Virtually any B2B business owner I talk to, one of their key challenges is lead generation.
When you dig a bit, often it is the case that lead generation becomes a problem where there is a shortage of sales, then they react in a short term manner.
Lead generation is a long term proposition, B2B and B2C, the techniques may differ a bit, but when working day to day the only effective tool to get another sale is price, so you lose.
So it seems to me there are three dimensions to effective lead generation:
- The means by which you generate the lead
- The conversation rates at various points through the sales process
- The time taken in the sales process
Lets look at them in a little detail.
Means. This is the essence of marketing, the game is to identify who might be a buyer, why, when, and the means by which you can facilitate and support the transaction then build on it for a longer term. Digital has exploded the techniques available to us but the rules have not changed: Understand how you add value to who, and walk them through the relationship building and sales processes to a transaction. Brand building by another name.
Conversion rates. How do you calculate your sales conversation rates? Digital is now awash with numbers, marketing has changed from the fluffy to the numerical and we are belted over the ears to get with the program.
Marketing Experiments is a shop flogging the notion that marketing experience, creativity and intuition can be turned into a mathematical formulas, and in doing so they have done a fair job of nailing the variables in a digital sale to the extent that they can be nailed:
Probability of conversion = Clarity of Value proposition + (incentive to action – friction associated with the action) – Anxiety.
Whilst a bit convoluted, it does make some sense, and you can weight the factors according to your market, but the essential message is that marketing can be measured. To an extent it can be, but losing sight of the emotion involved would be a mistake, and emotion will always be virtually impossible to measure with any certainty. As Gary Vaynerchuk asked, “what is the ROI of your mother?”
Time. Every business and market is different, as is every potential customer situation so there are no rules in this except one: Only a small number of your prospects will be ready to buy right now.
However, if you extend the time frame to a month, or a year, and there will be many more ready. The challenge therefore is to be talking to them in terms that they are comfortable with at that particular point in their journey to a transaction. Given the reality of this journey, the worst thing to do is make the effort ‘stop-start’. It has to be a continuous marketing effort to ensure that there is a flow of leads into and through the sales process. Take the foot off the pedal and you will have a hole in the sales. Keep talking, build a relationship, guide them through the process. Demonstrate credibility and expertise, so that when they re in the buying mode, you get the call.
Too often we concentrate on finding the few who are ready to buy now, rather than playing the long game. Patience rewards the skilled fisherman, same with sales.