It’s no secret that the nature of lead generation and sales is changing.
For a long time, salespeople could generate a lot of their own leads and then guide prospects through the buyer’s journey before closing the sale.
The salespeople were involved early on in the buyer’s research because of one thing the salesperson had that the buyer did not – information. The sales person could use that as leverage with the buyer to influence the whole sales process.
The salesperson’s information leverage is now gone. Buyers can turn to the Internet to get nearly all the information they need before they have to “deal” with salespeople. Think about the car buyer – oftentimes they know more about the car they want to buy than does the salesman at the dealership.
Buyers are now at least 57% through their purchase research before they first contact the seller, according to a study by the Corporate Executive Board. Other studies show that buyers are as much as 90% through with their research before engaging with sales.
Armed with all their buying research, when a buyer finally contacts the seller, the discussion is largely about price.
This has left sellers with a choice: wait to generate leads from buyers who are fully-informed and ready to negotiate price – OR – generate leads from buyers who are researching a purchase, and get a shot at building a relationship with the buyer before they make their purchase decision.
The former approach makes price the most important factor. The latter can enable a seller to become known, liked, differentiated and trusted by the buyer, making price less of a deciding factor when the decision is made.
So how do you generates leads while the buyer is doing research? It’s no magic trick.
First, you have to publish content on your website that will get found by prospects as they are researching a solution to their problem. This is where things like keyword research and blogging come into play, as well as using social media to help spread your content’s reach.
As you publish more helpful content, your website traffic will increase.
But just getting more website traffic is only half the battle. You still need to generate leads from those visitors. That will give you the opportunity to keep in touch and start building a relationship of trust with the prospect.
There are many moving parts related to online lead generation. They can seem technical and overwhelming to someone who might be new to it. Don’t let that distract you.
Focus on these four areas and your lead generation will have a solid foundation for success.
Many B2B marketers jump ahead with lead generation programs without a clear understanding of the goals and motivations of their buyer personas.
In “The Buyer Persona Manifesto,” Adele Revella describes a buyer persona:
“It’s an archetype, a composite picture of the real people who buy, or might buy, products like the ones you sell.”
Buyer personas are like an avatar crafted from direct interviews with as many buyers as possible. And from their behavior observed at conferences, social media, etc.
Other characters who influence the buyer’s decision-making process will emerge from this research: procurement people, bosses, rivals, etc.
This buyer persona is not necessarily your customer. The development of the persona helps you discern the difference between who you THINK your customer is versus who you real customer is. Flowing from that is a wealth of strategic insights about not only who your customer is, but also how to talk to them.
While you might have great content, if it doesn’t get to the right person at the right time, it’s not likely to be very helpful in generating leads.
This is particularly relevant after you’ve attracted a prospect to your website and want to convert them into a lead and nurture them toward a sale. For this content marketing-assisted sales approach to work effectively, however, the content needs to synch up with where the buyer is in their research or “buyer’s journey.”
For instance, initially a buyer is expressing symptoms of a problem and isn't even sure what their problem is. They generally need more educational research to get their arms around the problem.
Once the buyer has identified their problem they then start to consider all the available approaches/methods to solving their problem. When that part of the journey is complete, they begin to compile a list of available vendors and products within their solution strategy.
The more your content is able to address what’s going on in your buyer,s head at the different stages of their journey, the more effective you'll be at generating leads.
You’ve attracted more of the right kind of traffic to your site. Once on your site, perhaps reading an article, the reader is show one or more calls-to-action (CTA).
A CTA is a website button, image, text link that encourages a visitor to take an action by typically clicking on the button, visiting a landing page and filling out a form in return for some kind of content. Examples include a research study, a buyer’s guide, an in-depth ebook, a newsletter or pre-recorded webinar.
But there’s a catch – the offer has to be valuable. Almost something a prospect would pay for. Or at least say “thanks a lot!” If your only offer is “contact us” or “request a quote” your lead generation magic will not materialize.
A landing page is a website page specifically designed to convert visitors to leads. It collects information on website visitors who identify themselves in return for valuable content. Landing pages are the linchpins of lead generation.
Here are 9 elements of a successful landing page:
The most effective lead generation happens while the prospect is searching for information, not after they are fully-informed and ready to buy. While generating leads from an unknown buyer is not magic, it can seem mysterious. By focusing on the buyer persona, the buyer’s journey, the offer and the landing page, your ability to generate leads will magically improve.