While lead generation is important (and we’ll get to that), it’s important to look closely at the types of leads you are getting. Then, do a little diagnostic on how you’re handling these opportunities. This boils down to two simple questions:
1) Are your leads qualified?
2) What’s your close (conversion) rate?
Just because someone shows interest in your product/service, doesn’t mean they’re likely to take an action and buy it. Sure, you’d probably love a vacation house in Bali…but how likely are you to buy one? Unfortunately, salespeople spend countless hours trying to make a sale to someone who will never buy.
Lead scoring is a crucial part of this process. According to MarketingSherpa, 68% of B2B marketers haven’t even identified their sales funnel! How can you optimize your sales process if you don’t have one?
The key here is to get to ‘no’ fast. If you’re mortal, you have limited time and resources. If the prospect’s answer is ultimately going to be ‘no,’ speed up the process. A fast no beats a slow no every day of the week.
There are a lot of methods to qualify leads. It’s been our experience that good salespeople find every possible reason a prospect might not buy, and address them up front. Don’t waste time trying to overcome objections if they’re legitimate. Remember, the number of prospects (whether they know they’re a prospect or not) is greater than the hours you have in the day. Move on.
Years ago, IBM introduced the BANT scoring method based on Budget, Authority, Needs and Timeline. Times have changed. Buyers are more informed than they used to be. In fact, HubSpot published a report stating that buyers are 57% of the way through their buying decision before they contact a salesperson.
To put this into ‘Spoke’ terms, if you spread manure everywhere, you’re going to attract flies (12,000 known species, FYI). If you only want horn flies (they’re our favorite), you need to get yourself some cattle behinds (we know a guy if you’re in the market).
Set the right bait.
What’s your close rate?
If qualified prospects aren’t buying, getting more leads isn’t going to solve your problem. It’s like trying to fill a bucket with a big hole in the bottom. Take a hard look at your sales process, and see where the drop-off rate is, and address it right away.
This is true for B2B and B2C:
If you’re an online retailer, track the buyer’s journey using analytics. Where are they leaving the site? Take a long look at that page, something’s driving them away. We had a client whose online conversion was 5%. They realized they didn’t need more leads, but that they needed to increase their conversion rate. We looked at the analytics and found that there was an enormous drop-off in their buy flow.
After delving into the numbers, eliminating some steps, and making the navigation more intuitive the conversion skyrocketed to 13%. We’re not done, yet. We’ll continue to work with the client to continually sharpen the knife.
Another client spent over $1,000,000 the previous year, flying out and pitching their services to prospective buyers. They had a lot of meetings, some resulting in very profitable sales. In fact, there was enough margin that they considered their efforts a success, but realized there had to be a better way.
We looked at the marketplace and the value that their product could deliver. As theirs was a very targeted audience, we created an integrated marketing campaign that culminated in a trade show event, where all of the key decision makers would be in attendance. Qualified leads self-selected, and reached out via landing page or set meetings at the trade show. The sales process was streamlined so the IT department (literally) couldn’t say no. The result? In two months, they surpassed the previous year’s sales by 50%.
In both cases, the problem wasn’t the number of leads, but rather the quality of the leads and how they converted leads into sales.
Next stop: Lead generation and ROI