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Greg: Hello everybody. This is Greg Alexander, CEO of SBI, a sales and marketing consulting company dedicated to helping you make your number. This is the weekly SBI podcast series.
Today’s guest is [Cory Jones 00:00:31]. Cory Jones is the vice president of marketing of Frontier Communications, a provider of broadband, video, voice, satellite video, wireless Internet data access, and advanced business solutions with 17,000 employees in 28 states, with approximately 11 billion in annual sales after the recent acquisition announcement of Verizon’s business in California and Texas.
Cory is responsible for activating demand for the Frontier brand including paid, owned, and earned media. This includes all customer acquisition, cross sell and up sell, and win back campaigns spanning residential, commercial, and new product introduction activities. Prior to driving demand for Frontier, Cory owned Worldwide Demand Creation for Avaya and has over 20 years of marketing experience in the telecommunications industry. Cory, welcome to the show.
Cory: Hey thanks, Greg. It’s a pleasure to be here with you today.
Greg: Great. All right. Today’s topic is the development of the lead generation strategy for the upcoming new fiscal year. Many of our listeners are on a calendar fiscal year, beginning in January. When this podcast airs, it’ll be late summer and early fall. They’re in the process of trying to put together their lead gen strategy for the upcoming year.
I thought as a way to keep us tight on today’s call, we could use SBI’s lead generation methodology as a discussion guide. This will allow Cory and us to share his practitioner’s point of view as well as some of the academic theory that’s brought to the table from SBI.
If you’re listening and you want to follow along, go out to salesbenchmarkindex.com, click on our services, and click on demand generation services. You’ll see this methodology there.
All right. The first step in developing a best in class lead gen strategy for the start of a new year is buyer segmentation. This involves understanding how buyers inside of your accounts make purchase decisions. This step produces things such as personas, buying process maps, touch point analysis, et cetera. The idea being without this knowledge, you cannot create demand. My first question for Cory is how do you figure out how your buyers make purchase decisions?
Cory: It’s a great question. I think there are a couple ways. First of all, I think big data, or insights and analytics is certainly a huge trend these days. Most companies, regardless of their size, but certainly larger companies have a lot of insight sitting within their own enterprise data marts. We certainly look at behavioral information in terms of vertical seasonalities, the type of people that are buying.
Really, it’s the combination of proprietary and secondary research. It’s 2015. We know intuitively that people are making decisions based on their own exploration, social networking, Web sites, blogs, video content, content marketing. What we’ve really done is we’ve looked at digital channels to try to be out there early in the conversation. By the time people tend to pick up the phone and call a salesperson, or in our case, a business call center, they’ve typically already made up their mind.
We try to understand, based on vertical market, or the size of the company who is involved in that buying decision, what is it that makes him or her tick. What are their business needs, desires, or perhaps certain regulatory, or financial implications for their decisions? We try to map how we market the type of content that we use to market in our overall touch strategy to align with that buyer’s journey.
Greg: Fantastic. I love the spending the time, the effort, the money on primary research, not just relying on secondary research and paying attention to behavior. Behavioral indicators are always much better than demographic profiles. That’s a great piece of advice.
In listening to your answer, I’m reminded of my friend, Greg Clark, who is the CMO of Caliber Collision Centers, who incidentally just was named by the AMA the marketer of the year here in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and how he uses touch point analysis to drive lots of demand which is an extension of what you just talked about. Touch point analysis is a form of primary market research.
If you want to read about Greg and how he does this, I recommend you pick up a copy of the SBI Magazine, specifically the Q2 edition. Greg’s article can be found on page 58. Let’s take a quick break here and make sure that the listeners of this podcast, who are interested in this, know how to get the SBI Magazine and specifically Greg’s article. Let’s take a quick break. We’ll be right back.
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Greg: Welcome back, everybody. Let’s pick up where we left off which is step two of SBI lead generation strategy, which is focused on campaign planning, program design, activity selection, and offer development. Now that we know how our buyers buy, it’s time for us to plan campaigns, design programs, select activities, and develop offers.
Cory, how do you plan campaigns? How do you develop compelling offers? How do you select the correct channels to push those offers through?
Cory: Sure. I think the most important thing in developing marketing campaigns; this is really what SBI is all about, is understanding what is the number that you need to make. What is the best channel to get to that number, the best way to achieve that number through marketing or sales channels?
At Frontier and in my past life, we tried to get ahead of the market to not understand only what the market is, what their requirements are today, or potential disruptions in the market, but where did the market need to be in three or six months. Obviously, these campaigns take time to plan.
I think really it’s a combination of understanding what can we sell to our existing customer base. At Frontier we’ve got millions of customers across our operating franchise. Not only how we can base manage our current customer base, but from a pure prospect and acquiring new customers for the company, what is that value proposition? What are customers looking for? How can we attract them to Frontier?
I think we look at it in terms of expanding our wallet share within our existing base and trying to maximize retention. Retention is critically important in our business, as well as acquiring net new customers. I think you mentioned developing compelling offers. I think it goes back to what we talked about at the outset, which is that personas are absolutely key.
Whether you have a general market strategy, or a vertical marketing strategy, you have to understand who is it that is going to be buying your product and whether it’s at the small end of the market. It could be an owner-operator. As you get more medium and enterprise in the commercial marketing space, those sale cycles become more complex with committees and potential C-level officers that are involved.
You really have to understand who you’re trying engage with, what that particular person’s pain points are, how he or she will be evaluated based on the end solution, or the actual sale and the success of whatever that particular person bought. You have to understand how that customer investigates, ultimately selects, and will be held accountable for what you do. You have to align your content map, and your content
journey, and your touch strategy to try to find those people, engage with those people, and maintain relevancy throughout the buying process.
Greg: Yeah, well said. At the center of all of this is the buying persona. If those are not created, or if they’re created once and not updated, then you’re out of touch with the pain points of your buying community. Therefore, it’s impossible to create compelling offers.
One thing I wanted, as a follow up to that. This whole idea of selecting channels to push these offers through, this is a hard one. It seems like everyday there’s another channel. The channel explosion in the last three or four years has just been incredible. Yet, there’s some old school channels that are still very effective.
I argue with my clients all the time that email is still king. Without an email address, for example, you can’t set up a LinkedIn profile. You can’t have a Twitter account. It’s the address of record so to speak. When you think about selecting channels, you have 20 years of doing this. You’ve seen channel explosion from when it was just a face-to-face, belly-to-belly salesperson to all these new channels. How do you choose channels?
Cory: No, it’s a great question. I think to me the keys are relevancy and personalization. If I think back to the beginning of my career, the TV spot was still king. There’s certainly still a place in the media mix for TV. It is the best brand building mechanism there is. We live in a world of DVR and I don’t know how many people actually watch live TV these days. To me, not only am I trying to capture the attention of a prospect with his or her email address, or what have you, but all of my competitors are.
You think about how many times someone get hit up for messaging throughout the day, I can tell you that nine out of ten solicitations that hit my inbox at work are for people trying to solicit my business. They hit the delete button very quickly unless there’s a provocative headline, unless the content is very relevant for me, my job, my company, and my particular situation. I think the most important thing in channel selection, especially one that is as personal as email, or in social networks is relevancy.
You have to understand your audience. It’s got to be personalized. I’ll know immediately whether I’m getting some sort of generic seed list message, or if somebody’s taken the time to understand a few data points about me to customize that email communication to where it doesn’t appear as if it’s a form letter. You bake in something about my past, or my company. That’s really how you get my attention in 2015.
Greg: Yeah, yeah, I agree. Personalization, that’s a great add to this conversation. All right, let’s progress along the journey here. Let’s group a few of these together, maybe steps three through five. This deals with content production, demand generation in the lead management process. This produces items such as compelling content, lead scoring, grading, and routing, response workflows and nurture pathways. This is a critical component of the lead generation strategy as you head into the new year. If these things aren’t working well, then you’re not going to produce enough leads in the upcoming fiscal year.
Cory, let me ask you about these things. How do you create compelling content? How do you respond to and nurture leads into opportunities?
Cory: Yeah, again this keeps coming back to know thy buyer. You have to understand to whom you are selling, or with whom you are trying to engage so that the content, again, it’s relevant and that it’s personalized. I think you mentioned content, mapping all the way to sales.
I think it is critically important that when you’re planning out your full go to market in your campaign calendar and how everything will go from the initial inquiry all the way to a win/loss analysis, is you have to have your marketing engagement and activation channels lined up with, at least in the business to business world, what a traditional inside sales or lead engagement and nurturing function would look like all the way to an outside sales rep. Perhaps if people are in the e-commerce business, you have to understand what that waterfall looks like. All of these things have to be sequenced in order and have to be optimized on a weekly, if not daily basis in order to hit the number.
As an example, you may engage with someone early in the sales process who subscribed to a blog. As I want to move that person down the decision process, it could be something like an ROI calculator. It could be a point of view on a particular piece of legislation. As an example, in our business, E911, or E-Rate solutions, those are things that are very important to people in the communications space. How are we engaging them, moving them down that funnel?
It could be an ROI calculator, or a white paper on how to leverage the investments the government is making in your business to subsidize the price, all the way through to inside sales and outside sales. You can’t look at just one channel in isolation.
The other thing that’s really important is technology is critically important in the marketing world. That’s an obvious statement. It’s very important that the marketing individual and the marketing leader be aligned at the hip with the IT people. Whether it’s pulling the data out of your ERP systems, whether it’s pulling those insights and analytics, or it’s leveraging marketing automation and CRM to data dip, to personalize the emails, you have to have a full understanding of this journey all the way from the very first touch point until it’s ultimately won or lost and closed in salesforce.com. If you’re an e-commerce retailer, until you see the output in a shopping cart in a closed transaction.
Greg: Let me ask a question on the use of technology and automation. I sat on the advisory board of Eloqua. I got engaged with them when they were only a $10 million company and stayed engaged with them all the way through their IPO and their ultimate sale for 900 million to Oracle. As a result of that, I was on the ground level of the marketing automation movement.
We went from one extreme to the next during that time period. The original thought was buyers behave in a very linear fashion. It’s very predictive. Therefore, stand up these automated workflows. Don’t have humans involved. Just drip on them over time and eventually you’ll get them to where they want to go.
Today, what we’ve learned, after several implementations is that’s not true. Buyers are schizophrenic. They behave in unpredictable ways. Sometimes spending all the time up front to stand up these automated workflows is a waste of time. What you really want to do is be paying attention to certain moments in time; maybe exit criteria from the top of the funnel to the middle of the funnel, or exit criteria from the middle of the funnel to the bottom of the funnel. It’s these big things versus every individual item.
In order to behave in that environment, what you really need is a well-balanced content portfolio, top, middle, and bottom of the funnel so that your customer, in this self-directed buyer journey, can go find what they want. It’s them doing it versus you forcing them down a nurtured path. Two schools of thought. Some people think I’m crazy when I say, “Automation hasn’t been all that it was cracked up to be.” What’s your opinion on that?
Cory: First of all, I wish I had your long-term relationship with Eloqua. That would have been nice. I actually put in Eloqua at a former employer in 2006. I’m very familiar with them. I think, frankly, both schools of thought are right. I think there are some things that you can do in an automated fashion. Again, based on your own proprietary and secondary research and your understanding of how that customer journey works.
I think the key, to me, is to not have a one content fits all solution or surprise whenever that customer gets there. The beauty of content marketing is it’s different strokes for different folks. If you understand what’s going on in that buyer’s journey and in that cycle, there will be various pieces of content that you will need to create. While typical automation says, “If Cory Jones clicks this button, then send him this white paper.” I may want that white paper, but I may be looking for something totally different.
Rather than push the next piece of static content that we think that somebody would want, how do we lead them to maybe three or four different pieces of content and let the customer choose what might be relevant for him or her at that particular time.
I think the other thing that I’ve seen that’s been successful, it’s a bit harder to do, is again, everyone thinks that marketing automation is the panacea. You can have all the if/thens and Visio diagrams mapped out. The reality is, as you said, people are a bit schizophrenic.
The other thing I think is having human beings who would typically be in some sort of an inside sales, or engagement type function like inside sales would do, and have them have the ability to intercept, based on what that inside sales rep is seeing at the particular time. If I know that somebody’s come on the Web site a couple of different times. They’ve attended the webinar. I think the inside sales rep should be empowered to take control of that particular stream, to opt somebody out of the automation stream and to begin a one-on-one dialog.
If marketing automation is set up correctly, it’s got a great content management system with a variety of templates and content that the rep can then begin what I would call a manual or highly engaged dialog with the prospect from his or her own inbox, but using pre-approved content and template for marketing so it all goes together seamlessly.
I think it is both schools of thought. You can do it in an automated fashion. One size fits all content is a bad idea. You have to give the inside sales reps, or whoever is doing your first line of customer outreach the ability to opt people out based on their knowledge of that customer and follow that particular deal down the pipeline.
Greg: Yeah. I recently had [Jack Waylan 00:19:03], who’s the VP of marketing at Phillips 66 on this very podcast. We were talking about this. He shared with the audience how he does these things inside of the sixth largest company in the world. It was a really amazing interview.
IF you’re listening to my conversation today with Cory, you’re probably going to want to listen to my conversation with Jack. Let’s take a quick break here and make the audience aware of how they can subscribe to this podcast channel on iTunes versus just listening to an individual episode. That way we can push these great conversations to you. We’ll be right back.
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Greg: Welcome back, everybody. Let’s progress on to our next set of steps in developing the lead generation strategy for our new fiscal year. This is Greg Alexander, the CEO of SBI. Today, our expert is Cory Jones who is the head of marketing for Frontier Communications.
Up to this point, we’ve been talking about getting ready for the new fiscal year and developing a lead generation strategy. We’ve talked about steps one through five so far.
Right now we’re going to progress to steps six through ten, which focuses on sales rep prospecting.
The field sales team has to generate their own leads to compliment the marketing efforts. These steps deal with social selling, offline and online prospecting methods, account-based marketing, and gamification to keep the sales team pushing. The end result is a funnel full of deals.
Cory, it’s not fair to ask the marketing department to generate 100% of the leads. Sales has to do their part. At Frontier, how do your sales reps find their own leads?
Cory: Sure, I think it’s a variety of traditional and some new methods. I think at Frontier we operate across 28 states from very urban to rural parts of our footprint. We’ve got salespeople and general managers who are very involved in their local communities. Whether it’s through the Chamber of Commerce, the small business association, or just generally walking down the street, they’ve been able to create and maintain fantastic relationships.
I think there’s a bit of just salesperson 101 getting out into the community, pressing the flesh, and networking. I think the ways that technology and data come in are you have to provide your salespeople with something more than just a phone book, if they even have phone books these days. It’s the virtual Yellow Pages.
Whether it’s prospecting information through tools like a Jigsaw, a Hoover’s, a Dunn and Bradstreet, you have to equip them with tools. In fact, one of the very innovative things we’re working with right now is a link. It’s a mobile application through salesforce.com tying in Dunn and Bradstreet data where a salesperson can walk down the street, in really Anytown, USA. They geo-locate using the GPS functionality within their iPhone or their iPad. They can stand in front of a business. We pull in certain information from our own data as well as Dunn and Bradstreet. We can tell whether that particular business is a customer, whether they are a fiber, or a traditional broadband customer or prospect, what their average spend is, what their potential telco spends should look like.
Again these are things that are technology-based using tools like bring your own device and some company-supplied data that can really make salespeople very nimble and put information right there at their fingertips. Again, while traditional networking is great, things like technology, mobility, and really one of the absolute best tools for sales prospecting is knowing how to use LinkedIn appropriately.
Five and ten years ago, LinkedIn was about how many people can I connect with because more equals better. How can my online resume look great for my next potential employer. Those are all great things. There are ways to use LinkedIn as a networking and as a sales device. Everyone should be looking at LinkedIn more than just their company profile, how can they leverage that social channel both owned and on other people’s channels to go out and try to drive new prospects.
Greg: Yeah, I agree. It’s never been easier for a sales rep to do their own prospecting given all these tools. In many ways you look at an individual sales rep now as an independent marketing channel. A sales rep should be saying to themselves, “My digital profile, across the different platforms are marketing channels. How do I optimize those for lead gen, which could include content distribution, et cetera?”
Cory: I do think though a best practice though you mentioned there is just a proliferation of channels. Let’s be honest, not all salespeople are socially savvy. Sometimes you’ve seen really great profiles and you’ve seen some ones that are absolutely abysmal. This is really where I think the marketing team, specifically the social marketing team, if companies have one, can really provide some guidelines, some best practices, and some training so that reps have a professional profile. It’s got the right content. It reflects both the company and the individual sales rep appropriately.
What you don’t want to have is thousands of cowboys in your sales force out there doing things totally differently, portraying a different view of your company. While you want to provide them some autonomy and flexibility to engage at a local level, your having some training and training wheels, per se, is always a good best practice.
Greg: Yeah, I agree 100%. All right. Let’s get to our last step in lead generation methodology, which is measurement. This produces things like KPI dashboards, a lead generation score card, and probably most importantly if you’re going to talk to the CFO, a pro forma revenue and cost model. Cory, how do you measure the demand generation results there at Frontier?
Cory: Sure, I’ll speak to it both here and in terms of just passed opportunities. I think when opportunities come in and they are peer prospects, they’ve had no prior relationship with the company and it really is a net new client for the organization, that ROI is certainly easier to affix.
One of your prior questions was really how should sales be creating their own opportunities? In many large corporations you’ll have named account reps, or people that basically are in charge of making sure larger clients are happy and well-cared for as well as expanding wallet. I think that’s where it gets a bit harder to draw a firm line. The client is already existing. Marketing is running programs. Those clients, whether it’s events, or newsletters, or blogs, or social things, that’s where it gets a bit tricky.
I think it’s really important to understand certainly from a net new prospect, how many prospects do we need to bring into the company to help a revenue line on top of traditional base management? I think it’s understanding where are those opportunities in your funnel? This is where whether you’ve got a sales force, or SugarCRM, or whatever you’re using from a CRM and sales force automation perspective, you need to have a really, really tight view on the funnel. Again, what’s coming in from a marketing channel? What are what we call marketing-assisted type leads in named accounts, or with current opportunities? You’ve got to understand how all of that is flowing down through.
I mentioned the tie between the marketing and the CMO, and the CIO earlier. It’s really critical because as we mentioned earlier, there are myriad channels out there from social networks to blogs, to your Web site, paid, owned and earned media. You’ve got people coming in to your funnel from a variety of different choices, or a variety of different channels. You have to make sure you’ve got the IT hooks, the code to bring all those people into your sales funnel system. That way you understand what are my most profitable channels? What are my least profitable channels?
I can give you one example at Frontier. We introduced a product called Simply Broadband which is just a stand alone broadband line. We’re very happy to have those. They aren’t as high from a revenue standpoint as someone in a double or a triple play. As an example, we’ve made a decision to try to target and acquire those customers in a digital channel through e-commerce. If we get them into a phone channel on the contact center, the cost of that sale is burdened by a sales rep. It’s just a more expensive sale for us to make on a lower RPO type of deal.
That’s just one example of trying to understand your cost per acquisition, your media channel selection, what the ROI is on that investment, and the profitability of those particular sales.
Greg: Yeah, that’s a great example. When clients ask me about the measurement question, I tell them their Holy Grail is for every dollar I spend in demand generation, how many revenue dollars did I generate? That’s the Holy Grail. When we say that, people say, “Well, that’s impossible, you know. How do I handle attribution? Is it first touch, last touch, multi-touch? Is it channel-based?” There’s omni-channel and so on, and so on, and so on.
My experience has been it is doable. The tools are there especially if you have an IT partner like you recommend and you handle the coding correctly. You should have an attribution model. It should tell you, “If I spend a dollar over here, through this channel, doing these things, this is what I’m likely to get.” I can stack rank that from a relative returns prospective against the other options I have for that dollar.
One of my colleagues, [Vince Kaylor 00:29:10] is a subject matter expert in demand generation strategy. He writes frequently on our blog. One recent article he wrote titled Bring Your A Game to Demand Generation, 12 Best Practices was read a few thousand times.
If you’re enjoying this podcast, you will enjoy reading our blog. Here’s a little information about it, instructions in how to get a free subscription to the SBI blog. We’ll be right back after the break.
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Greg: Welcome back, everybody. This is Greg Alexander and Cory Jones. We’re talking about developing the lead generation strategy for the upcoming fiscal year. We walk through a multi step process here for everybody.
In this last segment, let me recap everything for you. The first step in developing a lead generation strategy was buyer segmentation and understanding how buyers make purchase decisions. Everything starts with the buyer persona. We heard from Cory how he’s doing that at Frontier.
We then progressed towards step two, which had several components to it, which was campaign planning, program design, activity selection, and offer development. Cory shared with us how he developed compelling offers and how he got those offers in front of his targeted audience.
We then progressed to steps three through five, which was content production, demand and lead management processes. We talked about producing things like compelling content and lead routing and response workflows and [inaudible 00:31:04]. Cory shared with us how he’s creating compelling content and how he’s handling the never-ending if/then decision [turning 00:31:12] process.
That lead us to steps six through ten, which was all focused around sales rep prospecting. Cory shared with us the types of things that his sales team does to generate their own opportunities. Some of them were traditional like Chamber of Commerce meetings, et cetera. Some of them were advanced like social selling through LinkedIn.
Lastly, right before the break, we talked about measurement. We had a conversation around partnering with IT and making sure that you understand the customer acquisition cost, the lifetime value of a customer, and you’re selecting the right sales channel for the right product offering based on those numbers. He gave us an example of a stand alone broadband offering sold through a digital channel because the economics dictated that.
That’s a quick recap of the show. Unfortunately we are out of time. Before I let Cory go and let him off the hook, I wanted to see if I could ask him if he has any closing comments to offer the audience as they think about generating and developing their lead generation strategy heading into a new fiscal year. Cory, any closing thoughts?
Cory: Yeah, Greg. I hate to sound like a broken record. I think the most important thing that marketers can do is to understand their audience, to understand the prospect, to understand what makes him or her tick, to understand what inside or outside pressures are leading that person to look for a new solution and ultimately to select, and how they will be evaluated based on the success of that implementation. Again, whether it’s from secondary research, that’s great, but proprietary research, tap into your sales force. They’ve got access to customers.
If you position it with sales as, “Hey, I need to talk to some of your customers. I need to understand what’s in the mind of your current customers so I can go attract more of them and bring them to you to close a purchase order.” They’re more than willing to help out. To me, it is just understand your customer. Everything from your content strategy, your multi touch strategy, how you architect your marketing automation flows, how you create your content, everything starts from understanding who that customer or that prospect is.
If you skip that step, everything after that will be completely sub-optimized. It’s worth investing some money up front. I would recommend refreshing that at least twice a year. Segments don’t generally change that much over time. Certainly, there are nuances. You want to refresh things. That would be my parting words of wisdom, Greg.
Greg: The best ideas are the simplest ones and the ones that are the most obvious. You’re right. It all starts with a detailed understanding of your audience. Everything downstream from that is executed incorrectly unless you really get that accurate. You’re 100% correct.
Here’s some closing thoughts from me to the audience. First, if you were following along here, and you want to develop a lead generation strategy heading into the new year, go back out to our site, salesbenchmarkindex.com and do one of two things. Either just type in lead generation strategy into the search bar and you’ll get all kinds of information, or click on our services. Click on demand generation. You’ll see our methodology there. Read some case studies and some tools et cetera. Hopefully that will be helpful.
Cory, I can’t thank you enough for coming on the call here and sharing 20 years of experience on this subject. You were very insightful. Your advice was fantastic. I really appreciate you making a contribution to our field.
Cory: It’s been my pleasure. To everyone out there in podcast land, happy planning and happy selling this year and in the next.
Greg: Great, take care.
Cory: Thank you.
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