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February 26, 2014

2014 Nominee: Karla Blalock, PointClear

Company: PointClear

Years in Business: 25

Nominee's Achievements:

Karla Blalock is a proven sales lead management professional. She’s pioneered strategies to increase both effectiveness and efficiency of prospect development and has been innovative in applying best-practice analytics to lead generation, qualification and nurturing programs. Karla is also known for her focus on coaching, mentoring and developing the industry’s next generation of leaders.

In her role as chief operating officer at PointClear, Karla applies 25 years of experience in marketing, sales and operations to help clients improve margins and grow sales. She’s responsible for all client operations—from strategy development, to program planning, management and delivery—from pre-program analytics, to results measurement and reporting.

The Sales Lead Management Association (SLMA) has named Karla one of the 50 Most Influential people for four consecutive years and one of SLMA’s 20 Women to Watch for the last three. She was named Analytics Marketer of the Year by TAG Marketing (a society of Technology Association of Georgia, an influential 14,000 member organization); and Woman of the Year honoree by Women in Technology. Karla has been featured in articles and broadcasts, as well as authored insightful sales lead management thought leadership communications.

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

Karla Blalock’s achievements in the field of Sales Lead Management 

  • More than 25 years experience, with an expertise in developing and implementing best-practice processes in sales lead management.
  • Chief operating officer at PointClear, the prospect development firm, responsible for client operations including lead generation, qualification and nurturing program development and management, and delivery, measurement and reporting for B2B clients.
  • Draws on experience in business strategy, sales, marketing, operations and HR to identify strategic issues and develop sales lead management programs that can be executed and measured against business objectives.
  • An expert in the causes surrounding the marketing and sales alignment—and the solutions that help companies realize revenue potentials.
  • As a leader in sales lead management, Karla is a role model for the future generation of leaders. She demonstrates honesty and directness, passion and enthusiasm; reinforces mutual respect; and instills a sense of empowerment that drives professional growth and success.
  • Karla is active in 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), and AAISP (American Association of Inside Sales Professionals).
  • Karla was featured on IntrepidTV with host Todd Schnick for a 30-minute show on analytics and sales lead management best practices.
  •  A frequent contributor to ViewPoint, a thought leadership blog exploring sales lead management best practice. Karla is also an active participant in other industry blogs and forums, LinkedIn groups and other social media. She is an influencer, helping others by sharing information and ideas on effective sales lead management.
  • Karla has pioneered industry best practices, demonstrating a unique ability to identify areas in the sales lead management process that could be improved through disciplined management, comprehensive planning, enhanced communication, tighter accountability and better analysis, testing, measurement and reporting.
  • Karla and her team developed a hypothesis for more effectively engaging senior business executives as part of PointClear’s multi-touch, multi-cycle, multi-media prospect development strategy. After testing and roll-out companywide, the strategy has resulted in the generation of 55% sales-accepted leads among decision makers and accounts for 14% of all leads generated by PointClear on behalf of clients.
  • Karla believes in the importance of professional development in the success of PointClear’s sales lead management efforts. She’s initiated and enhanced the company’s telecommuting program over the last two years, allowing associates to move their eight-hour work days from the office to their homes and providing flexibility that many employees need and value. She’s introduced new testing, tools and processes to achieve three goals: 1) Enhance productivity 2) Assure employees stay connected to corporate culture and 3) Extend PointClear’s ability to effectively manage the process. Today 20% of the staff is telecommuting, and both client and employee satisfaction levels are high.
  • A process-oriented professional with a focus on communications, Karla is known for her and her team’s ability to work with both client marketing and sales teams to close the gap between their organizations—and impact results. In pre-sales conversations, discovery, program development, training and execution, she educates and models best-practice processes that improve alignment and deliver higher quality leads to client field sales teams.
  • Karla emphasizes effective follow-up with her clients through training and documentation. A particular client reported that prior to using the follow-up best practices, 80% of his field sales team were not connecting well with qualified leads. Karla’s processes helped formalize the rep follow-up best practices resulting in significant increases in rep success connecting with leads and moving them to close deals.
  • She also understands the value of maintaining relationships with those sales professionals—even in cases where they’ve changed companies. Karla, her managers and the associates have developed communications strategies to assure that that 1,000+ sales reps who’ve benefitted from PointClear leads in the last several years are kept apprised of offerings and benefits, for the mutual benefit of all involved.
  • Karla is an innovative thinker, deriving solutions to the challenges that prevent optimal sales lead management, including those that leverage the people, process and technologies that drive higher margin, more sales and increased revenue. From a strategy and guidance standpoint, Karla and her team have demonstrated an ability to align programs with business goals:
  • Using data to help refine a company’s target market, and the corresponding offer, is an ability Karla brings to the table in her client relationships. Recently a client in the data-center services industry decided to target a broad market: the Fortune 1000. Initial analysis indicated that smaller companies in the healthcare vertical would be a more appropriate target. The smaller-company market valued the client’s offering, and the client had numerous successful business relationships in this arena. Karla and her team recommended the client focus on one vertical. It was agreed to test the recommendation by implementing parallel programs. The result after four weeks of testing? The Fortune 1000 test revealed disappointing results, even with up to 25 touchpoints. The lead rate within the more targeted audience performed well above the benchmark, with an average of only seven touchpoints. A comprehensive, targeted list was subsequently developed by PointClear on behalf of the client and work continues successfully.
  • Testing hypothesis to identify top-performing segments is an expertise Karla’s developed over the years. A client in the security penetration-testing solutions space began working with PointClear to create meaningful segmentation to assure 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 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. While the test results surprised the client, they were pleased with the 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 instrumental in 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.
  • RA company that designs and manufactures rugged wireless computers and data collection solutions engaged PointClear in 2008. The client 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.
  •  A critical part of the planning process is database development. She and her team demonstrated their resourcefulness in the last year by accessing publically available data. Program results show that leveraging readily available lists, combing news stories and other sources for potential contacts, and creating databases based on grassroots efforts not only save clients significant dollars, but provide exponentially more value, and better results. The pre-revenue company recently sold for $90 million to a major technology corporation and gives PointClear credit for this accomplishment.
  • 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 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 the industry. Through tracking the number, frequency and type of touches necessary to cover our clients, Karla has developed the following best-practice expectations surrounding multi-touch, multi-media, multi-cycle marketing.
  • PointClear has focused on assuring that its prospect development associates have more business know-how than those at 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 15 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 associate turnover and increased the average employee tenure. Karla led the initiative to improve and streamline recruiting processes, determining criteria to identify the ideal candidate, implementing testing and accelerating assessments. Karla was able to further minimize employee turnover and improve the firm’s ability to consistently provide exceptional services to clients by implementing a carefully designed 45-day on-boarding program, including orientation, training and frequent check-ins with new employees that virtually eliminated employee turnover in the first 90 days. Subsequently, under her direction, the company incorporated a voluntary 10-week mentoring program. Feedback from clients, new employees and seasoned team members has been overwhelmingly positive.
  • Karla’s mentoring activities extend to members of her management team, as she is passionate about her responsibility to help develop the sales lead management leaders of tomorrow.
  • Karla works with program managers to develop their ability to create the content that supports outbound calling and other market contact efforts such as call flows, emails and voice mail messages. This guidance is grounded in Karla’s mastery of three core sales and marketing program elements: The market, the media and the message. She also regularly instructs and coaches her team in evolving their skill sets in areas like target market definition; list enhancement; market segmentation; lead qualifying and lead nurturing; opportunity distribution; and ROI measurement.
  • Karla works with these program managers, who are responsible for day-to-day client account management, to help them build strong and professional relationships with clients and develop analytical skills to identify areas for improvement. She helps them focus on identifying and communicating issues and opportunities both internally and to the client to ensure ongoing progress. Karla keeps them focused as well on project management skills so that her team prioritizes efforts in ways that keep all programs moving forward toward objectives.
  • 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 the organization and propelling her career. Her positions included: director of marketing and strategic planning; sales and operations manager; and project manager, implementation and finance.

Professional Boards:

  • On Nov. 17, 2011, Karla was named Analytics Marketer of the Year by TAG Marketing, a society of the 14,000-member Technology Association of Georgia. Karla was one of just seven marketing professionals honored at this second annual event.
  • The Sales Lead Management Association named Karla one of the 50 most influential people in sales lead management for multiple years
  • Karla has been named to the 20 Women to Watch in Sales Lead Management since its inception.
  • Karla is active 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).
  • Served as adjunct professor of Southern Company College.

Charitable Boards:

Karla is active with PointClear’s corporate philanthropic efforts, playing a key role in organizing and managing community service events and programs that have benefited Norcross Cooperative Ministries, the Partnership Against Domestic Violence, the American Red Cross, the Foster Children’s Foundation, MUST Ministries and numerous other groups.

Karla and her family are members of Birmingham United Methodist Church in Milton, Georgia, and participate in the children’s activities there, including charity drive walks, and making lunches for MUST Ministries, an Atlanta-based organization helping families in need.

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 Jeff Fisher


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