Monday, August 29, 2011

There is always a plan "B"

"Everyone has a plan ’till
they get punched in the mouth."

                                                                                              Mike Tyson

by Steve Blank

One of the key distinctions between an entrepreneur and an operating executive is an entrepreneur’s almost seamless agility in the face of changing circumstances versus an operating executive’s intense execution focus on a plan. World-class entrepreneurs learn how to combine both.


Driving home over the mountains from a Coastal Commission hearing, I had time to ponder an email I received from a city official as the road wound through the Redwood trees. The Coastal Commission had found that a zoning change his city requested didn’t conform to the Coastal Act, and we denied it. I felt sorry for him because he had put together a project that depended upon the property owner, developer, unions, hotel operator, local neighbors, city council, weather, wind speed, phase of the moon and astrological sign all aligning just to get the project in front of us. It was like herding cats and pushing water uphill. Reading his email I was sympathetic realizing that if you substituted customers, channel, product development, hiring, board of directors, and fund raising, he was describing a typical day at a startup. I felt real kinship until I got to his last sentence:

“Now we’re screwed because we had no Plan B.”

Say what?

I had to read his email a few times to let this sink in. I kept thinking, “What do you mean there’s no plan B?” When I shared it with the other commissioners who were public officials, all of them could see that there could have been tons of alternate plans to get a project approved, and there were still several options going forward. But the mayor just had been so intently focussed on executing a complex Plan A he never considered that he might need a Plan B.
By the time the mountain road unwound into rolling pastures and then flattened into the farmland just south of Silicon Valley, I realized that this was a real-world example of the difference between an entrepreneur and an operating executive.
There’s Always a Plan B

My formal definition of a startup is a temporary organization in search of a scalable and repeatable business model. Yet if you’ve founded a company you know that regardless of any formal definition, startups are inherently pure chaos. As a founder, keeping your company alive requires you to think creatively and independently because more often than not, conditions on the ground will change so rapidly that any original well-thought-out plan quickly becomes irrelevant. (It’s equally true for startups, war, love and life.)

The reality is that to survive requires a mindset which can quickly separate the crucial from the irrelevant, synthesize the output, and use this intelligence to create islands of order in the all-out chaos of a startup.

To do this you are instinctually creating and testing multiple hypotheses which are creating an infinite number of possible future plans. And when the inevitable happens and some or all your assumptions were wrong, you pivot your model into the next plan and continue forward. You do this until you find a scalable and repeatable business model or you die by running out of money.
Great entrepreneurs don’t just have a Plan B, they have Plans B through Z

Lessons Learned
 A startup is initially about the search for a repeatable and scalable business model

Most of the time your hypotheses about Plan A, B and C are wrong

Searching requires agility, tenacity, resilience, curiosity, opportunism and pattern recognition

Execution requires a different set of skills. At times it means bringing an operating executive

Operating executives excel at focussed execution

World-class technology CEO’s learned how to combine Searching and Execution (Gates, Jobs, Ellison, Bezos, Page, et al)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

5 Impediments to Turnaround and Growth

Mark Fuast believes that we need to adopt an attitude of “growth regardless of current success.” In the very practical Growth or Bust, he asks, “How much untapped potential lies within your business?”

In his experience as a growth and turnaround consultant, Faust has found that improving sales and profits has little to do with sales training, consulting, or other quick fixes. We already know what to do. “Fostering new growth is more about innovation than marketing angles, sales productivity, or skills; growth is more about a culture of continuous improvement than marketing blitz; growth is more about possibility-thinking than fear-fostering quotas.”

Growth or Bust shows leaders how to create a growth revolution. And it starts at the top. The first person to turnaround is you. “There is no virtue in leadership as important to accelerated growth and turnaround as that of humility.” He lists five impediments to turnaround and growth that any leader should look at:

1. Pride. Unhealthy levels of pride contribute to a leader’s failure to give credit to others, an unwillingness to listen to others, an inability to share emotional ownership of ideas or company success, and prevent a leader from admitting that they may be a contributor to any problem.
2. Abusive Relationships. Inappropriate relationships an abusive behavior intended to demean or control others creates a ripple effect throughout the company.
3. Gossiping. Repeating any report that is not positive about others to those who have no responsibility in the matter is poison. Even when a bad report is 100% factual, it is still gossip.

4. Greed. Unfair pay and entitlement at the top often becomes obvious to the employees and growth is constrained as a result.

5. Any of the Five Dysfunctions in the Principle of Authority:

• Lack of a clear authority structure. Especially in partnerships, when the chain of command is not clearly defined, chaos, dysfunction, and frustration will ultimately ensue.

• Lack of respect for the chain of command. A proper lack of respect for the chain of command creates conflict. At the same time, it shouldn’t inhibit open communication.

• The inability to communicate up the ladder without fear of retribution with legitimate appeals and a clear appeal process. Without it, bitterness and resentment will quickly grow.

• The lack of checks and balances. A titular leader with no checks and balances is bound to get into situations in which the lack thereof will stagnate growth in the team. Being a top leader requires you to constantly check your actions. Even if you feel your integrity is flawless, you’re a=subordinates might think otherwise.

• Megalomania and rebellion. A autonomous leader that is not willing to submit to anyone or anything will eventually endanger the existence of the organization. As a leader, you must show that you are truly willing to submit to some higher authority on at least some issues.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Lucy Kellaway: The seven deadly sins CEOs won't admit

It's a classic job interview question: "What are your strengths and weaknesses?" At the top of the business world, people seem to have taken to heart the advice to admit no negative traits, just positives in disguise, says Lucy Kellaway of the Financial Times.  
Every week for the past year and a half, the Financial Times has asked business leaders 20 questions including: "What are your three worst features?"

Executive Sins? They are:

Control freaks



Bad at listening


Afraid of conflict

No good at small talk

By studying the replies, I've amassed a treasure trove of data that overwhelmingly supports a long-held pet theory of mine.

The three worst traits of chief executives are a lack of self-knowledge, a lack of self-knowledge and a quite extraordinary willingness to give themselves the benefit of the doubt.
When it comes to describing their dark sides, 58 out of 60 leaders felt bound by the same rule - any weakness is perfectly admissible, so long as it is really a strength.
They almost all cite impatience, perfectionism and being too demanding - all of which turn out to be things that it's rather good for a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) to be.

What is particularly interesting about this mass outpouring of faux weaknesses is that there is no difference between men and women, and no difference between Americans and Europeans. All are as bad as each other.


 Anyone who has ever spent five minutes talking to a CEO can tell you that they have more faults than the next person, because they are extreme versions of humanity.

In the past 15 years of studying them, I've drawn up a list of the seven most common deadly sins.

They are control freaks. They are vain. They are ditherers. They don't listen. They are bullies. They are afraid of conflict. And they can't do small talk.

Given that most of the 60 interview candidates were probably guilty of at least one of the above, why did none of them own up?

The first possibility is that they didn't dare.
But I suspect the real problem is worse: they don't know what their faults are.
A decade of psychobabble, coaching and 360-degree feedback has made no difference.
It has not changed the most basic truth - people never speak truth to power.

Honesty prize

This denial of flaws is a pity. We like people better when they wear their blemishes openly. It makes them seem more human.
There is only one senior leader I know who has no obvious faults at all.

His lack of weaknesses does not make me think him the most brilliant executive I've ever met. Instead it makes me think him flimsy and slightly untrustworthy. I'm sure there is a bad weakness in there somewhere, and it troubles me that I haven't yet found it.

Of the 60 leaders, only two admitted to big faults.
Marcus Wareing owned up to one of the most common yet unmentionable sins - he doesn't listen.
But then he's a chef, and chefs aren't meant to be listening. They are meant to be making sure the iles flottantes are taken to table six - now!
My prize for honesty goes to Jon Moulton, the private equity tycoon, who has made enough money to be able to say what he likes.

His declared weakness is absolutely taboo, yet goes with the territory. Indeed, it is a weakness the other 59 leaders demonstrated through the self-serving answers they gave.

His stated fault - "excess of ego".


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Ten things top entrepreneurs do differently

Often, entrepreneurs are characterized as the “rock stars” of the business world. This romantic vision is appealing but, like most stereotypes, a far cry from reality. So, what makes a good entrepreneur great? There’s no entrepreneurship gene. But a new Ernst & Young survey shows leading entrepreneurs do share common traits, beliefs and approaches that empower them to drive innovation – and economies – around the world.

1. They’re made, not born

Fifty-eight per cent of entrepreneurs we surveyed have “transitioned” to entrepreneurship, and one-third say their experience as an employee enabled them to build a successful enterprise of their own. You may not be an entrepreneur yet – but you could be one soon. And everything you’re learning now will help along the way.

2. They believe knowledge should be shared

More than three-quarters of Canadian respondents are mentoring other entrepreneurs in some form. They value the lessons learned from these relationships, and they pass that knowledge on. Collaborating like this benefits the teacher, and the student.

3. They know keeping an eye on the cash prize pays off

Accessing funding is the top challenge facing entrepreneurs today, and a real stumbling block to startup success. Those who succeed do so by building strong relationships and thinking outside the financing box, looking for alternatives and opportunities long after the first “no.”

4. The best realize there’s no I in team

Good entrepreneurs surround themselves with good people – who have the technical and business skills to take the company forward, but also share the leader’s values. Survey respondents say finding people who share their vision is challenging but critically important.

5. Success can mean choosing between being rich and being king

All founders of growing companies face a central decision: do they desire wealth or hands-on involvement? The ability to make big picture decisions like these makes or breaks entrepreneurs. Successful entrepreneurs navigate this carefully and move according to their ultimate goal.

6. Some see opportunity where others see disruption

Success lies in the way entrepreneurs view the world. Even disruptions like the financial crisis generated opportunities for entrepreneurial leaders willing to take them. Our survey reveals entrepreneurs have at their core a unique way of viewing the world around them and acting on that view.

7. Failure is best worn as a badge of honour

The extent to which a culture celebrates or stigmatizes failure can make a difference in how entrepreneurial leaders see risk. Early business failures should be seen as providing vital experience for future successes.

8. True entrepreneurs are architects of their own vision

Seventy-six per cent of those surveyed peg vision as the top quality of successful entrepreneurs. Those who succeed have helped people come together around a common purpose to achieve a goal. This comes from a vision owned not only by the people in the business, but also by investors, customers, suppliers and all those the organization touches. The entrepreneurial leader must be the architect of that vision to succeed.

9. Entrepreneurs succeed by seeking to be better

Although innovation is important, filling niches and market gaps does not need to involve radical new solutions. Often, an entrepreneurial business can simply fit a better business model or a more effective way of delivering a product or service. Pushing products, services and people to be better is at the core of the entrepreneur’s being.

10. They balance blue skies with the bottom line

To be an entrepreneur, you must not only be an opportunist, but also be an optimist. The world’s best entrepreneurs see opportunities and truly believe they can create ways to profit from them. Maintaining a deep-rooted sense of optimism doesn’t mean you are unrealistic. But it does allow entrepreneurs to push their ideas harder, sometimes giving them a competitive edge.

Ernst & Young’s report, Nature or nurture? Decoding the entrepreneur, is based on a survey of 685 entrepreneurs and in-depth interviews with winners of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year® Award around the world.

Thanks to the Globe & Mail

Monday, August 15, 2011

Start Up Sales Strategy

Nat Turner writes about creating a selling strategy for start ups with his experience with Invite Media which he sold to Google in 2005. Enjoy!

If you’re starting a company, you’re going to have to sell your product/service to potential customers (at least if you plan on making any money). This especially applies to enterprise software companies or B2B companies in general, as you’re selling to someone who’s job may ultimately be on the line for the “who we’re going with” decision (related post: The IBM effect). Your company’s strategy and style of how you sell your product is extremely important, and like many other things in your startup’s life cycle, is critical to be aware of and get right. It’s the first impression you make on customers, may be the deciding factor on if you get the business, and depending on the company may end up being a major part of your culture.

First, I’m going to assume you’re building a product to the best of your ability and have built an effective product management process. This post is squarely about how you put that product in customer’s faces and win deals. At Invite Media, the company I co-founded, the core concepts of sales strategy became drilled in our head as we faced the market and encountered competitors. We learned we needed to be conscious of how we sold our product and the first interactions customers had with our company, very specifically, and needed to develop a sales strategy that we could teach others as we scaled the organization. In other words, it wasn’t enough to build the greatest platform we could. We by no means perfected it and more sales-focused organizations probably can do this stuff in their sleep over time, but we definitely came to appreciate it’s importance. Over time, as our sales strategy evolved, it ultimately influenced many other functions at our company, such as how we recruited people and raised money. Overall, the day we figured out how to put ourselves in our customer’s shoes was the day we learned how to effectively sell.

My first piece of advice on sales strategy at startups is to not oversell your product. Aggressive sales tactics piss people off, and set a bad first impression. There’s nothing worse than a salesperson who doesn’t take no for an answer and talks out of his ass about the product and promises the moon, and worse is selling a shitty product to begin with. If your product sucks, fix your product. In other words, fix the root cause, don’t rely on sales to win deals. Companies who rely on aggressive sales tactics in order to win business in general are probably compensating for a weak product, at least in my experience (or are knowingly selling a scam). Even more disappointing is when a company has a great product but uses aggressive sales tactics and steps on their own toes with customers, as that’s something that was entirely avoidable. This unfortunately isn’t uncommon in startups, as many founders decide they can’t or shouldn’t sell and “check the box” by hiring a sales person, which can be extremely hit or miss and hard to do without prior experience (a topic for another day).

The reason this is important is that in ad technology (and in most spaces probably), we learned that the best platform/technology doesn’t necessarily win every deal. Like in sports, that’s why they play the games (i.e., don’t declare a winner based on who has the best team at the start of the season). In startups, sales strategy is an important part of the game. You obviously have to have a great product to ultimately be successful, but you also have to be smart about how you sell it. In other words, the winner of a deal will have a combination of both a great product and a great sales strategy, and rarely does one win being extremely heavy on one side. As an investor or acquirer, if you did have a company on one end of the spectrum and thus wasn’t properly balanced, you’d obviously love to see a company on the “great product, horrible sales strategy” side, as fixing sales strategy is way easier than fixing a shitty product. This even applies to companies with no actual sales people and a purely self-service system, whereby the sales strategy ends up becoming your accessible messaging, how you offer the product online, etc…

At Invite, our sales strategy was very simply “educate the potential customer on the Invite platform, answer any and all questions, and be confident that we have the best platform and that they’ll ultimately chose us.” As a side note, that doesn’t mean we took the initial meeting and then just sat around and hoped they emailed us back; we did our fair share of following up on next steps and checking in if we had mutual expectations to move the process along, but we made sure to never cross the line of being aggressive. Ultimately, if the customer picked someone else because the platform was lacking in an area they required, either we needed to decide to fix that in our product or decide that client wasn’t a fit for us because what they were asked for wasn’t going to be in our roadmap (and both happened a lot). That’s why things like the product feedback cycle (i.e., reducing the number of “layers” between a client’s product feedback and your engineering team) are important, which I’ll mention again later in this post. These are the kind of questions you’ll need to go through, and it took us while to get there (and still wasn’t perfect).

My second piece of advice is think extremely hard about the incentives you give your sales team. The world is run on incentives. You as a startup founder are incentivized

If you do hire sales people, hire sales people who can discern what clients are asking for in your product and can effectively work with your product and engineering teams to improve the product based on that feedback. That doesn’t mean hire a sales person who can code, as that’s a rare thing, but hire a sales person who is comfortable with technology if you’re a technology company, is smart enough to dig into basic tech details, and is a willing and capable listener but also communicator (what good is listening if you do a crappy job of explaining what you heard to the person who needs to build it?). It’s always a scary thing when you see a young company with a product that’s still evolving put a junior or incapable sales person in front of their early clients, and the customer provides all sorts of valuable product feedback that you know won’t ultimately get back to the engineering team in a meaningful way (or worse yet, doesn’t get the feedback in the first place because he didn’t know what questions to ask or didn’t given the customer a chance to speak). Customers really appreciate sales people who understand their needs, understand the product, take the time to listen, and can trust that what they’re telling them is actually being taken back to the engineering team properly. This will build confidence in your product and team that the customer can rely on. It all starts with that initial sales strategy. That’s another reason why it’s great to see founders do a lot of the initial sales, as the product feedback is never more important than then and the founder(s) should know their product better than anyone else at the company.

Another important step is to as the founder, lead and help craft a definition of and a list of characteristics of who your ideal customers are. This is especially important in B2B companies, as every company is different and can be highly complex. If your industry is small enough, this may be an actual list of potential customer names. Making mistakes here are hard to fix if you bring on a customer that isn’t a fit (for both sides). It’s kind of like a golf swing and alignment. You could have the greatest swing in the world, but if you aim at the wrong target and still make the perfect swing (or perfect sales strategy), you’ll still miss. Do you work with agencies or advertisers, or both? Each has it’s own implications for sales strategy and ultimately servicing if you win the deal. Do you only want to work with customers who have a certain number of employees? Or who are or aren’t using a particular piece of software or have previous experience with it? You can always update this definition and/or hit list, and should. The more effort you put into defining who is your ideal customer upfront, the better focused your sales team will be and the less time you’ll waste of your potential customers. Why meet with a company/prospect and confuse them and/or sell them on something you have no intention of delivering or isn’t a fit if you could have known that upfront?

My last piece of advice is to track as much as you can, as you can’t improve something you don’t measure. Figure out close rates on deals for starters. If you have multiple sales people, track performance and patterns across people. Use systems like Salesforce to organize and track stuff like this. If you have a really low deal close rate, you could either have a shitty product, a shitty sales strategy (and/or people), or you could also even be pitching the wrong clients (or all of the above). Figure out what it is. Use data to help you figure out how to adapt and evolve your sales strategy. In this process you may learn that your market is too small, or that you’re building the wrong thing, or that your definition of who an ideal customer is was too broad or too narrow, or that your sales people aren’t effectively able to sell your product. Always be learning.

As a final note, this isn’t re-inventing the wheel and hardly scratches the surface on the topic of sales strategy. There are plenty of better articles on the basics of things like aggressiveness and the concept of sales strategy as a whole that are extremely helpful and way more in-depth than this post. I highly suggest doing your research on the topic of sales strategy as much as anything else.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Why You Should Eliminate Titles at Start-ups

This is an interesting article by Jeff Bussgang on how titles hamper start up growth. On the flip side, I have seen startups hand out big titles, sometimes in excange foe lesser pay, which also hamper growth. enjoy!

There has been a recent dialog around a theme I'll call "hacking the corporation" - creating novel approaches to building young companies, particularly when they are in their formative start-up stage and pre-product market fit. One of them, reinventing board meetings (or, "Why Board Meetings Suck"), has gotten some attention from leading thinkers like Steve Blank and Brad Feld.

I'd like to submit another item to add to the "hacking the corporation" punchlist: elimnating titles.
At business school, I learned all about titles and hierarchies and the importance of organizational structure. When I joined my first start-up after graduation, e-commerce leader Open Market, I found the operating philosophy of the founder jarring - he declared no one would have titles in the first few years. If you needed a title for external reasons, our founder told us, we should feel free to make one up. But we would avoid using labels internally. In other words, there would be no "vice president" or "director" or other such hierarchical denominations.

Why? Because a start-up is so fluid, roles changes, responsibilities evolve, and reporting structures move around fluidly. Titles represent friction, pure and simple, and the one thing you want to reduce in a start-up is friction. By avoiding titles, you avoid early employees getting fixated on their role, who they report to, and what their scope of responsibility is - all things that rapidly change in a company's first year or two.

For example, one of my first bosses in the company later became a peer, and then later still reported to me. Our headcount went from 0 to 200 in two years. Our revenue grew from 0 to $60m in 3 years. We went public only two years after the company was founded. We were moving way too fast to get slowed down by titles and rigid hierarchies. Over the course of my five year tenure, I ran a range of departments - product management, marketing, business development, professional services - all amidst a very fluid environment. Around the time that we went public, we matured in such a way that we began to settle into a more stable organizational structure and, yes, had formal titles. But during those formative first few years, avoiding titles provided a more nimble organization.

So when I co-founded Upromise, I instituted a similar policy: no titles. We had an open office structure and functional teams, but a fluid organizational environment and rapid growth. One of our young team members changed jobs four times in her first year. Only after the first year, as we settled into a more stable organizational structure and I recruited senior executives who were more obviously going to serve as my direct reports on the executive team did I begin to give out titles (CTO, CMO, CFO, etc.). With the title policy, there was some early tension and discomfort (one young MBA kept referring to himself as a VP externally, although he was clearly playing an individual contributor role and was soon layered). Often, when you are running your start-up experiments, you are not even sure of the right profile for employees or organization structure for optimal execution. But you can establish role and process clarity without having to depend on titles.

I haven't been able to institute this systematically in our portfolio, but whenever young start-ups are formed, it's one of the first things I counsel the founder. Don't let your founding team and early hires get too attached to titles and hieararchy. In fact, in that formative first year, see if you can avoid them altogether.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The dreaded "Just checking in"

Craig Rosenberg insights on the flailing attempts of sales people to move the cycle forward is worth the read. Don't be that guy! That "guy" who is just "checking in". 

Tell your sales people they are forbidden to do a  "check in" with their prospects or clients. e.g. "HI ___; just "checking in". Honestly, it has zero value to the buyer and is frankly, embarrassing.  People rarely "check in" in their personal life unless someone is sick.  The sales person is implying they have nothing to offer or they think they have the right to start the conversation off with this so the buyer can update him/her.  No thanks.

Want to know why you aren't getting a response  or moving a deal along? "Checking in" is one reason.

Here are ways to avoid the "check in":

1.  Sales Intelligence -- there is a lot of information about your clients.  Doing 5 minutes of research will provide clues into what your approach should be.  The sales reps who emailed to congratulate me when they read I won an award -- memorable.

2.  Sales Intelligence Part II: Trigger Events -- this is Tibor Shanto and Craig Elias rallying cry and it makes sense.  There are events that happen in a decision maker's business life that are reasons to not just "check in" but go sell.  Here is an example: decision maker just announced that they need to double revenue this year. 

3.  Content -- there is an un-named sales person who "checks in" with me by sending me relevant content offerings.  By the way, she sends blog posts from people unrelated to her company! She is trying to check in by offering me something that makes a difference in my life.  She is creating a trusting, memorable relationship with me.  Oh and by the way, I will sometimes write back (unlike the "check in" emails I receive).

Now, some may say "But there is a reason to 'check in' during the sales cycle".  Typically, the sales person who "checks in" has lost control of a deal.  They don't know what is going on and need to find out more. 

1.  Always mutually agree on a next step or deliverable -- if you leave a call without some type of agreement, you will be FORCED to "check in".  I have heard stories in the old days of enterprise sales reps bringing calendars into sales meetings to create a time line with the prospect.  I like that, you know have something the prospect has agreed to allow you to ask for.  If you "check in", I don't have to get back to you.  If I owe you something, then I owe you a response.

2.  Don't be such a wimp -- this is a business relationship, don't use the "check-in" as a way to be passive-aggressive. Ask for what you want. If someone is supposed to send you their requirements, ask for that. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Lead Nurturing and Mature Lead Management

If the three most important words in real estate are location, location, and location, then the three most important words in Lead Generation are quality, quality, and quality. When it comes to generating leads, think of quality as the “X” factor.

The other critical factor in lead generation is timing. Sales needs a steady supply of high-quality leads in order to meet their sales goals. But what are the necessary ingredients you need to turn this sales-and-marketing dream into a workable reality?

In the 1970s, Paul Masson ran a very successful advertising campaign with Orson Welles as their spokesman. Their tag line, “We will sell no wine before its time,” can be applied to marketers who don’t want to turn their leads over to sales too early.  Not wanting to waste sales’ time is a worthy goal. However, when sales is clamoring for more leads, so they can make their quota, marketing will likely give in and pass on leads prematurely.  

How then can smart marketers make that sure their leads are mature enough to be given to sales? Is there a system that can be put in place that can determine when  leads are ready to buy?

The old theory that leads should be pushed through a pipeline won’t work in today’s sophisticated and complicated markets. The strategic marketing process has changed dramatically from just a few years ago when the sales rep was seen as an adviser who guided the prospect through the decision-making process. Today’s prospect has a wealth of information at his fingertips, and it’s easy to do research, access reviews from peers, and make an informed decision without ever talking to a salesperson.

Today, buyers don’t want to talk to sales reps until they’re ready to buy.  In fact, a recent Forrester Research report stated “Mature lead management processes pay off in better sales follow-up rates and higher close-rate percentages for marketing-generated leads.” 

But how do you know when your leads are mature? What’s the best metric to use?

The answer is that leads need to go through a thorough process that’s been developed by bringing together the entire sales-and-marketing organization. Definitions of lead quality must be established and agreed upon by all constituents.  And protocols for lead scoring, classification, routing, and nurturing all must be established. 

Each of these components will have thresholds and parameters that streamline, automate, maximize, and optimize the lead process. Once it’s honed to perfection, the result is quality leads, better-quality leads, and top-quality leads. 

Companies who partner with a direct marketing agency to create, automate, manage, and facilitate their entire lead generation process will end up far ahead of their competitors.   

Thanks to the The Kern Organization. for this article