Let’s face it – Lead Generation is not a new challenge. Especially in the B2B sector, Marketers and Heads of Sales have been almost incessantly locked in the struggle to generate new opportunities – but why, with all the skills, tools and experience within B2B, is this still cited as one of the top priorities?
Why, indeed? Well at the heart of it is the constant need for growth within Businesses – Enterprise, Software, Product, Solution – whatever the Business they all have growth needs to meet an ever-growing target.
Get it right and the brand is enhanced. Business grows, makes money, the cost of sale reduces, everyone’s job becomes more secure and ultimately the Sales and Marketing teams stand out as a beacon of success to the rest of the company.
Where does it all go wrong and more importantly how can you get it right?
Primarily, Lead Generation campaigns struggle with Quantity, Quality or Results. Ultimately and regardless of either quantity or quality it’s the results that we’re all after but to ensure that Lead Generation campaigns are successful they need both Quantity and Quality in Data, Message and follow up.
Already we’re starting to lift the fog around Lead Generation. By examining the inputs and outputs (below) we can begin to troubleshoot the bugs to ensure success.
What are we all looking for from Lead Generation?
Let’s start with what we’re all looking for – the Holy Grail that is Results! Starting from the end may seem like a backward approach but if your objectives aren’t clear, or aren’t clearly achievable, any campaign you run will fail to generate results. Defining the outcomes your business needs will naturally set the tone and pace for your program. It should include the “hard” benefits such as Revenue and New clients but it is also worth considering the wider benefits that Lead Generation can bring as well.
- £££ Closed Revenue won
£££ ROI %
£££ Decreased cost of sale
£££ Future pipeline
??? Market insight and understanding
??? Individual prospect insight
??? Company Awareness
??? Identification of new competitors
When your objectives are set it’s time to take a deep breath and a realistic look at where you’re starting from – even the most seasoned of us in both Sales and Marketing benefit from an objective review of “ground zero” before we assess where we’re going and how this impacts our journey to get there.
The part that data plays
If you’re fortunate enough to hold a database of all your prospects think about how clean it really is, whether it really represents your whole market or whether in fact, it needs some extra TLC (that’s Testing, List Appending or Cleaning). Don’t settle for less than perfect with the database. After all, it’s the unsung hero of any lead generation story. If it’s wrong DO NOT RUN THAT CAMPAIGN – it’s your reputation on the line and success whilst hard-won will pay dividends in the future.
Getting your messaging right
If we thought Data was tricky then getting the messaging right is a veritable obstacle course, it’s one of the key reasons that B2B still struggles with Lead Generation. Forget what you know about how shiny or new your product is and throw away your pre-conceptions around why your 24/7, 365 services should matter to prospects. B2B Lead Generation works when your business can help your prospects' business so if you’re launching a new product or trying to grow revenues for a software solution go back to the human factor that so many Marketers lose in the mire of Features (take that for Bells and Whistles!) and Benefits (take that for “look how great we are”).
Take a look at your own Marketing and score yourself on how well you relate to individuals and their concerns, needs, fears and objectives – if all of your marketing is product sheet, solution or spec driven, chances are you won’t be generating many new leads or will struggle to attract new customers with any consistency. For the record, there is a very clear place for information-based marketing, when a potential prospect has identified their own needs and is walking themselves through the information phase as below.
An effective lead generation campaign for B2B will allow you to guide your prospects from Awareness through to Sales Engagement.
Follow up effectively
Finally, we’re into the Sales follow up stage – pat yourselves on the back, you’ve got the data right and connected well with the prospect and now it’s time to hand over those precious leads and the Sales team just can’t wait to pick up the phone and engage with each and everyone – really?
Firstly in B2B we often underestimate the number of touches it really takes to generate a qualified opportunity and just what those touches need to be. If you’re using an ISR or Telemarketing team be prepared to work that pipeline consistently and complement a multi-touch phone engagement with email, social and nurture campaigns. Getting the balance right between phone engagement and supportive activity with respect and sensitivity to the buying journey above will impact the quantity and quality of the results generated significantly.
Qualifying results, leads and prospects in a real, objective way allows your B2B Campaign the opportunity to evolve, grow and ultimately deliver better results. So with all the complexities, communication channels, data hazards and inconsistent quality factors, it’s no surprise that B2B still struggles with Lead Generation.
It may not be a quick fix but consideration and implementation of small changes in Data, Messaging and Follow Up will turn a failing campaign into a brand-enhancing, revenue-generating machine and after all that’s what we’re all after.
For more great advice on how to make your Lead Generation campaign a success, download our resource, The Practical Guide to Lead Generation. We work through step-by-step, how to generate more interest and convert leads to customers.