When I’ve talked with marketers about their B2B lead generation results, I’ve heard statements like, “We’re generating a ton of leads, but they aren’t converting” or “We need to increase quantity” or “We need to generate more qualified sales leads.”
Marketers spend a lot of time and effort doing inbound marketing, but they often struggle getting those leads to convert into pipeline opportunities and customers after they hand them off to sales.
In this post, I’ll share proven ways get better opportunities from your lead generation. Because there’s so much to share, I’m splitting this post into two parts with today’s post featuring the first eight.
1. Create a universal lead definition.
If you are trying to measure lead generation and you don’t have a universal lead definition (ULD), which is an agreement what the word “lead” means, you won’t be successful. This point is particularly the case in high-growth organizations, where the number of leads is growing all the time. Without a ULD, salespeople will have a tendency to focus on the companies they already know and relationships they previously had and ignore the others. They need to keep their numbers up and don’t trust uncertain leads to move the needle.
To get past this, you have to sit down with the sales team and ask, what are the major things that you need to know for you to feel that something is viable? These are the key points of information that sales often wants to know about a lead:
- Role in the organization
- Their role/authority is in the buying process
- Their motivation
- Stage of investigation
It’s important to remember that the first definition process is iterative. It’s not a one-and-done thing. Revisit the universal definition and make changes. And be asking questions, including “are we asking the right questions?”
2. Use your empathy.
When you’re in the trenches, it’s easy to get caught up in marketing acronyms, data, and analytics. What you need to remember is that, ultimately, your lead generation comes down to connecting with people.
This personal connection comes down to one idea — empathy. Learn about the importance of putting the empathy back into customer interactions, and then read some simple strategies for achieving empathetic marketing.
3. Use the phone.
The phone is the gold standard for qualifying most leads. I’ve found that you could e-mail, do web profiling, lead scoring, and measure all these touch points. But in the end, if you want to know something, you need to pick up the phone, talk to someone, and engage them in a conversation. Also, if you plan on doing account-based marketing (ABM), this is key a requirement.
4. Follow-up about potential customer’s motivation first.
One of the mistakes I see in lead handoff is that sales will notice that someone downloads a whitepaper. Then they do a follow-up call and want to set up an appointment. Nope. That’s not going to get you anywhere. You want to be able to engage them in more of a discussion rather than trying to make an immediate qualification.
To do that, you need to ask a question that helps you understand their motivation: What question were you hoping to answer by downloading our white paper or what motivated you to download our white paper? The next question is, was that you were asking the question, or was that someone else in your company asking the question? The goal is to be a trusted advisor or a relevant resource to your audience until they move to the point of being ready to talk about initiatives or a project.Instead of trying to sound interesting to others, be interested in them. Click To Tweet
5. Start re-engaging your old leads now.
Consider going back to your 3-month-old or old leads and re-engage them in some meaningful way. My research has shown that about 70-80% of leads marketers generate end up getting lost, ignored or discarded.
Rather than continually struggling to find new leads for the sales team, marketers must develop a lead re-engagement process that requires the sales team to return slow or unwanted sales leads to the marketing team. The key is looking back to your past marketing activities to find the gold lost in the sales pipeline. If you want to make a difference in this year, go back to review the leads you generated last year last year, and there’s a lot of opportunities there.
6. Learn what qualifies as lead nurturing.
What is and isn’t lead nurturing? A silly question, I know, yet it’s one that marketers often answer incorrectly. This concept of lead nurturing is more nuanced than it seems. Lead nurturing involves providing prospects with relevant and valuable information and helping them on their buying journey and adding value regardless if they ever buy from you. This specialized treatment is much more likely to result in a conversion than sending out generic promotional emails. Learn the exact definition of lead nurturing, and read some examples of what does and doesn’t make the mark.Lead nurturing is consistently sharing relevant and valuable content with viable prospects. Click To Tweet
7. Tip Filter content by role and by the stage of the buying process.
Executives get a lot of similar content. But if you can demonstrate that you’ve done filtering on their behalf, you can get through to them. I’ve found that readership will up significantly by sending one targeted piece to leads rather than a generic newsletter targeted to everyone.
Begin by asking your sales team:
- The questions do your customers ask most often?
- What are they likely concerned with now?
- How likely issues are they facing?
Find content — such as articles, blogs, and white papers — that addresses these issues. Pass this content by your sales team, and ask them whether their customers would value it. As much as you can, repurpose content. For instance, white papers can be transformed into articles and articles into blog posts.
Once you’ve determined who they are, you need to support a continuing conversation. For example, if you have a Webinar, you send them a follow-up email with more information and then call to ask, did you find that webinar helpful? Did it bring up other questions?
8. Connect with leads frequently and relevantly.
To remain relevant to people during the nurturing process, you have to be consistent. My threshold for consistency is to reach out to leads at least once a month. Different marketers have different thresholds, but I would say that quarterly isn’t enough to be remembered—there is just too much noise in the way. For more tips read 6 Ideas to Create More Relevant Lead Nurturing Emails
This post isn’t over yet. Read part two.