It’s no secret that attracting prospects, generating sales leads, and building a robust sales pipeline are essential in the success of any business.
What seems to be a secret to many, though, is how these objectives can be accomplished. Many organizations continue to struggle to execute lead generation strategies that produce consistent results. There's really no magic bullet to lead generation. But there are some fundamentals that are often ignored that will get consistent results when applied as a cohesive strategy.
7 secrets to lead generation
Who is a good lead and who is not? What kind of prospects do you want to attract?
One of the best ways to determine who your target audience is made up of is to do an audit of your current customer mix. Prospects that look like your current best customers will probably be your best leads.
What are their common characteristics? What industries/vertical markets are they in?
What titles/functions influence the decision-making process?
Who makes the ultimate decision?
What problem did your product/solution help solve?
Knowing your audience will enable you to develop communication material that resonates with them. Your marketing will become more efficient – more sniper rifle and less shotgun.
2. Marketing and Sales Should Work Together
Don’t operate in a silo. Marketing may come up with the best lead generation plan known to man, but if Sales doesn’t agree, then it’s probably doomed to fail.
Representatives from the Marketing and Sales teams need to come together and jointly establish the lead generation goals, set the objectives, define the target, and agree on the lead definitions/criteria before any campaign brainstorming is done. Both teams need to also jointly agree to a set process for lead follow-up and providing feedback on the leads that are generated. Mapping this out early on will help you avoid finger-pointing later on.
3. Don’t Miss the Obvious
Sometimes marketing folks can get carried away with their creativity. They design sophisticated marketing campaigns and messaging, but they neglect some of the more basic elements of lead generation.
Just about every company has a website, but many organizations use their web presence as nothing more than an online public relations channel. Your website is an important tool to develop your brand. However, it can be an effective way to generate leads as well. Make it easy for your prospects to further explore your solutions once they’ve found your website. Publishing your phone number for a prospect to call is good. Adding a “contact us” button to give them more options is better. Adding multiple call-to-action buttons, landing pages, and forms that capture leads is best.
4. Don’t Sell
You don’t like to be sold to – no one does. So don’t inflict that pain on your prospects. The easiest way to “un-suck” the buying experience for your prospects is to change your focus from selling to educating.
It doesn’t matter if someone is buying a service for their home or a complex computer system for their factory, they’re still trying to accomplish the same objective – they’re trying to meet a need and solve a problem. No one can be an expert on everything, so help educate your prospects. Help them understand their problem better. Help them explore the impact of various solution options. Tell them something they don’t already know. Position your brand, your company, your sales team as subject matter experts. Share your thought leadership and become a valued resource for your prospects.
5. Don’t Shoot From the Hip
Plan your work and work your plan. Develop a plan and follow it. Your plan should encompass strategies to engage all of your target audience. Don’t just focus on the ultimate decision-maker. What about his/her underlings that influence the decision? Don’t just focus on the large deal opportunities. What about the smaller opportunities that keep you in business until you land the next whale?
6. Sustained Consistency
Don’t give up if you don’t get immediate results. Probably the biggest mistake marketers make is pulling the plug too soon. Disciplined execution is critical. Be active. Be in the market every day. Remember that decision-makers don’t necessarily operate on your quarterly time line. Consequently, your marketing activity and content needs to be available and active when the decision-maker is ready to engage – on their timeframe.
7. Measure, Measure and Measure Again
What worked? What didn’t? Where did your traffic come from? What drew their interest? What caused your visitors to convert into leads? And, most importantly, which lead sources produced closed business?
The ultimate measurement of any marketing initiative is revenue. In order to accurately and efficiently measure ROI, most organizations require marketing automation and CRM tools. These technologies are very helpful in “closing the loop” and attributing revenue to lead generation activity.
If your pipeline is barren and meeting your revenue growth objectives seems like a farfetched dream, it may be time to pause, take a step back, and share these secrets with your team. Everyone likes to hear a good secret – especially when it can lead to more sales and increased revenue.
Editor's Note: This blog was originally published in 2017 and has since been updated.