Lead Generation: Strength or Weakness?

61% of B2B marketers say that generating high-quality leads is their biggest challenge. (Source: B2B Lead Generation Marketing Trends Survey 2013)

I hear it all the time. Year-in and year-out, in trade article after trade article, B2B marketers lament that their biggest hurdles are generating high-quality leads. Lead generation is the biggest weakness in their otherwise successful marketing efforts. So why not put everything you’ve ever been told about B2B lead generation out of your head and try something new this year? Read on to find out how you can turn lead generation into your biggest strength.

First Things First

The most important aspect of a B2B company’s marketing program, especially in today‘s digital marketplace, is the people delivering the message. The human component is an unquantifiable element of greatest priority because it is in the chemistry between those delivering a company’s message and the potential customers where the relationships are developed- or lost. Because real people make business decisions on the customer end, every point of contact you have with them makes or breaks the potential connections you stand to create.

While more and more purchasing decisions are in fact being made online, your customers and prospects should have a real-live person, face-to-face or over the phone, to discuss their particular needs. This is especially true in most B2B scenarios, where complex engineering or technical situations are critical.

For instance, an engineer designing an aircraft engine isn’t going to spec in your part simply because he interacts with your company online. He should have a good feel (read: brand awareness) for your company, and hopefully have been given all of the technical information he may have needed, but at the end of the day, he‘s going to want to speak with an actual person, probably R&D and sales, to get to the meat of his product needs. The same is true for a vast array of highly technical, engineering-based industries.

Do you have the dedicated sales staff at your disposal to accomplish this? Do they have the time to cultivate and nurture each prospect or existing customer in their territory? Or are your salespeople bogged down with too many other things?

But I Don’t Need All That; I Have Inbound Marketing!

Inbound marketing is the process of creating quality online content that draws your target audience to your company, where you can convert them to loyal customers over time.

Inbound marketing is definitely where it‘s at. It outperforms outbound in most categories. But alas, there is no such thing as free marketing.

So many marketers get swept up into the social media and content creation wave, thinking they‘ve found the golden ticket- the loophole that will allow them to market like the big boys, but on a shoestring budget. Companies should be completely honest with themselves about the true costs of these activities.

In considering inbound marketing, there are two aspects that warrant special attention: the cost of content creation and actual online traffic numbers.

Companies today are expending huge amounts of energy creating content and marketing in the digital space. We believe that digital media is very passive. The content is great, but really puts the onus on your customers and prospects to find the information that is most valuable to them.

But, at the end of the day, your prospects and customers, especially in the B2B arena, want to talk to a PERSON; their projects are too important and often too complicated to base their product decisions on daily emails or a great website, no matter how functional.

Build Your Lead Generation Machine

B2B industries are generally more technical and more in-depth than those in the B2C space. We believe that if you can figure out in a B2B world how to give someone a B2C experience, you will own your marketplace. It is our job at Connects Marketing Group to help you achieve this goal.

The heart of what we do is B2B lead generation. We keep your pipeline filled with highly qualified leads so your sales people can spend their time closing deals. Our team has the ability to understand your business and complex technology and then take the right action to ensure your sales success.

We begin by:

  • Engaging the right point of contact within the targeted company
  • Having a candid dialogue that supports future communication
  • Identifying true opportunities for your sales team
  • Determining the logical next steps for your sales team
  • Establishing a firm foundation for a long-term business relationship

Typical types of lead generation campaigns might include:

  • New customer creation
  • Email or direct mail campaign follow-up
  • Territory expansion
  • Web-based inquiries
  • Trade show registrations or inquiries
  • Webinar registration or follow-up
  • New product launches

We believe B2B lead generation should be about the Three C’s: Contact, Communication and Connections. They are the foundation of our success. They matter. We do them right, each and every time.

So why keep on doing the same thing, rehashing the same marketing tactics, with the same results? Why not let Connects help you increase the number of quality leads you hand off to your sales team exponentially?  In the same way you wouldn’t make a purchase on Amazon without checking the reviews, have a listen to what some of our clients had to say about us.

“Connects Marketing Group has exceeded my expectations. The quality of their employees is unparalleled. They have learned our business and pivot quickly offering us valuable feedback from our customers and prospects. The effectiveness of our campaigns came from Connects taking the initiative to learn our industry, when we did not have the time to train them. They are an integral part of our sales process. I highly recommend them.”

Roger Parks, VP Business Development & Co-Founder, doxo, Inc.

“CMG as a partner is tenacious and always deliver what they promise. They can take a complex concept or sale, break it down methodically, and have a targeted message to share with the prospective customer while speaking the party line of our company. Working with CMG gives us the ability to turn up or dial down activity in a program offering without additional sales and marketing costs being incurred. We‘ve utilized them for lead generation and are pleased they offer so many additional relevant B2B Business Development services. We see them as an extension our on-staff sales teams.

CMG‘s greatest strength is their smart and highly engaged people and how quickly they get a sales management program launched. It takes a special breed of people to pick up the phone and clearly communicate the marketing message. If you are going to spend money on a tradeshow, you have to take advantage of the leads and do the follow up. The best way to get ROI of any tradeshow is to utilize Connects. Within a day or two they will literally touch every lead received from a tradeshow. CMG leaves no stone unturned and that is key in turning prospects into customers efficiently and quickly.”

Jeff Heier, Security Solutions Strategist, CA Technologies

The Bottom Line: Generating quality sales leads doesn’t have to be your biggest weakness. Let Connects make it your biggest strength.

Telemarketing May Be Your Missing Link

Whether your company is a small start-up, a well-established brand or something in between, chances are you’re not doing all you can in terms of creating and moving leads through your pipeline. As a result, you’re missing out on untold dollars in sales. Telemarketing may be your missing link.

Last week we talked about the importance of lead nurturing. I touched on telemarketing in that piece:

Whether automated or manual, a message should go out letting your prospect know you are going to contact him or her. Better than an email is a phone call. If you don’t have in-house telemarketing, invest in a high-quality, professional telemarketing firm that can speak to prospects on your behalf.

Yes, we’re going to talk about lead nurturing again! Because it is that important. This week, however, we’re going to focus solely on the advantages of using telemarketing to create and move leads through the sales pipeline.

Right out of the gate, let’s define what we mean when we say telemarketing. Just as you wouldn’t hire just any Joe off the street to head up your sales team, you should put time and care into selecting a top-notch telemarketing team. We’re not talking about your typical call center telemarketing. We’re talking about high-quality, professional telemarketing.

The company you choose will essentially be an extension of your brand, so you want a group that will take pride in and ownership of the projects they are given. In other words, this should be a true partnership, with your telemarketing team working earnestly towards your company’s goals. And remember, you get what your pay for.

Must-Haves for Your Telemarketing Team:

  1. Callers should know your brand as well or better than you know it yourself.
  2. Callers should immerse themselves in your products/services.
  3. Callers should be knowledgeable about your target industries.
  4. A given, but callers should be friendly, outgoing and great listeners.

Your telemarketing group should be industry pros in the following core competencies:

Lead Generation/Qualification

Take all of those leads from trade shows, advertising, your website, etc. Most of these will be qualified to some extent, some may be totally green. Throw them all into the mix.  Let your group help you sort through all of your data and refine these into highly qualified sales leads ready for follow-up.

Additionally, if you have any special programs, marketing initiatives or want to break into a target industry or company, your team should be on task.

Typical campaigns might include:

  • New customer creation
  • Email or direct mail campaign follow-up
  • Territory expansion
  • Web-based inquiries
  • Trade show registrations or inquiries
  • Webinar registration or follow-up
  • New product launches

Lead Nurturing (Did I mention how important this is?)

79% of marketing leads never convert into sales. Lack of lead nurturing is the common cause of this poor performance. (Marketing Sherpa/ KnowledgeStorm)

One of the most critical aspects of your sales cycle is keeping leads warm until they are ready to purchase.  Sales teams don’t have time to nurture the pipeline, they need to close deals. Enter your telemarketing team. I almost want to call them your nurturing team, because really, all of these core areas are or relate very closely to nurturing.

Your team should keep you connected with your prospects, handing them over when the prospects are ready to take the next step. Your ROI will be maximized and your pipeline kept active with well-paced ongoing dialog and direct communication.

Lead nurturing means:

  • Staying in front of your prospects with new developments and offerings
  • Connections will be deepened with relevant decision makers
  • New sales opportunities will be identified
  • Your sales pipeline is up-to-date and always active

Brian Carroll, founder and CEO of InTouch says, “Imagine your marketplace is like a field of banana trees. Your marketing people are those who nurture and pick the bananas. Bananas are harvested when they are green, and they turn yellow as they ripen. Fully 95 percent of your leads are like harvested green bananas, and, off the top, your sales team needs only the other 5 percent, those that are ripe.”

It’s those 95 percent that need to be nurtured.

Account Mapping and Expansion

Sometimes the easiest way to increase your sales is to leverage your current customers and grow these accounts organically so they meet their full potential.

  • Identify new contacts and decision makers
  • Discover new projects and programs
  • Understand the needs of your customers
  • Identify other locations or divisions to replicate success

Appointment Setting

Imagine breaking into a territory for a new product launch with a full week of appointments. Whether you are looking for face-to-face or phone-based appointments, your telemarketing group should help your sales team keep their calendars full- not just hand over leads for future follow-up, but work directly with your team to coordinate next steps. Ensure that you:

  • Maximize your sales team’s time while out in the field
  • Increase ROI for sales travel costs
  • Leverage investments in trade shows or conferences

So, confession time- all of the best-in-class core competencies I listed above are things that we offer here at Connects Marketing Group. In fact, I’m confident in saying that we are experts in all of these areas. I try to keep the blog here non-“salesy,” but I’ll make an exception with this one. 

In my previous life as a Marketing Communications Manager, I worked with Connects Marketing Group for six years, so I have the benefit of having partnered with CMG before I actually worked for them. Basically, I’m telling you this piece is not just me toeing the party line.

During those six years that we used CMG, we used all of the services listed above and then some. We saw an ROI that far outpaced all of our other sales and marketing activities.

“In my term at Trelleborg Sealing Solutions, we were able to sustain double digit, year over year, growth for over seven years.  Connects Marketing Group was an essential part of that growth performance.  They were able to connect our sales professionals with key decision makers or product specifiers with pre-meeting knowledge of our offerings, improving our sales meeting effectiveness. I always considered them to be our ‘secret weapon’ for growth.”

– Tim Callison, President Marketing Americas, Trelleborg Sealing Solutions

The bottom line: If you’re not taking advantage of a high-quality, professional telemarketing group, you should be. It’s more than likely the missing link in your quest to turn sales opportunities into dollars.