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5 Step Process for Increased Lead Generation with Case Study
Today I am going to layout the 5 Pillars of the S.I.T. Lead Generation process. Lead generation success comes down to follow-up and measurement. Understanding what constitutes success in lead generation is where there is misunderstanding. Frequently, people choose only 1 metric to determine success. That is no different than saying that the only thing that matters on a balance sheet is receivables or the only thing that matters in a formula is one ingredient.
The First Thing to Know
Understanding the numbers means you must understand the system behind them. The who, what, why, where, when and how of the S.I.T lead generation system not just one sole metric.
Remember, just because people are being “touched” by your lead generation machine does not mean they are going to buy. If you don’t understand the buying cycle and buying proclivities of your marketplace YOU WILL NEVER SELL ANYTHING.
If you see an ad for a cool car do you run out and buy one? If you see an ad for a great looking watch do run out and buy one? The answer in 3 parts is A) Yes if you have large disposable income B) No if you are not in the market (have a real/perceived need) or C) No if you do not have the budget.
There is absolutely NO WAY to determine without talking to someone what factors are the cases and every situation is different. What an effective lead generation program does is put your solution in as many “selling cycles” as possible without initially knowing which ones will bear immediate fruit. What you can know is what marketplaces, titles, applications etc. give you the best opportunity.
The S.I.T. lead generation program is a cumulative effect relationship where success grows with more and more “correct” contact. Make no mistake there is also lightning effect sales that happen immediately. The only caveat to remember is that if people do not have a (real/perceived) need or do not have disposable income you can be the greatest sales person since Tom Hopkins or “Don Draper” but you won’t be selling anything.
Step 1. Refine the definition of “sales-ready”
Many organizations struggle with the exact definition of “lead.” And the biggest difference of opinion usually lies between Sales and Marketing. The questions marketers should be asking are:
What do salespeople really want?
What do they need in order to sell?
Salespeople need to manage their precious time. Quota-carrying reps are acutely aware of the relationship between their time and value to the company. A rep has to continuously ask oneself, “What is the probability of this deal closing? And what is its inherent value?”
Step 2. Qualify leads based on a Universal Lead Definition (ULD)
Regardless of the model you choose, it is vital that the choice is made jointly by Sales and Marketing. Effective demand generation teams will establish a process that defines a lead, establishes a follow-up process and determines how quickly a lead must be moved further down the funnel unique to your industry.
Once a common lead definition has been found, it is the marketing team’s responsibility to filter leads accordingly. Marketing automation platforms and lead scoring processes all help to determine qualified leads for sales readiness. But sales reps will play a vital role in this process, as well. There is only so much that automated systems can accomplish without a human touch.
Step 3. Nurture early stage leads until “sales-ready”
Lead nurturing is “the process of having a relevant, consistent dialog with viable potential customers, regardless of their timing to buy.” With lead nurturing, you are strengthening the relationship you have with potential customers, by adding value, even if they never buy from you.
This is the process of becoming a “thought leader” and changing the relationship you have to the industry from vendor to resource. This one, very crucial differentiation is what determines volume of future success.
In order to nurture leads effectively, you must employ the Big 3:
Relevant Content: That which that speaks to their needs at any given time. In B2B, you nurture organizations, not people. By providing an individual with meaningful information, you are helping that person have meaningful dialogue with others in that organization.
Timing: Every organization has it cycles. There are exactly 2 ways to determine a company’s buying cycle 1) Calling and talking to everyone involved 2) Touching them periodically until the pattern emerges.
Consistency: Nature abhors a vacuum. Once you start a lead generation program you end it at peril to your organization. People begin to “expect” information from you at regular intervals. Once that information stream ceases they will find another and it will be a competitor, count on it.
Most people have always thought of lead nurturing as just an automated letter/email workflow. It is really about reaching people in whatever channels they want to be reached with information that is valuable to them. News articles, seminars/webinars, regulatory notices all are potential “touches” and while choosing multiple channels is important, The Big 3 are the Key. Marketing is a mindset, not an activity.
Step 4. Define hand-off process from Marketing to Sales
The hand-off between Marketing and Sales is crucial, and yet remains a common misstep in the process of moving leads through the funnel. In order to make the lead transition as smooth as possible, have a documented process, a process agreed upon by both Sales and Marketing. The following process should be clearly defined and followed to ensure the hand-off is effective:
Be sure the lead is “sales-ready”
Leads must clearly fit the ULD
Leads must express a desire to speak with a sales rep
Leads must be qualified, with supporting information
Be sure to have a clear handoff process
“Don’t drop the baton” — ensure that lead ownership is clear and agreed upon
Establish a quick, efficient timetable for turnaround
Tracking and accountability is key to short and long term success
Ultimately, the S.I.T. program not only increases efficiency, but also shows if your leads are actually helping your sales team convert, as well as measuring the contribution to the pipeline.
Step 5. Close the loop
Effective sales and marketing organizations are ones that communicate well. Regular meetings should be held to gauge progress and success. In these “huddles,” both teams can collaborate to review results, fix procedural errors and refine priorities moving forward.
These meetings will provide your team with honest, actionable feedback from Sales, helping you determine:
If your lead information is accurate and helpful
If your leads are in the target market
If your leads are “sales-ready” (i.e., ready for sales rep involvement)
There is detail to be filled in under each step but that detail is always going to be subject to your industry, market, product etc.
Below is an example of the success you can see with the S.I.T. process.
Case Study: Prime Coat Coatings
“We have grown the database by over 1000 contacts that we never knew existed until we started this program. We have cleaned up the existing CRM by validating contact information and accurate locations. More organizations now know of Prime Coat than ever before and as we go forward with our Prime Coat 2.0 initiative we will see the fruit from those seeds. For example Prime Coat Indiana is on pace to have a solid year, somewhere in the neighborhood of 1.5 million or so. To date 92% of ALL their 2010 business can be traced to lead generation touches dating as far back as 2006.
Based on information from the CRM and quote system we have quoted approximately $350,000 of business from the touch system. The touch system is defined as anybody who has received letters from us and as a result went to a trade show or called/emailed in directly to the company. We have closed close to $55,000 from the quotes. This is from jobs that are the direct result of either letters or touches that led to meetings at tradeshows.
We also have some success at Abbott that are not mentioned in the above numbers. We are seeing Dave Harvey close more in coatings business in the last few months than he has in a long time. He has been averaging approximately 50k a month in coatings business the last 2 months. This is following our lead generation efforts there. They received letters along with Dave Harvey staying in constant contact with them and as a result he should have 4 straight months of over 100k in billings.
What these numbers do not contain is all the potential business out there that we are now lining up, things that we never were going to hear or know about UNLESS we were executing this system. We are injecting ourselves into 100’s buying cycles a week and getting more and more call in’s and emails to the web site. This will lead to a continued, sustained and organic growth. And as we tighten down the rest of our systems the results will only get better.”