Prospect Experience Marketing: Find the Gold in Your Lead Generation Program
I recently caught up with Dan McDade, a longtime B2B practitioner in lead qualification and nurturing. I’ve been a fan of his for years. Here, we talk about prospect experience marketing.
Having sold his call center business to a colleague, and started a new venture, McDade offered me some fresh ways of thinking about how to treat top prospects. His new business is called Prospect Experience.
Ruth P. Stevens: You’ve been involved in the lead generation world for a long time. How has it changed?
Dan McDade: The big changes have been in the use of marketing technology. Certainly, technology lets us deliver more leads to sales, faster than ever before. But just as often, these are bad leads. Lead generation success rests on quality — not quantity, and not speed.
Stevens: What are the top challenges that still vex B2B marketers today?
McDade: Companies tend to market too broadly. Messaging is overly focused on features and functions, or what some people call bits and bytes. Narrowing down the target universe, creating a differentiating message and delivering that message with the right media at the right time are all critically important requirements that elude many, if not most, marketers today.
Stevens: What’s working in lead gen and lead development? Your advice, please!
McDade: It is all about balance. We used to say that multi-touch, multi-media and multi-cycle marketing multiplied results. That is now called the “cadence,” and it works. The secret is in mixing up the media. You can’t depend entirely on email. You need balance. Use phone calls, voicemails, emails, and even some direct mail to invite prospects into a dialogue.
In my opinion, too much of the prospecting is being handled by a black box. Not enough marketing is truly one-to-one. For every prospect universe, something like 30 to 40% of those prospects should not be included in marketing automation campaigns, at all. These prospects are just too important to risk with a one-to-many approach. Senior executives don’t want to be treated like a pinball, where they only get your attention after they have hit the right bumpers and scored enough points.
Stevens: I see. That’s a very interesting and important point. How do you suggest marketers identify those high-value prospects early, so they can pull them out of the automated campaigns and treat them differently?
McDade: At the beginning, you need to use your knowledge of the market, and some intuition, to segment the market into logical homogenous groups. Once market outreach begins, you segment and re-segment the targets based on variables like industry, firmographics, and sales history. Let me suggest this article to your readers for more detail.
Stevens: And how, specifically, to you recommend marketers treat these top prospects? Not via email, I gather!
McDade: Email can, in fact, be a part of the equation. But it must be personalized — for real. It can’t be what some folks call “personalization, at scale.” As I said, it is necessary to use cadences to mix up the media, tell the story, and convert the prospect. Using all of the tools available — phone, voicemail, email, direct mail, and social media — is critical to success. You need to be persistent, patient, and professional.
Stevens: You mentioned that you see the keys to success in what you call the Three M’s. What’s that?
McDade: When something is “off” on a program, the first place we look is by analyzing the market, message, and media. On the market, for example, if you start with a bad list, it is very difficult to recover.
The message breaks down into two components: value statements and differentiators. It takes a lot of time and effort to get these right. And the work is never done. You are constantly testing against the control, or the original message, to fine-tune and improve your story.
Finally, the media issue can be as simple as two different sales development reps producing different results. We have had situations where the difference was just the luck of the draw. But more likely, it turns out that one rep is following instructions, with success, and the other refuses to follow the rules and is losing.
Stevens: What is your new company, Prospect Experience, all about?
McDade: The goal for Prospect Experience is to humanize the process of converting prospects to customers. Prospects today are called by pushy appointment setters, or being read tedious scripts by low-level telemarketers, or being barraged with email. Frankly, prospects are treated like dirt.
Maybe that is why less than half of the salespeople out there are making quota. With the right approach, marketers can convert more prospects to customers for less money than they are currently spending. I developed a process called the "12-Point Prospect-Experience Transformation" to help companies perfect their prospecting and enhance the prospect experience
Stevens: How can people get in touch with you to learn more?
McDade: I am happy to field emails or calls at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 770-262-9021. I also encourage people to visit https://www.prospect-experience.com/insights to sign up for our blog.
A version of this article appeared in Biznology, the digital marketing blog.
Ruth P. Stevens consults on customer acquisition and retention, and teaches marketing at companies and business schools around the world. She is past chair of the DMA Business-to-Business Council, and past president of the Direct Marketing Club of New York. Ruth was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in Business Marketing by Crain's BtoB magazine, and one of 20 Women to Watch by the Sales Lead Management Association. She is the author of Maximizing Lead Generation: The Complete Guide for B2B Marketers, and Trade Show and Event Marketing. Ruth serves as a director of Edmund Optics, Inc. She has held senior marketing positions at Time Warner, Ziff-Davis, and IBM and holds an MBA from Columbia University.