Does your lead generation and sales process feel… jumbled?
You’re not alone! While many companies believe their sales teams follow some sort of roadmap, it’s often not defined, consistent or uniform. And unfortunately, this leads to confusion, lower close-rates, and longer sales cycles.
The truth is it doesn’t matter how talented your sales team is. If you don’t have a clear and precise process for them to follow, they’re more likely to be unsuccessful in their lead generation.
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Lead generation processes should be clearly laid out, documented, and trained into your sales teams as a set of repeatable steps they can use to convert prospects into customers. In fact, one recent study showed B2B companies that do have a defined, formal lead generation process experienced 18% more revenue growth compared to companies that didn’t.
So how do you formulate such a process? Below we’ll share how to create an effective, consistent, and successful lead generation process in 6 simple steps.
Align your Sales, Marketing, and Product Teams
Your sales teams should not be working in a silo. In order for them to be as effective and efficient with lead generation as possible, your salespeople should be working closely with your marketing and product teams.
Marketing plays a big role in forming the opinions of your prospects and leads — both before and after interaction with your sales teams. It also plays a large role in qualifying leads.
Statistics show that:
- 87% of sales and marketing leaders say collaboration between sales and marketing enables critical business growth
- 94% of top-performing salespeople in a recent survey called the marketing leads they receive either “excellent” or “good.”
So how does sales and marketing alignment accomplish this? Marketing teams support sales by creating helpful, relevant content to help move prospects along the sales cycle and nurture prospect relationships.
In order for these touch points to work together harmoniously, sales and marketing teams must be in constant contact about what’s top of mind for clients, and what their hesitations or pain points are. The same goes with sales and product teams as well.
Your individual teams should agree on items such as:
- Important definitions and criteria
- The lead management process (and who is responsible for each step)
- KPIs, benchmarks and monthly, quarterly and annual goals
- What reports are important to generate and distribute to all key stakeholders
If you feel your teams are not currently aligned, you need to get them together for a meeting. Most times a half-day intensive get together to sort out any kinks is more than sufficient. Following this get-together, each member will leave the meeting with a better vision of the overall lead generation process and how it should function.
Automate Repetitive Tasks
One of the most important (and overlooked) parts of creating an effective lead generation process is implementing automation wherever possible. Not only does automation help free your sales teams up from performing monotonous tasks, but it also reduces the chances of things slipping through the cracks.
The efficiency that can be added to your lead generation process through automation is astounding. According to a recent study, 45% of current paid activities can be automated by today’s technology (an equivalent of $2 trillion in total annual wages)!
So, what are some common tasks that your sales teams can automate? Try starting with these:
- Lead scoring and prioritization
- Follow up and catch-up emails
- Scheduling calls and meetings
- And lead list building
There are hundreds of customer relationship management software packages available to assist in easily automating all of the above— and more.
Move into the Lead Generation Phase
It’s in the lead generation phase that the real meat and potatoes of your process occurs.
Normally, lead generation comes from two different streams: inbound strategies and outbound strategies. Let’s take a look at both and how they can work together in your process:
Inbound strategies for lead generation include things such as social media, blogging, SEO, email campaigns, etc. They’re meant to capture and keep the attention of targeted B2B buyers who may be interested in your product or service.
Outbound strategies include outreach tactics such as cold calling, cold emails, direct mail, trade show attendance, and online advertising.
In order to capture the largest number of leads possible, your sales and marketing teams should be working together on implementing all of these lead generation strategies in parallel. Lead generation is a responsibility for both departments, but there should be a clear separation of responsibilities as well. (For example, marketing handles email campaigns while sales do the cold calling.)
Lead generation hint: Do not let your sales teams overlook the importance of performing cold outreach! 75% of prospects in many industries have attended an event or scheduled a meeting based on cold email or call.
Efficient Prospect Research
Prospect research can become a bit of a time-suck for your inside sales teams. In order to keep your lead generation process as successful as possible, you’ll need to find areas where you can make this phase more efficient.
One way to do this is to create a research plan for your sales teams. This plan can include:
- All of the best websites to find information on your prospects (for example, LinkedIn, Hoovers or Data.com)
- Any information about your prospect that’s been collected by marketing (if they’ve ever visited your website, etc.)
- A guideline on how long to spend researching each prospect
- An easy-to-follow template for them to follow in recording prospect information
These simple additions to your process can encourage a shorter research phase and make more time for active outreach.
Segment Your Prospects and Customers
Once your sales team has a list of researched, contacted, and qualified leads, you’ll want to have them sorted in order to segment them. Use the segmented lists to nurture leads with relevant, highly targeted content and personalized email communications.
You can also segment your leads leveraging scoring for prioritization in order to help your sales teams manage their time.
Create a Standard Plan for Outreach and Nurturing Leads
Nurturing your leads is an important part of the lead generation process. As most sales people know, it takes about 8 touches on average with a prospect to close a deal.
It’s important not to simply leave your lead nurturing process up to interpretation. There should be a very clear standard outline for your team to follow. For example, your guidelines could include points like this:
- If you haven’t heard from a prospect in 3 days, send an email
- If your prospect responds, do x, and if they don’t do y
- Follow up with cold prospects every 6 weeks
- If a prospect has been cold for 6 months, add them to an automated marketing lead nurture list
Of course, everyone’s process for nurturing leads will vary. You’ll need to set up your own unique plan based on your average sales cycle and typical contact points.
Of course, once your sales teams have completed the steps above, all that’s left to do is close and retain your new customers! Hopefully, by implementing a process that uses the 6 steps above, you’ll have plenty of leads in your pipeline.
If you’re looking to maximize your lead generation efficiency, even more, consider outsourcing your entire lead generation process to Leads At Scale. Our experienced team handles all of the prospecting, cold calling, qualifying, follow-up and appointment setting for you. We help B2B companies generate well-qualified leads and warm sales appointments that are ready to be closed, freeing up your sales team to focus on advancing relationships and closing sales, and allowing you to grow your business.
Interested? Learn more here.