Lessons from the World of Champagne
You know why I keep finding connections between marketing and gourmet wining and dining? Because they both aim at delighting an audience and hold my fancy for this reason. Innovative marketing, like fine dining and the best wines is an Epicurean delight. Another common factor is the importance of having a well-defined and continually refined process. Whether you are a CMO involved with your organization’s B2B lead generation strategy or an oneologue artfully making the finest wine or a master chef bringing down a piece of heaven at every meal, the Process is of prime importance. And it must be accompanied by Patience and Perseverance. There you have it—the 3Ps of Successful Demand Generation.
Most B2B companies, particularly the large corporations believe they have a good process in place for lead generation. Many hours are spent defining a solid strategy but usually behind closed doors of an executive board room. Team huddles are organized to identify roles and responsibilities but Marketing and Sales have their own independent goal posts rather than a common field on which to play together and achieve greater wins. This is the story pretty much across the corporate landscape.
Now just think—I am looking at this from a vintner’s perspective, having just returned from Paris and still heady from the fabulous gastronomic journey—wine making or specifically, making champagne is an art that has come down many generations. If the champagne houses of Reims in France or the wineries of Constantia, South Africa which I have also had the privilege to visit on a private tour did not have complete mastery over their process, they would be just mixing grapes and bottling a liquid that would sit non-descript on a shelf somewhere. It’s not by chance that a 200 year old bottle of vintage Veuve Clicquot is sold for 30,000 Euros (around 40,000 dollars), making it the most expensive champagne in the world. Yes! It was found in a shipwreck last year in the Baltic Sea and was auctioned at this incredible price because it was champagne created by Madame Clicquot herself. Its journey from the chalk caves in Reims to the dark, cold seabed is not one that can or will be replicated, but to command that price and value is indeed an accomplishment to benchmark against.
Interestingly, Madame Clicquot was known as “La Grande Dame”, but ironically, she was a very young widow, diminutive in stature who took over the reins and with her remarkable business acumen made Clicquot the indomitable brand it is today. Not only was she responsible for the implementation of revolutionary practices within the cellars, but she also evolved the marketing and distribution for the brand. In the early 1800s when Europe was in the throes of Napoleon’s ambitious tirades, she broke into the Russian market sending a large consignment of Veuve Clicquot. Talk about risk-taking, talk about bold market expansion tactics, talk about selling champagne to the vodka drinkers! Madame was by no means a “small” business owner and definitely deserved her title of La Grande Dame.
B2B marketers can learn some very important lessons from the world of champagne and from Madame Cliquot.
Critical Steps to Effective Lead Management
- Verify List Quality: You can’t start with bad grapes and end up with good wine. Or maybe you have good quality grapes but they can only be good for a certain kind of wine. Know your goals and define the type of leads you want to pour into your sales funnel. There is a direct co-relation between quality of list (enhanced by prospect’s detailed information) and anticipated/projected results. With structured account mapping and intelligence processes you can build organizational history and aim to improve your conversion rates.
- Define Your Lead Generation Strategy: Okay, so you have a good harvest of grapes, i.e. your lead numbers are looking good. Now look at the quality. Not all leads are created equal. In B2B marketing, we have to prepare for a series of activities using a comprehensive mix of tactics, or what is known as integrated marketing strategy. Don’t make the mistake of putting all your grapes in one barrel—you may still get people drunk, but they won’t like the hangover! You want your prospects to sip, swirl, relish, and crave more…
- Get To That Sales-Ready Actionable Item: Marketing may have passed on a qualified lead to Sales. But lead progression is about going a step further. It’s about further qualifying the prospect to a point where/when the lead can be turned into a sales ready actionable item. How do you do this? You need the right nurture programs in place that will help move leads into the qualifying spectrum. 60% of leads have to be carefully nurtured into clients (see the 15-60-25 rule below).
- “Warrior Dash” Needs Careful Prep: In my insanity and passion for challenges, I have signed up for the upcoming Warrior Dash in Ontario, the world’s largest running series. So, I have been preparing for a marathon rather than a sprint. That’s what lead nurturing requires too. Use a combination of OTM, email and asset-based strategies to nurture the prospect. Remember that 70% of buyers will eventually buy a related product and/or service after being engaged by an OTM call program. Timing is crucial. You’ve got to pluck the grapes at the right time and for each step of the wine-making process, you have to know when to move from cask to cask and cave to table.
- Right Time, Right Place, Right Person: There is a well known rule of demand creation—15% of companies you engage with are “right-time-right-place” people. They think they need your product/services and may choose to engage you. 60% are in the “N” phase, i.e. the nurture phase; this is where you win some, you lose some. 25% of the prospects are not interested. Qualify your leads appropriately. If the process requires 3 very specific types of grapes to make champagne, use only those.
Here is some more champagne trivia: Do you know that some 240 different varieties of grapes are tasted before the ideal ones are selected to make really good champagne? It’s not easy to maintain that same quality and consistency year after year. It takes work to blend the perfect, magical taste. And then, it goes into the maturing process. Exactly the same way as lead qualification, lead nurturing and lead progression.
What vintage classics or fresh, new concoctions has your B2B company come up with using your lead generation process? Feel free to share your favourite “wins” and “wines” below.