These leads are #*(&$# TERRIBLE!!!
Are you tired of hearing this from your sales people yet?
For my first 10 years in B2B sales, and there wasn't a single day that went by where I wasn't thinking or shouting, "THE LEADS! THE LEADS! God, these leads are awful!" I felt like Jack Lemon on Glengarry Glen Ross... desperate to get some kind of support that meant something.
We were pulling our sales leads from purchased lists, directories, and software that scraped the internet for basic contact information. Because of this, our calls were ice cold, and there was a diminishing return that everybody on the sales floor could see, but none of the decision-makers were willing to admit.
But it's 2019 now. We're connected. We're online. And you're realizing that there's no going back to the days before the internet... or Google.
Here are 3 critical steps for generating and closing b2b sales leads in the modern era.
You know their industries, revenue (although... when are THOSE numbers ever right?), and they're probably viable candidates for your products or services...
So, why won't they take your sales peoples' calls?
For one thing, they don't know them.
For another, they have no context to their calls. Regardless if they have a need, they aren't expressing any interest that you can see, and they may or may not have any interest in your brand. You have given your sales people nothing more than a digital phone book.
But this is nothing new. This is how it's always been done.
What is new is that people have changed. Your buyers have changed. They have the internet. And Google. Especially Google.
Banging on the same doors harder isn't likely to result in anything new.
But if you CAN get them to bang on your door... Just make sure you know how to answer.
Step 1: Align your priorities
Typically overlooked, alignment is a critical first step in getting your hands on better sales leads. It provides valuable insights for marketing, and helps you identify holes that exist in your sales process.
These holes represent opportunities for quick wins, and provide a clearer path to victory when you start feeding sales with better leads when patched.
1 - Persona development will lead to:
- Identifying challenges your business can resolve
- Understanding where your perfect customer searches for information
- Content ideas that feed effective marketing programs
- Updating your sales process
2 - Fundamental Assumptions
This is possibly one of my favorite exercises for putting personas into context and understanding buyer behavior. It's a concept that I learned through the Growth Driven Design website development methodology, and have since incorporated into the Alignment phase of our sales and marketing programs. It tells us what both departments need in order to be successful
The exercise consists of identifying each of the following for your top personas:
- 3 core problems: Should be related to their position at work
- 3 core solutions: Don't just list off your service offerings - it's about the problems they solve
- Unique value proposition: What do you do that nobody else does (related to solutions & challenges)
- Alternative solutions: Direct and indirect competitors
- Website metrics for success: How do we objectively measure?
- Key information needs: Both pre and post sale
- Triggering events that led to their visit: Pre and post sale
- First value experiences
- What drives revisits?
3 - Define MQLs and SQLs
If you expect to successfully equip your sales people with quality b2b sales leads, you need to know what, exactly, a qualified lead looks like. There are two different stages in the qualification process, Marketing & Sales.
Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL): They check all of the boxes that marketing is responsible for in order for sales to take a sincere interest. For example, they'll be the right persona, you'll know their industry and company name, and they'll have exhibited behavior that indicates they are interested in your services (ie, downloaded a MOFU or BOFU content offer, or submitted a contact form).
Sales Qualified Lead (SQL): They're more qualified that MQLs, because they often require interacting with sales to fill in the blanks. They could include budget amount, a relevant need, and/or a timeline for achieving their goals.
This information will feed the rules that automate lead distribution, and elevate them when they are the most receptive to hearing from your company.
Step 2: Modernize your sales process
Building out your sales infrastructure will help you automate lead distribution and many other activities that prevent good opportunities from slipping through the cracks.
Organize your opportunities based on important milestones and qualifications. Embed your process into your pipeline management tools.
- Lead distribution
- Appointment setting
- Data entry
- Hot buying signals
- enable a 5-minute or less response time to highly engaged activities
Improve Sales' chances of success by standardizing their collateral, and making improvements based on behaviors, dictated by hard data. (learn more about sales enablement)
With a modern sales process driven by modern technologies, you'll be able to measure and predict the impact of ALL of your sales and marketing investments. More importantly, you'll equip sales to close more sales at a higher velocity.
Step 3: Generate your own leads
Let me introduce you to the inbound lead generation methodology. Maybe you've met. Maybe you have even tested your hand at it in the past. But let's get reacquainted, because it doesn't play the same role it did 5 years ago.
It follows the same general principles, but without alignment and technology, you're going to struggle to derive any real value from it... or at least measure that value.
1 - Attract visitors to your website:
- Social Media
- Paid Ads
2 - Convert qualified visitors into leads:
- CTAs (what's that?) & links
- Landing pages
- Content offers
3 - Get leads to sales when they're ready for contact
- Email nurturing
- Sales alerts
- Lead scoring
Generating quality b2b sales leads is about engagement, context, and making contact at the exact right moment. By aligning goals and knowledge, modernizing your sales process, and generating inbound leads through your website, your sales people will be able to do more, and you'll be able to objectively evaluate the performance of all of your related investments.
Learn more about our inbound lead generation services HERE.