Defining Your Best Lead

How do I define my best leads to efficiently identify buyers for quicker revenues? Sales and Marketing should work together to define what is a sales-ready lead. To define it, you first must create a profile of your ideal customer or persona. The ideal customer or persona profile will be the main focus of how you spend your time and money to determine the most productive opportunities. 

Essential Lead Generation

Things Have Changed A few years back, lead generation campaigns were based on direct mail, radio advertisements, newspaper and yellow page ads, email blasts, telemarketing campaigns and a flashy website. Studies have shown that today, lead generation done these ways, just doesn't work. It has been determined that poorly conceived and executed lead generation is a major barrier to a business' growth.

Who is Responsible for Generating Leads? In lead generation, the job of marketing is to develop leads to match the buyer’s readiness and to buy and the seller’s expectations of selling. Marketers must have a good perception to know when the lead is sales-ready. They can then more effectively manage the lead generation process and be better placed to measure ROI and revenue contribution. Marketers are charged with the responsibly of measuring, identifying, and optimizing performance.

Let Your Sales Team Sell According to research, during the last five years the average sales cycle has become 22% longer. One reason, is that the buyers are needing more information than is being provided by the seller, for them to buy. So, should you put more money in sales or into marketing is a dilemma faced by many companies daily. Studies show that it is better to invest in marketing and social marketing, in order to provide more qualified leads, then to increase your sales team.

Business trends show that products and services are being commoditized faster, margins are eroding, and companies have less time to acquire the necessary knowledge to sell properly and be trusted consultants to their prospects and customers. In addition, there are many other issues happening the are affecting whether or not a prospect will buy such as; many more choices are available to find the product or service that best fits their needs, products and services all look and sound the same, there is no clear value proposition for the products or services being offered, and too much information is being provided which paralyzes the prospect or customer from making a decision to buy. Lead generation must be looked at to drive more sales. Marketing must provide that drive with more qualified leads, by giving the prospect less choices, a clear value proposition and differentiators, and quality information to make an informed decision, not a bunch of marketing fluff. Successful lead generation is based on a foundation of strategy.

A Universal Lead Defined Lots of money is wasted every day because companies lack a clear understanding of what a “lead” really is. Many leads a company receives aren’t qualified to buy or aren’t the right buyers for what is being sold. By definition, a universal lead is one that has been determined to fit the target profile of the ideal customer or persona, has been qualified as sales-ready, and the company has spelled out the responsibilities and accountability of the participants in the program, sales and marketing. There is no better way to build better ties between sales and marketing, and generate a return on marketing investment, than to make sure everyone knows what a sales-ready lead is.

Lead generation represents an important marketing investment, and a systematic development of good lead generation is a strategic imperative for organizations. The right culture, strategy and tactics are needed to make lead generation cost-effective. Many companies receive inquiries about their products and services, but these inquiries are not productive without a sales process in place to qualify them as sales-ready. If there is no adequate process in place to qualify leads, they will likely produce too many non-selling activities.

Trust is Important Because of the quagmire of information available on the internet, most prospects that come to your website have already made some buying decisions before you ever have an opportunity to talk with them. So, to be able to continue with the prospect, your company needs to be recognized as a trusted advisor, that knows their products and services, and how it will fulfill the needs of the prospect or customer. Keep in mind that people buy based on emotion and then fill-in with logic.

Trust has become the theme for a new type of marketing. It’s about relationships. In a business world where many products and services have become commoditized, what sets you apart from others is your ability to create and develop relationships.

To gain trust and show confidence that your company can provide:

  • Buyers must be familiar with you and your company and what you do.
  • Buyers must perceive that you and your company are experts in your field.
  • Buyers must believe that you and your company understand their specific needs and issues and can solve them.
  • Buyers must like you and your company enough to want to work with you.

Trust comes from respecting where the prospect is in their buying process and, in selecting the communication channels that are appropriate. This helps you in selecting the right messaging, content and tactics to engage your targeted prospects and customers. The right value proposition delivered via the correct messaging, content and tactics, and on a consistent basis, at the right time, increases your buyers readiness to buy.

Aligning Your Strategy with Your Customer’s Strategy Companies can help their prospects and customers develop appropriate criteria with which to make an informed decision. Being a trusted advisor by providing your prospects with quality information and understanding their buying process, will help your prospects to turn to you than to uninformed colleagues, friends or family, the internet, trade publications or even your competitors.

Designing around your prospect’s and customer’s buying process is critical in the development of good lead generation. The lead generation efforts must reach beyond on individual buyer. Good Marketers recognize that there is an entire sphere of influences represented by contacts associated with the buyer. Today, not many people are compelled to make a buying decision without consensus. To be a successful and competitive company you’ll need to understand who the sphere of influences are to your prospects and customers.

Don't Rely on a Single Marketing Vehicle  A Business owner asks his marketing manager, “What are our most effective tactics for generating leads.? The manager replied: “All of Them. We can’t rely on a single marketing vehicle for generating leads, just like we can’t rely on one customer to keep our company going.”

Many companies rely on a minimum of marketing tactics for lead generation, maybe to save money. Always be asking, do we have a strong and stable base for lead generation? Lead generation is an iterative process, in which you must monitor and adjust your tactics based on results. If you can’t measure your lead generation tactics in terms of return on investment, leads generated, business closed, opportunities in your sales funnel, then why would you expect anyone to keep funding your tactics?

Some Valuable Tools to Use with Lead Generation

There are three components that are crucial for your success with any lead generation program:

Closed-Loop Feedback Some leads just disappear into a void, never to be seen of again. Studies show that 80% of leads are ignored, by choice. Why? This happens when you have lots of poor-quality leads. With the proper universal lead definition, and input from your sales team, you can have more confidence to believe that Sales will ultimately close the loop and provide targeted results. Keeping communication open, and relevant feedback is vital to your lead generation success.

Databases or a CRM System Many companies don't have a well defined process and discipline for using and updating their database. If your sales and marketing data isn't integrated, it is difficult to get an accurate view of return on marketing investment. Lead generation is the bridge between marketing and sales, so the responsibility of maintaining the database should be assigned to either sales or marketing. Depending on your company’s situation, addressing this issue of responsibility will help in the managing and monitoring of your lead generation program.

Open Dialogue Thinking effectively is vital in developing and managing a good lead generation.  Our beliefs and attitudes eventually influence our strategic decisions and daily choices. Investing in lead generation means proactively  building relationships. Lead generation is all about conversations, and dialogues, not a series of sales campaigns. Companies don’t buy, people buy. Good lead generation will identify, initiate, and nurture relationships with the right people, making your leads, sales-ready leads.

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