If your goal is to make your sales growth predictable, sustainable and scalable then your ability to consistently create an increasing number of qualified leads is central to your success.
But, stop for a moment and think about how much time you actually spend designing your lead generation strategy. If you’re like most of the B2B executives that I’ve met, you think about lead generation, but you never quite find the time to put the strategy together. This results in tremendous pressure on the direct sales effort and eliminates the chance for predictability in your sales growth.
When developing your lead generation strategy, be sure to avoid these common, damaging mistakes:
Failure to Cleary Define Your Buyer Personas
Anyone who’s been reading this blog for any length of time knows that I’m maniacal about the need to understand who your customers are (and who they aren’t) is absolutely, positively critical for success in any phase of the sales process.
What’s interesting to me is that even as I gain agreement on this concept, executives often ignore it when it comes to lead generation. They take a “one-size fits all” approach. They send out the same boring message to everyone. Their website is loaded with we-do’s that shout, “We don’t know anything about you.”
To build a successful lead generation approach you must clearly segment who you’re customers are, what drives them and you must customize your message to each segment. Use this workbook to clearly define who your customers are.
Failure to Understand Your Buyer’s Journey
There is a universe of prospects that will someday buy a product/service similar to yours. The challenge is that they’re all at different stages in the process. There are typically four stages to their journey:
The message that resonates with them, and the actions they will take are different at each stage. Your lead generation effort must connect with where your prospect is at each stage of their journey, or you’ll only realize a fraction of the value you should gain.
Failure to Define Different Lead Stages
Just as there is a unique journey your customers go through when making a decision, there’s a journey as they move through your sales funnel. The days of defining your pipeline as a “suspect, lead or prospect” are over.
There are multiple levels with the category of lead. At a minimum you’ve got to define:
- Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)
- Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)
Again, the message and actions that are effective differ by what level of lead you are addressing. You have a plan of execution that treats each level differently.
The Failure to Nurture
Eighty percent of buying decisions occur between the 5th and 12th contact. Your lead generation process needs to support this fact. Today, leads must be nurtured and cultivated. You can no longer rely on your sales team alone to convert a lead into a sale.
The development of content and resources to support your customer through their journey is critical to success. Companies that implement an effective lead nurturing program enjoy significantly lower costs and greater win rates.
The Failure to Measure & Tracking Consistently
In B2B sales especially, you must create a services level agreement between your marketing/lead generation team and your sales team. This is true even if you don’t have separate teams (or a team at all). Measurement is critical to a successful process.
When we implement lead generation programs we begin tracking results in the first week. It’s not unusual that we adjust or tweak an approach within a week or two based upon these measurements. Within a couple of months we will have made several adjustments, and those adjustments continue throughout the lead generation process.
When you’re not measuring and tracking constantly, the only thing you have to guide your actions is gut feel. Most companies wait too long to make an adjustment, if they make any adjustment at all. And those that do tend to over-adjust, making it impossible to create predictability and scalability.
A successful lead generation effort requires a commitment, discipline and focus. It’s vitally important that someone be primarily responsible for managing a program, as else you it won’t have the attention that it needs to deliver the results you desire. When lead generation is given the proper focus, growth accelerates and costs of sales go down, giving you a tremendous competitive advantage.