B2B lead generation – What to do and how to do it well
B2B lead generation, the life blood of the sales team isn’t the same as B2C lead generation. The revenue per lead, for example is a lot higher than B2C, the number of prospects are lower, the value per lead is higher and the sales cycle is a lot longer than B2C. All of these differences make B2B marketing exciting, and most importantly- monotonous. Since every lead goes through the sales pipeline, it is important to have clearly defined lead status scores, their associated triggers and how and when the lead progresses, if at all it does.
It is not as easy as it sounds. To make things effective, your backend work has to be complete and legible to your sales team. Their understanding of lead status can lead to prospects going in ahead too fast, or too slow. Lead scoring is essential to the mix. Technology is also a big part of the process today. CRM, marketing software and lead management systems are all the rage now. Fact of the matter is, whatever you do, how much ever technology you pour into the mix, your intuition, knowledge and foresight are important, if not crucial- even now.
Why B2B lead generation is difficult
Just over a few years ago, lead quantity was as important or sometimes, even more important than lead quality. This was because of the fear of the lead pipeline drying up. This causes a lot of issues. Firstly, you go through leads that never would convert in the first place, hence wasting time, effort, money and precious sales minutes on a dead end.
Secondly, lots of leads do not mean business-it never has been for B2B and will never be. This is the issue with the B2B setup. People generally take lead numbers to be the indicator of good health of the business, whereas in reality, it couldn’t be farther from the truth.
The chart below is a clear indication of what sales needs today.
Getting priorities sorted is half the battle done. Lead quality is a parameter that is essential to ensure that you get good sales and higher revenue. So, to get good quality leads, you need to have a robust and aggressive lead generation mechanism, one which eliminates the wannabes, and clings on to the ones that will convert.
Using the right medium
The medium of approach matters today. With the use of inbound marketing, traditional means of approaching and converting customers have gone to waste. The market has clearly moved and its divide between B2B and B2C has deepened over the decade. What used to work for both the markets does not anymore. Choosing the right medium to approach your prospects is vital to get that link built up.
This chart outlines the effectiveness versus the difficulty of lead generation methods. This is for B2B. If it was for B2C, the roles would be reversed, leaving only email marketing still at number one-because we all know, email is a marketing weapon that is most effective when used by the experts, no matter what the lead landscape looks like.
The practicality of a medium is also important. Just because it looks good, sounds good and everyone is using it, doesn’t mean it will work out for your business. There are numerous equations to this and you need to be wary of them. The product/service that you are looking to sell is important, as is the geographical territory you want to sell to. Not all markets are developed, matured and ready for your tech laden sale pitch. Choose wisely.
Numbers and their evident pressure
As we said earlier, high lead numbers don’t mean much if they are of low quality. Pressurizing your telemarketing and email marketing team to give you higher numbers does not always work well for your business. Instead, make sure that you have the right prospects who want to talk to YOU and not you with THEM. This will allow you to decrease the lead quantity and significantly bump up lead quality.
Another crucial error that happens when there are too many leads in the pipeline is that leads are not given the time and due importance they deserve. This is a serious issue and needs to be looked into. Lots of B2B companies have buckled under the pressure of lost leads. This is a travesty and happens on a daily basis in companies. Keeping the lead pipeline fresh and stocked with leads is essential, but not at the cost of good leads that may be taking time to convert. They shouldn’t be pushed to the side when newer leads come in; after all, old leads were new at one point of time!
Quality of the leads matter, a lot more than we would think. Here’s why
- High quality leads give higher revenue-in general
- They take lesser time to convert
- Repeat business is always an option
- Sales pipeline gets defined as leads ask for information, rather than we giving it
The end result matters
What is it you are looking for? A quick buck or an investment in the form of a lifelong client? This is essential because it plays out when the deal is being created. If you are clear about what it is you want the prospect to be, then the sales pipeline will work towards achieving it. It’s simple and gives you the liberty to design the lead pipeline. A deal is a deal, no doubt about it, no matter how big or small it is. The question is how far you will go towards achieving that deal. Short cuts, shortchanging your delivery team or promising big and delivering small. All these can be issues that affect your lead generation program.
Technology is to help us, not the other way round
Overdependence on technology can be an issue today. Everything runs on software, but always remember- you run the software. Lead generation programs, CRM and management systems should be helping you in achieving your goals. Most often, we see that they decide what you can or cannot do. Finding the right software today when the market is cluttered is difficult, costly and time consuming.
Lead scoring is essential to the entire mix. Your software should be accommodating of changes, and dynamic with the changes. It shouldn’t put limits to your potential and you should be able to do what it is you need to do to get the prospect hooked. Analysis reports that allow you to take better decisions are what you need; you do not need to be ok with what they give you.
Create content that converts-as per the lead pipeline
Content converts, only when it is designed to convert. This is crucial to the sales pipeline. Content that is suitable for the various stages allows you to lead the prospect ahead. If you don’t have the right content, then you get a bored customer- the most dangerous of the lot. On the other hand, an interested customer can be a lifelong one, give you referrals and generate more business for you. Your content is the connecting link.
Creating content for specific areas of the lead pipeline allows you to focus on their needs at that particular point. Have a clear road map of where and what type of content needs to be created. This is the best way to get your prospects through the loop faster, smoother and earn you some revenue!