The increasingly digital world in which we all live is a giant portal of buying information and data; a tsunami of content at the fingertips of any purchaser with an Internet connection, which lets face it – Is everyone, all the time on any device.

With market research reporting over 85% of B2B purchasers start their buying journey on line (Forrester) and on average 60% of the purchasing process being completed before speaking with sales, (Corporate Executive Board) its critical the senior executive team adapts its lead generation process to match the buyer’s new purchasing process. Many firms don’t have an end-to-end process. It should look something like this:

  • Get found by buyers who aren’t even aware you exist
  • Initial engagement phase with those buyers
  • Convert to contact
  • Nurture contacts to become leads,
  • Sales engage with qualified leads
  • Convert qualified leads to revenue
  • Ongoing client engagement and upselling.

The absence of an effective lead generation process is concerning, potentially even alarming for business leaders.

  • The productivity of your sales team will decrease. More time will be spent chasing unqualified leads that are not yet ready to purchase. Your cost of sales will rise.
  • You run the risk of increased ‘funnel leakage’. If you fail to provide a clear path that your prospect can follow you will leak leads in the critical middle of the funnel, when a buyer moves from “I need a solution to my problem” to “I have a list of potential suppliers.” Your funnel of leads will flow slowly or even dry up resulting in lower revenue growth.

With fewer leads making it through the funnel and the quality of those that do falling, your sales team has to work a lot harder for less reward. The impact on revenue AND cost of sales can be dramatic, with an obvious knock on effect on profit.

Here are 3 tips to ensure you implement an effective lead generation process.

Create a clear path for your prospect

A fundamental part of any successful lean generation strategy is planning. When we work with our clients we build a clear lead generation framework that describes clearly how we convert:

  • Strangers to visitors
  • Visitors to contacts
  • Contacts to leads
  • Leads to customers
  • Customers to promoters and advocates of your business

inbound method

Its key to realise that this sequence is expressed in the language and buying process of the buyer, NOT your marketing and selling process. This will lead to to misalignment and disconnection between marketing and sales.

Clearly identified tactics must be identified at each stage of the journey. Pay special attention to the key points of linkage at each stage. Three core linkage points are underpinned by some fundamental tactics you MUST get right.

  1. Getting found by your targeted buyers who are strangers. See our earned, owned or paid tactics blog for more details.
  2. Landing pages and forms. The point at which visitors convert into leads.
  3. Lead scoring and CRM integration. The point at which a lead becomes qualified and is passed to sales.

Provide targeted content.

Your content is the glue that binds the different stages (top, middle and bottom) of the buyer’s journey together. If you can provide content that:

  • Initially educates, informs and helps your prospect deal with a significant business problem
  • Helps them articulate what they need
  • Steers them towards your solution

Then a positive trusted relationship has been formed. Clearly, any subsequent conversation that sales may have with that prospect is off to a flying start. In this environment not only do close rates rise but client retention also improves.

Align and measure your sales and marketing teams.

Building a common measurement framework is the starting point for successful sales and marketing alignment. The common denominator is the buyer’s journey itself and particularly aligning around the core problem you solve for your target buyer.

Build your revenue maths for the full funnel (ie both marketing and sales phases of the buyer’s journey), so you know how many visitors, leads, qualified leads, meetings, proposals and deals you need to hit your revenue plan. This is key as it defines the speed with which you need to run your funnel and therefore the amount of marketing and sales resources and tactics you need.

Specifically agree on what a sales ready or qualified lead looks like. Consider building a lead scoring framework that defines what characteristics (eg has this job role; has this problem; is in this industry sector) and behaviour (eg has visited our pricing page, has viewed a demo). Pass leads to sales that meet this pre-agreed lead score. Note that this requires continual adjustment between marketing and sales, especially in the early phases, to ensure that sales are feeding on good quality leads.

How well is your organisation doing with its lead generation process? Take a free health check now.