With a predictable lead generation machine, your firm can get a lot of things wrong and still do pretty well.
All you need is seeds, nets and spears.
Do you spend a lot of time perfecting your company’s product or service? Perhaps most of your time is spent making sure your company operates like a well-oiled machine. Or maybe you run a sales-oriented company with a well-trained, highly motivated sales team.
But if you want faster growth, your business is going to struggle without predictable lead generation.
In the book From Impossible to Inevitable: How Hyper-Growth Companies Create Predictable Revenue, authors Aaron Ross and Jason Lemkin explain: “predictable lead generation is the lever to creating hyper-growth.”
Click here to listen to The Marketing Book Podcast interview with Aaron Ross, co-author of From Impossible to Inevitable.
One of the co-authors, Aaron Ross, worked at Salesforce.com, where he created a revolutionary sales process and team that helped increase Salesforce.com's revenues by $100 million. He is the co-author of what is widely referred to as “The Sales Bible of Silicon Valley,” Predictable Revenue: Turn Your Business Into a Sales Machine with the $100 Million Best Practices of Salesforce.com.
However, From Impossible to Inevitable is more than just about predictable lead generation.
The book outlines seven ingredients of hyper-growth, including:
#1: “You’re not ready to grow… until you Nail A Niche”; or
#4: “It's hard to build a big business out of small deals … so figure out how to Double Your Deal-size;” or
#5: “It'll take years longer than you want … don't quit too soon or let a Year Of Hell discourage you. Be Prepared to Do The Time.”
Predictable lead generation is covered in #2: “Overnight success is a fairy tale. You're not going to be magically discovered, so you need sustainable systems that Create Predictable Pipeline.”
To self-diagnose if you have a predictable sales pipeline problem, the authors offer these symptoms:
- Unpredictable lead generation and sales
- Salespeople complaining about the amount or quality of leads they get
- A revenue roller coaster of up and down growth results (either as a company, team, or individual)
- You're beating your lead volume goals, but are missing your revenue goals
- More than 30% of your salespeople are missing quota
- Unexpectedly low close rates
- Unmotivated salespeople
Many company founders have the idea that “if we just create an amazing thing [app, video, ebook, blog post …], it'll catch fire online and we'll be inundated with people excited to follow us or buy from us.” The authors explain that, like the lottery, this phenomenon occurs just often enough to create the fairy tale for everyone else.
So while you should strive to be “discovered,” you’d best not bet your company’s growth on a pipe dream. Even if your cool video goes viral, what happens next? How are you going to sustain that one-time burst of success?
The best way to increase sales is not by tripling the size of your sales force, but by growing your qualified leads. You can have the sexiest sport scar, but it won’t move without gas. Lead generation is your gasoline for growth.
Why is lead generation so important? The authors explain that when you are struggling to generate enough decent leads for your salespeople, everything else needs to be perfect: you need a perfect product, perfect sales people and a perfect sales process. There’s no room for error.
But if you have a predictable lead generation machine, you can get a lot of things wrong and still do pretty well. Predictable lead generation absolves many business sins.
What kind of leads should you be focused on generating? The authors suggest a balanced lead generation diet of seeds, nets and spears. Without a balance of all three, your lead generation will be much less predictable.
- Seeds – These are created from word-of-mouth, networks and relationships, especially grown through creating happy customers who refer others.
- Nets – These are leads generated through marketing campaigns, including inbound and content marketing. This is typically the largest generator of leads but the lead quality will be mixed.
- Spears – Targeted outbound prospecting or business development campaigns, usually working through a targeted list, calling, emailing, or using any technique that helps the salesperson get an appointment.
(A version of this article originally appeared in Inside Business - The Hampton Roads Business Journal, on June 13, 2017.)