There’s plenty of mediocrity in lead generation—both in-house and outsourced. However, there are a lot of things good insourced operations and lead generation companies do well. While lead generation (or teleprospecting) is not rocket science, there are a lot of moving parts in a well-run lead generation machine. Failure to execute and coordinate all of the moving parts leads to poor results.
Here is a check list to help you see how you’re doing:
- DEFINE A LEAD: Does every department in your company share a common definition of a lead?
Brian Carroll, founder and CEO of markempa has spoken and written about universal lead definition (ULD) for years. This article does a good job of explaining the importance of the ULD—assuring everyone is on the same page and working toward the same end—and covers additional ground (“How to do lead management that improves conversion”).
Don’t be surprised if you talk to six different people at your company and get six different definitions of a lead. Unless you crack this problem, nothing else is going to work. See this article for my advice on “How to Establish a Meaningful Lead Definition.”
- TARGET, SEGMENT AND TEST: How often does your team analyze lists?
Keeping in mind that there’s no such thing as a good list (and remembering that more expensive lists are not always better than cheap ones), the only way to keep your team productive is to make sure your data is fresh by cleansing it continually, analyzing characteristics that indicate propensities to buy, and continually testing to maximize segmentation efforts.
In one situation, we worked with a client that was about to mail 750 $20 “lumpy” packages to prospects. I asked if they had tested the list for validity. They had not. They felt because they had paid a lot of money for the list that it must be accurate. We offered to test the list for free and found that over 50% of the list would have gone to the wrong geography. Many of the company names had no contact associated with the record. The mail house would have mailed those packages anyway. See this article for how to segment and test your list (in this article there is a link to a 10-page whitepaper that digs deeper into the subject).
- RESEARCH: Are folks responsible for reaching out to your market knowledgeable and prepared for quality conversation?
There is disagreement on the value of research. One side argues that you should just pick up the telephone and make the call. I maintain that calling in “cold” is unnecessary and unproductive.
The most obvious reason for this is that lists are not very accurate. Why else would I, someone in the lead generation business, get multiple calls and emails from lead generation companies every week (and multiple calls over time from the same firms)? What should you do that is different? Employing a 4 x 4 research approach (this is how our team is trained) is to spend a total of four minutes looking at four different data sources:
- The prospect’s website.
- The contact’s LinkedIn profile (do you share mutual connections, have we worked with a previous employer of the prospect, does the prospect write, tweet or otherwise use social media for any common areas of interest?).
- The subjects of the prospect’s tweets.
- A general online search to see what pops up. (One client has retained PointClear at three different companies because our relationship jelled when I mentioned I had researched his passion for a medical condition he’d survived).
- ESTABLISH CADENCE: Do you have a multi-touch, multi-media, multi-cycle strategy in place to multiply your lead-generation efforts?
At PointClear, we establish cadence for every prospect in every B2B sales lead generation program we execute using our proprietary SQL-based data capture and workflow tool (called PinPoint) Defined by the program management team based on 20-years of results and our technology-enhanced processes assures that cadence is optimal for each client.
The alternative to defining optimal cadence is under-touching, over-touching or not touching important prospects. An example: I talked to a prospect a week or so ago about how being persistent, yet professional, was critical to reaching prospects. He told me he “got it.” He referred to calls he gets just about every week (where he is the prospect). “I’ll say to myself, ‘that was a pretty good pitch, I don’t have time now but the next time that guy (or gal) calls back I will engage.’” Guess what? They never call back, he never engages, and the seller loses out. Make sure your team has a prescribed cadence for every program (that includes multiple cycles of contact over a period of time) and that they follow it.
- LEAVE VOICEMAILS and EMAILS: Are you properly supporting your outbound calls?
An example cadence for our programs is 10 to 12 touches over 10 business days including 4 to 5 dials, supported by 3 to 4 voicemails and 3 emails. Timing of these touches is built into our PinPoint solution. Due to our dial, voicemail and email cadence, 20% to 30% of the leads we generate for our clients are the result of a returned call, an email reply or what we call a scheduled call. How many calls will be returned if you don’t leave a voicemail?
- NURTURE: Are you getting maximum return on marketing programs?
Lead nurture programs done well triples your B2B sales lead generation marketing ROI. See this article for details on how this underutilized marketing activity—lead nurturing—can increase your lead rate from 5% to 15%.
Of course leads are the desired outcome of most marketing programs. But all too often marketers stop their efforts too soon and don’t place value on outcomes other than those leads that are ready for sales now. For example:
- With effective list management for every lead you generate you should also generate one “pipeline.” For PointClear, a pipeline is a prospect that is just one or two additional actions away from being converted to a lead (20% to 25% of the time pipelines do become sales qualified leads).
- In addition, you will also identify what we call “nurtures.” Nurtures are the right company and the right contacts but it is not the right time.
A chart in the article referenced above shows how you can increase (on a base list of 1,000 prospects) from 50 leads to 153 leads with effective nurturing. Think of the opportunity inherent in this longer-term approach to B2B sales lead generation?
Lead nurturing substantially increases the number of leads from marketing programs and increases marketing sourced revenue. You can read more about this topic by downloading “Point C: From Chaos to Kickass” here.
How does your company stack up? Are you a well-run lead generation machine, or is there room for improvement?As always, I value your questions, comments and views.