Companies often spend a mint on lead generation, and that makes sense. The old adage is about “if you’re not growing, you’re dying.” Well, you can’t grow without leads, right? So lead generation is obviously going to be pretty important. None of this is rocket science just yet.
A few years ago, we worked with a company in the Chicago area of the U.S. They were spending boatloads of cash on lead generation for 6-12 months. We’re talking into the millions. In that entire time, perhaps 2-3 leads came through as legitimate sales opportunities. That’s a horrible ratio. No one got fired, but the business tanked and the main people all went to new ventures. So besides idiocy around cash flow management, what was the problem here?
What’s a lead if you can’t nurture it?
This is especially true in enterprise, where sales cycles are much longer because of the decision-makers that need to be involved — which can often number into the teens.
Let’s say you need to work a lead for six months or more. How are you following up with that lead when you have the opportunity?
This is what most average sales guys would say:
- “I check in with them”
- “I send them eBooks and other collateral.”
- “I fly to see them.”
- “I take them to dinner and drinks.”
- “I work them. I’m a sales champion!”
All of these are OK answers, but none are even approaching a “good” answer.
You nurture a lead through being relevant to their business and their pain points.
So, again, this is how a lot of people approach lead generation. You get the leads and you …
- Send them to the website! — > Where there is nothing of interest and no value prop to be found. No call-to-action (CTA) that funnels them towards your offer.
- Send them an offer copy! — > Which doesn’t relate to their business, how they think about their business, or their current needs.
- Get ‘em on the phone for a follow-up! — > Where they don’t understand who you are or why you’re calling, and you’re not articulating it fast enough.
If you do these things, that’s wasted lead generation. Even worse, it’s burning your valuable leads!
So what’s effective lead generation?
A few rules:
Never call just to check in: This is lowbrow and feels like you’re just chasing a deal. It’s like asking: “Are you ready to buy, now?”
Set up news alerts around target companies and decision-makers: When you see something that resonates with them in the market, either share that link with them (external link) and start a convo, or have your marketing side achieve velocity (basically work quick) to write an asset and design it that addresses whatever happened in the market. Then send that over and say “Hey, we were just working on something related to this news. I thought it might be valuable to you. Check it out.”
Talk to people who used to work at a target of yours: Who really calls the shots? What are their traps? What holds them up on decisions? What are they obsessed about internally? Find out that obsession and then have relevant — again, keyword — content ready to go on those topics. Send that stuff over periodically.
Don’t be afraid to drop off for a bit: A lead is still a lead if you don’t harass them 10 times/week. In fact, a lead stops being a lead much faster when you call and email all the time. Take a break until you have something relevant. If everyone else is calling 8-10 times/week and you only come in every 4 weeks, but your stuff is relevant, we’d reckon you get the deal.
Always have new information: Again, don’t call just to “check in.” Don’t always send the same materials over or say “Check out our blog and thought leadership!” (No one really cares to check something general if they are working on specific pains in their business.) Have something new, specific, and relevant.
Until you do this, the best lead generation program in the world means nothing. You’ll just be running in place on those leads and never truly converting.