Finding new customers is the lifeblood of most businesses. Few of us have customers lining up at the door, so “hunting” for new customer leads is a critical component of generating revenue. It is an often-cited statistic that most companies never follow up on 70 to 80 percent of the leads they generate.
With some strategic efforts, you can ensure that valuable lead generation efforts are not wasted at your company.
Make certain you’re using the right methods if you’re trying to generate leads. Tactics like email newsletters, direct mail, trade shows and pay-per-click ads are designed primarily to generate leads.
Other methods you might use to market to prospects with the aim of converting them into leads include search and site retargeting and geofencing. Other marketing tactics — such as print ads, public relations and social media — are better at creating buzz and brand awareness. Make sure you are using the right tool for the right job.
Marketing is expensive and you don’t want to waste precious dollars on leads that fall through the cracks. Create a written procedure that maps exactly what happens to every lead the moment it enters your database.
For example, you might immediately send an email saying, “Thanks for attending our booth at a trade show. Here’s some news about our new product.” And then add them to your newsletter list. Or, you might send them a follow up email thanking them for downloading a white paper or acknowledging that they filled out a form on your site.
You should be tracking all the sources of your leads and getting them into a formal process of follow-ups that happen on a regular schedule. You should also be tracking each follow-up, what happened, and then moving the lead to the next phase of the customer journey.
Measuring and counting leads is one of the easiest metrics in the marketing toolbox, as is tracking which marketing tactic does the best job of generating the best leads. Metrics like cost-per-lead are a good start, but lead-to-sale ratio is even better, because with a little effort you should be able to track a lead all the way to a sale.
If you map out the entire journey a lead takes from introduction to sale, you’ll be able to start seeing which follow-ups seemed to lead to a close faster than others. You’ll be able to see which marketing tactics produced more qualified leads.
All of this information can be compiled and analyzed regularly so that you can continually improve and evolve your lead-generation efforts.
Work with your sales and marketing teams to describe the ideal customer in terms of demographics, job title and job function.
Are the decision makers who buy from you usually purchasing managers? Or the CFO? Do you focus on small to medium, privately owned companies? Or are your prospects large publicly traded firms? Do you serve a certain geographic area?
Listing out all the possible characteristics of a good lead is important, because you can better target your marketing and capture better qualified leads with each marketing push. You might also develop characteristics that deal with the customer’s needs, desires and concerns. For example, you might target users of your competitor’s products, because perhaps you have a specific advantage over that product.
Or you might target users who have not replaced their product in a certain period of time and would be ready to replace it. Whatever the characteristics for your specific sales opportunities, capture those in a list.
Armed with this information, you can tailor your messaging to the customer’s specific needs.
Once you’ve defined a good lead, develop a lead scoring system based on demographics, as well as actions the customer takes. Visiting your website, stopping by your trade show booth, attending a webinar or downloading a white paper from your website, for example, can all increase the lead score assigned to a potential customer.
The higher the score, the more likely the customer is to make a purchase. Assigning scores like this can help you determine the best way to follow up. Lower scores likely need a more structured program of touchpoints (also called lead nurturing), while higher scores will likely respond better to more powerful closing actions and can be given to the sales team.
Don’t throw away a lead just because they say “no” the first time. Send the lead back to the marketing team, where they can nurture the lead until they are ready to engage with the sales team.
Work with the marketing team to develop a “funnel” where the leads enter at the top with a simple engagement and then are led through a series of interactions that end in a purchase. For example, say you have a list of leads from a trade show. The sales team follows up, and several of them are interested in a proposal.
Many of them say no for a variety of reasons — budget, timing, etc. Those leads would go back into the marketing funnel. They would start getting your email newsletter regularly. If they click on a link in the email, they would then get a different piece of marketing collateral — say a white paper or a product benefits infographic.
Then, you might follow up and send them a video clip describing a different company benefit or a podcast episode with your company leadership talking about key differentiators of your firm. Each interaction they take impacts their overall lead score. Over time, the leads are nurtured and become more educated about your products.
When they do get budget approved, or their current solution stops working, your company will be top of mind in the consideration set, and they will be much more likely to call you. Or, when their score reaches a certain level, thanks to all their different engagement points with you, they can be passed on to engage in a more productive conversation with one of your salespeople. So, keep trying. Keep nurturing.
Make sure the sales and marketing teams are on the same page when it comes to leads. Sales should be giving feedback to marketing consistently about which leads ended up buying and which follow-ups and nurturing actions worked best.
The marketing team should continue to nurture leads, refining the tactics used in the process until the lead achieves a certain score in your lead scoring system. The reasons a lead would acquire a certain score need to be agreed upon with sales.
Signals of a prospect’s readiness to buy can come in numerous forms, and both sales and marketing can offer examples from their experience. Once the lead hits the threshold score, it is ready to be turned over to sales. Both teams need to agree and align on this process.
Taking these simple steps will improve your efforts to attract new customers. They also will help you properly vet each valuable lead before turning it over to your sales team. More importantly, you’ll be able to determine which of your lead-generation marketing tactics performs the best, and then you can adjust accordingly.
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