LeanLogistics - Leading the Way
Over the past few years, LeanLogistics, an on-demand transportation management solutions provider, has tried to separate itself from the pack by becoming a thought leader to its customers. A key element to this quest has been to distribute whitepapers and other materials that could be downloaded for free to collect leads.
But early in this effort, LeanLogistics struggled to appropriately qualify and score the leads coming from those free downloads. “We wanted to determine whether someone was downloading marketing materials information strictly for information-gathering purposes, or really further along in the sales cycle and ready to buy something,” says Ginger Stegmier, director of marketing for the Holland, Mich.-based firm. “We also wanted to manage those leads appropriately.”
As far back as 2005, LeanLogistics knew it needed to improve its lead management system to grow. At that time, it had many leads in its Salesforce.com sales database, but little idea of the quality of those leads. Every time someone came to LeanLogistics’ website and filled out a demo request or downloaded marketing materials, the lead would automatically be sent to Salesforce.com, but the firm had no way to tell the salespeople accessing its system if the lead was good or not.
As a result, LeanLogistics’ sales department was calling on any leads with, “no way of knowing whether the lead was warm or cold,” Stegmier says. “This became time-consuming and frustrating for our sales force.”
The firm turned to Silverpop’s Engage B2B solution (formerly Vtrenz) to enable prospects to answer specific questions when they’re downloading information from LeanLogistics.com, helping the firm discern whether the leads are warm or cold. It asks whether prospects already have transportation management systems in place, whether they’re just looking for information and what their time frames are for purchasing new systems. This prequalifies the leads, and only “sales-ready” leads or those that meet specific criteria are passed to the sales force for immediate follow-up.
The system automatically syncs those near-term prospects’ information with Salesforce.com so salespeople can follow up with phone calls. Other prospects — or leads being nurtured because they haven’t yet met the criteria established by the sales and marketing teams — automatically receive a series of integrated communications, including invitations to view webinars, whitepapers, case studies and analyst reports.
“These communications keep future prospects warm,” Stegmier says. “We want to stay in front of these folks so that when they’re ready to buy, they’ll think of us first.”
Since only a small percentage of prospects generated by marketing campaigns are ready to buy, the ability to qualify leads has helped LeanLogistics’ sales force focus only on qualified leads, Stegmier notes. “This led to a big improvement in overall quality leads,” she adds. “The sales organization can focus its time on those opportunities that are real and lead to sales.”
LeanLogistics enjoyed 40 percent revenue growth last year, despite the economy, which Stegmier attributes to its lead management system.
Web’s impact on leads
The internet has not only increased the amount of leads generated, but also the noise in most B-to-B salespeople’s lives, says Dylan Boyd, vice president of sales and strategy at eROI, a Portland, Ore.-based interactive marketing agency. “Lead nurturing and lifecycle marketing are key in any online marketing program that we work on for ourselves internally and our customers. With proper lead programs in place, marketing and sales can really lift one another’s outcomes, bringing the two groups closer together.”
But Boyd warns that once you have a program in place, it’s not a one-time fix. “Like any other marketing program,” he says, “lead nurturing takes constant measuring, fine-tuning and program growth to be effective in the long term.”
LeanLogistics also is stepping into the social media space. The marketing department, for example, tweets about the firm regularly. A focus on social media was inevitable, according to Stegmier, given that LeanLogistics is tech-savvy and young. In fact, the median age of its employees is 27.
“We knew our employees were using Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, so earlier this year we started asking them to update their pages or tweet on a regular basis about things going on here,” Stegmier says. “We give our employees a little nugget via email — such as information about a new case study, a new version of our software or an event coming up — and ask them to update their social networks by including a link that drives traffic to our site or a registration page.”
Twitter is particularly important here, Stegmier says, “because that information gets picked up regularly by news media and analysts.”
The concept is working: After LeanLogistics made the request, Stegmier says, “we saw a spike of more than 400 hits to our website the next day from LinkedIn, which we attributed to our employees posting information about us on their social networks and people coming to our site to check us out.”
While Stegmier admits this exercise may not result in “trackable” or “measurable” leads, it “certainly grew awareness and visibility. The hope is that through the viral aspect of the social networking phenomenon, one of our employees may have a parent or connection in their network who may be interested in transportation management solutions.”