Lead Generation Tweaks for Building a Better Sales Pipeline

IKO 4Every business wants the most efficient sales process. From the most productive sales reps and the most streamlined sales funnel, we all want a veritable machine that drives sales.Today, we’re living during the information revolution. The proliferation of data is a powerful asset, and using technologies to create efficiencies is an important competitive reality. Within so much data, new best practices are a must.In the following post, we’re going to look at how a balance of modern sales can be improved through often overlooked lead generation practices. We’ll look at examples of how inbound and outbound can be used with data sets to compound sales pipelines. 

Outbound and Inbound Lead Generation Realities

 Lead generation capabilities are most effective when in balance.  Inbound lead nurturing techniques have proven effective at building trust over time, while outbound techniques like direct mail and calling can create direct sales action.To efficiently engage and develop the best leads, companies focus upon blending hands-off inbound methods and hands-on outbound processes. Based upon buyer personas, multi-touch engagement creates loops that play off one another and deliver leads through the funnels and into the pipeline.For example, you can nurture leads with content through your blog and social media, target them with email nurturing after they’ve triggered a whitepaper download, and follow up the download with a sales call.Or perhaps you’ll align display ads with email messaging and custom calls. These will be based upon buyer personas and prior engagements across your multi-touch lead engagement strategy. Say a lead engages seven times across social and content materials before receiving a call. After one call, they might engage with one more select piece of targeted content before receiving a final sales call and converting.Or, this lead could engage in the same seven points, enter a 10 point email nurture system and then take a call. Yes, the lead will be educated – but you might cut out nine touch points by staging a call at the right time.This is an example of how an automated nurturing process can by being steered by a human touch at the right times. Knowing how to maximize an optimum blend of inbound and outbound lead generation requires understanding a few key principles.Here they are:

#1: Narrow the Focus

 Outbound and inbound lead generation tactics can be used in a broad or narrow scope. Inbound especially can generate high volumes of leads, yet most of these leads are not worth your time.30% of all prospects are just curious. 30% are not decision-makers.This leaves just 30% to work with.On average, 54% of leads will be generated through inbound methods such as blogs, social media, and white papers. But these leads are likely not ready to buy. In most cases, the buying journey has only begun. Many touch points will be needed before striking up an outbound conversation and making a sale.While harnessing large quantities of leads can be advantageous, it doesn’t equal sales – it equals more work for sales reps. So a focused approach will save time, resources, and manpower. To hyper-target leads within a multi-touch strategy is to align yourself for conversion.Predictive data analytics solutions can give you the time back to your people. With a lens of specificity, you can begin to ask answer: how best to achieve conversions? 

Get specific

 

Random cold calling and email blasts are no longer enough. And relying on inbound tactics alone to fill the sales pipeline could leave your sales team and bottom line in the lurch. Given all the information available, the buyer journey has changed. If leads are conducting their own research on companies, smart companies can play right back and hyper-target the best leads that display the intent to buy.

Bottom line, finding your ideals targets and engaging them directly is the most efficient way to convert.

 “Nurture techniques are most effective when designed for buyer’s needs and communication preferences.”

—  Jason Hekl, VP and Group Director of Demand Generation Strategies, Sirius Decisions

To target leads, there are certain questions that require answering:

 Additionally, certain lead attributes can assist in finding the narrow focus to apply to lead generation and engagement: 

  1. Functional attributes: role, common titles, position in organization chart, buying center, firmographics
  2. Emotive attributes: initiatives, challenges, buyer need, lexicon
  3. Decision process attributes: buyer roles, level of engagement, decision drivers
  4. Behavioral attributes: content asset types, interaction types, watering holes

 In the modern multi-touch marketing world, assigning value to lead characteristics that relate to your organization will inform how best to approach leads. To use lead generation tactics in a productive manner, answer the questions above and prioritize the attributes listed. With core traits established, you can use lead scoring to further lead generation tactics through the appropriate channel. With the proper leads in sight, targeted lead engagement scenarios can lead to sales calls and conversions. 

#2: Manage Sales Processes with Data, Not Feeling

 Sales reps play a huge role in outbound lead generation as well as final sales. Likely, they’re using CRM or a sales system software to account for and improve their effectiveness with leads.That said, sales reps can provide a biased account of their actions. Collecting additional data from the point of sale will help make sure all leads are being engaged properly.With access to information like call attempts, connections, length of call, and outcome, organizations can gauge performance against benchmarks and between groups.Moving beyond calls made, call notes, appointments set and other basic information can give true insights into what’s needed for an optimized sales team. How is overall call quality? What was shared with the lead and where are they in their buying stage after the call?Hunches and best guesses are not enough.Only raw sales intelligence allows for best practices. Speech analytics monitor sales conversions plus flag keyword for later review. This will become especially important when reps have moved beyond cold calling and are engaging higher quality leads. Reviewing and assessing the sales process is as important as the technology in place to measure the results.

#3: Make Calls with Information on Hand

 Making the most of sales calls involves good information. Distributing quality content to leads to further their sales reach is key – as is accumulating and using data on leads before a call to ensure call optimization.Warm it up: Before a call, reps should know what content an inbound lead has engaged with. This way sales reps have a plan to engage with the next level of material to propel them to the next stage. Before a call, sending an introductory email with a webinar or white page could make the conversation go much further. Likewise, when approaching outbound leads, a similar introductory email with compelling information will make a great introduction and jump start a conversation.With proper data, organizations can create custom call scripts for leads. Custom scripts will decrease call time and require less prep time for the sales rep. Most importantly, custom targeting leads to a sales boost.Get educated: Forrester tells us that 77% of executive buyers claim salespeople don’t understand their problems or how they can help. 70% agree that salespeople are not prepared to answer the questions buyers ask.Having a solid grasp of lead demographic and behavioral information before an interaction is going to make a huge difference. Lead scoring technologies account for such persona data as well as buying triggers in similar markets. With such data on hand, a prepared sales rep will be able to offer real solutions. For example, at IKO System the data shows that conversion rates with decision makers increases 800% after lead scoring is implemented. 

Takeaway

 The way to achieve an effective balance of lead generation tactics is through information. By understanding who leads are and what they want, the proper inbound and outbound tactics can be applied to accomplish a conversion. We know that a targeted approach precedes conversions, whether at the top of the funnel or at the bottom. And the way to target leads is with demographic and behavioral understandings. By knowing more about leads, we can deliver better information at the right time, throughout the marketing funnel and into the sales pipeline.