Are your business development efforts being compromised by your approach? Is short-termism killing your Lead Generation? Are you failing to nurture sales leads?
We all want new business. And we wall want it now. And that’s a possibility in many cases where we identify the right prospects and hit them at the right time. Even better if customers find us without us needing to track them down.
But that isn’t always an everyday occurrence and most businesses have to do some outbound lead generation at some stage. That could be by using all manner of marketing methods such as PPC, direct mail, email marketing, telemarketing, advertising and so on.
The speed of marketing success is likely to come down to a number of factors including your ability to define your targets, the strength of your proposition, level of competition, market awareness of your business, credibility in your sector and so on. The more focused you can be, the more likely you will see quicker results. It stands to reason that if you can tailor your message to a market that has a need, the results will arrive more speedily.
But not every proposition is a quick sell. Higher value sales don’t pop up every day. Many of our clients have a significant sales value that is absolutely a considered purchase. Often, the buying cycle entails tenders or RFPs, feasibility studies and multiple decision makers within large organisations. Lead generation in these cases requires a number of elements to bear fruit. These include:
1. Identification of a database of correct contacts that are in the right organisations.
This means sector, location, size and type of organisation and, not least, the right decision maker job role and name. The latter is not necessarily easy. We’re working with a client where there could be several users of their service across an organisation from sales to customer care to marketing. Therefore, the first exercise is to take the data we have (which doesn’t include names for each role) and build and refine it to ensure we have the correct calling list. This takes time but, when complete, is a significant asset for the business. It is the pipeline of leads upon which the company can build its business growth.
2. Identification of the challenges and issues that prospects face
It’s important to do this not least since these are likely to be the triggers for change. With higher value sales, short term wins are probably driven by the end of a contract or specific dissatisfaction with a provider or perhaps a new requirement based on a challenge or opportunity that suddenly presents itself. Therefore, understanding these types of requirements is pretty crucial to tapping into the need at the time of the call where that need is present. This level of business isn’t about pitching. It’s about consultative selling and that means building rapport for the time that a change is more likely.
3. Building insight
In large blue-chip organisations, contracts can run for long periods of time. That doesn’t mean that the prospect stops being a target. It’s just that the time isn’t right. Therefore, reaching the decision maker and learning about the current supply situation and timing for change or renewal is essential. That enables you to build a pipeline of follow-up calls for the future. And the insight you gain on each call further builds rapport and brings you closer to really understanding and meeting prospect needs at the time when the timing is right.
4. Playing the long game
With large organisations and big ticket sales, success may depend on the factors above and the gestation periods that are associated with that type of sale. It also takes time to call through a database to reach decision makers and to identify review timetables and contract end dates. It may involve checking out LinkedIn and engaging on other social platforms. When it comes to b2b appointment setting, this means setting call backs at the appropriate time. In an idea world, that should be supplemented by other marketing communication where you have emails and address details. Perhaps send a newsletter, a promotional email, an invitation to a seminar or provide a pertinent article or blog such as this one that provides valuable information that they can use.
But the most important aspect is that once you have a robust database of accurate contacts, it’s in your interest to ensure that those companies that are coming up for renewals are called at the appropriate time. This is your pipeline and you need to nurture those relationships over time until they are ready or until they see your business as a viable option.
Too often, businesses don’t recognise the real value of building the mid to long term pipeline. Whilst no company has an unlimited budget for sales and marketing, organisations shouldn’t forsake long term business objectives by giving up too soon. Once you’ve refined your targets, there’s no point in abandoning the exercise if opportunities don’t fall into your lap immediately. That’s rare at this level. It also doesn’t mean that you should continue ad infinitum without any sign of success. You need to assess progress and measure success. Set objectives and use KPI’s to evaluate how your lead generation is going. These indicators include the number of warm leads, numbers of face to face meetings or web demos, renewal dates gathered, conversion rates and so on. But don’t just look at the numbers though. Alongside the stats, consider other factors such as the quality of feedback from your outbound sales team.
Consistent focus is required on pipeline management and lead nurturing. This is typically a long term exercise when it comes to higher value sales. But if you put in the groundwork, you’ll see the results.
If you’d like to know how GSA Business Development can help generate growth for your business or book one of our new business development and marketing strategy workshops, contact us now on 0845 658 8192 or use the form on this site.