Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Good Leads CEO Shapes Strategies To Help CMOs Net Results In Recession

By Bob Good , Founder & CEO of Good Leads

portrait_bob-good

The knee-jerk response for many companies during the recent economic downturn was to cut discretionary spending. Unfortunately, these line item cuts often had an adverse effect on business development and lead generation. To help their clients and prospects work around this budget squeeze, Salem, NH-based Good Leads developed several new programs including a “stimulus plan” and a “vertical validation,” offer for its clients.

DemandGen Report recently caught up with Bob Good, Founder and CEO of the business development services firm, to learn more about the impact Good Leads’ programs have had on their clients’ pipelines during the fourth quarter.

DemandGen Report: Good Leads has been running a Q4 stimulus plan – offering a 15% service premium and no long-term commitment. Hopefully, your results were a little better than the government’s stimulus package. Can you share some of the results from that package and any other creative programs you are putting together to help your clients and prospects overcome the challenging economic climate?

Bob Good: We first ran the package in Q1 recognizing the CFO’s had cut off their CMO’s and put many “discretionary” costs on hold relative to phone-based, outsourced business development. To be honest, there were few takers but we knew we needed to be creative as the smart firms were not going to let the sales funnel shrink. We have re-offered it now in the later part of the year, as we see that the “fear factor” of the recession is gone and firms are now coming off the sidelines to active campaigns running again which we anticipate will flow into 2010 continued appropriations.

What we did learn was that those CMOs that weren’t completely cut off had reduced spend objectives and thus we created more of a “Lite” version of our Prospect Builder Program. Not optimum for either party, but with limited outbound dials, we were able to keep a steady, but reduced flow of qualified leads into the customer’s funnel.

DGR: Another unique way you have answered the budget squeeze for your clients is by providing a “lead quantity guarantee” with your Prospect Builder campaigns. Tell us a little more about how that program works and if that was put together as a direct response to the current business environment?

Good: Good Lead’s “lead quantity guarantee” is actually not a response to today’s economic environment but has always been one of the key features of our Prospect Builder Program since we began the firm in 2002. We contractually stipulate to a fixed minimum number of leads that will be delivered to our customers over the remaining term of their campaign after a brief pilot period. We fix this quantity after running the program for 60 days to see the acceptance of our customers offering by the market and the actual run rate of opportunities we have developed per the customer’s own lead definition. With this experiential data, both parties agree upon what that lead quantity guarantee should be based on facts and not what goals have been given to the CMO to achieve. This feature is core to our success in contrast to vendors that guarantee a fix number of leads before even knowing what the potential customer sells.

Not surprisingly in this economic environment, CMOs with limited budgets need to see net results; thus the final product of our Prospect Builder Program are leads/opportunities that are covered by our unique “lead quality warranty” which is covered contractually in writing. As a key program feature, we warrantee all of our workmanship if our customers feel it is not what we purported it to be. Our core mission statement is to be a trusted source.

DGR: You get exposure to the pipeline activity of a lot of different companies. What is your sense of the business climate? Do you think things are opening up as we head into 2010?

Good: The second half of our year has been significantly busier. We are hiring again. As I said before, the shear fear factor is gone and CFOs are slowly coming off the highest “alert” levels. If not because their economic indicators are better but because the top line sales revenues have been challenged due to earlier constrained demand gen budgets. We have had customers come back and those that postponed Q1/2 activities are now getting going so that the rest of our year is building relationships with prospects but really hopeful of hitting the market hard in January.

DGR: The Market Landscape Briefing and Vertical Validation services Good Leads offers are designed to help clients offer new markets with better intelligence and confidence of their positioning. What kind of discoveries do you typically uncover for your clients in the process of researching a vertical or new category?

Good: For the Market Landscape Briefing (MLB) and Vertical Validation (VV) services,

typical discoveries include:

A market opportunity that seems like it should be a really great investment is actually not.

For one client, we had completed a program risk profile and competitive and partner snapshot as part of the MLB. Based on our research, we recommended to the client that they walk away from an investment that looked as if it should have massive returns. The company agreed and ultimately saved $5 million by not entering what is now a flat market that is over-saturated with players.

The investment in the MLB and VV delivers returns that extend into other aspects of the business.

Demand generation and building of the sales funnel, outbound marketing including sales collateral, white papers and Web sites, and the "elevator pitch" and the longer term product strategy all flow seamlessly from the groundwork completed. The MLB and VV make work with internal teams and outside resources such as ad and branding agencies more cost effective and quicker to execution.

The MLB and VV frameworks drive strategic and crucial discussions — and decisions — not just marketing choices.

The framework and facilitation allows executive teams and staff to have discussions that challenge individual assumptions or instinct in a constructive, action-oriented way. As an example, we frequently have client team members pull us aside and say that what was discussed is something that needed to be discussed, but there just had not been a way to get the topic the attention it needed. Having these crucial discussions out in the open almost always lead to more team commitment and a better decision for the business.

DGR: Good Leads was recently selected by the University of New Brunswick to work with grad students and 10 startups on their marketing strategies. How did that program go? What experience were you able to share with the grad students and what did you personally learn from that exercise?

Good: The program with the International Business & Entrepreneurial Centre of UNB is currently underway with the program timeline endpoint being in April 2010 when the startups arrive in New England to meet with business prospects where we have aligned them based upon the joint marketing and export plans between the UNB graduate students and the firms. The teams are actively meeting and we will be reviewing their progress in a mid program visit to Portland, Maine in January. All of the students are wide-eyed and full of energy and always want to know “why not”. The entrepreneurs are full of optimism with their 3-5 year plan projecting “millions.” My seasoned staff team members will try to harness the enthusiasm and create the right expectations for their first sets of conversations with business suspects with they visit the U.S.

Bob Good , Founder & CEO of Good Leads, leverages his 25 years of hands-on executive experience in sales, marketing, operations and management to provide clients in high technology, financial services, telecom, pharmaceuticals and the BtoB sector business development best practices and telesales techniques. His sales teams also boast proficiency with the most advanced customer relationship management tools that promote sales, including those that facilitate Web collaboration and sales force automation tools.