Thought Leadership Interview #1: Anneke Seley proving every day that the Phone Works’ in Lead Generation

Anneke SeleyAnneke Seley is our first interview in the series. Anneke Seley was the twelfth employee at Oracle and the designer of the company’s revolutionary inside-sales operation. She is currently the CEO and founder of Phone Works, a consultancy that helps large and small businesses build and restructure sales teams to achieve predictable, measurable, and sustainable sales growth. Her book, “Sales 2.0: Improve Business Results Using Innovative Sales Practices and Technology,” is available at online retailers. For more information, visit www.sales20book.com.

Everywhere you go in Silicon Valley, people know Phone Works. In my eyes they have evolved their messaging to the point that they are directly associated with the Sales 2.0 movement. I am excited to have them involved in the Funnel Thought Leadership Interview series.

1.   What are the three trends you see emerging in 2009?

  • Proliferation of Sales 2.0 — the use of innovative sales practices enabled by technology that creates value for both the buyer and seller.
  • More focus on measurable, predictable selling and lowering cost of sales.
  • Strengthening of customer relationships and alignment with buyer preferences.

2.   What are the biggest challenges for 2009?

  • Finding new customers with budget and resources this quarter.
  • Keeping sales teams motivated.
  • Getting creative and strategic when it’s necessary to do more with less.

3.   What are three metrics that b2b marketers should care about and why?

  • The number of qualified leads they are adding to pipeline weekly/monthly/quarterly. Volume is important, but numbers alone won’t help sales make its numbers.
  • ROI on marketing investments (best sources of qualified leads) to drive future investments in the most effective programs and avoid spending money on ineffective programs
  • Conversion rates from qualified-lead stage to future stages such as opportunity and close. To align marketing goals with sales objectives, leads should be tracked all the way through the sales cycle. Compensating marketing for generating leads that turn into revenue strengthens this alignment.

4.   What are the top oversights marketers are making regarding lead generation?

  • Not measuring quality or conversion from lead to close.
  • Not communicating with sales on what constitutes a “qualified lead” or “target prospect”
  • Under-investing/not understanding volumes of qualified leads needed in the pipeline for sales to make its numbers.

5.   What will you prescribe to marketers to carry out effective lead generation?

  • We design sales processes that clearly indicate the volume of qualified leads required for revenue objectives to be met.
  • We work with marketing to define target prospects, lead-rating criteria and lead-qualification processes and establish sales development functions to track demand-generation program effectiveness as well as effectiveness of marketing messages, positioning, pricing, lists and offers.
  • We recommend marketing automation tools that can accelerate the sales process and test the results of those tools with pilot programs.

6.   What three Web 2.0 applications, cutting-edge technologies or lead-generation sources do marketers HAVE to consider to be successful?

If forced to pick only three, I would pick a well-designed, easy-to-use, expandable CRM as the foundation, a great contact list/data source that is well-maintained and accurate, and sales analytics tools to facilitate sales process measurement. But there are many other effective tools that help engage or qualify customers online, accelerate the process of connecting with them live, shorten the contracts cycle, and so on.

In order to pick the best technology for you, first establish a sales process to track and measure your sales steps consistently to understand where the selling cycle is stalling or sales challenges are occurring. Only then can you determine which tools can have the most impact for your company.

7.   What do you hope for in b2b sales and marketing for the new year?

  • Close communication and collaboration — with each other as well as with customers and prospects.
  • Changing mindset to embrace Sales 2.0 and the science of predictable selling.
  • Staying positive, optimistic and creative!

Craig Rosenberg is the Funnelholic. He loves sales, marketing, and things that drive revenue. Follow him on Google+ or Twitter

  • http://digitalbodylanguage.blogspot.com Steven Woods

    Craig, great interview. I like the approach to using the phone not as an end-point, but as a part of the lead development and qualification process. In the same way that you might use email, direct mail, or an event to communicate with and educate prospects, you can also use the phone.

    The measurement of qualified leads added to the funnel is key – just because you phone and do not have a lead right away does not mean that the lead is dead, they can be nurtured over time until they are ready to be moved down the funnel as a qualified lead. Measuring on calls/day reinforces quantity over quality, which is the wrong way to go.

    Thanks for the post, much enjoyed.

  • http://www.prolifiq.net Jeff Gaus

    Craig: great post. I think Anneke has gotten a lot of things right; however, I think she, like a lot of non-salespeople believe, that sales is all about databases, metrics and the like. So, I tend to agree with her former co-worker, Anthony Lye SVP of Oracle, had to say about CRM systems ( see post: http://www.prolifiq.net/Blogs/Prolifiq/post/Not-a-damn-thing.aspx ) that they are a data repository and that they have never helped a salesperson sell.

    While marketing has a role, and there are many steps in a sales process that can be modeled, selling involves active listening by a salesperson and the salesperson has to be armed with tools that increase their effectiveness. There are plenty of tools that measure salespeople; few that help them be successful.

  • http://www.sales20book.com Anneke Seley

    Craig: Thanks again for hosting this series. I appreciate the opportunity!

    Jeff: I wanted to response to your comment. My book, “Sales 2.0″, underlines your point that sales is not just about databases – or any technology for that matter. Too many sales and marketing managers, however, try to “run before they walk” with advanced Web 2.0 technologies before they get the basics down. And customer engagement and trusted relationships are a big part of Sales 2.0 as is measurable, predictable, scalable sales processes — you need both to be successful.
    P.S. I interviewed Anthony Lye for my book. He has a lot of great things to say.

  • http://www.prolifiq.net Jeff Gaus

    Anneke: point taken. I will order your book and read it. If I like the thoughts it provokes, I will add it to the company’s monthly book club. Assuming all this happens. look for me to communicate with you for your thoughts about what we conclude. Can you send me (via the email I provided, your contact information?)