Fred Yee, CEO and Founder of ActiveConversion, was recently interviewed on Sales Lead Management Association Radio to discuss the role marketing automation plays in managing the traditionally longer B2B sales cycle. With a background in computer science and business, Fred has held careers as a software developer, project manager, and sales executive, establishing himself as an expert on the intersection of marketing and technology.
Jim: Good to talk to you again. To be 100% revealing to our audience you’ve been a sponsor for the SLMA for some years and we appreciate your sponsorship that you have a page on our site and everything and you always have given me good advice in the past. Now before we get started I don’t always do this, I usually ask, tell us a little bit about Active Conversion but… or your company so people know where you’re coming from but you seem to set yourself apart by saying that you are marketing automation company for industrial companies. Now what do you mean by that and who is your typical user?
Fred: Well, that’s exactly right. We set ourselves apart, there are various products and services out there but they are very few for industrial companies. So we say we are a marketing automation industrial SMB in particular, companies that are anywhere from about 25 to 500 people pretty wide range – underserved.
Jim: Get started on this Fred can you tell me who your definition is… what the definition is of sales lead nurturing?
Fred: The obvious one in marketing automation is having email whether it’s via a blast or a form where they fill out a form and they get regular blasts, but all of these sort of things. I think when a sales rep sends an article to a prospect; that’s nurturing, that in my view is actually the best kind. Writing an article is very pertinent to the prospects’ business.
Jim: The nurturing, the long-term nurturing is important but somebody like Active Conversion, because of your program, you can begin to tell where the person is re-engaging and thinking about coming in without necessarily raising their hand is that right?
Fred: Right, exactly right.
Jim: Alright and how does this really happen over time? You are right, so if a salesperson has two or 300 inquiries over a years’ period which is not unusual and half of them are potential buyers and he starts tracking five or 10 per month even with a good CRM system it’s hard to really tell. It’s got to be his outward bound activity that begins to dig up with her they are ready to buy and you’re saying that you can provide that G2, that intelligence back through Active Conversion, right?
Fred: Right. You know, CRM’s are great Jim but we had them even back in the 80s and the 90s and I’ve used them and about the best they could do was remind you to call that guy every month until he was ready. And for those that were never ready because they never really intended to buy at least from you or from the sales rep, it wasn’t really all that useful in my mind. People, on this radio show I am sure everybody understands the term buy signal. What you’re getting from Active Conversion is virtual buy signals; the signals are actually more important than actually what they are saying to you.
Jim: We have been speaking with Fred Yee, he is the founder and CEO of Active Conversion. We’ve been talking about the problems with long-term nurturing and the nurturing itself is only as good as the salesperson’s ability to follow up. Nurturing is often one-way communication. And even if you do get notice of what someone is doing by downloading papers you don’t know really what’s going on in their head and Fred gave us a great idea, a feeling for what happens in the long-term because it through Active Conversion you’re actually able to see activities that are going on without the person raising their hands – in other words, they can see when someone hits your website, downloads papers et cetera. I believe they grade the inquiry and begin to present it to the sales rep and the reps start to see two or three people from the same company and are on his prospect list, he knows something is going on. Fred, have I outlined that about right?
Fred: Sounds pretty much it. The only thing I would maybe add is we might only see Jim on our website but when we see three other people from SLMA even if they haven’t downloaded anything and identify themselves, that’s still the same thing, right?
Jim: Right. Definitely and sometimes a can’t definitely the person but you can see is coming from their website so you know somebody’s nosing around someplace and it gives you an idea. Maybe somebody on a purchasing committee, it could be somebody on the product choice committee, it could be six or eight people that you don’t even know their names of but they are coming indefinitely and the salespeople really find that interesting. Can you give us an example of an industrial company that’s using this kind of technology and how it’s working out for them?
Fred: Yeah, I think actually I can probably even use their name, they are very happy with us; they are actually fairly new. Cadex Electronics, they do battery manufacturing and distribution, pretty good size company, probably around 200 people or so. The guy, John Bradshaw fell in love with it right away and he literally paid for the software in the first week he tells us because he did exactly what we were talking about earlier. They had a prospect who visited the website, didn’t raise their hand by filling out a form or downloading anything but they recognize the company name and then they went right into their CRM and said you know I wonder if it’s Jack from XYZ. They actually called up Jack and found out after three years, I am not kidding you, after a three-year sales cycle Jack was finally ready to move and they were ready – they basically anticipated that he was ready to restart the project. So not a case study per se about nurturing but I guess you could say they probably had talked to Jack for a long time before that, maybe they sent him information but the fulfillment of that nurturing was the key for them. But of course with Adex being a smart company they actually understood the value of content marketing so they want to be able to use our system to also email customers and prospects. Again our email is not like regular email. Our email is such that when you interact with that email it’s as if they filled out a form so we know who it is, what you are interested in and ultimately a profile gets built up in our system that looks much like a CRM screen, a typical one where you have today, what you are interested in and when they call back and when you had your last conversation except that no one ever has to actually type anything in right up their name, their URL, their phone number, their email address its output in either by the system filling it in or by the prospects or by their behavior. Does that describe it reasonably well?
Jim: Your system provides a scoring system which… does that keep increasing the score of the lead so it continues to become more and more valuable?
Fred: Right. And we even have things on certain key pages. So they start… they get pretty deep into your webpage or website to look for pricing or about us pages or awards pages or certification type pages, we give those actually a higher score. You know that they are not going to be looking up those things unless they are actually looking to buy.
Fred: We work with Google; we are actually a partner with them because they want to see success in the industrial market. And so we provide ad words help with SEO, email marketing, setting up blogs so I could go on and on but basically there are certain things you might see from an agency but we’re not trying to be an agency we’re just trying to help them get relevant visitors to the website so the system can pick up this information.
About Fred Yee
Fred Yee is the founder and CEO of ActiveConversion, a company that makes online marketing work for industrial companies. Fred was voted as one of the 40 Most Inspiring Leaders in Sales Lead Management in 2017, and his work with ActiveConversion has helped hundreds of businesses succeed online. ActiveConversion is Fred’s third successful company, and he continues to explore the possibilities of technology in industrial sales and marketing.