Lead generation is the growth life-line for any company regardless of size. Hence, it’s often an assumed goal that frequently fails to answer the question of “how” leads will be generated or how many leads will be generated. There are so many different approaches to lead gen it can be nearly dizzying. Adding additional complexity – depending on the approach your company is deploying, it can also be dangerous if there isn’t a clear understanding of how each approach (or combination) will not only meet your sales goals, but how the organization will operationally support the activity. So we’re breaking it down into pros and cons, to give you the info needed to determine what’s best for your Company – starting with four primary categories, and then sorting each based on expense and impact:
The veteran sales guy or gal will often refer to it as “dialing for dollars”. And, most sales people will also tell you it’s the least desirable activity they’ve ever had to take on. So we’ll put that down as a con. We believe the primary reason many companies continue to use this approach is based in statistical predictability (which doesn’t reflect skill sets by the outbound caller) and they lack the knowledge and/or confidence in alternative options:
One of the trickiest parts of growing your business is creating a lead generation strategy that works for you. It’s hard to get the traffic you want without a proper plan in place, but it’s essential if you’re going to succeed.
According to HubSpot, 63% of marketers say that lead generation is their business’s greatest marketing challenge. Tons of brands struggle to figure out how they can better cater to their audience in order to grow their platform.
Leads are important because these are potential customers who have a genuine interest in your brand and its content. You already know they’re interested in learning more, so all you have to do is give them a gentle nudge in the right direction.
Here are four common lead generation mistakes and how to avoid them if you want your business to excel.
In this video, Entrepreneur Network partner Ben Angel begins by covering the importance of the opt-in page. This page can be a portal to any sort of free offering, including a free book or a free webinar series.
An important aspect to an effective opt-in page is its design. Without a compelling design, there will be fewer conversions from the leads you may be generating. If you’re at a loss for crafting an interesting design, go online and look for templates that are simple and uncluttered.
To increase credibility in your business, consider adding a section offering social proof on your website. This can mean links to your social presence, or it can mean showcasing positive testimonials or notable press coverage.
The final step for many landing pages is to direct people to a call-to-action — which tells people what is the next thing they should do and leads them to a purchase.
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Are you leaking your gated content in organic search?
Personally, I’m not a fan of finding portable document format (PDF) documents in the search results.
There are multiple reasons why PDFs are not ideal for an organic searcher to land on:
Most PDFs do not have navigation, so users are forced to read through to find what they want.
More often than not, webmasters don’t link to their website from the PDF.
If there are no links in a PDF, so the opportunity for a call to action is lost.
PDFs can’t house analytics tracking code.
PDFs aren’t as malleable as web pages. You can’t add many fancy enhancements to a PDF.
PDFs generally do not contain lead generation forms.
I could go on forever about my dislike of PDFs, because I believe they are a problem for marketers. While they are easy and fast to generate, they can be problematic when it comes to SEO, tracking and conversion.
Do you have a leaky lead generation funnel?
If you’re using PDFs on your site for any type of lead generation and you are gating that content (requiring registration via a landing page), you need to find out if the PDF has been indexed and is available in the organic search engine results pages (SERPs).
If the PDFs can be found in the SERPs, potential leads are bypassing your sign-up form, since they can find the content directly. A simple way to test for this is to use the site and filetype search operators together. For example, for my own website, I would perform this search:
A recent search for a client’s white papers found they have 633 white papers produced as PDFs in Google’s index. Yikes!
How do you know it’s a problem?
Because lead generation filetypes like PDFs are not trackable in Google Analytics, you may be wondering, “Are these exposed PDF resources really that big a problem?” Using Google Search Console (GSC), you can get some idea of just how impactful these PDFs might be.
Using the Search Analytics report in GSC, set the data type to “Pages” and filter to show those with .pdf in the filename.
Over the last 90 days, the client with 633 white paper PDFs had over 12,075 clicks from Google organic search to the PDF pages.
In today’s digital world, it’s difficult to find someone who doesn’t engage on social media no matter what demographic they are in. Gone are the days of being nervous of our parents having a Facebook account when in these times family events and social gatherings are easier to plan online.
Key Stat: According to the Pew Research Center, nearly 70% of adults in the US are on at least one social media site.
If you’re in the business of gaining prospects, your role will be a lot more challenging if you don’t take advantage of the information your potential clients already provide online. Investing in social media lead generation (using social for prospecting new leads) is extremely effective when done right.
Interested in learning how to get started?
The following steps will take you through what to look for when it comes to navigating social media platforms for prospecting success.
Research and Identify Your Prospects
Before you even begin to engage with your prospects, do a bit of research online to develop a list of the type of clients you are looking for. Social media lead generation doesn’t mean you randomly select and message any account with your pitch. Once you fall into the area of spam, you have already failed.
The world over, folks ask the same two questions every day–what’s for dinner, and what’s the weather forecast? In the government IT space, every day we’re all asking about the cloud forecast. A recent report from P&S Market Research provides new insights on the global government’s cloud appetites.
Big and Getting Bigger Fast
According to the report, the global market for government cloud services is expected to reach $49.2 billion by 2023, growing at a compounded annual rate of 15.4 percent. It states that SaaS offerings will see the highest revenue growth because government agencies are attracted by the low cost of ownership and the pay-as-you-go model.
What Tastes Good?
Government agencies have been adopting cloud for storage, disaster recovery, identity access management (IAM), risk compliance management, and other applications. The P&S report projects that the largest growth in the next five years will take place in disaster recovery and IAM applications as agencies turn to cloud solutions to prevent transaction and data losses from disasters and vulnerabilities.
Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions have figured prominently as agencies have turned to a variety of subscription-based cloud offerings for customer relationship management, financial management, and human resource functions. Judging by the 60 cloud services currently going through FedRAMP security accreditation, the trend toward SaaS solutions is likely to continue–90 percent of these are SaaS solutions. And to date, about 80 percent of the 97 services that have received FedRAMP authorization are also SaaS solutions.
Recent agency requests for information give a view into what agencies are looking for in cloud infrastructures. For instance, the FBI is looking to acquire Platform as a Service (PaaS) and SaaS offerings from established cloud service providers with an existing, large-scale commercial offering that can provide resource pooling to support multiple government agencies. The cloud platform must meet intelligence community security requirements for handling secret data, assuring high availability, and providing significantly more cost-efficient computing than traditional approaches. The FBI is also looking for services that provide middleware, such as identity and security management, log analysis, and audit capabilities.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is also looking to migrate applications to a commercial cloud provider. CBP wants to migrate all its applications out of its National Data Center in Springfield, Virginia to the cloud by the end of October 2022. CBP’s objective is to procure FedRAMP-compliant services to migrate to the cloud service provider’s platform. The agency is looking for Infrastructure-as-a-Service, PaaS, and SaaS cloud providers.
DoD’s JEDI infrastructure cloud deal’s headlining the cloud menu–but look out for SaaS solutions to keep tickling Uncle Sam’s taste buds.
Ryan Duguid, SVP of technology strategy at Nintex, spoke with TechRepublic’s Dan Patterson about the role of non-IT employees in cloud transitions.
Watch the video or read the transcript of their conversation below:
Patterson: The cloud has had an undeniably transformative effect on the enterprise and SaaS, of course, is at the heart of cloud growth. Now, the growth of SaaS might be up to non-IT workers.
Ryan, thank you very much for your time today. I wonder if we could first define how SaaS has grown historically to this point, and then we’ll talk a little bit about why it’s up to non-IT employees to help the growth of the cloud, and cloud-based applications.
Duguid: Certainly, so at the end of the day, the massive upswing in SaaS is driven for obvious reasons, right? There’s cost savings associated with it, a lack of requirement for as many IT administrators to keep the lights on, but fundamentally, I think it’s about speed of deliveryof technology to the business, and that’s always been a problem in the IT sector, and SaaS really makes the promise to solve that problem.
Patterson: So what is it about SaaS that has either reached an apex, or what is it that is now demanding non-IT employees to buy in as well?
Duguid: I think there’s two parts to this, right? The first part is that at the end of the day, SaaS has largely been driven by demand from the business. IT historically has struggled to keep up with the requirements of the business, and so the business is constantly pushing for the latest and greatest technology.
I think the other side of it, is now there’s a proliferation of SaaS vendors out there, when in the early days it was the big boys like the Workdays, and Salesforce and the likes. There’s not a SaaS application for everything, for every business function, for every industry, no matter how large or small, and so as a result there’s really this thirst or appetite for the business to get in and self-serve, even if IT’s not willing to be a part of that journey.
Patterson: Can you give us a profile of some of the IT and business technology decision makers who are now involved in the process of adopting SaaS solutions for the enterprise?
Duguid: Certainly, it’s the typical players, so it’s everything from the CIO down to the VP’s and directors of IT within an organization, but more importantly now what we’re starting to see is a lot of decisions being made by what we call line of business IT. Essentially, very smart technology-focused individuals within a particular department. So, for example, in the sales department, you’ll typically find a Salesforce administrator whose responsible for the deployment, the management, the feeding and nurturing of their Salesforce CRM, and so you’re starting to see a lot more of that type of role turn up within an organization, whether they’re responsible for Salesforce’s CRM, your human capital management systems or the likes, but it’s more of a de-centralized type of IT and larger organizations.
Patterson: Ryan, I wonder if you could leave us with a forecast, perhaps the next 6, 12, 18, months in the growth of not just SaaS, but the cloud, the multi-cloud and post-GDPR?
Duguid: Ha ha, post-GDPR. You know, I guess GDPR and other associated compliance requirements are sort of the stick that people wave to try and slow this down, but at the end of the day, the prediction I’d give is there’s no stopping this, right? This is how technology is delivered to the business now. It meets the needs of the business, the pace, it helps people tackle digital transformation, get ahead of disruptive competitors in the marketplace, and so I think you’re just going to see more and more, and from our perspective at Nintex what we’re really fascinated by is the concept of IT and the business working together, where IT is empowering the business to get their jobs done with SaaS platforms. But the business is the ones choosing the technology. It’s done with the right level of governance and control, but at the same time it’s delivered with the ease and flexibility that helps the average employee get their job done more effectively.
Two-thirds of ITDMs at large organisations are concerned about keeping up with security requirements for SaaS adoption
As the rate of cloud and SaaS adoption increases in businesses, IT teams are primarily concerned with data privacy, new research contends, with 64% of ITDMs believing that their organisation’s SaaS adoption is outpacing their ability to secure it.
But nearly half agree that their organisation is hesitant to adopt SaaS-based security solutions, according to a survey of 200 ITDMs by cyber security firm iboss for its 2018 Enterprise Cloud Trends Survey Report.
In the early days of SaaS, security was one of the primary concerns limiting adoption because the SaaS delivery model was relatively new, and companies felt uncomfortable storing sensitive data outside their own security measures.
Although the SaaS model has matured and has so far proved to be highly stable and secure when compared to on-premises solutions, it is easy to understand why there are still outstanding concerns around it.
Three-quarters of ITDMs told iboss that their organisation’s data was more secure using on-premises, purpose-built appliances rather than a SaaS solution. The most likely reason for this is because they feel that their data is less secure when using a SaaS solution, because such solutions store their data on shared servers – a reason 66% of respondents agreed with. A quarter also thought that security wasn’t a priority for SaaS solution providers.
“While these concerns aren’t unfounded, they also aren’t completely legitimate,” argued iboss CEO Paul Martini, analyzing the findings of the report. “There are an array of cloud types and delivery models that both laymen and tech pros aren’t aware of that address many of the top concerns found in the survey head-on.”
Of course, there are many vendors who are committed to security, and to keeping their clients’ data safe, with incoming GDPR data protection rules meaning that they could be held partially responsible for any breaches. Part of the solution is being diligent when choosing an SaaS provider, especially if they will be processing personally identifiable information or financial data.
A good vendor will be transparent in their security practices and be able to demonstrate multiple layers of security to protect customer data. This can include physical site security of the data centre facility, as well as application and database security, where defences are core to the software development process.
For a long time, IT departments have had concerns about Software as a Service; the resistance can be traced to concerns about reliability and security, integration, customizability, accessibility and job security. Find out how to best respond to the concerns.
Service provider takeaway: SaaS-based products face an uphill battle in most IT departments. Service providers should take IT’s concerns about Software as a Service seriously and be prepared with answers that will smooth the path to SaaS sales.
In a recent story, I outlined how Software as a Service (SaaS) is changing the software sales process, giving more power to the business decision maker. But, of course, IT still has tremendous influence over software sales, and if you want to sell SaaS-based tools to IT departments, you’ll need to know how to best approach them.
As you know, IT departments have historically had concerns about Software as a Service (SaaS) systems, and that resistance has been a fundamental roadblock to SaaS sales. In order to sell SaaS-based systems to your customers, you’ll need to pay attention to their objections and be able to address them with solid advice. And, exposing your customers to a new generation of SaaS solutions specifically aimed at IT professionals could be what convinces them that SaaS is viable for their entire enterprise.
Resistance to SaaS
IT department resistance to SaaS has stemmed from a number of concerns, both valid ones and debatable ones. Among the valid reasons for IT departments to question SaaS is its reliability and security. They also are right to ask how a SaaS-based product will integrate with existing applications and databases or how it can be customized to meet a company’s needs. And they have a legitimate reason to be concerned about where their company’s data will reside and how they can ensure access to that data if their company decides to discontinue their SaaS subscription.
On the debatable side of the equation, many IT professionals simply refuse to consider SaaS products because they believe they cannot match the functionality of traditional, on-premise applications. Others are concerned that SaaS tools will alleviate the complexities of software deployment and day-to-day management to such an extent that they could threaten the IT staff’s job security.
Smart service providers will anticipate all of these potential concerns about SaaS and either proactively address them or be prepared to respond to them.
Addressing concerns about Software as a Service
If you take the proactive route, a good first step is to educate your customers’ IT staff about the potential IT and business benefits and real technical requirements of SaaS solutions. Carefully evaluate the functional capabilities of the SaaS offerings up for consideration to clearly understand how they compare with traditional on-premise applications. While some SaaS offerings may offer fewer opportunities to customize the applications, these shortcomings may be offset by quicker deployment capabilities and greater ease of use for multiple users, which brings greater productivity. Educating your customers on these tradeoffs is important.
To address concerns about job security, you should help the IT department identify how they can redirect the IT resources that will be freed up by Software as a Service from mundane daily tasks toward more strategic and valuable activities.
To address IT’s concerns about reliability and security, it’s important to ascertain that the SaaS vendor you recommend has provisions for SAS (Statement on Auditing Standards) 70 certification. This certification verifies that the SaaS vendor, or its hosting company, has implemented the right technology and business processes to ensure the reliability and security of its hosted applications.
It is also essential that you clearly understand where your customer’s data will be located, the security parameters that have been established to safeguard the data, and the policies that are in place to ensure that they have full accessibility to the data, especially if the SaaS vendor goes out of business or decides to discontinue service. In some cases, you might want to negotiate an escrow arrangement for your customers, in which access to the application code is guaranteed in the event that the vendor folds or discontinues a service.
In addition, it’s important that the SaaS vendor you align with designs its solution to permit users to reconfigure their format, workflow and data migration processes to accommodate their business requirements.
And to ensure interoperability with various legacy applications and data sources, make sure that the SaaS vendor you recommend not only architects its on-demand applications to include open application program interfaces (APIs) and Web services, but also leverages third-party integration tools and integration service providers.
Finally, you should work with your SaaS vendors to provide IT departments with detailed service-level agreements (SLAs) that clearly state their performance objectives, problem resolution policies and escalation procedures, as well as penalties for failure to meet these expectations.
Demonstrating the business case for SaaS
Once these concerns have been addressed, you can move on to building the business case for Software as a Service. You should develop total cost of ownership (TCO) and return on investment (ROI) assessment tools that can help the IT department fully understand and appreciate the cost savings and productivity improvements that can be generated from a SaaS-based product. These tools should be designed with the goal of helping your customer better understand the additional hardware, consulting and staff support costs that are associated with deploying traditional, on-premise applications. They should also be able to document and measure SaaS utilization levels.
A new generation of SaaS solutions aimed at helping IT departments better manage their day-to-day operations can serve as an effective proof-point for demonstrating the power of SaaS. These new SaaS solutions include Web-based security, storage, desktop and server management services from companies such as Symantec, EMC, Dell and Cisco Systems. These SaaS solutions are designed to meet the needs of IT departments seeking to automate their management requirements. IT departments that adopt these services will gain a first-hand understanding of the power of SaaS and why it appeals to business users. This first-hand experience will have a significant impact on their role in the overall selection and deployment process and could produce a fundamental shift in the corporate sourcing strategy.
By exposing the IT staff to Software as a Service, addressing their concerns about the delivery model and demonstrating the business benefits, you can serve as a trusted advisor who helps IT departments select, implement and fully leverage SaaS solutions that can enable them to better align their work with their business end users and support the strategic objectives of the organization.
There seems to be a rigorous debate in the SaaS customer success space about the value of measuring customer satisfaction through various survey methodologies, whether CSAT, NPS or CES (customer effort score). While each of these methodologies have their merits, I believe there’s a better question to ask, maybe the ultimate question every SaaS (or subscription) company should use to best measure customer sentiment.
For a SaaS company, your customers ultimately speak with their feet and their wallet in the form of renewals. If they’re getting value from the solution(s) and experience you deliver, they will continue to purchase your product again, or renew. If they aren’t getting value, they’ll stop paying for your product, or churn. It’s as simple as that.
Can you imagine a world where every single customer success issue could be resolved simply by asking a single question? Unfortunately, no such world exists (at least to our knowledge), but there are certain questions that can make daily life much easier for customer success teams. While simple questions may not solve all of the challenges that accompany customers along their journeys with your company, they can help uncover hidden issues, start important conversations, and accurately gauge customer health and sentiment.
Engage Customers By Asking Pointed Questions
It all comes down to engaging customers to the point they feel comfortable talking and discussing difficult matters with their Customer Success Manager (CSM) or representative. Laying out discussion topics can help identify the opportunities and risks associated with every account. Both open-ended and yes-or-no-questions can be helpful as any answer can help formulate and guide customer success strategy and planning. Customer input and guidance is the number one best way to formulate next steps from both individual customer issues and overarching departmental strategies.
The New Ultimate Customer Success Question
Ready for the question that can help serve as a guide to the entire customer journey? Here it is:
The Ultimate Customer Success Question
“If your renewal was today, would you renew?”
While it may be tempting to embellish this short and sweet question, customer success teams should keep it simple. Even a quick yes or no answer from customers is enough of an answer. Putting a blunt question about renewal in front of a customer may seem daunting—especially during non-renewal seasons—but in reality this question masks an even deeper one aimed at customer success teams: “Are we doing all we can do to ensure this customer is happy and, perhaps more important, successful at every stage of their journey?”.
Confronting issues head-on with questions as black-and-white as the daunting renewal question means putting the issues on the table for mutual acknowledgment and responsibility. A customer success team that asks this question is quite literally putting it all out in the open to understand how they can better serve their customer.
3 Additional Questions Customer Success Leaders Should Ask:
If you (as an individual) were to leave your company right now, would your company continue to use our product or service? Ask for details from the response.
Do you feel as though our team is meeting your specific project goals? Ask for details from the response.
Will you advocate for room in the budget for this product or service in the future? Ask for details from the response.
One thing to remember? Ask these types of questions before the renewal—preferably many months before. The sooner a CSM can bring red flags to the surface, the better for all stakeholders involved. In addition, identifying these issues early in the customer lifecycle reduces the risk of repetitive root causes and increases the opportunity for proactive resolution.
Continuing the Conversation
The ultimate question, along with its counterparts, are not just one-and-done conversation topics, no matter how appealing that option may be to some customer success professionals. This question (or a similar equivalent) should be revisited several times throughout the entire customer journey. As customer’s answers change, so too will customer success strategy and plans change. This creates a continuous cycle of review and revision that is vital to the success of any Customer-CSM relationship.
Asking unapologetic, no-holds-barred questions at every stage of the customer journey—from day 1 even—puts the customer at ease and makes them feel comfortable with you and your entire team. Being upfront with issues and conflict can also build credibility and accountability. Customers appreciate strong partner teams who are ready to work through problems rather than sweep them under the rug.
Always Be Prepared To Have Important Conversations
While all customer success teams should be aware and ready to have these important conversations, it’s also critically important not to push customers into corners. Bring up the ‘Ultimate Customer Success Question’ when both your customer audience and your internal team is ready for the subsequent discussion. What are some questions your team uses to open up critical conversations with customers? Read More
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