, and my Outlook databases and add the metric of Growing / Strong / Weakening / Failed to my normal Sales and Business progress metrics.  If I group those categories and correlate to traditional metrics, it's impressive how they reflect each other.

A:  Yes, most people are surprised.  It's a very, very simple idea that seems to work across just about any human activity including crime, attendance, and so forth.  

The more Recently someone has done something, the more likely they are to do it again.  Conversely, the longer since an activity last took place, the less likely the person will do it again.  Often called Recency in Psychology and studied quite a bit.

Q:  Now I have to go off and think about how I really use and apply this. : )

A:  Well, if I can guess you are in Sales from your title, typically one of the best applications is in what Strategic Marketing folks might call "allocation of resources", which probably translates into "lead nurturing" for you.

Most experienced people in Sales have a sort of "sixth sense" when it comes to thinking about the likelihood of a close happening.  They worry about certain prospects more than others, and a sort of "ranking" or "scoring" happens in their mind.  One of the triggers that frequently comes up in this is "how long" it has been since there was any contact activity with the prospect, and the feeling the longer it has been without sales activity, the less likely the sale is to close.  Sales Managers will often allocate resources based on these kinds of "feelings" they or salespeople have.

The problem with all this "gut feel" is, for one thing, newer sales people don't have it, and so probably are not as productive as they could be.  The other is since a lot of this is not tracked in any way, there aren't any firm "guideposts" and it may be that sales are lost that otherwise could have been made due to a lack of urgency or misdirection.

So, given limited resources, a sales force would generally like to focus on the leads most likely to close, and not work on the less likely leads until the most likely leads have been addressed.  This is the idea of scoring, let's rank all of our prospects by likelihood to close.

Now, as far as what you might do in ACT! or similar (and knowing nothing about your business), here is what I would do.  Just start informally comparing prospects that close and those that don't in terms of these timing issues, "how long since contact" or "how long between contacts" for each case.  Typically you will start to see patterns of some kind, for example:

1. "Prospects who have not made it to 2nd sales appointment within 30 days of 1st contact are less likely to close"

2. "Prospects who take longer than 25 days to respond to proposal are less likely to close; prospects who take less than 10 days to respond to proposal are very likely to close"

and so forth.  Look at important events in the sales process and note the "time since" or "time between" and look for such patterns.

Now, as I said, many salespeople, especially experienced ones, have some sense of these ideas, but they have never been quantified. The advantage to quantifying them like this is you can move to a "trigged contact system" 
based on them, which I think you can do in ACT! if you have the data.  This conserves salesperson resources and helps them always be focused on where they are most likely to close the business.

So, for example, salespeople (sales managers, if more appropriate) receive a communication each day about any prospects who are coming close to any of these triggers above.

In scenario 1 above, a counter starts on 1st contact and if another sales call has not been scheduled within 20 days of 1st sales call, a reminder goes out saying "you have 10 days to get a 2nd appointment or you may lose 
this sale".  In scenario 2 above, sending the proposal triggers the counter, and a sales contact is suggested at 7 days later and 15 days after that.

The optimal timing of these contacts is something discovered over time, and of course depends on the business. But having these triggered messages available to guide salespeople towards which contacts they should be most focused on that day or week is a lot better than nothing.

So instead of a salesperson thinking this:

"Gee, it's 'been awhile' since I talked to prospect George. Maybe I should call him".

you get this thought:

"I sent the proposal to prospect George 7 days ago, and I need to close him in 3 days, or he becomes less likely to close at all."

The difference in those two thoughts and the action taken can be a lot of sales - especially with newer sales people, who don't have enough experience to understand the "rhythm of the sale" in the business yet.

If you'd like a more detailed example, there's one here: 
B2B Software - Latency Tripwire
.  Spreadsheets are usually a great tool for this kind of discovery work.  Hope that helps!


Have a question on Customer Valuation, Retention, Loyalty, or Defection?  Go ahead and send it to me here.

If you are a consultant, agency, or software developer with clients needing action-oriented customer intelligence or High ROI Customer
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That's it for this month's edition of the Drilling Down newsletter.  If you like the newsletter, please forward it to a friend!  Subscription instructions are top and bottom of this page.

Any comments on the newsletter (it's too long, too short, topic suggestions, etc.) please send them right along to me, along with any other questions on customer Valuation, Retention, Loyalty, and Defection here.

'Til next time, keep Drilling Down!

- Jim Novo

Copyright 2009, The Drilling Down Project by Jim Novo.  All rights reserved.  You are free to use material from this newsletter in whole or in part as long as you include complete credits, including live web site link and e-mail link.  Please tell me where the material will appear. 

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