You may have heard or thought this before - worry about what to do with the juju created by your lead generation investment after they are coming through the door. By then, you'll have intel on their behaviors, and can make better bets on how to distribute them into the sales pipeline.
But if you go this route, you're going spend a LOT of $ in a short amount of time, with little to no chance of success.
Let me explain - lead generation marketing (also known as "inbound lead generation" or "inbound marketing") is the answer to ONE problem - the lack of or diversity of opportunities. But it won't solve the problem of lack of sales....
... not by itself.
It's not a magic bullet. It's not a one-size-fits-all solution. Yes, it will fill an important gap, but controlled business growth isn't accomplished with piecemeal solutions.
You already know this.
Here's how I suggest you break it down, so you start with the right foot forward, build out a KILLER lead gen program, and ensure the energy you create is properly harnessed to fit your business growth objectives.
Step 1 - Develop your targeting strategy
Most people feel like this step is moving backwards, particularly if you've been in business more than 5 or so years. You KNOW who your customer is, right?
But how does your knowledge translate to the people you hire to execute your growth plans?
And what makes you think there's no room to learn?
The first step we take when helping a new staffing agency, software company, accounting firm, or other b2b business is building out their targeting strategy. This applies to BOTH sales and marketing, and includes:
- Persona development (interviews are critical for this)
- Company profile development (ideal and non-ideal compoany attributes)
- Lead stage definitions (subscribers, leads, MQLs, SQLs, opportunities, etc)
- Deal stage definitions and entrance criteria
- Sales treatment architecture
- Accountability standards
It's important that sales and marketing are on the same page, and that those you hire to generate leads have a handle on your targets and how to effectively measure outcomes.
I will typically roll this information up into an SLA, and deliver it at the end of phase one (alignment).
Step 2 - Make the unknown known
Inbound lead gen is an unknown to you. It's a newer investment, so you don't have any contextual benchmarks to tell you what a good result is or a bad result. Even if you had some information related to traffic and leads, you still can't provide a scientific calculation that proves the value of one lead-source vs another.
I'm talking about dollars and cents, not impressions, likes, or shares. If you can't pay the bills with it, then we're just measuring air as far as I'm concerned.
Making the unknown KNOWN is your biggest, AND it's your most cheaply solvable problem... one that applies to every and all investment you currently make in sales and marketing.
You can do this by modernizing your sales tools, or replacing them with tools that are modern out-of-the-box. (click here to learn how a modern CRM [Hubspot] will change the game)
What makes a CRM "modern?"
- It automates painful stuff like data entry and calendaring appointments
- It finds your sales people where they spend most of their time (email, Google Chrome...)
- It has useful out-of-the-box features like email templates and automated sequences
- It leverages artificial intelligence
- It helps you shorten the sales cycle to 5-minutes or less (read more about this)
By getting used the way they're supposed to be used, management can see what's really happening, and apply resources in a way that's effective. And marketing can gain real insights to how their programs are working (or not).
You will reveal the unknown while empowering sales to close more deals at a higher velocity.
By building out the framework in the alignment phase, the engineering aspect goes pretty quickly and smoothly as long as the person doing the build-out knows the tools.
Step 3 - Spin up your lead generation program
I typically roll inbound out at the same time as the sales infrastructure implementation. There is a lot of duplication of resources, and growing up together means they learn together.
As far as process is concerned, our highly skilled inbound lead generation experts will follow this playbook:
- Journey mapping - leverage personas from the alignment phase and the interviews used during their creation to plot out all of the positive and negative triggers that lead visitors to your website.
- Content brainstorming - journey mapping generates a LOT of great ideas, so we'll narrow them down to offers, emails, and blog posts, determine how to connect them through relevancy and keyword data, and voila! There's our first editorial calendar.
- Create the first lead magnet - bottom of funnel (BOFU) is recommended, so the leads we're generating are ready to buy or close to it. They're harder to get than top of funnel (TOFU), but we're not here to generate good looking reports (they don't pay the bills either). We're here to generate viable opportunities.
- Publish and promote - get the offer on a landing page behind a form, then promote it with the blog posts, social media, email blasts to existing databases, and PPC ads.
Step 4 - Scrap the elevator pitch
Outbound sales tactics are not going to work with inbound leads.
Nor should you expect them to... When they arrive, they're already engaged to your business. They KNOW exactly when you received their contact information. By converting on a form, they gave your company permission to market and sell to them... and they hold your company to a higher standard when it comes to marketing and sales communications.
A sales pitch ignores every one of those facts.
So, I suggest scrapping the elevator pitch in lieu of a value proposition, because you're going to betray their trust the minute your sales guy tries their old tricks on somebody who doesn't need to be tricked.
The elevator pitch assumes very little knowledge going into it, and it uses the words "we" and "I" a lot.
The proposition statement shows a specific connection and helps the recipient see themselves... before it's ever uttered - the salesperson will have built a rapport and established themselves as a consultant by asking how they can help.
Inbound selling doesn't start with explaining anything. It's about framing the conversation around the prospect.
Here's an example...
"Hi Jim, I understand you're trying to find ways to grow the business, and are interested in mixing it up with something like inbound lead generation or sales enablement. How can I help ?
(they'll explain, then sales will follow up with the value proposition, framed to fit what they already knew going into it, and what the prospect tells them with such a thought-provoking question):
"We help (SIZE in $) staffing agencies/software companies/accounting firms based in the US - that are tired of investing money into their website, but not gaining any tangible outcomes, such as qualified leads or opportunities. Does that sound like you?"
Well... yeah... take my money.
Step 5 - Hold everybody accountable
Once the inbound lead generation engine is running, be ready to apply pressure to your salesteams' commitments. There is no doubt that they'll love seeing those inbound leads come. However, they're going to require a little hand-holding through the transition.
Inbound selling is likely to make them feel uncomfortable because it's not what they're used to.
We solve this accountability issue by referring back to that SLA from the alignment phase on a monthly basis. Our recurring analysis usually includes reviewing SLA commitments and assessing lead quality.
Lead generation marketing is a powerful tool for growing your business if you apply it in an effective manner. To learn more about how we can help your business grow utilizing the inbound methodology, click HERE: