#SDSummit Takeaway: SiriusDecisions clarifies a misunderstood statistic – and opens up a whole world of possibilities for integrated digital demand generation

Today is the day SiriusDecisions set the record straight.

Jen Ross & Marisa Kopec unveiled SiriusDecisions new research on B2B buying process and in doing so made a simple but powerful clarification that should open the collective eyes of sales & marketing organizations around the possibilities of digital marketing supported sales prospecting as a competitive difference maker.

The original 67% stat was “67 percent of the buyer’s journey is now done digitally”.

However it often got spun colloquially as: “Buyers are 67% of the way through the sales process before they want to speak to a sales rep.”

The implications of the misinterpreted stat were:

  • Buyers don’t want to talk to reps
  • By the time a buyer wants to talk a rep, they are 2/3 of the way through their buying process

The overall message to sales was one of helplessness and disempowerment.


Today at the SiriusDecisions 2015 Summit we learned about the recent SiriusDecisions study of over 1,000 different B2B buyers from actual purchase processes and we got clarification that: Buyers aren’t 67% through the buying process when they want to talk to a Person/Rep. 67% of the buying process may involve digital content consumption, but the sales/rep engagement is threaded throughout that buying process and spans all stages.

And here’s where it’s most interesting, as I live Tweeted as the event.

The sales and marketing organizations who can partner and enable reps to leverage digital tools to get visibility and engage with prospects will create a massive competitive edge. What we are talking about here:

  • Expanding data sources of potential prospects
  • Leveraging scoring to prioritize best fit leads based on company attributes, web behavior and social interaction
  • Leverage social marketing, content and teleprospecting techniques to build credibility as authority and engage with prospects as early in the buying process as possible
  • Use tools to best tailor conversations and understand where buyer is in the buying process
  • “Rinse and repeat” to deliver useful content to support them through their buying process, wherever they may be

The impact will come from properly harnessing reps around digital interactions. It's about Sales AND Digital and how they work together through the ENTIRE buying process.

Much more empowering for sales reps and teleprospecting.

Much more inspiring for aligned sales and marketing teams to go after this together.

And great news for all the great digital technology vendors at #SDSummit who can add value to help companies build that aligned sales and digital marketing demand generation machine.

Related Resources:

How HubSpot can improve its tele-program through the principles of inbound marketing (they did invent it after all)

I didn’t appreciate the interruption on my cell phone – especially when I found out WHO had interrupted me.

On the other end of the line was HubSpot – the company who literally wrote the book defining Inbound Marketing and trashing interruption tactics such as cold calling. Yes, it was a HubSpot tele rep calling me on my cell phone on this Friday afternoon – to me, the epitome of disruption.

I pointed out the irony to the rep – “Is this really representative of the HubSpot brand, the company that Brian and Dharmesh built?” I asked.

The conversation drove  me to Tweet this –  when HubSpot chooses to interrupt me on my cell phone, I hold them to a higher standard:

True story: @HubSpot tele rep interrupts me with call to my cell phone, I said this isn't #inboundmarketing is it?

The funny thing is that it wasn’t the disruption that bothered me the most  - it was the low quality of the touch from HubSpot.

HubSpot, with all of their means and resources – and content – and all the rep had to offer in terms of conversation was: “It would be great to take you through how we compare to Marketo.”

A feature / function comparison – no thank you.

The issue cuts deep – the principles of inbound marketing upon which HubSpot has built its business (and a $100 million IPO and now near-$1 billion valuation) – should not be limited to the lead acquisition phase upon which HubSpot initially brought their focus.

These are five ways HubSpot can improve its teleprospecting program – through applying its very own principles of inbound marketing to the middle stages of the buying process.

#1 - Lead with insight

The same principles of inbound marketing apply to touches from teleprospecting – insight is the currency. Reps should establish credibility and earn the right for deeper conversation through sharing insight that establishes they have a subject expertise in an area of importance to their prospect.

#2 - Appeal to problems/issues/pain

The feature/function proposition from the HubSpot rep was not something that I had interest in going deep into. If he had focused the conversation on solving issues that were of high priority to me, that would have been a much better way to start a conversation and convince me that further conversation could be of value to me.

#3 - Be relevant based on content consumed

Perhaps most striking – I’ve been consuming HubSpot content for years – so there should be some strong clues around topics of interest to me – but there was no attempt from the rep to make such connections. That tells me either the HubSpot product isn’t oriented around that, or the company’s thinking around helping buyers doesn’t naturally extend from an inbound lead to a tele lead. 

#4 - Incorporate social media research

If you are reading this you know that I’m not a hard person to find on social media. The best teleprospecting reps incorporate social media intelligence to their conversation. This can either be done on a 1:1 basis, or part of where the predictive lead scoring vendors are going is doing this at scale by helping customers incorporate social intelligence into their lead scoring and the data passed to sales as part of a lead handoff.

#5 - Add value by organizing content for your buyers

HubSpot has contributed to building a world overloaded with digital content – and most buyers are challenged by how to organize that content for themselves and their buying teams.  Teleprospecters can add value through personal pages organized around content as they reach out to customers (see more on this in example #2 in this article), or offer to help a prospect to organize content based on a specific issue – and the content that they then deliver and how they organize it can then help them earn the right for the next conversation, the next positive touch. Tools such as Postwire are worth looking at to help reps deliver content to buying teams – and in fact a HubSpot or Marketo or Pardot would benefit from adding that functionality to their repertoire as it sits at the intersection of content marketing and sales enablement which is where the marketing automation vendors should be headed next.

For more resources on how to create a winning teleprospecting program:

[Downloadable Tool] Planning and Measuring the Capacity of your Teleprospecting Program

I created this Teleprospecting Capacity Model to help manage a teleprospecting program in four ways:

#1 – Setting daily call targets for the teleprospectors – The model shows the impact that the daily number of calls has on the ability to meet targets, and it sets a clear requirement with indication to the Teleprospecting resources of why driving that number up is important.

#2 – Defining the target number of leads as input to the program – Likewise it provides clarity to the demand generation manager on exactly how many leads per time period the model supports. So programs can be tailored accordingly.

#3 – Creating a framework to define the optimal call treatment – The teleprospecting manager can adjust the number of calls and the frequency of the calls and see what the model will support.

#4 – Create a clear delineation on when additional teleprospecting resources will be required – As assumptions are met, there is a clear distinction where additional leads should drive the requirement for the addition of a new rep.

You can download the Teleprospecting Capacity Model as an Excel spreadsheet. 

There are six inputs to the model:

  1. Daily call capacity
  2. Number of leads (MQIs) passed to reach rep per week
  3. Number of calls made per week to each lead –“1” means one call per week; “2” means two calls per week and “0.5” means a call every other week
  4. Number of calls in calling program – how many calls does each prospect receive as part of the program
  5. Average duration through the program before dispositioned (e.g. moved to qualified, nurture or disqualified) – as a percentage
  6. MQL Targets

The output of the model is two-fold:

  • Coverage – How many calls per week is the rep forecasted to be above/below the number of calls required from the model
  • Required Conversion Rate – The required conversion rate will tell you how many MQIs need to be converted per MQL per month. MQI-to-MQL conversion rates typically range from 2-10% so you want to see where you fare on that spectrum.

In addition to tracking this model over time, the specific performance reports to accompany this are:

  • Each week – looking at the number of leads that came in, and the total number of leads with teleprospecting; and the number of calls I the week and the % of leads called.
  • Each month – looking at the # of leads that came in, and of those leads how many turned to MQLs, Nurture, DQ or as still in progress – along with conversion rates for each. This allows you to measure both the effectiveness of the program over time as well as the quality of leads pushed month to month.

I hope you find value out of this and please share any feedback below.

Teleprospecting example of short-circuiting the RFP aka “It’s fun when something plays out just as you drew it in the huddle”

When a basketball coach draws up a play in the closing seconds of a game, and then watches his team execute the play just as he drew it in the huddle, that’s gotta be an exciting moment.

I had my business example of this occur recently, when a prospect’s buyer journey played out “just as I drew it in the huddle”.

As part of our teleprospecting strategy, one of our objectives is to “short circuit the RFP.” We want our content to help us get out in front of the buying process – knowing that today buyers are on average 70% of the way through their buying process when they engage with a sales rep. To do this we position the teleprospecting team as leading a set of expert resources who help customers get educated on issues and get best prepared for their projects.

An RFP (Request for Proposal) is a means of procuring services where the prospect reaches out to multiple vendors for bids – which leads to price discounts, procurement negotiation, delayed processes and frankly is usually inefficient for both the customer and the vendors. To avoid this outcome, the goal of the teleprospecting program is that our educational materials build such credibility with the prospect that they see no value in an RFP and want to immediately move to working with our company and leveraging our products/services.

And on this day, the scenario played out that way.

After a program of nurturing emails, anchored by educational content, our teleprospecting rep received the below email back to her. I’ve abridged it and changes names to “protect the innocent.”

From: Kenny Lightyear (
Sent: Thursday, February 27, 2014 6:38 AM
Subject: Information Advocate
Hi Michelle,
Thanks for your numerous messages and patience – sorry it took so long to get back to you.
…. He goes on to introduce himself and explain that they are a new company that recently split off from a larger organization….

One component that will be critical for us will be an XYZ solution.

At some point in the near future, we’ll be sending out a forma RFP to your company and others. However, I would like to take up your offer to talk about XYZ solutions is general. This isn’t an area that I have much experience in. 
The best time for me is next Wednesday, any time after noon EST. If that doesn’t work, suggest some other times and I will do my best to accommodate. 
Kenny Lightyear

What was amazing about this email message:

  • Having never spoke to Michelle before or worked with our company, he started off the message by thanking her for her patience and numerous message – it shows the approach and content of the messages were valuable as he perceived them as positive touches, and not disruptive.
  • He then apologized for the delay in getting back to her – prospective buyers are increasingly busy, and a lack of response does not necessarily mean a lack of interest – teleprospectors and salespeople need to remember this!
  • He states a need which aligns to our products, and acknowledges that the path they were headed on is the RFP

After a conversation, he agreed to take a meeting with a salesperson – positioned as a specialist.  This occurred one week after his initial email was sent, on 3/6. Key highlights from that conversation:

  • He stated a project was likely going to occur in late Q2
  • He detailed his business and technical requirements, which aligned to our product
  • He stated this time that he may issue an RFP, or he may skip it, “not sure”

Fast forward less than one month – this Insurance company became a customer by the first week in April, for a near six figure deal (which is 4x the average order value).

We did in fact, short circuit the RFP.  We went from “we are going to do an RFP” to “we may be doing an RFP” to “No RFP, we’re going with you guys.”

Call it “content driven, teleprospecting enabled buyer acceleration.” Just like we drew it up in the huddle.