I am very fortunate to be able to communicate with smart B2B marketers every day and I learn a bunch from all of them. One concept that came to me through a couple of customers is the idea of skimming leads from campaigns as a means to make their marketing automation deployments more effective. We have several customers that have successfully deployed Marketing Automation as a means to score leads based upon capturing implicit and explicit data. The benefits of Marketing Automation to these companies are tremendous and worth every penny. But there are inefficiencies that can be captured by skimming leads, especially at face to face events or blast campaigns that these companies recognized. Let me explain how and why these customers skim their leads. Large Tradeshow campaign I was working with a large customer at a tradeshow and while in a discussion with a sales leader for that company I learned their disdain for Marketing Automation. The comment that resonated most was this: “Are these leads going into Eloqua? If so, I’ll never see them. Just give me my damn leads now! ” His complaint surprised me and validated to a certain degree why I was at that event. This company is one the smartest B2B marketing organizations I have had the pleasure to work with and they were in the process of skimming at this event for the first time. What is skimming? Skimming is, identifying where buyers are in their lifecycle by asking when in dialog, and taking those that are “sales ready” off of the top, bypassing Marketing Automation and going direct to Sales. These customers also skimmed trinket seekers by enabling each lead to control how they were treated post event. Prior to this, all leads were captured by a simple scan, and then processed and scored by their incubation tool. When incubating leads it may take 6 to 8 weeks to find out which leads are “sales ready” versus “trinket seekers” simply because Marketing Automation bases its score on implicit and explicit activity. It may take 4 to 6 touches in order to capture that person’s attention again and that takes time. At this event, they captured over 3,000 leads and of those 30% were distributed direct to sales based upon their lead score which was captured at scan by augmenting their scan with qualifiers. They skimmed and Sales were served leads that were qualified to their specifications. Treating Marketing Automation (Eloqua) as a Salesperson This customer manages a large global tradeshow program and they spend a lot of money annually driving traffic to their global sales team. Demand Generation is key and quick lead follow up required. I am particularly impressed at how they deployed a skimming strategy for Event Lead Capture with their Marketing Automation technology. Essentially, their Tradeshow leads are profiled and scored in real-time on 5 different levels based upon product interest and propensity to buy. At show end, all leads are automatically import into their CRM environment and immediately assigned to a sales distribution list. What’s cool about this deployment is that they consider their Lead Incubation engine as a Sales representative within their CRM environment. All sales ready leads go direct to a Sales person, and incubation leads go direct to their Incubation Sales queue.
Why do this? Above is a snap shot of actual profile and categorized data from a large tradeshow campaign. If these leads were not categorized and skimmed, companies are forced to treat all as if they are sales ready which can be costly, especially when you are paying a fully burdened wage to chase the “C” and “D” leads. By skimming, this company immediately treated those 80 “Sales Ready” leads with a professional human touch, and the Marketing Automation Sales Rep immediately began incubating those that are in need of incubation. Why pay someone to chase a buyer that isn’t ready? There are great incubation engines that do this much more effectively and with a tremendous cost benefit. I have seen true world class B2B lead Management programs and without exception, all of them are capturing buying cycle demographics when in dialog and skim. Let me know if you have seen similar strategies!