There are two ways to measure social media ROI: (1) direct profit that results when people act on an offer you publicize on a social channel (a promo code, a coupon, or the like); and (2) the contribution to profit and value that results from people engaging on social channels to chat, research, converse, and generally form a positive impression that inclines them to buy, recommend, follow, and stay loyal and satisfied.
We help clients focus on that second, far more lucrative metric, also known as Customer Lifetime Value, or CLV. Ever heard of that? It’s a measure of the profit you can expect to generate from a customer as long as they remain a customer. It includes initial sales, renewals, upgrades, referrals, and other sometimes non-monetary indicators of buyer satisfaction.
How do you measure contribution to CLV? The slide deck linked here offers a glimpse into some of our client work that answers the question. If focuses less on the technology that underpins the effort, although we do provide a resource list, but more on the types of things you can measure and the ways you can capture the upstream inputs to do that measurement so you can determine what works and pivot to do more of that. We hope you find it helpful.
How do you measure social media ROI? Love to hear your stories. Comment below, or really open up the chat by sharing on your favorite social channel!
In your quest for sales, do you leverage the value of lead nurturing?
Sales leaders know that in the process of converting a raw Lead to a Prospect, and then to a real Opportunity, and ultimately to a Customer, there are often many nuances and inflection points in the conversation, with the result that the sales process is almost never linear. Those nuances can include shifts in the Prospect’s priorities, needs, and role in the buying process. These things must be verified repeatedly to detect changes in Prospect status and respond accordingly. If you don’t frequently check them, your sales forecast becomes a fairy tale, and you won’t know where your next meal is coming from. You could be ignoring imminent buyers or focusing too much on long-shot prospects, and not even know it. Either way, you lose. Lead Nurturing helps you keep on top of the changes.
Click here for a free, crowdsourced process guide to help improve your forecasting.
A recent project we performed for Pluris Marketing, provider of OCDP (omni-channel dynamic profiling) solutions for large consumer marketing organizations, transformed from simply securing executive appointments to also nurturing leads, and illustrates how lead nurturing contributes value to the sales pipeline.
Not part of the original project scope, Lead Nurturing quickly grew in importance, for three reasons:
Establishing a dialogue with as many prospects as possible enabled us to train our ears to the “Voice of the Customer” so we could determine what value people derive from Puris’ solutions – in their own words – and tweak our campaign messaging to improve relevance. In short, what you call yourself is often not as important as what your customer calls you. Example: the phrase “Dynamic Profiling” is a term borrowed from a Prospect – not something Pluris dreamed up.
Nurturing leads enables us to captivate and sustain a broader, interested audience, improving our place in each prospect’s “Initial Consideration Set” of potential options when they decide they need a relevant solution.
The sheer number of “nurturables” far exceeded the number of immediate sales appointments generated under this project. The number of nurturables alone caused our client to take notice of the opportunity.
Why Nurture Now
Certain human behavioral tendencies make it difficult to convert a new Lead to a current Prospect, let alone a sale:
1) Relevance – People typically perceive immediate needs as more relevant and more urgent than future problems. No matter how relevant you think your offering is, your Lead’s opinion matters more. You stand a far greater chance of converting a Lead to a Prospect if they view your solution as currently relevant.
2) Consequences – People tend to discount the importance and consequences of future events. A distant goal or pain is less motivational than a current one, even if delay portends grave consequences. Moreover, people tend to see future consequences – even grave ones – as less important with every year such action is delayed. The farther into the future a need is projected, the less likely it will be perceived today as ever becoming important.
Surprise! Researchers Find Humans Illogical
Illustrating the Relevance and Consequences phenomena, Columbia University researchers found that the average person finds little difference between getting $250 now or $350 a year from now. Imagine that! You could opt to wait a year and earn 40% on a surefire outcome, or you could take the money now and forego the potential 40% greater financial benefit. You don’t need to be Warren Buffet to know that no investment vehicle can guarantee you a 40% one-year return on principle just by delaying receipt, and yet most people queried would rather have the money now, consequences be damned.
Heavily discounting future benefits or consequences can greatly distort corporate thinking, behavior and beliefs. As maddeningly illogical as human nature may it may seem, your appreciation of this phenomenon actually becomes your competitive advantage if you have a Lead Nurturing program that helps prospects learn, appreciate and promote the importance of your solution.
Lead Nurturing Includes Content Marketing
An effective Lead Nurturing program, including content marketing mapped to each prospect’s unique persona and information needs, enables you and your prospects to keep the discussion channel open and lively. Rather than attempt to drive each prospect toward near-term action, you instead conduct periodic relevant communication, build productive relations, and assist prospects in evaluating your offerings, so that they can intelligently shift priorities toward considering and adopting your solution – perhaps even sooner than they expected, but in any case, willingly. If done well, you can identify the “hand raisers” worthy of greater attention and likely to buy, and even determine their decision time frame.
Driving toward a sale too hard or too soon can be viewed by the Lead as pushy, inattentive and ignorant, and typically leads to a fall-off in response, inattention to your future communication attempts or, worse, unsubscribing from your feeds and possibly treating your ill-timed, irrelevant communication as unwanted spam. We’d all like to believe that prospects discount our pushy, sales-y human failings and focus instead on the merits of our offering, but you are more likely to hold one another’s attention over the long term if you actually listen, check for understanding and nuanced changes, and respond accordingly with relevant information.
In your eagerness to bring in more sales this calendar quarter, don’t risk alienating a next-quarter sale. The Leads you start to nurture today rarely move as quickly as you’d like, but a constructive, open dialogue helps you understand your relevance in the Prospect’s view so you can tune your messaging to match, while also giving them something to share within their own circles of influence to build consensus toward adopting your solutions.
Patience and persistence pay, and lead nurturing is the currency.
The path to sustained sales and marketing alignment can be a simple one – simple to do, simple to repeat, simple to remember. All you need is a map. In that spirit, I attempt here to boil down some alignment opportunities for Sales and Marketing leaders.
The chart below shows the three main focus areas each for Sales and Marketing which, if approached collaboratively, can improve business results and transform the relationship. Below the chart is a set of definitions, followed by a few examples of how to apply it to your own situation.
3 Sales goals – Value, Volume, Velocity
Value. Since it is almost as costly to close a small sale as it is to close a large sale, Sales professionals would be wise to focus on increasing the potential Value of each sale. In larger organizations, differently skilled teams manage different sized deals.
Volume. The more deal flow you can create, the better your chances of growing the customer base, learning from their needs to improve your offering, and improving the company’s financial ability to innovate and fulfill those evolving customer needs.
Velocity. Increasing the speed of deal flow can also increase your capacity to sell, grow the customer community, and learn from them to help you innovate and improve. It becomes a flywheel.
Content. The more compelling and relevant your content, the more you will attract the audience most likely to benefit from your offerings.
Community. The more your content resonates within and among audiences, the greater your capacity to build a community and engage in dialogue to improve sales, products, services, and support.
Conversion. The more effectively you convert sales, the more you can learn from customer experience about how to improve your engagement and conversion process.
Conversations Worth Starting
Using the 3×3 chart above, look at the 9 intersecting boxes and ask the questions implied by the two nouns whose paths cross in each box.
Example 1: Value + Content. In the upper left intersecting box, where Value and Content intersect, Marketing might ask: How can we improve our Content to increase the Value of each sale? Sales might ask: How can the improved Value of each sale guide us in improving Content? It’s the same question, asked from different perspectives, that aligns your response.
Example 2: Conversion + Velocity. In the bottom right box, where Conversion and Velocity intersect, Marketing might be asking: How can we improve the Conversion process to accelerate the Velocity of Sales? Sales might ask: What sales accelerators can we use as input for improving the Conversion process?
See how it works? You may come up with better questions to suit your organization’s culture and challenges. Now, formulate your own questions using the relevant nouns for each intersecting box, turn those questions loose in your organization, and watch what happens.
Measuring results with analytics, sales CRM and marketing automation solutions can help you measure and manage your improvement. If you need assistance here, contact us.
How’s it working for you? What questions would you ask your colleagues to help you get better aligned? Drop us a comment here; we’d love to hear your feedback! Visit our Resources page for more free strategy tool downloads.
Having led goal-beating sales and marketing teams (details: see my LinkedIn profile), I have found that cross-functional synergy to be an essential ingredient in business success. ~Ed
To help keep sales teams focused on essential steps and processes, try using this simple, downloadableSales Pipeline Best Practice reference chart. Assess any single prospect using this plain-English chart, and you will instantly understand their deal value relative to their place in the pipeline, and pinpoint the next steps you can take to increase that value – or devalue it as appropriate.
Sales Stage Summary – helps you assess whether your prospect is Qualified, Scoped, Evaluated, post-mortem evaluated, etc.
Key activities – chores and self-test questions for validating and moving prospects up or down the Pipeline;
Milestones – Decision points and signposts for verifying your assessments;
Control documents and tools – essential elements for effective assessment and communication;
CRM tasks – recordkeeping duties which help your CRM system update the forecast and schedule/prompt you on next steps;
Probability – relative value of each prospect at each stage of the Pipeline;
Partner Forecast – analogous information for assessing your resellers and partners
Hope is Not a Strategy. Groom better sales pros using the Best Practice chart
What makes the top 15% of sales pros into stars, another 50% solid contributors, and the remainder only occasionally brilliant? I believe that you can have more top sales pros on your team if they could make this single page Sales Pipeline Best Practice chart into a habit.
No matter how great a relationship builder your top sales pros may be, they don’t stay at the top without attending to a customer’s pain. It requires methodical, relentless focus that can seem intuitive but can definitely be learned. Such learned, relentless focus keeps the client so comfortable that they can’t even imagine alternatives, relying on your top sales pro (“TSP”) for all their resource needs. Your TSP knows how to make him/herself an indispensable, irreplaceable, joined-at-the-hip resource for life, turning the client into a raving fan.
Of course, even TSPs don’t always win, for a variety of other reasons, some of which are covered in previous articles, like:
Can you groom more top sales pros? Yes, if they are willing. Are you a good enough coach? It requires a few essentials, like instilling in your team the ability to accurately forecast. I have seen accurate forecasting offset even the limpest personal skills. Customers respect the diligence and focus of an accurate forecaster who gets to the heart of the matter and focuses on the critical path to their satisfaction. A limp but accurate forecaster may receive fewer golf invitations, but they keep the customer and your organization effectively engaged.
Making it Work for You
TheSales Pipeline Best Practice reference chart has been jokingly referred to by colleagues as the “eye chart”. If you can read this chart, you know how to accurately forecast, and you always know what to do next. You can avoid overblown optimism and unrealistic assumptions. You can detect bottlenecks, derailment and other disruptive patterns. You can reduce financial miscalculation. The result is improved situation awareness and a more consistently productive sales and marketing team. Every aspect of this Pipeline Best Practice chart is also rooted in, and links back to, fanfoundry best practice. Diligently applied, it will help your Sales and Marketing team sing from the same piece of sheet music. You will share a common language, a shared mission, and a common set of criteria that maps to CRM, performance management and other processes.
If you are student of your profession, you will likely recognize that some terminology on this reference chart has been borrowed from widely popular sales training programs. This is done deliberately to mesh with your sales organization’s frame of reference, to facilitate understanding and immediate application. I have many colleagues to thank for helping to shape and tweak this chart over time. Your input is welcome.
Technology solutions tend to exaggerate things. If you have a good process, implementing a technology solution will improve it. If you have a bad process, likewise that effect will be magnified.
In the course of helping our clients with selecting and implementing sales and marketing automation solutions, our initial discovery talks often lead us to jointly conclude that it’s not yet time, and we instead agree to implement a readiness plan. Over time, our project load has become about evenly split between readiness projects and implementation projects. By first assessing readiness, we tend to find you’ll make better decisions and enjoy improved outcomes.
Assess your readiness: 3 questions
Got a minute? take areadiness quiz. Alternatively, here are three questions you can ask yourself to determine your readiness:
Are basic processes currently in place?
If yes, are the processes working?
Do we have the resources to close any process “gaps”?
If the answer to any of these is no, then you may be a candidate for a readiness project. You certainly wouldn’t want to automate a bad process, and automation is definitely not a cure for a “vacuum” – a lack of process. Above all, don’t buy from anyone who tries to convince you that you’ll figure out the process once you’ve implemented their marketing automation solution. We have seen that course of action result in disenchantment, poor outcomes and underused, expensive tooling. The moral: Implement when ready – not before.
Undecided? Try these two tools
Here are just 2 tools we use to help assess readiness: a Sales & Marketing CRM Maturity Scale, and a “3C” (Content, Conversation, Conversion) process flow map.
Click the on-screen images to enlarge, download etc.
Sales & Marketing CRM Capability Maturity Model
Here we have adapted Carnegie Mellon University‘s venerable Capability Maturity Model for Software Engineering organizations, modifying it to suit Sales and Marketing organizations.
This tool is helpful in stimulating discussion about your organization’s current and desired state of capability, so you can establish goals and plan for success. When interpreting results, you should consider that:
self-raters tend to over-rate;
Most raters gravitate toward the middle of a range – in this case, “Level III – Defined”. Upshot: most organizations readily admit there is room for improvement.
Download your free copy of this 1-page guide at our Resources page. Enjoy!
3C Conversion Model
This chart is useful for helping stakeholders examine how they influence the Content, Community and Commerce aspects of customer acquisition. It focuses on phased data gathering to support the buyer’s journey. For any part of the organization, the questions are similar:
How should we be involved?
Do our processes and our content create a strong CTA (Call to Action) that engages and satisfies strong prospects so they will return, value our resources and assess the fit for our solutions?
Do we elicit and gather data of a sufficient depth and breadth to help us fulfill visitor expectations, fulfill their needs, and inform our strategy?
Help yourself to these tools, and let us know if you find them useful or need advice. You can either “Leave a Reply” below, or ask privately using the “Got a question” button, or take the quick Readiness Quiz.