In for the Long Haul: 4 Tips for Leveraging Lead Generation into Long-Term Relationships
Truly great businesses aren’t built on transactions, they’re built on relationships. If your company sells software or technology services, your sales team probably knows this all too well.
Any offering that requires a longer sales cycle, features subscription-based pricing, or may necessitate ongoing customer support cannot be bought—or sold—lightly. For both the seller and the buyer, the transaction represents a long-term commitment.
In order to be successful, therefore, B2B lead gen firms that serve this market need to understand that their role involves a lot more than simply making a sales pitch to whoever will listen. It’s about building and balancing relationships—both with and between the client and the prospect. Though it fills a key role in the sales process, the work of a great lead gen partner sometimes feels more like what you’d expect from a matchmaking service.
VSA has over two decades of experience representing complex offerings—and we know a thing or two about how this matchmaking works. In fact, here are several tips for moving your lead gen team beyond “set it and forget it” and towards a more fruitful relationship management approach:
1. Onboard thoroughly.
Preparation is key to proving that you take your clients—and yourself—seriously. That’s why, rather than just slapping together a canned template, VSA onboards new clients over a span of 3-4 weeks; we host a series of collaborative meetings to build effective, well thought-out, custom programs for each and every client.
Whether or not you partner with an outside firm, developing a thorough onboarding process is key to ensuring that the left hand always knows what the right hand is doing. There’s nothing more off-putting to a potential client than receiving mixed messages or getting the impression that your team is uninformed or unorganized.
2. Always be professional.
This might seem obvious, but too many lead gen teams cut corners on professionalism when interacting with prospects. They can sometimes get away with it if they’re selling commodities like office chairs or plastic cups. For mission-critical business solutions and services, though, this lack of professionalism simply won’t do.
Business Development Representatives (BDRs)—the team members actually making the cold calls—should sound and act like prospects’ colleagues. They should be respectful of tight timeframes and busy schedules, but also able to address concerns or questions thoughtfully and with compassion. A cold call is a first impression, and it should never sound robotic or transactional.
For the same reason, it’s a good idea to take notes on and log the result of every call. Like peers playing phone tag, BDRs should be able to casually reference previous attempts or conversations. This demonstrates to each prospect that they are actually valued, rather than just one of a hundred other calls that person had to make that day.
3. Empower your BDRs!
In order to act as professionals, BDRs need to be treated as professionals. That’s why VSA uses a team-based calling model which gives them opportunities to share insights, compare results, and collaborate with both program managers and each other, all in the service of continually improving the campaign.
In order to maximize success, your BDRs should be similarly empowered. As your first points of contact, they set the tone for the entire relationship; they should feel valued, respected, and highly motivated to represent your offering. Quite often, ongoing investments in the skills and expertise of BDRs are what distinguishes those lead gen firms who are capable of relationship management over all the others who are not.
4. Establish channels for open communication and regular review.
Even when a lead generation program is going well, there are always opportunities to review, improve, and refine. As with any relationship, those you form with your prospects can be actively nurtured by responding to their specific needs or interests and taking whatever feedback they give you to heart.
To do this well, you’ll need to establish strong mechanisms for internal communication between BDRs, managers, and your sales team. That’s why, in addition to our weekly program meetings, VSA also establishes a regular schedule of review meetings for all of our clients. This allows us to be smart and agile about improving our programs, and ensures that when we do, everyone’s on the same page.
As a general rule, if your offering requires a relationship-based sales model, it will also require a relationship-based approach to lead generation. You’ll need to find a partner who embodies this mentality should you decide to work with an outside firm.
For two decades, VSA has provided exactly this approach for clients who need it. We’ve carved out a unique approach to client-prospect matchmaking that delivers outstanding results for clients whose offerings are too complex to be handled by “set it and forget it” firms.
If you need more new opportunities for your sales team, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’d be more than happy to help your company build its next perfect relationship.