One of my favorite quotes for years has been >"you can't steal second base with one foot on first" ....
Too many executives and managers trying to create demand in the form of qualified leads don't understand the risk involved in keeping their feet on first base; they see only the risk of stealing second.
Here's an example. The marketer sells a particular technology for a relatively few industries and for only really big companies within those industries. The true universe here could be 25,000 prospects, tops -- and it's more likely 5,000.
The company thinks that the safest thing to do to create demand for its sales force is to send out an e-mail blast. After all - other than the list cost (and they're intending to use one that doesn't cost very much), their financial exposure is limited. They aren't evaluating the risk of depending on e-mail going to IT managers who are besieged with it.
The company believes that the next safest thing to do is to send a direct mail letter with a response form. After all, studies have shown that a letter in a plain #10 envelope can draw a 1% response. It is possible that this approach will generate a few leads, but the great risk is that even a personalized letter, no matter how well written, will get lost in the clutter.
"We can test a few thousand and not get hurt too badly," management thinks. Of course, 1% of 2,000 translates to 20 not-yet-qualified leads. Meanwhile, the company's talented sales people are sitting without any qualified leads - not quite a safe situation.
What constitutes a real attempt to "steal second"?
Realizing that in many business-to-business situations, neither e-mail nor a letter are going to get through– and risking a strategy that utilizes a dimensional package, along with e-mail and structured/properly timed telemarketing. The cost of reaching and communicating with the prospect may be 10 times that of mailing a flat letter. The response level may also be 10 times higher. The average sale in this situation is worth some $40,000. Worth the risk? You tell me.
Contrast the technology company with a mailing house on Long Island whose principals stole second base, then scored. They narrowed their list, and sent a dimensional package including a strong sales letter, a clock, and useful postage information. Follow up phone calls yielded four appointments for every 10 packages mailed.
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