As marketing and sales become increasingly aligned, lead generation has become more complicated. It’s often the case that one team originates a lead at an event, or through a piece of content, but then has to quickly hand that lead off in order to concentrate on creating more new leads.
Doing things this way is fine up to a point, but often means you don’t have time to properly qualify incoming leads and prioritise them effectively. Worse, you can be a victim of your own success. Leads left unattended can vanish if they aren’t effectively nurtured, meaning you’ll have to spend extra time and money getting them to return.
If either of these are the case then it’s probably time to start looking into an automated system to help.
There are lots of different systems out there to choose from, each with it’s various pros and cons, but there are some key questions that are worth asking to help sort the wheat from the chaff:
Strategy first, technology later
A decent strategy will always beat an amazing tech solution. That isn’t to say there aren’t some brilliant systems out there, just that they are not a magic bullet. By thinking about goals first, and then building out a clear tactical roadmap, you’ll get a lot more from any system you do invest in.
Optimising landing pages so they perform better, or qualifying leads properly before they move up the chain will have a much better outcome than just firing off loads of updates and crossing your fingers.
Lead(s) by example
Learning to use a new system is a pain in the neck. Sure, some people enjoy discovering how a system works, but making it part of your workflow? Usually that just means moving the rest of your workflow around.
The workplace naturally abhors change, so find a team of people to lead the charge. Make them fairly senior as well. If you know that all comms from your boss are coming through Slack instead of email, then you’ll be far more likely to keep an eye on Slack and use it yourself.
You should also think about getting key salespeople to use it. If the people closing the biggest deals are using a new system every day, then it’s far more likely that the rest of the sales team will want some of that action (and hey, marketing never likes to be left out either).
Get people on board fast to make sure you haven’t wasted your money on a system no one uses.
Not all leads are created equal
DueDil is a SAAS product. Users subscribe, and use our set of tools to pull data as and when they need it. Some people however, only need that data once. Or they only need a very specific piece of data. And that means that they aren’t ever likely to require a full enterprise solution from us.
And actually, that’s fine. As long as they find our platform useful and easy to use, then at least we’ll get some positive word of mouth from them. But they probably don’t need to be escalated up the sales chain.
This requires quite a bit of courage internally to really master. Many sales teams are still stuck with archaic spray n’ pray models which require them to go after every possibly lead, but this is very ineffective. Instead, concentrate on scoring leads at the top of the funnel so that only those likely to convert are taking up your sales team’s time.
Garbage in, garbage out
Nothing will make you look worse, or less likely to convert.
Last week, I got a speculative email from a company asking if my website would like to use their product. Unfortunately the website in question was one I closed five years ago. They are actually a great company (which is why I’m not naming them) but a little bit of outdated information made them look pretty bad.
In the DueDil office, there’s an entire team dedicated to cleaning our data. If we didn’t, our platform wouldn’t work. The same is true of every piece of communication you send.
Get merging, get updating and get de-duping. Find a consistent type of formatting and make sure everyone using the system knows it back to front.
Content means more than whitepapers
Make sure you’re creating and distributing the right sort of content.
That’s a ridiculously broad statement, and it’s easy to assume that the right content is ‘something you know when you see it’.
Whitepapers are all well and good, but again, anyone can download a whitepaper, but that doesn’t make them a solid lead (I often download whitepapers because I need to research before I write about it. I’m probably never going to buy though).
Instead, break content down.
Firstly, think about where customers want to engage with you. Email, webinars, social media, events or good old-fashioned phone calls. Which is best for specific customers? Think about that when building personas out, and when qualifying leads.
Secondly, Consider exactly where that content sits in the funnel. A webinar on “Ten winning Twitter tips for B2B’s” might sit fairly high up the funnel. “How to use a specific part of our service to generate qualified leads” sits much further down, and has a far higher propensity to convert, so don’t be tempted to measure content performance by channel.
Never mind ‘the best’. Is it best for you?
Feature lists are great. We all check the magic quadrant or the latest buyer’s guides when we’re after a solution. These tools help you narrow the field.
Once you have a shortlist however, make sure you are thinking about more than just the length of the features list. Really consider the real-world implications of the system.
- Will you really be using all those features, or are you going to be paying for something entirely redundant?
- How long will it take to get your team up to speed? If it’s a complex system, are you going to get enough support with this process?
- How important are you to the vendor? Are you likely to be a small fish for them? If so, it may impact the support and service you can expect.
- How quickly will it be up and running? There are all sorts of factors here. Will it integrate easily with existing tools? Buyouts happen all the time, so think about whether the systems are really made to work together, or if the just have a bit of fancy CSS to make them look like they should. Ask around on business forums and social networks for opinions from people who actually use them.
- Will it scale? Lots of subscription packages come with data caps. Will you end up sending more money on larger reports if you manage to smash all your targets? Think about the long-term costs involved
Ignore any rules that don’t work for your customers
Any decent lead gen system will have plenty of templates and automated triggers to help you get more out of it. All good, but don’t rely on them. Dedicate a bit of time to breaking rules.
Your communications should definitely be based around your own users, and their needs may be very different from any other company’s users.
It’s surprising how easy it is to make responses appear overly-robotic, particularly when you have a few stat responses to FAQs. Falling into this trap immediately erodes customer trust in your ability to provide support and information. Good personalisation has been shown to increase conversion by as much as 14% in some cases so it’s important to show a human face.
Oddly, there are ways to fudge this. Methods like throwing in a typo in your live chats (and apologising for them right away) may seem unprofessional, but they are exactly the sort of thing that reassures users. Delve into your customer data and see what will work best for you.
Don’t go it alone
Finally, don’t try to do all of this on your own.
It may come as a shock to learn that this isn’t the only guide designed to help, so do plenty of reading up front. Later on, you might also want to consider a consultant to help out with the trickier technical implementation, or an agency for reporting and process.
If it’s handled properly then implementing a lead generation system can be a huge win, but it’s easy to miss things during a large project, so get extra eyes and brains to help out. Similarly, ask people from different teams to help so that you can get a better picture of exactly what is needed by all of the end users.
These are far from exhaustive, but hopefully will help you start formulating your implementation plan. Now you just need some leads to fill your system up with.