The Key to Highly Productive Lead Generation
Just like any other large problem, the best way to address this is to break the process down into bite-size pieces rather than trying to digest it all at once. You need to develop a lead generation process, and support it with robust systems and the right people in the right places.
Create a Strategy
Start with the big picture. This should flow naturally from your overall marketing strategy. It should define your target client, including what positions they hold within an organization, the industries they work in, their company's size, and their geographic locations.
Define Your Difference
Before you approach your target market you need to wrap your mind around exactly what makes your product, service, or solution different than competitors' offerings. And, even more importantly, why that differentiation matters to your prospects and customers. For example, if you are selling a CRM system that can process millions of transactions and your target customer only handles hundreds of transactions, then you have a mismatch.
Decide the Criteria for a Qualified Lead
On the face of it, defining a quality lead may seem simple. This is, however, the place where many lead generation efforts fall apart. That's because sales and marketing have different definitions of what qualified means. Your definition of a qualified lead needs to include:
- The budget that has been allocated to solve this problem.
- Whether or not the lead has the authority to make a buying decision.
- Their need for a solution.
- How soon they plan to buy into a solution.
- The ability of one of your products and/or solutions to solve their problem.
What Information Should You Pass to Sales?
A quick handoff of leads from marketing to sales that includes the contact information is not enough. You need to define the information that will be included with the lead. Sales is going to be much more successful if they are given a deep understanding of the prospects' buying situation, the problems they are facing, the decision-making structure within the organization, how the prospect has responded to content provided to them, and any perceived obstacles in the way of purchasing.
Capture the Leads
Now it's time to determine how you are going to attract and capture leads. The best campaigns bring together these strengths of both inbound and outbound marketing tactics. While Web and content marketing are extremely effective in attracting people who are actively trying to solve their problems online, they can't do all the work.
If your company is not highly prominent online, the web searcher may not find your content. Also, many executives are extremely busy and don't have the time to do extensive Web searches. In both of these cases telemarketing is a highly effective and efficient way to reach specific accounts you're targeting and to help them solve their problems.
Nurture Until Sales-Ready
Many marketing departments feel that the job is done once they have captured a lead. The problem, however, is that the majority of leads are not sales ready.
Perhaps they don't plan to buy in the near future, or they are simply not educated enough on the problems and solutions to make a decision. In these cases a lead will need to be nurtured. The nurturing plan should likely include email marketing, relevant content, and the occasional phone call to answer questions, provide relevant information, and, of course, add the all-important human touch.
Score Your Leads
You also need to define a system for scoring your leads. This system should be based on both on how the lead has interacted with your website and content, as well as judgments made by your salespeople as to the lead's interest level.
Give Sales People Leads They're Excited to Follow Up On
Based on the scores generated, you can finally pass the leads over to your salespeople. When you do, make sure you also provide all the juicy background information so they are prepared to make the sale.
Measure, Adjust, Optimize
Even when you have made the sale, the process isn't over. You constantly need to be measuring the results, adjusting your process, and optimizing it.
Jeff Kalter is CEO of 3D2B, a global business-to-business telemarketing company that bridges the divide between marketing and sales. He leads customer acquisition programs for Fortune 500 companies, and is passionate about building strong business relationships through professional phone conversations.