Choose the Right Technology for Your Lead Generation Plan
It’s tough to decide which technology solution is right for your business and your lead generation efforts. And you need to remember that you can’t have them all, nor do you need them all. So beware of software sales reps trying to awe you with their platforms, and stay true to what you need as a business.
Start out small by choosing one or two platforms (at the most) that offer you the largest amount of functionality for your lead generation plans. If you intend on spending a lot of time on email campaigns, events, and social media, think about choosing a marketing automation platform coupled with a social media management tool. Or if you are thinking about mostly dabbling in PPC ads and website tracking, you might consider another set of tools. Know before shopping what sort of reports you envision running to get to that very-targeted segment of your audience. Don’t assume that the vendor will be able to make that query.
And remember, there is more than just the implementation involved in ramping up a new technology solution. You also need to pay close attention to resource planning, training, and measuring your return on investment. If you don’t have a proper plan in place to ensure success with your new tools, you will likely fall flat on your face and waste time and money.
Everyone who works in technology sees failed implementation attempts time and time again. When you have decided on the right solution for your company, make sure you have a plan for rolling it out.
Planning your resource investment
As with any new software purchase, it is important to keep in mind resource planning. You need a team to learn and run your new technology, so be sure to include this as part of the budgeting process when determining how much you have spent. Depending on what platform you decide to go with, your resource investment could be smaller or more substantial. However, no matter what solutions you decide on, plan on having the following key resources in place for success:
A dedicated platform owner: Someone needs to own everything pertaining to your new platform. Whether it is you or the person who will become the power user, you need someone who owns roll-out and is the point of contact for the rest of the organization. By assigning a dedicated resource to your project, you ensure that someone has ownership and success metrics surrounding implementation and usage.
Platform users: Depending on your organization and chosen technology solutions, make sure you have assigned people the role of user. These users may be primary users; people who are in the platform constantly, or secondary users; people who are in the platform from time to time. Either way, make sure you assign roles to members of your team and outline who is using the technology, how they are using it, and when they are using it.
External agency: Some companies outsource the management of their technology platform to external agencies. This can be common if you have a smaller team and don’t have the bandwidth to train experts. External agencies are becoming more and more involved in including marketing technology services in their offerings mix. For example, many external marketing agencies are now offering marketing automation services. And agencies have historically also offered expertise in social media, SEO, and PPC.
Professional services team: Many technology platforms offer professional services to help you get up and running with your solution. You can also contract with an outside consultancy for their expertise. A professional services team can help implement your solution in addition to working on training and change management for the rest of your organization. Make sure they have proven, prior expertise with both the marketing automation tool that you purchase, as well as the CRM system that you’ll probably be integrating with.
Training your team
After you have the resources in place for success, you need to make sure your team is properly trained and ready to hit the ground running. This is a step that companies often gloss over. They have spent so much money on their new technology and their teams aren’t trained. And what happens when your teams aren’t trained? The software doesn’t get used. Your team reverts back to the way they have always been doing things. The technology is there to make you effective and successful at lead generation, so enable your teams to achieve.
Here are a few steps you want in place for your training efforts:
Group training sessions: Most software vendors include training as part of their service offering. They either come on-site or run training sessions remotely for your teams. Typical training sessions can last anywhere from two hours to three to four days, depending on the complexity of the application you are implementing. One key thing here is to make sure your teams are relatively freed from work obligations. You want them to be ready to learn and not stressed out by what is going on back in the office. This is certainly something we all fall victim to — listening with one ear while responding to an email. If your attendees are worrying constantly about the work they're falling behind on, they just won’t suck up as much information as they need.
Frequent check-ins: Invite your vendor to come back or check in remotely with your team on a weekly basis. Even if the check-in is only for 15 minutes, by putting something on the calendar, you can make sure your new software is top-of-mind. Weekly check-ins may be wise for the first three months, then you can cut down to semi-monthly check-ins, and so on.
Assign study groups: If you are planning to roll a piece of technology out to your entire team, you may want to assign study groups of two or more people. Collaboration and teamwork are great ways to learn something and learn it well. Have your groups work on homework assignments and encourage them to rely on each other to answer questions and provide suggestions.
Provide study materials: Many companies provide study and training materials after a piece of software has been implemented. Sometimes this comes in the form of a Playbook, and sometimes these materials come in the form of a few blog posts or articles. Make sure you know what is available and you know how to use the materials. Pass them off to your team in case they have any questions while training.
Avoid the after-implementation doldrums: After every implementation, the excitement dies down and reality sets in. In order to maintain a high level of usage and success from your chosen solutions, you need to keep the momentum up. This can come in the form of contests or prizes for power users, gamification within your system, or frequent check-ins to determine progress and milestones reached.