The cost of a lead in 2010

What is the cost of a quality lead in 2010?

Recently I was invited to a luncheon at a well known 5 star restaurant to listen to three executives tell me how their product (err, ahem, I meant SOLUTION) was more powerful with greater breadth of capabilities that “point solutions” from their competitors.

The interesting part is how I got invited in the first place. I am curious by nature. Moreover, I like to keep up on trends and in so doing, I can apply what I’ve learned to solve business problems for my clients. So, when this particular company was featured as part of a email campaign from an aggregator- (surely this cost them some money (let’s say .08 – 10. per click to develop and include in the email blast) I was curious about what they offered. At the time, I was working with Customer Service teams in a call center as well as keeping up on Social Networking.

That click-thru put me on the vendor’s web site where I opted-in to download a white paper. (The cost of the white paper? Let’s say $1000 conservatively if it was written in-house). Hence, I was now on the vendor’s email list.

An email showed up in my reader a few weeks ago inviting me to lunch at a very well known establishment. Lunch included a fresh field of greens salad with walnuts and Granny Smith apples in a light honey-based dressing sprinkled with crumbled Maytag blue cheese. Followed by a prime 8 ounce Filet Mignon (cooked charred rare- slightly warm center) with creamed corn, sugar snap peas and garlic mashed potatoes. Warm fresh break was served as well. Lunch concluded with a creamy chocolate mousse dessert and coffee. (The steak entree alone is $44.95)!

I certainly wanted to learn more and a free steak dinner for lunch sounded great! So I emailed back that I would be attending. I received an email confirmation. I also received a call from a friendly person reminding me of the date/time and re-confirming my attendance. I assured her that I would be there. About 40 people attended; both customers and “suspects” alike.

The three executives (as you might guess) were 1)the CEO of the division, 2) the Marketing Leader of the local Division and 3) A technical pre-sales person. All men. Suit jackets. Collared shirts. None wearing a tie. It follows then that the order of events during the luncheon were 1)An overview of how big their company was and how fast they had grown (“Google-like meteoric rise!), 2) A movie of how fast social networking was adopted compared to the radio and television, 3) The features of the software and 4) A demonstration of the software.

At the conclusion, the Marketing VP thank us for our attendance and warmed us that we would all be getting a call in the morning from their business development people who were going to set up appointments with each of us to come out and discuss how they could help us.

“So when you get the call and you are thinking about the steak you just ate, please pick up the phone”. Like I don’t have enough guilt in my life already?

So, I may have used the wrong term for the title of this blog; I am not a lead at all. They never qualified me as a potential person who might be interested in having a dialogue with them about how they could help. If they had asked me, I would have disqualified myself! Yet they spent the money on my “butt in the seat”.

Here is the real kicker- they are selling Customer Management solutions that are suppose to “automajically” help decide when a “live prospect” is on their web site or has responded in a certain way to their marketing materials, blogs, Facebook, tweets, etc. so they can respond quickly in the most appropriate way. With me, they missed the mark.

I will take their call tomorrow and share my thoughts. I may share it on a blog or a Facebook page. Millions of people may eventually read my thoughts. That is the power of Social Networking and Web 2.0. We all can type what we wish.

How many of you have found this approach to be beneficial? (I know that one deal pays for the whole luncheon, however….).

How many of you are tired of the 1,2,3 punch of My Company, My Products/Solutions, My demo?

How many of you put the customer’s priorities before your product/solution?

What is the cost of a quality lead? What is the price of poor execution?

Gene Carlino
Sr. Manager- Knowledge Advantage

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