Lead Generation Basics – Set proper expectations

Naturally, people who work to sell their product or service believe that what they offer is the best solution around. Why wouldn’t someone buy what they have? However, no matter what you are selling, it will still take time.  All prospects have a built in mistrust for the hoards of sales people coming after them every day. Why? Put yourselves in the position of today’s decision makers and the risks they face when they look to change their company’s processes, productivities and bottom-line:

  • The more complex (and higher cost) a solution is, the more people in the prospect company it will affect.  With more stakeholders, the buy cycle lengthens as they try to gain consensus.
  • If decision-makers choose the wrong solution, they are blamed for failure.
  • If they choose to delay a decision, their company could suffer long term consequences because they are not adequately addressing problems.  Unfortunately, many times this is the “safest” decision for companies.
  • Even if they choose the correct solution as evidenced by an improvement in their overall business, they still are likely to encounter internal resistance to change.  Change for most is a risky proposition.

Be patient and persistent in the execution of a thoughtful, well-designed and implemented lead generation process and it will yield positive results.

Telemarketing – Under Used and Under Appreciated

The following chart reprinted from Marketing Profs (www.marketingprofs.com) suggests social media is among the least effective strategies when it comes to lead generation. Whereas, inside sales and telemarketing are among the most effective.

Growing your business is tough work.  Generating leads and qualifying them to a higher level are among the greatest challenges business marketers face today.

The message is simple.  If you know where you want to end up, make sure to use all of the best tools at your disposal to travel that path.  Don’t get side tracked with all the hype.  Targeted outbound  telemarketing and business development are still among the best and most reliable methods for filling your sales funnel and growing your top line.

 

 

Want to reach your targets? Try off hours.

Dr. James Oldroyd, a Professor at Sung Kyun Kwan Graduate School of Business conducted a study in 2007 with the Kellogg School of Management to study cold calling success and came up with some surprising information.

The study took place over 4 months with companies of various sizes from more than 40 industries taking part with 495 responses.

They discovered that with the best cold calling times that we currently think of are in fact completely wrong. Most people would probably suggest that the best times to cold call would be from late morning, over lunch and then the early afternoon, when people are about, right?

Wrong. The statistical information gleaned from the study is quite the reverse.

The absolute best times to cold call are between the hours of 8-9am and 4-5pm, with the lunchtime period of 1-2pm being the absolute worst.

Whilst the study didn’t go into why these times were the best and worst, it’s probably not too hard to put your own theory around the “Why”. For instance, the 8-9am slot probably works because it’s before “normal work hours” (if they still exist) and so your decision maker’s gate keeper may not be at their desk yet, or simply that your decision maker’s day may officially start at 9am with rounds of meetings, hence why they are at their desk a little earlier to get ahead of the day.

With the 4-5pm slot, there are not usually as many meetings scheduled for this time of the day compared to the rest of the day and so your decision maker again may be at their desk. Many meetings are scheduled over the lunch period, and lunch itself takes place eliminating the lunch period as a good time at all.

The research also says that the very best day to cold call is Thursday, and the very worst day is Friday, go figure why on that. Having spoken to others about their own best days, it boils down to wherever you get the most success yourself, stick with that.

Bridging Multi Channel Marketing and Sales Lead Generation

Bridging Multi Channel Marketing and Sales Lead Generation

In the 21st century, companies that are start-up, early stage or well established are faced with myriad ways in which to apply their marketing efforts and hard earned dollars.  Below is just a short list of channels:

  • Direct mail/email campaigns.
  • Search Engine Marketing and SEO.
  • Industry events and conferences.
  • Interactive/social media.
  • Press releases
  • …and the list goes on.

The message in all this is that you invest your time, effort and dollars in campaigns that are designed to fill your sales pipeline.  But in order for that to happen, applying the above strategies requires your prospects to do something first.  The measure of how good your marketing campaigns are is how often people will click on a link or call or connect when they see or hear an advertisement.   Hopefully your messages are inspirational enough to make the prospect take that next step.  But hope and wait are passive strategies.

The responses that do come in need a response mechanism which is likely your inside sales team who can then follow up and further qualify.  These passive marketing campaigns create further awareness and that does soften up the battlefield for B2B telemarketing.  More times than not, prospects need to hear from you or be touched multiple times before they make contact.

B2B telemarketing or telequalifcation is a proactive strategy that complements your marketing strategies.   Both must be done in concert for true sales lead generation with the best qualified leads moving through the pipeline and developing into closed sales that deliver you revenue.

Bottom-line, it’s not just marketing nor just sales.  It’s a concerted and effective handoff between the two groups for optimal results.  We’ll take the active approach for you and turn passive interest into qualified interest.  We’ll bridge the marketing to sales gap.

 

Lead Generation Basics – Communicate and adapt

Look at the stock market, gas prices, and even your family. All change over time, sometimes overnight. Your customers and potential customers change too, even if you are operating in a mature market. In general, the sales process in a company is divided into a few different activities, and in most cases these activities are performed by different people.

  • When undertaking any targeted calling campaign you will need effective communication between all stakeholders and adapt as required to achieve success.
  • Establish regular communication at lead/opportunity hand-off points to make sure lead appointments do not fall through the cracks.  A poor hand-off at any stage of the pipeline could cost you the opportunity forever.
  • Feedback from the sales rep to lead generation team is key to creating continuous improvement and adaptation to change.  It helps prioritize qualification questions and prepares all to handle potential future objections from other prospects.
  • Include your lead generation team in learning the results of lead opportunities.  Knowing that a lead is moving through the pipeline and eventually becomes a customer is affirming to their hard work and inspiring to their continued success.

Lead Generation Basics – The Right Time

We have all heard the familiar refrain about life — “Timing is everything!” Well, it is the same when it comes to volume targeted calling. Every time you pick up the phone to call, you have to anticipate connecting with that opportunity that makes all the cold calling work worth the effort.  Some call this luck.

But, success on a long term basis is a result of making your own luck.  Regarding cold calling, this means pitching the Right Message to the Right Targets and catching them at the Right Time.  How do you maximize the probability of connecting with people who will end up purchasing your product or service?

  • Aggressively make calls 100-150 per 8 hour day if you are manually dialing, as many as 200 or more with an automated dialing system.  Fewer than this, you are not maximizing your probabilities. More than this, you are likely not talking to anyone.
  • Do not confuse number of dials with progress if the resulting number of conversations is in the single digits per week.  If you are not talking to people, enough people, you will never uncover a need that will lead to an opportunity.
  • Do not dismiss initial resistance with not being the “Right Time”.  Just because you do not learn of the existence of an active budgeted initiative on a cold call, it does not mean the prospect will not buy.  Most prospects have money and their company’s priorities are often changeable, so money can be moved to cover any purchase if compelling enough.

Lead Generation Basics – The Right Targets

It is a familiar refrain of sales people and marketers everywhere. “I need to get in front of the right people!” The “right” people of course are those decision makers and the people who influence the decision makers who can lead you to the sale.  Here are a few tips that can help you become more efficient in your prospecting efforts:

  • Outline the profile of a customer and work backward to identify a list of target companies with the same attributes; annual sales revenue, number of employees, industry, and geography are common criteria.
  • Define the stakeholders within the target companies, their titles, roles, and level of influence.
  • Remember that no list is perfect and the best way to find the right person is to talk with people, even if they are outside the roles you are trying to engage.  There is no magic list despite what you may hear.
  • Be open to revising your original assumptions about the best targets; while there are trends in the ways companies are structured and behave, there are plenty of unique companies doing it their own way.  Remaining flexible will prevent you from missing real opportunities.

Outsourced Lead Generation – A Cost Effective Process for Qualified Lead Generation

Do you know the true costs of your sales process? You know what you pay your sales people, their travel, their entertainment and their benefits. From that and based on the production of closed sales opportunities, you can determine your ROI.  Right? Well….sort of.

There are hidden costs.  There are sales processes that when you get down to it are just plain time consuming and perhaps even painful.  Do you want your shiniest assets chasing every so called lead they get from marketing, ads, email campaigns, events, trade shows, from web inquiries?  90%+ of these inquiries never pan out.  You know that and your assets who are chasing these leads know it too.  Yet, you keep on having those leads chased and having your assets consume their valuable time dialing and leaving voicemails that rarely get returned.  Or worse, you have an inside business development team, sales associates, do this task and they too have no better luck.  They get frustrated and ultimately leave or move on.  This creates a gap in your process.

Cost effective Lead Generation-Good Leads

Back to the hidden costs.  Replacing reps and dealing with the churn in your front end process is costly.  Costly for you to find new reps to do the dialing volumes.  Costly for you to train them, to coach them and get them to a level of proficiency.  The more complex your end product or service is, the longer it will take to bring the new rep up the competency curve.

Lead Generation Basics – The Right Message

No prospect just picking up a ringing telephone wants to listen to a cold caller carry on about their company, product, or service. The typical cold call is short (less than 5 minutes, more than 2 minutes if you are lucky), so the caller must capture attention quickly and establish why it is important for the prospect to listen.

  • Your value proposition must be stated clearly and confidently, preferably referencing a success story with an existing client to establish credibility.
  • Identify what topics or phrases excite the prospects you are trying to reach and engage with them in an unscripted conversation about these.
  • Pre-prepared scripts are useful tools but should act more as guidelines for discussion so they do not sound like the typical 6th grader delivering lines in the school play.

Cracking the code on the Right Message on a consistent basis may take a while and is likely to vary depending on the role of the individual prospect.  So keep calling and adapt your message to what resonates with your target prospects.

Accelerate the Sales Process and Achieve Your Sales Goals

When a sales organization misses their sales goals is it because they didn’t close the deals they had in their pipe or is it because they didn’t have enough quality opportunities in the pipe to begin with? The best way to accelerate your sales process and achieve your sales goals is to place high quality leads in the hands of your sales team.  Many organizations focus on the quantity of leads they generate versus the quality of the leads.  Certainly focusing purely on the quantity reduces the overall cost per lead on the front-end of the process however this approach generates a significant burden on the sales team by increasing the amount of time/cost it takes to sort through the “leads” to find the real opportunities if any to take to the next step.

Many lead generation outsourced vendors fail to ask one very important question in the development stage of a lead generation project.  That question is very basic and can only be answered by your sales team.  And that question is “what is your definition of a lead”?  Many outsourced vendors simply say we’ll get you X number of meetings for your sales team.  On the surface the number of meetings may sound great however if the individual you are meeting with does not have a need or interest in your offering it is a waste of time for your sales team and it will not help you achieve your sales goals.  So if you want to move more opportunities into your pipe quicker and achieve your sales goals focus on the quality of leads entering you pipeline and not the quantity.