- The three main buckets of sales leads
- How to start effective conversations with leads
- Effective cold calling and prospecting
- How technology affects cold calling
Marylou has been working on lead generation for 30 years and specializes in direct response and call center sales. As the market changed, she transitioned to blended phone, email, and internet lead generation. She worked with Aaron Ross on an email-only framework for Salesforce, and on her book.
Below are a few highlights from our conversation:
Not All Leads Are Created Equal
“I lump things into three big buckets for lead generation. The first is casting a wide net by building content and hoping those leads respond to our marketing efforts, and we call those Marketing or Inbound leads. The second group is referral leads, and these are the coveted leads from our community and contacts when they refer business to us, and they come at a very high value. The last type of lead (that I specialize in) is the outbound outreach lead, and those consist of targeted accounts and people that we are looking to establish communication with because they have high revenue potential and high value of closing.
“Typically the marketing leads are high volume, low value because we’re getting the minnows and the whales in that stream. The referral leads are typically high value, low volume because we’re not able to get many and it’s not a predictable engine. On the outreach side, that’s typically high value and can be high volume as long as you blend in your sales conversations so they’re predictable.
The Six Levels of Awareness
“The way we approach the outbound channel is by assuming that a person is going to be in one of six levels of awareness of our product:
- Competely unaware: This happens a lot in disruptive companies that are selling new products or products with new uses.
- Problem-aware: If we look at hunger, being problem-aware means you feel your stomach rumbling, and even if you don’t know what the cause is, you know something is going on.
- Solution-aware: I know I’m hungry, and now I’m looking for some way to solve that hunger.
- Vendor-aware: You know that someone out there can solve your problem.
- Interest: We know that a person at this level is interested, because they’ve engaged with some piece of content or the site as a whole.
- Evaluation: The customer has made an outreach and is moving through the pipeline.
“We don’t know where people are in the levels with outbound, so we have to use psychology to understand how a person in each of these states would consume content, and what kinds of content would trigger movement to the next stage.
“We’ve mapped content assets to the different stages of awareness in Predictable Prospecting as well as the length of the effective content so you can understand what kinds of content they will consume and how far into the process they are when they consume that content.
“From a low-level perspective, we look at open rates, which give us a gist that their eyes move from the subject line into the body of the email. If they click through to a piece of content, that’s another metric, and further clicks can show us further awareness.”
Cold Email and Call Prospecting Isn’t Dead
“I know people’s eyes roll when I say that prospects will thank you for calling them, but I’ve had that happen to me more often than not. We have to internalize the notion that sales is a one-to-one communication. Even with our emails, it’s a one-to-one process. While we may use technology to speed up the process, there are still only about three levels of engagement.
“Cold prospects should get content that is meaningful, but isn’t necessarily personalized. In those emails, we use those copywriting techniques of problem and solution, maybe some cliffhangers to get them engaged with the next piece of content. This essentially provides a story through emails. This isn’t asking a for a lot of time, but rather presents them with a problem that may resonate , and then presents them with a piece of content that helps them solve that problem.
“If they show some level of interest, we can move them up to a working status, and those records require a higher level of personalization, so they know we’re aware of their needs. I think this is a sign of respect to get to know the record.”
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