If you own a B2B company, you know generating leads is a big challenge. Unlike B2C companies, you have a smaller pool of prospects to work with, and your products or services are more likely to be costly and have a long sales cycle. As a result, generating qualified leads on a continual basis is key to success, but can be tough to do.
How do big companies handle the issue, and what can you learn from their lead generation tactics? A study by InsideSales.com has some answers.
First, feel better about your struggles to generate leads, because you’re not alone: 70 percent of marketers at large B2B companies say that’s their number-one marketing challenge. Improving lead quality comes next, cited by 60 percent of marketers as a challenge. Other marketing challenges, including retaining customers, handling marketing budgets effectively and developing the company’s brand, were far down the list.
So how can you generate more leads? Start by making sure your contact information is updated before you do any outbound lead generation marketing. Salespeople may not keep their CRM records updated and the information they collect may not be consistent. By “cleaning” the data, you can develop a spreadsheet of leads with uniform information about each one.
Next, determine which leads are most likely to lead to a sale. For example, which companies on your list have adequate budget to buy your product or service? Is your contact person actually the decision-maker or do you need to make contact with someone higher on the food chain? Does the customer company have a problem that your product or service can solve? Finally, if the prospect has budget, authority to buy and a need for the product or service, do you know within what time period the prospect is looking to make a decision?
Chances are your salespeople will need to do some more exploring to answer all these questions. Once you’ve got the necessary information and have qualified the leads, you’ll want to attack the low-hanging fruit first and distribute the leads appropriately to your sales team.
For example, if you’ve got three leads that are looking for a low-cost solution within a month, and three leads that are seeking an extremely complex and costly solution but have a 12- to 18-month timeframe, give one of each type of lead to each salesperson so they can all act quickly on the short-term lead and nurture the long-term one.
Once you hand off leads, don’t stop there. Develop a schedule for how soon and how frequently salespeople need to follow up with leads. Decide at what point you’ll either give the lead to someone else or take it out of the active lead pool. Let salespeople know what type of lead turnover you expect them to achieve.
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Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at email@example.com, follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.