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March 29, 2011

2011 Winner: Karla Blalock, PointClear

2011-blalockCompany: PointClear
Years in Business: Karla has more than 25 years of business management experience, the last 14 of which have been in sales lead management on both the corporate and services side.

Nominee's Achievements:

Karla Blalock is a results-oriented sales lead management executive with a track record for developing and managing lead generation, qualification and nurturing programs that drive revenue. She is known for her ability to mastermind and implement the business processes that make these programs both effective and efficient.

In her current role as vice president of solution services at PointClear, Karla continuously demonstrates her expertise, helping B2B clients in technology, healthcare and business services industries improve margins and grow sales while keeping associated costs low. She is responsible for all client operations at the prospect development firm—from program planning and management to delivery, from measurement against business objectives to reporting.

Karla joined PointClear in 2004 after serving as director of marketing and strategic planning for Southern Company Energy Solutions, a subsidiary of Southern Company. She brings a diverse combination of business strategy, operational expertise and market development experience to clients in her current role. Over the past 25 years she has also held marketing, sales management and operational positions within the service, manufacturing and distribution industries.

The Sales Lead Management Association named Karla one of the 50 most influential people in sales lead management in 2010.


Nominee’s Achievement in the Field of Sales Lead Management:

  • More than 25 years experience in business, with an expertise in developing and implementing best-practice processes in sales lead management.
  • Currently serving as vice president of solution support at PointClear, the prospect development company, responsible for client operations including lead generation, qualification and nurturing program development and management, delivery, measurement and reporting for B2B clients in technology,
  • Karla draws on her experience in business strategy, sales, marketing, operations and HR to quickly identify strategic issues and develop sales lead management programs that can be executed and measured against business objectives.
  • Karla is an expert in the problem, the cause and the best-practice solutions surrounding the misalignment between marketing and sales that prevents companies from realizing their revenue potentials.
  • The Sales Lead Management Association named Karla one of the 50 most influential people in sales lead management in 2010.
  • Karla is active in several professional organizations that give her the opportunity to network, learn, teach and inspire other business women and industry peers, including TAG (Technology Association of Georgia), WIT (Women in Technology), AAISP (American Association of Inside Sales Professionals).
  • She is a Focus Expert, a status granted by the Focus Expert Network to thought leaders, veteran practitioners and upstart innovators who help thousands of businesses with tough decisions every day by publishing research, answering questions and providing personalized support to the Focus community.
  • A frequent contributor to the PointClear blog, and an active participant in other industry blogs and forums, LinkedIn groups and other social media, Karla is an industry influencer, helping others by sharing information and ideas on effective sales lead management.
  • Karla has pioneered many of our industry’s best practices, demonstrating a unique ability to identify areas in the sales lead management process that are broken or could otherwise be improved through a combination of disciplined management, comprehensive planning, enhanced communication, tighter accountability and better analysis, testing, measurement and reporting.
  • Karla is an out-of-the-box thinker, deriving innovative solutions to the challenges that prevent optimum sales lead management efficiency and effectiveness, leveraging the people, process and technology that drive higher margin, more sales and increased revenue.
  • From a strategy standpoint, Karla has demonstrated an ability to align programs with business goals. Testing segmentation hypothesis in order to identify the top-performing segments is an expertise that Karla has developed over the years and one that sets her apart as a leader in sales lead management.
  • Upon engagement with PointClear in late 2009, a client in the security penetration-testing solutions space began working with Karla and her team to create meaningful segmentation to assure that marketing and sales efforts were directed towards the highest performing targets. The client company had been scoring prospects based on company size, industry type and level of seniority. Under Karla’s guidance, PointClear began by testing these variables, plus others, and measuring the performance of each. After just four weeks the team learned quantitatively that there was one variable that was more important than any other: title. Specifically it was proven that if a prospect’s title included the word “security,” then it was a high-value target. While the test results surprised the client, they were very pleased with the ultimate program results: 22% of more than 20,000 raw leads converted to qualified leads; 10% of qualified leads converted to sales opportunities; $23.4 million in new business currently in pipeline; $2.2 million closed as a result of lead development efforts.
  • Karla was key to defining and implementing the comprehensive, collaborative planning process that PointClear is known for. Client program plans incorporate on-target knowledge transfer, sophisticated market segmentation, up-front and ongoing training and message articulation, and closed-loop communication. The custom and continually evolving plans significantly accelerate time-to-benefit, helping PointClear clients receive revenue-generating results faster and more efficiently.
  •  A current client that designs and manufactures rugged wireless computers and data collection solutions engaged PointClear in late 2008. The company had made the strategic decision to outsource its inside sales function. Six internal representatives were redeployed, and PointClear was engaged, dedicating three associates to the account. The client anticipated a six-month ramp up before PointClear would be able to match the productivity of its previous team. Within less than one month, under Karla’s direction, PointClear had exceeded the previous production (with half as many FTEs) and the quality of engagement and leads were measurably higher. The client attributes the success to this best-practice planning process.
  • Karla has also played a vital role in the development and continual refinement of PointClear’s multi-touch, multi-media, multi-cycle processes. Karla has worked closely with other PointClear team members to develop this process, customized for each client depending on the audience and industry, which determines the most effective ways to reach prospects. It combines the right frequency, appropriate messages, and a smart mix of phone, email and traditional direct marketing that keeps prospects top-of-mind through multiple sales cycles.
  • In a large part through Karla’s careful analysis of data generated from prospect development campaigns for PointClear clients, metrics have been developed that set the bar in our industry. Through tracking the number, frequency and type of touches necessary to adequately cover our clients, Karla has developed the following best-practice expectations surrounding multi-touch, multi-media, multi-cycle marketing:
    • Unless you are touching contacts within your target market with at least nine individual touches including a minimum of two email messages you are not generating the results you could.
    • Within the initial contact cycle, those nine individual touches will yield only 40% to 50% of total opportunities. The other opportunities existing within the market can only be identified by continuing to touch the same prospects using multiple media across additional cycles.
      Lead rates from the second and subsequent touch cycles generate anywhere from 120% to 210% of the initial lead rate.
    • Data across all market segments shows that lead rates decline after the fifth contact cycle. At that point, a prospect has received an average of 41 different touches over a period of 15 months.
    • The most effective way to cover prospects after the fifth touch cycle is via periodic email and/or direct mail—leaving the door open for the prospect to make contact when ready.
    • It takes about 1.6 times the number of touches to generate a lead in a large company as compared to a mid-market or smaller company.
    • Nearly 2.5 times more leads are generated from a multi media, multi touch, multi-cycle approach against senior level decision makers in large companies as compared to lower level line of business decision makers in larger companies or all levels of decision making at mid-market companies.
    • PointClear has focused on assuring that its prospect development associates have more business know-how—and more effectiveness— than other outsourced firms. Applying her sales and HR experience, Karla has been vital to the success of this endeavor, playing a key role in defining and refining the hiring criteria, based on data collected over 14 years of PointClear’s existence. Her analysis shows that clients maximize success with experienced (10 years minimum) and educated (four-year degree minimum) associates. Further financial analysis proves that these associates are worth the added compensation required: their ability to engage senior-level prospects in meaningful dialogue drives more revenue for clients.

  •  Through Karla’s efforts in analysis and her expertise in best-practice process development, PointClear reduced sales lead management turnover by more than 65%. Karla led the initiative to improve and streamline recruiting processes, determining criteria to identify the ideal candidate, implementing testing, accelerating assessments and developing individual associates.
  • While serving in various executive and management capacities, including those in sales lead management, at Southern Company Energy Solutions (a subsidiary of Southern Company, a $17 billion company public company and one of America’s largest generators of electricity) Karla made significant contributions benefiting her company and propelling her career. Her positions included: director of marketing and strategic planning; sales and operations manager; and project manager, implementation and finance. Accomplishments included:

o    Implemented project-tracking system resulting in the ability to forecast sales, revenue, market success and gross margin accuracy.
o    Created and implemented new market strategy involving the identification of the highest performing segments in the energy services sector resulting in sales of over $50 million in three years.
o    Tapped and served as adjunct professor for Southern Company College.

Professional Boards:

  • Karla is active in several professional organizations that give her the opportunity to network, learn, teach and inspire other business women and industry peers, including TAG (Technology Association of Georgia), WIT (Women in Technology), AAISP (American Association of Inside Sales Professionals).
  • Karla is a Focus Expert, a status granted by the Focus Expert Network to thought leaders, veteran practitioners and upstart innovators who help thousands of businesses with tough decisions every day by publishing research, answering questions and providing personalized support to the Focus community.
  • Served as adjunct professor of Southern Company College.

Authorship (articles or books):

Karla has been a key contributor to numerous case studies, white papers and articles published by, about and on behalf of PointClear, including:

Sales Lead Management: Five Silver Bullets for Revenue Growth (White Paper)
As organizations continue to shift their focuses from cost-containment to revenue growth, many employ focused sales lead management activities that help capture and increase market share.

How Relational Segmentation Techniques Help Achieve Higher Sales at Lower Cost (White Paper) Sophisticated relational segmentation techniques balance statistical principles with today’s budget realities, and can predict the success of B2B marketing programs while eliminating wasted resources.

PointClear Delivers 422 Qualified Sales Leads to Ingenix (Case Study)
Ingenix, a subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group sought new ways to influence sales outcomes and increase revenue, engaging PointClear as its outsourced prospect development partner in 2006.

PointClear Delivers 12:1 Return on Investment for CenterBeam (Case Study)
An IT services company found lead generation alone wasn't enough to convert prospects to buyers, San Jose, Calif.-based CenterBeam turned to PointClear to bring efficiency, effectiveness to its sales process.

Leading Manufacturer Taps PointClear for Prospect Development … and Revenue Growth (Case Study)
A leading manufacturer of industrial equipment needed to drive awareness and leads for its distributors. PointClear generated 70% to 90% new account penetration and 350 opportunities within six months.

Lead Development: Turning Raw Leads Into Opportunity (Case Study)
A software company uses PointClear’s Lead Development services, called Lead2Value™, to qualify raw leads. To date, 22% of more than 20,000 “hand raisers” converted to qualified leads. In turn, 10% of those qualified leads resulted in $2.2 million in closed business.

Multi-touch, Multi-media, Multi-cycle Marketing, Multiplies Results (Article)
DemandGen Report, September 2, 2009


Karla is nominated by Nancy Joyce


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