April 28, 2014

Lead Generation Isn’t Rocket Science: 4 Ways to Simplify the Lead Generation Process

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Every morning I log in to LinkedIn and I am inundated with new ways to increase pipeline and generate more sales leads. Where do you begin? Who do you trust? What works? Have you heard about the new lead generation program that offers triple touch, double opt-in, BANT qualified, sales-ready webinar leads?

Let’s be real. Lead generation is challenging, yet simple. Based on my experience, we can break down the entire process into four foundation-building steps:

1. Develop a willing sales team

The old saying is, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” This holds true in the sales process. Your sales team must be willing to pick up the phone and hustle. Whether your company is putting its resources into driving traffic to your site or spending money on a vendor to help generate the leads, the sales team must be willing to call any and every lead that comes through. Following up is the only way to determine the interest, create the need and, ultimately, build the pipeline. If this is not happening at your organization right now, stop reading and go fix the problem immediately. I will still be here when you get back. A potential lead may not be.

2. Determine your target audience

Your sales team needs to know who to target. Ask them. They will agree. Take the time to identify the difference between the person who actually purchases your product and the user who persuades the purchaser to pull the trigger. For example, we recently purchased Salesforce. Our CEO is the ultimate decision maker, but I (the lowly influencer) was the one who knew more about its specific benefits to our sales team. I presented him with a compelling argument based on that knowledge, ultimately persuading him to purchase the product (I am in sales, after all). Know your audience. Is it the user or the decision-maker? Is your message different for each?

3. Get more information

We now have an inspired sales team and a target audience, so the next step is learning everything you can about that audience to identify the best way to start the conversation. This is where the “fluff” can get in the way and over-complicate the process. I’m a firm believer there are two ways to generate leads for your sales team:

Go find the hand raisers
Whether you outsource this to content publication sites, use resources like our product selection tool, or hire an SEO expert to drive traffic to your site, you need to get an inbound lead generation program up and running. This will draw the target audience to you and encourage them to provide contact information, current provider feedback and even pain points in exchange for more information (which you can provide through whitepapers, webinars, etc).

Get people to raise their hands
I don’t recommend purchasing a list because basic contact information in an Excel spreadsheet is rarely enough to create a compelling message to sell your products and services (think opportunity cost). My recommendation is to leverage teleprospecting and email marketing through companies that specialize in it. When using these programs, make sure the team you hire can discover a pain point that may exist with the prospect’s current provider (aka your competition), at the very least. Doing this gives your sales team enough information to start the conversation with leads that sit at the top of the sales funnel.  Fair warning – if you haven’t already taken care of steps one and two, these programs are destined to fail.

4. Nurture what you have

By now everyone should be happy because you are generating revenue by closing the low-hanging fruit collected by the lead generation programs, but we are not done yet. While following up, your sales team likely found many leads that do not have projects right away. That’s okay, but if a lead isn’t purchasing today, that doesn’t mean they are not purchasing tomorrow. Have a way to nurture these “not interested” leads intelligently. When told, “I am not interested right now,” your sales team should be understanding, but also quick to respond with questions about the lead’s current vendor/product, when they could be interested, or why this isn’t a current priority. Gathering this information helps build targeted follow-up campaigns. Programs like Marketo and Pardot are useful tools for this. I also highly recommend SalesForce or another CRM provider to create a personal follow up process.  Consistent follow-ups with a relevant message will help your sales team stay on top of mind. And let’s be honest, timing has a lot to do with purchases.

Lead generation is indeed a tough task to tackle, but don’t make it more complicated than it needs to be.  Focus on the four foundation-building steps you should use to build and perfect your process: Be ready to hustle (step 1), know who you are going after (step 2), find a way to create a need for what you are selling (step 3), and make sure to follow up (step 4).

This doesn’t exactly sound like rocket science to me. How about you?