Influencer marketing from a sales POV

BarbaraInfluencer marketing, Sales performance

Bernie Reilly, head of Influencer50 in Australia, has built several high-performance sales channels in Asia Pacific. Here, he shares a candid account of his reaction to influencer marketing. This is a reprint of his article in ‘The Influencer’: Q3’09’. Register here for alerts on future issues.

I am new to the world of Influencer Marketing having joined Influencer50 just three months ago. The reasons why I came to Influencer50 may well parallel why I think you should be beginning a conversation with us.

As a former Managing Director of three NASDAQ-listed network security companies for Asia-Pacific, I have spent the last 20 years trying to develop collaborative efforts between my salesforce and my marketing teams, with few solid metrics to gauge my success or failure.

Many believe that the purpose of marketing is to be on the mind of the prospect, when they are ready to buy. So if knowing your target customers is a golden rule of marketing, then we all need to update our understanding of the various categories of Influencers in the B2B and B2C marketplaces.

The most observable forms of influence in the tech & telecoms sector have traditionally come from commercial forces like AR and PR. Yet in the past 10-15 years we have seen the influence of analysts and journalists drop from their highs of 80-90% down to most likely 40-50%.

How has your marketing team coped with uncovering the behind the scenes influencers? Your salesforce may be able to get to the decision-makers, but they can’t get to their influencers. As these individuals are not customers, you most likely do not have them on any prospect or client list. They come from previously undocumented sources, so they’re unlikely to be on a database of yours either.

That is why Influencer50 was established – to leverage the 50-60% of the influencers you are not presently engaging. Sales forces tell us that they love us for what we do – they believe we really aid their sales efforts.

So when I was introduced to Influencer50 by a respected peer late last year, I found myself wondering if this could be a path to leads. High quality leads. You all recognize the real hot leads – they come from a senior executive in a company, or a member of your Board of Directors. When you are handed them, they come with a note saying something like “Please have your BDM call this CFO, he has a need, he has my business card and is expecting your call.” These types of leads have a very high ratio of lead-to-sales conversion. These leads get you in early enough to influence the writing of a tender or a requirements doc. These leads all come from word of mouth. Now think about the quality of leads you would want to generate over time, if you could know and then engage with those influencers who have the ear of the check signer at your prospect. That is what brought me to Influencer50!

Now that I am here in Sydney heading up Influencer50’s Asia-Pacific Office, I would love to hear your thoughts on merging the gap between sales and marketing and what you think works for you on high-quality lead generation.