Where B2B Lead Generation is Heading
VSA’s telephone prospecting plays a vital role for our clients, but we recognize that B2B Lead Generation is becoming increasingly sophisticated and technology-driven. Here are learnings from a recent conference we attended, conversations with colleagues and witnessing our own clients’ experiences:
1. Technological advances help track and close leads. There is an amazing proliferation of software and other technology tools available to help in B2B lead generation. Technology tools automate much of what used to be done manually and allow focus on the highest ROI-producing activities. From about a few tools a couple years ago, there are hundreds out there today. To see for yourself, just search “Lead Generation, Nurturing, Conversion, Scoring Software.”
2. The customer experience is critical. Everyone is focused, rightly so, on “the customer experience,” not just after the sale, but from the very beginning. The customer experience is comprised of multiple touches from emails, internet marketing, social media, webinars, and so much more. It’s the process of engaging prospective clients and maintaining an extremely positive relationship from the point of discovery until they purchase.
3. Finding qualified leads takes time. Purchased lists don’t always suffice but can be a starting point; building a database of prospective leads through emails and web traffic results in a much more qualified list. For example, how would a list company know which firms needed sales training, or negotiation skills? Maybe the best way is because an executive enrolled in a sales training webinar.
4. B2B data degrades quickly. Job changes, mergers, and moves can result in up to a 4-6% degradation of lead data every month. Business data is dynamic and list maintenance is critical to staying current.
5. Timing is everything. I’ve written other posts about the importance of catching the decision maker at the right time, but quick follow-up with prospects who express any interest in your product or services is becoming more and more possible with web-tracking tools. If a prospect visits your website or responds to an email, he or she is exponentially more likely to become a client if you make contact within the first 5 minutes. If you wait more than 2 days, the level of interest drops dramatically.
6. Establish your niche. It’s important to definitively and quickly establish what distinguishes you from your competitors. “Mind share over market share,” a speaker I just heard said. Another colleague added, “Don’t assume even your best clients already know what you do best. You need to always reinforce your unique capabilities.”
7. Leads need to be nurtured. This is a common theme in many of these posts, but it continues to hold true. Even your highest potential prospects are not always ready to purchase now. However, these prospects may be willing to learn more, hear your stories and share some information about their needs. Each lead is incredibly valuable and needs to be cultivated.
We at VSA are still learning every day. Our clients ask us to respond to web visits real time, and ask us to qualify lists regularly to avoid degradation. We see the many of the points mentioned above first-hand. Still, we learn other aspects from industry experts.
But even with new software and developments in data management, the telephone remains essential. One expert said, the phone is important not just at the top of the funnel to find leads, and not just at the bottom to close the sale, but throughout the lead-nurturing process. Remember, B2B lead generation is all about building lasting relationships, and a true relationship requires human contact. The new technology and approaches coming into the industry are exciting, and the telephone is part of the toolbox. It has been complemented, not replaced.