There are many functions of marketing, but one of the most important is lead generation. Without a solid lead generation strategy, a business won’t grow. I have put together my tips for developing a killer strategy that is designed to deliver a constant stream of new customers.
So let’s get started.
In its simplest terms, there are two types of people you need to consider in your lead generation efforts:
Buyers that recognise a need and may be looking for a solution
People with no interest or need.
By educating the second type on how your solution can solve a problem (they didn’t know they had), you will help them to move from type 2 buyers to type 1 buyers. But first let’s look at how we can capture those type 1 buyers who are actively looking for a solution.
With lead generation, what works for one product will not always work for another product, or in a different industry. The best advice I can give you is to know what your customers read and listen to, and concentrate on engaging with them. The second key piece of advice is to monitor your results, so that you know what generates sales and what doesn’t work.
Below is a list of lead generation activities that work. What’s right for you will depend on your business, the buyers and, of course, your budget
Social media (organic and paid)
Thought leadership/speaking at events/contributing articles and blog posts
In future posts I will cover in detail the individual lead generation channels – consider trying one or two that you haven’t tried in a while. For example, direct mail is much easier to get cut-through now that many marketers are focusing on digital platforms. Knowing your customers will help you to select the best activity for your target buyers and budget!
Understanding the buying process
In order to develop a winning lead generation strategy, it’s vital to understand the B2B buying process. The internet has changed the buying process for most B2B buyers – they are more educated about the solutions they seek, and will dismiss many solutions before they speak to a sales person. Having a lead generation strategy that captures buyers at the various stages of their buying process is the ideal place to start.
What does the buying process look like in 2017?
It’s important to recognise the difference between the buyer’s process and your sales process. A pretty standard buying process is:
Considering a solution to a problem, some internal discussion
Actively researching solutions
Preparing a business case or requesting a budget
Speaking with sales representatives/seeking quotes and proposals
Negotiating/signing the contract
Where should you focus?
Your lead generation strategy will focus on sourcing people at stages 1 to 5. Sourcing leads during these phases requires a multi-channel approach to ensure you capture the right leads.
Not all leads are created equal
For high dollar value sales, an important part of the sales process is qualifying leads – that is, identifying a potential buyer’s likelihood to purchase. This should be done before handing the lead to sales for follow-up. For example, if a website visitor downloads an eBook or two they may not be at the sales-ready stage. Creating quality content with a clear call to action will ensure they contact you when appropriate.
A highly targeted lead generation strategy will increase the quality of leads. Lead scoring can also help to identify when a buyer is ready. Lead scoring is used by marketing automation systems to automate lead qualifications. If your business is not ready for this type of sophisticated system it is possible to implement a simpler version. This involves working with your sales team to understand what they consider a good lead, and the types of information these people are looking for during the various buying stages.
Once a lead is sales-ready, your sales team can apply a more stringent qualifying process that will consider budget, authority, buying timeframe and requirements.
Those leads in the early stage of the buying process can’t be rushed through your sales funnel. They need to be nurtured while they consider their needs – that’s where lead nurturing comes in, staying in touch with them with good quality content will help you to stay top of mind, and influence their buying decisions when they are ready to purchase.
Content is still king!
Content marketing is a great tool for lead nurturing and lead generation. Using your knowledge and developing good quality blogs, newsletters, fact sheets, eGuides, eBooks and video is the best way to nurture your leads and ensure they will continue to move through the buying process with you.
Having the right content for all stages of the buying cycle is an effective way to support your lead generation tactics.
Quality vs quantity
As content marketing grows in popularity, there are too many companies generating useless content that clutters inboxes and news feeds. Be cautious when developing and releasing content, it’s important to understand your target audience and only generate the information and tools they will be interested in.
How about the people that aren’t looking for a solution?
Content marketing will help you to educate those people that aren’t actively looking for a solution. Delivering the right content will identify issues that a business didn’t know they had and highlight solutions that they didn’t know existed. Many business people like to stay informed so regularly consume content from trusted sources and recognised thought-leaders.
The final word
Creating a solid plan that outlines where your new clients will come from this year is an important step in your marketing planning. I often find though, that some businesses lose focus when they get busy once the year starts, and fail to execute many of their plans. This is a mistake and will compromise results. So let’s develop plans that are achievable, and don’t forget to keep track of the results so you can continually improve and maximise marketing spend!