No-one will ever understand or have the same passion for your business as you do. Which is why the best person to generate solid leads and land new customers for your company, will always be you.
But that doesn’t mean outsourcing part of your sales process, such as by calling on the services of external lead generation companies, can’t have a place within the marketing mix.
If you’re a new business and still trying to figure out what the best sales process is going to be for you, then in this article will provide lots of different options to help guide your plans.
If you’re a business that’s been at it a while and has a defined sales process, then you may be inspired to re-evaluate your process and see if there’s any potential for improvement.
Enhancing your lead generation strategy
Simply offering great products and services alone just isn’t going to cut it in today’s competitive marketplace. You need a strong lead generation strategy in place and the right tools to help you ensure you achieve the maximum impact.
Many B2Bs follow a tried and tested formula – they will use a well-structured and thought out inbound marketing plan to position their company as a leader in their field. Then, using account-based marketing methods, or content marketing, start attracting leads.
While this approach can work wonders in the long term, it takes time to pick up momentum and for useful results to start coming through. But what about the short-term?
Lead generation companies are one option.
In-house or agency – it’s your call
No matter how much online marketing you do, at some point, you’ll probably need to start talking to prospects. The aim of any call will depend on many things, including how cold or warm a lead is, how interested they may be in doing business with you, and what outcome you wish to achieve.
Sometimes, all you may want is to better qualify a lead. In another instance, you will be aiming to set up an appointment. You may even be a B2B that conducts its entire sales process over the phone, or by email.
Whichever end of the spectrum your business sits, you can either let your employees do the talking or, outsource some (or all) of the sales process to a specialist agency.
Choosing an agency
When choosing a lead generation company, there are a number of key questions you need to consider:
- Audience – which audiences do they reach and how engaged/responsive are they?
- Their KPIs – what do they measure?
- Your KPIs – how do these fit within your own KPIs?
You need to be very clear about what you expect and exactly what they can deliver, to avoid any misunderstandings further down the line.
Buying data versus using a lead generation company
Data is another hotly debated topic. Traditionally, B2B lead generation was heavily weighted in cold calling and emailing. It would usually start with the purchase of some data – often in the form of a list of contact details for people who have exhibited an interest in the type of product/service that you’re offering.
This list would then be worked through by the sales team, in the hope of converting the leads into paying customers.
However, there are lots of potential issues with this strategy, which we touched on in our blog ‘Avoiding the pitfalls when it comes to buying company data’.
One of the main issues with bought in leads is that the cost can be substantial, depending on factors such as the industry you’re in and the type of information that is included.
Make sure you do your homework about both the source and quality of the data before you even consider it as an outbound method.
You may find you can actually get results quicker using content marketing than it takes to produce a lead from a bought-in list.
Outsourced lead generation companies
If you instead opt to call on the services of a lead generation company, then you also need to be prepared to allocate a decent level of budget. The really good ones are expensive and that’s because it takes a lot of time and effort to produce quality leads.
Your main challenge will lie in finding a reputable company that can deliver on its promises. However, if you manage to hit on one of the good ones, then they could prove to be worth their weight in gold.
Modern B2B lead generation strategies
If you need leads and you need them fast, then there are steps you can take to effectively mix the old with the new. Here’s one way to do it:
- Create an ‘offer’ – e. one great piece of high-quality content in the form of a pdf that will be of interest to your target clients
- Create a unique landing page for it on your website, which encourages visitors to want to read it
- Offer visitors the option to download it in exchange for entering their details on a short form (stick to asking for just their email and name at this stage)
- Set up a chain of follow up emails, which will start going out at this point
- Use online advertising to promote your content (make sure you use the URL in your ads that points to the landing page you have created and NOT the homepage)
- Investigate Google AdWords – consider calling on the services of a specialist for help if you need it
- Budget to run some social ads on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter that will promote your download
- Also, consider advertising on other useful platforms within your target industry
- Have an offline strategy in place that will support your efforts
- Plus, have your pdf download printed out nicely and available to hand out to prospects in person
Put the right tools in place
There are many clever tools that can enhance and support your lead generation efforts too, helping you maximize the opportunities you’re creating – whether they’re coming through your own efforts, or an external agency.
For example, Lead Forensics software can monitor who is visiting your website, even if they never convert and provide you with their contact details. You’ll be able to see which businesses have visited the site, when, what they looked at, and for how long. The hottest leads can then be passed over to your sales team.
Even if a visitor doesn’t convert by filling out a form, you’ll be able to get information about them with Lead Forensics’ software. Check out the infographic below to find out what powerful data Lead Forensics can help you collect.
At this point, it may still be too soon to hand them over to sales (check out this blog for more guidance on this issue Whoa there – are you passing leads over to sales too soon?), but if you’re in need of urgent action then you will at least have a list of warmer leads – or at least, ones that aren’t stone cold.
Other lead generation options for you to consider are:
If you don’t have much capacity in-house, then a B2B lead generation telemarketing company may be something to consider. You can still combine your lead generation efforts online and use a purchased list, to see which is most effective in generating the best leads for you.
Another avenue to look at is online business networking platform, LinkedIn. For more ideas on how to make the best use of it as a lead generation tool, check out: How to use LinkedIn as an outbound lead generation tool. Again, external agencies can help you with this and driving leads through other social sites.
Specialist technology lead generation
There are also niche lead generation companies who use ‘crawling’ and ‘web scraping’ techniques to unearth and find leads. This basically means they will crawl the web for information based on certain parameters, then extract and collate the data to form a collection of leads. For some industries, this new breed of lead generation company can be particularly helpful, so it’s always worth investigating.
And once you start generating leads…
Of course, no matter how many leads you generate, it all means nothing if you can’t then convert them into paying customers.
You need to ensure you’re keeping track of your results and continually assessing what you’re doing, to find ways to improve.
Your sales velocity is an important metric to monitor. Put simply, it’s about making the highest number of sales you can, in the shortest amount of time. Hit that sweet spot and you’ll soon be laughing.
What we hope you take from all of this, is that B2B leads can come from many different sources. There are no hard and fast rules about what you should or shouldn’t do – and whether you do it in-house or call on an external agency.
When you consider which lead generation strategies to go for, don’t be afraid to incorporate as many options as you can – be that inbound marketing, using lead generation companies, online advertising, print advertising, trade shows, or in-person events.
And remember tools like Lead Forensics can also support all your lead generation efforts and help you figure out where your leads are coming from, who they are and what they may be interested in.
The secret is to keep track of everything you do and if something’s working well, then put more resources into it. Equally, if it’s not, then keep it on a low burn and try something else. It’s a case of going for it 100% with whichever methods you choose, monitoring your results, and following a process of continual assessment and improvement.