WHAT ARE “UNTAPPED PROSPECTS?
Untapped prospects are a) accounts and sites with the same characteristics as your best customers, but are not in your marketing database, and are therefore invisible to you, and b) unidentified key player contacts within accounts and sites you are already targeting who are in the decision-making group for your product or service. These contacts are especially significant, because they represent a segment of your market you may now believe is visible to you but in fact, is not.
HOW THE STAUTS QUO CREATES BLIND SPOTS
Many marketing and sales techniques in use today practically assure that your company is overlooking major parts of your available market, missing viable prospects in the part of the market you are actively targeting.
DATABASE BUILDING BY DRIVE-BY
Sales people, including those that work for channel companies, generally build market knowledge through referrals and drive-bys. A “drive-by” is a situation in which a sales person is on their way to an appointment and notices a large building with an impressive logo and thinks, “They must buy what I sell somewhere in there. ” The sales person adds the company name to a list of cold-call accounts. When business is slow, they might pull out that list of cold call accounts. Sales management works diligently to keep sales people from spending any time on untested accounts, and that is an absolutely correct posture for them to assume. Ideally, it is a salesperson’s job to close deals, not find and cultivate new opportunities.
RELYING ON LISTS
Rented lists are one of the most common ways that marketing tries to build market knowledge and generate leads on behalf of sales. Have you ever taken the time to look at those lists? Massini Group has, and what we see is not encouraging. We’ve found that even list sources with relatively strict selection criteria can be 50% or more off target from how they were described. If you doubt this, look at the list of respondents to your latest email or direct mail using rented lists. In one particular case, an enterprise software company found 53% to 76% of its respondents were “off target”. In another, a storage systems company found that eight in nine of the respondents was “off target” even though selection criteria were very strict and the source deemed credible. Worse yet, you have absolutely no leverage to push list owners to develop contacts at accounts that are not presently in their list.
Another appealing source of information to tackle the problem of gaps in market visibility is a commercially compiled list or database. However, like rented data, in and of themselves they are not comprehensive.
A computer hardware company that uses a major provider of IT-installed base data recently estimated that the source had detailed information for just one third of its market.
COMMERCIAL DATA SOURCES ARE AVAILABLE TO YOUR COMPETITION TOO
Also remember that your competition has access to the same commercially available sources. And so does every other company that is marketing and selling any product even remotely similar to yours. This translates to a massive amount of competition for mindshare among the unfortunate individuals whose names appear in those databases.
"AUTOMATING THE PROBLEM" WITH CRM AND SFA
A growing number of companies are investing in CRM or SFA solutions with the expectation that they will improve marketing and sales operations. Unfortunately, these tools generally only increase the velocity of the status quo. If no specific effort is made to change the culture, improve the methodology or advance the science of market penetration, then a system to automate the processes will not help—it will only automate and accelerate a flawed and ineffective process.
In our experience, these tools take significant time to implement and are initially focused on late-stage pipeline accounts and customers, thereby providing no assistance at all to individuals trying to grow their business, generate leads, or meet aggressive sales targets beyond the installed base.
SHEER NUMBERS ARE NOT ENOUGH
No single source of market information can assure you comprehensive market visibility, coverage and penetration. But even a variety of sources of accounts, profiles, attributes and contacts do not necessarily solve the problem. If all of the sources that you acquire essentially offer overlapping views of the market, you have not gained a thing, except maybe a false sense of security. For instance, having 100 contacts at one account and none at 99 other accounts is not helpful. In another scenario, having detailed knowledge of 10% of the installed base of a complementary product is necessary, but not sufficient.
The key is to develop a single data set built from multiple sources, and then develop metrics that illuminate the gaps, both in terms of overall scope and of depth of knowledge. This is an on-going process, and additional sources should be reviewed and added as they become available. The biggest returns are realized as gaps are filled and marketing and sales efforts are directed at the newly discovered accounts and untapped prospects.
FINDING BETTER POINTS OF ENTRY
Tired of fighting to get past gatekeepers? Wouldn’t it be better for you to locate a different individual within the same target company that is not constantly subjected to such a barrage? The response rates that most email, direct mail and telemarketing generate might suggest so. Massini Group definitely believes so. This is not to say such sources of information are not useful. Use them to clarify your vision of the available market, but seek a more fruitful path of entry into the target company.
Most sales process training available today makes it a point to differentiate between the individual within your target company that can make the decision and those that prepare the decision maker to do so. Called the point of entry, or point of receptivity, this individual lives every day with the pain that you seek to remedy.
Depending on the industry, this individual is probably not someone whose name appears in SEC filings. But they are the key to your ability to get your foot in the door. They can identify all of the players in the process and provide your sales people with the internal intelligence needed to advance the process. Your challenge is to find them. This is where alternative sources and data gathering techniques should be used to fill in the gaps left by commercially available sources of information. For example, by first seeking the individual with operational responsibility for the solution they were offering, a data warehousing company increased its appointment-setting rate five times over, making it possible to utilize a face-to-face, scheduled meeting to get past the CIO’s phalanx of gatekeepers.
INCREASING MARKET VISABILITY: THE MASTER TARGET SITE LIST
The key to successful market penetration lies in exposing untapped prospects by improving the quality of the data upon which you base your programs. This is not accomplished simply by “buying a better list. ” It is done by qualifying existing data, verifying it, identifying and filling in the gaps, and engineering an improved system that allows you to continually improve and augment the data throughout the sales cycle—all while furnishing your sales force with higher-quality, on target leads. The result is greater market visibility in the form of a Master Target Site List that accurately represents your full potential market.
Creating a Master Target Site List is a process, not an event. If your current marketing practices are based on sales-force or third-party data sources, the steps are straightforward:
Once developed, the Master Target Site List provides the following critical benefits:
The payoff potential is enormous in terms of the efficiency and effectiveness of marketing operations, alignment between marketing and sales, and the ability to rapidly sequence actions based on an objective understanding of the gaps in your knowledge base.
PROOF: MASTER TARGET SITE LIST = BETTER RESULTS
Example #1: Fortune 1000 Storage Company
ASSIGNMENT: This company was seeking to substantially increase penetration of their storage products among the 4,000 largest hospitals in the U. S.
MEASURE: Gain initial responses from qualified targets in order to initiate a marketing dialogue.
KEY STRATEGY: Compare traditional direct marketing with the Master Target Site List approach while gaining initial responses. The incumbent approach involved use of direct mail targeted using rented lists. The rented lists had exactly the selection criteria they wanted and were generally known to be the best sources available. The direct mail seemingly produced good results, generating a 4.5% response in a market generally known to produce only 0.5% response. However, of the 450 responses, only 100 actually hit the target list of 4,000. The remaining responses were from a) hospitals that were too small, or b) allied industries (companies selling products to hospitals). Of the 100 in the target list, 50 were from hospitals with previous sales processes underway and thus did not present new sales leads. This left only 50 new hospitals that would be considered “good” prospects for the sales force. Thus, the “successful” direct mail program really only generated that same anemic 0.5% response the market “expects. ”
ENGINEERED PROCESSES: Using the Master Target Site List approach to achieve the same objective, the company purchased an unlimited-use list of contact names and cross- indexed them with the target 4,000 hospitals. There were 2,500 of the contact names that connected to the target hospitals. The remaining names, those not on the target list, were discarded for a lack of fit (prior to any further investment by marketing or sales). A telemarketing effort was directed at the 2,500 names, and 900 offers were accepted, representing 600 of the target 4,000 hospitals. All 600 sites were in the Master Target Site List of 4,000 hospitals and none of them had a prior sales force relationship (both of those factors were confirmed prior to the telemarketing effort).
RESULTS: The Master Target Site List approach resulted in 12 times the number of accepted offers by qualified prospects, compared to the previous direct marketing approach.
To further emphasize the value of the Master Target Site List approach, the cost of the rented list approach was three times the cost of the Master Target Site List of 4,000; therefore, the overall benefit of the target universe base approach in terms of cost-per-outcome was 36 times better than the standard approach. The tremendous improvement experienced by this company exemplifies the rationale for using the Master Target Site List approach. If you allocate some of your marketing funds to developing and maintaining the complete target universe, your marketing programs will perform better in terms of achieving sales goals, and will easily pay for themselves.
Further Proof: Fortune 500 Computer Company
ASSIGNMENT: A leading direct-sales computer manufacturer had been given aggressive new objectives for the expansion of PC and server sales in several markets: K-12; higher education; state, local and federal government; and healthcare. This directive came on the heels of this business unit having achieved only 91% of their revenue objective in the previous fiscal year. Massini Group helped their marketing team discover untapped prospects—the set of prospective customers who were currently not being engaged by their direct sales force. The challenge was to first identify these customers, then form viable relationships with them, and bring them all the way through the sales process—into the company’s online store to purchase products.
MEASURE: To meet or exceed sales goals by growing the revenue from the small/midsize segments in excess of targeted levels.
KEY STRATEGY: Rapidly increasing visibility to untapped prospects through the use of Master Target Site Lists focused on each key market segment.
ENGINEERED PROCESSES: Overall, the company needed to gain control of their complex sales process, and Massini Group teams worked with them to accomplish this goal. A four-phase, end-to-end marketing and sales funnel program was implemented, based on the Massini Group’s Dialogue Strategy.
1. Created Master Target Site Lists (master list of target sites), starting with an extensive analysis of the business unit’s existing sales database. This process confirmed 69% of their target sites were untapped opportunities—target sites and contacts with which they had not established a measurable relationship.
2. Identified key decision-makers at a much higher percentage of the Target Sites, using telemarketing assets (the idea is not to use inside sales resources to create your Master Target Site List, but to use them later to exploit it).
3. Secured email opt-ins among known decision-makers, by using a combination of telemarketing, direct mail and email, supported by a Web-based resource center.
4. Followed-up the opt-ins with aggressive e-marketing, to either cause interested prospects to visit the online store, or motivate the prospect to establish a relationship with an account manager for near-term sales.
RESULTS: Since the Dialogue Strategy methodology was implemented in mid-2001, our client has increased their coverage of targeted sites to 100%, and their contact coverage (identification of at least one decision-maker at a target site) from 31% to 88%.
Additionally, they converted high percentages of their untapped prospects into partially and fully engaged relationships* with target accounts over the six measured quarters. A significant percentage of those relationships converted into business, and their all-important revenue performance ballooned to over 130% of target.
Many companies are experiencing underwhelming sales figures because their database marketing programs only effectively target and sell to one third of their market potential. The remaining untapped prospects must be identified, targeted and cultivated to produce the sales figures necessary to keep companies competitive.
Developing a Master Target Site List, which includes previously unidentified accounts and sites, and previously unidentified key players, is the key to:
This is true whether companies depend on ad hoc sales, drive-bys, rented lists, internally developed marketing lists, or automated sales-funnel systems. Combined with the Massini Group Dialogue Strategy, the Master Target Site List methodology enables strong ROI, and sales growth superior—by orders of magnitude—to other industry practices.
The net result of this engineered approach is greater market visibility, increased operational efficiency, improved alignment and relations between marketing and sales, and clear action directed by concrete gap analysis.
ABOUT MASSINI GROUP
Massini Group is a full-service Business-to-Business database and relationship marketing firm specializing in complex marketing and sales processes. The company enables clients to gain control of complex marketing processes through the development and improvement of key marketing methods. “Engineered processes” developed by Massini Group can dramatically improve the results of database marketing initiatives, in both implementation time and execution. Massini Group has a proven track record of significantly improving sales results for its clients.
To learn more about how Massini Group helps companies engineer marketing and sales processes for maximum results, visit massini-group.com, or contact Sarah Harrington (503-274-7335) to schedule an introductory meeting with a Massini Group partner.