Sales leads. The lifeblood of any organization that needs to sell something in order to survive and grow. Everyone from the CEO to the newest salesperson wants more, better leads.
And yet, many companies are still making two critical mistakes when it comes to generating leads to fill their sales pipeline and grow their businesses.
While many of these companies may have a marketing department, or a marketing person, that person is not really involved in lead generation beyond soft goals of “creating awareness” or “getting our name out there.”
Many of the marketing people are tasked with website updates, news release preparation, proposal developments, creating sales materials, making sure the company graphic standards are followed, preparing the trade show booth, buying promotional materials, etc.
Meanwhile, the sales teams are leveraging their existing networks of contacts and doing outbound sales, but are finding fewer leads that they can guide through the buyer's journey. Until recent years, buyers had to contact the sales team fairly early on in their buying research to get product information. Not so much anymore.
Now, buyers are showing up much better informed about the purchase they want to make, and at that stage are most interested in one thing: price.
According to a study by the Corporate Executive Board, B2B buyers are at least 57% through their buying journey before the first contact the seller. Forrester estimates the buyers are anywhere from two-thirds to 90% finished before they finally engage with the seller.
And to make matters worse, when a sales pipeline begins to slow, some companies react by hiring more salespeople. Unfortunately, this can have the effect of pouring salt on a wound because they don't have a sales problem, they have a lead generation problem.
Instead, these companies would be better served by adapting their marketing to the changing way that people buy. Which leads us to the second opportunity that many companies are missing: generating leads on their website.
I have a friend with a marketing position similar to the one described above. She’s a smart marketer but frustrated at her firm’s expectations for what marketing should do. She is one of those marketers who is trying to educate her firm on the power and possibilities of content marketing, particularly for generating leads. It’s a long, tough slog. It is for many marketers these days.
Recently, her company’s website was completely redesigned. It has a new look, a responsive design and new copy about the company, its products and services. But that’s where it ends.
The truth is, that’s where the website redesign should begin. The site has very little useful information of interest to prospective customers. The site doesn’t have a blog. It doesn’t have any calls-to-action, landing pages or in-depth, premium content of interest to prospects.
As mentioned above, buyers want to gather most of their research before they engage with the vendor. If a company publishes blog posts that address the questions that the sales and team gets on a recurring basis, traffic to their site would likely increase. But it wouldn’t be just any traffic, it would be the right kind of traffic – prospective customers.
Similarly, the premium content could be in-depth information such as a buyer’s guide, tip sheet or research report that could aid in the prospect’s buying research. Remember, prospects want to buy and do their own research but they don’t really want to talk to sales until they are better informed. So give the prospects what they want – help them get informed.
But the added benefit of having that premium content behind a landing page requiring an information exchange is that it generates a lead.
Based on the information collected and the determination of the lead’s sales readiness, it can then be passed to sales for follow up. Or, the lead can be added to an email list and nurtured further along the buyer’s journey with more information until they are ready to speak to a sales person.
The way B2B buyers buy has changed. They want to do as much research as possible before engaging with sales. The Internet has made the buyer’s need to contact sales vastly less important. That’s why smart companies are using their websites to provide information helpful to their buyer’s research. All while generating leads.
photo credit: WRONG WAY via photopin (license)