Sales lead generation – 20 to-dos for 2020

By now, unless you’re taking an extended break (and lucky you if that’s the case), you’re back to work after the holidays trying to plan your sales lead generation strategies. While some of us come back to a mountain of deliverables, sometimes it can take a bit for sales leads to ramp up at the beginning of the year. Either way, the post-holiday slump is a real thing, with many of us still feeling the physical and financial overindulgence of the holidays, and, if you’re in the northern hemisphere, you’re probably already tired of the winter weather too. To help get some motivation and inspiration for your sales lead generation, here are 20 things you can do to kick your 2020 B2B demand generation strategy into gear.

1- Review what worked last year and what didn’t in your sales lead generation efforts.

With 2019 still fresh in your mind, it makes perfect sense to take a look at what your sales leads wins and losses had in common. Was there a process you used in your lead generation that was particularly successful? Were there any standout moments, good and bad? Now is the time to figure out what you want to keep doing, and what you’d like to avoid, this year and possibly forever.

2- Make some S.M.A.R.T. sales lead generation goals.

First seen in the November 1981 issue of Management Review by George T. Doran, and later made popular in Peter Drucker’s management by objectives concept1, “SMART” is an acronym for:

  • Specific– target a specific area for improvement.
  • Measurable– quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress.
  • Assignable– specify who will do it.
  • Realistic– state what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.
  • Time-related– specify when the result(s) can be achieved.

There are also some variations of what each letter stands for, such as “Agreed, “Attainable and Achievable” for the “A” and “Relevant” or “Results-based” for the “R.” So feel free to customize them as you see fit.

3- Bring in the experts for sales lead generation services.

Sometimes a fresh and trained perspective makes a huge difference. Specialized lead generation companies like 360 Leads can help you find the gaps and the opportunities. They do this by taking a deep dive into every aspect of your sales lead management operations, from call shadowing and instructional support, to integrated sales lead generation campaigns and post-campaign follow-up.

4- Do some digital housecleaning.

Clean Out Your Computer Day is the second Monday in February (Feb 10), but you could always get a jump start on it now. A new year is a great time to organize your B2B sales leads files and folders. It’s a satisfying feeling to hit “delete” on junk files, duplicate files and old files and programs you’re no longer using.

 5- Reconnect with B2B sales prospects that ghosted you.

Potential clients that weren’t interested last year, or were simply too busy to reply, might very well be interested now. A new year is a great opportunity to check in and say “happy new year” and ask what their goals are for 2020. And if you’re doing any “digital housecleaning,” cleaning out your email is also a great way to uncover some of these sales leads.

6- Engage in “Compliment Day” Jan 24.

Not that you really need an excuse to tell your coworkers that they’re doing a great job, but participating in Compliment Day on Jan 24 is a chance to have some fun with it. You can also take it beyond your own team and send out a complimentary note to your sales leads, partners and clients. You could even leave a positive online review for businesses you work with and hopefully they will return the favour.

7- Take a closer look at your customer service.

It’s been predicted that by 2020, customer service will overtake price and product as the key differentiator between brands.2 As outlined in this infographic, a whopping 86% of customers say they would pay more for better customer service and 91% said they would leave after a negative experience.

8- Make sure your website is “mobile responsive.”

If your website doesn’t work properly on a smartphone, this is something you should address ASAP. Stats show that 61% of customers likely won’t come back to a site that gave them trouble and 40% would use a competitor’s site. 66% of online shopping is via mobile (with that number steadily increasing) and more Google searches take place on mobile devices than computers in 10 countries.3 Among other Mobile Marketing Statistics Every Marketer Should Know, 91% of American adults have their smartphone within reach 24/7.

9- Review your insurance coverage.

As explained in this article from Forbes, “If you’re happy with how much your insurance costs, you’re not doing it right.” Business risks are changing rapidly and it’s important to make sure that you’re covered for things like cybersecurity.

 10- Reach out to new hires.

 As mentioned in this article about re-engaging prospects or qualified sales leads after the holidays, companies tend to hire a lot of new staff at the start of the year. A deal that stalled in Q4 could be revived through a new hire who is eager to add value to the company.

 11- Get some plants.

Besides just looking nice and helping you to get some “greenspace” indoors, scientific studies have actually proven that offices with plants make staff happier and more productive.

 12- Look for ways to give back.

Practicing CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) is just smart for two major reasons: 1) you’ll feel good about doing it and 2) you’ll look good for doing it. It doesn’t even need to be particularly expensive – your team could participate in a volunteering event such as a food drive or donate blood as a group. (Fun fact: January is also blood donor month.4)

13- Help your site get better SEO so that your sales leads can find you.

Did you know that 81% of customers do online research before buying5 but 75% never scroll past the first page of search engine results?6 There are many different tools out there to make your site more search engine friendly, such as Google Search Console (which is free!).7 It’s also very important to use a good hosting provider, make good use of keywords and keep your content fresh by updating it regularly.

14- Add a chatbot to your site.

As explained in this blog, a chatbot is a very effective inbound marketing technique for lead generation, as it can help your site’s visitors to find the information they’re looking for faster. If you do it right, it can be a very enjoyable and even entertaining experience for your target.8

15- Write it down.

Handwriting Day is January 23, and it’s worth picking up a pen for. Various studies have shown that writing by hand, specifically expressive writing about thoughts, feelings and goals, can help to boost the happiness, health and productivity of your B2B sales team.9

16- Make some cold calls.

Believe it or not, The Black Report, a survey of over 300 executives around the world, found that outbound telemarketing was their most effective lead generation marketing channel. In a digital world, there just is no substitute for a human being. This blog and this blog have some helpful tips to help you make the most of every call.

 17- Ask your best customers for referrals or online reviews.

If you have happy, long-term and loyal customers, there’s an excellent chance they would recommend your business. Whether it’s a 5-star online review, being a reference for a potential prospect, or giving you some names of companies that they know could use your solution, you’ll never get what you don’t ask for… so just ask!

18- Learn what TOFU, MOFU and BOFU content is.

You likely know tofu as a soy-based vegan meat alternative and have no idea what the other two are, but TOFU, MOFU and BOFU are actually acronyms for targeted marketing: Top Of Funnel (traffic generation), Middle Of Funnel (demand generation) and Bottom Of Funnel (lead generation nurturing and customer acquisition). There is no such thing as “catchall content” anymore – you need to nurture your sales prospects (and support your sales team) at every stage in the lead generation game.

19- Take steps to keep remote workers engaged.

With the evolution of technology, B2B sales staff can do more remotely than ever before and working from home has become the norm for thousands of us. This article has some good tips on helping remote workers to be as effective and engaged as possible despite the distance, such as prioritizing one communication platform and sticking to a schedule.

 20- Celebrate “Fun at Work Day” Jan 31.

Sometimes the worst thing we can do is take ourselves too seriously. Nothing breaks the tension and helps with stress relief like a good laugh. In fact, playing at work has been actually proven to boost productivity by 20%! Fun at Work Day, held on the 4th Friday of January, is the perfect opportunity to plan something fun for your team.

Hopefully, one or more of these suggestions resonated with you, and you’ll consider making them part of your B2B sales lead generation process. No matter what, remember bonus tip 21: breathe. All we ever have is this moment, so make sure you’re always there for it. And if you need any help getting those new sales leads, contact us to find out more about our lead generation services. We wish you a prosperous lead generation year and successful 2020!

Want to generate leads? Learn how to tell your story.

How did your company come to exist and why? Can you explain it in an interesting, engaging and memorable way? In business, (especially if you want to generate leads), knowing your story, and how to tell it, can literally make the difference between connecting with a client, or not.

 According to The Black Report, only 17% of over 300 executives surveyed actually reached their lead generation targets. When we take a closer look at what those companies with the best lead generation results were doing right, it’s no accident that 73% of them had a well-defined, clearly articulated value proposition. Not only do they know their story and how to tell it, they have found a memorable way to explain the difference their company can make for their customers.

Generate leads by storytelling, not just selling.

As we touched on in our June 2019 Blog, a potential client feels more motivated to act when they can see how their story aligns with the story they are told by the sales representative. You’ve got to talk to both sides of the brain: logical and emotional.

Science says a good story will help them to remember you.

Chances are you’ve “lost yourself” in a good book, show or movie before – while becoming almost completely unaware of the environment around you. Fun fact: our brains are actually hardwired to do that. “It’s a survival mechanism that helps us do a better job of storing information in our memory,” explains Joe Lazauskas and Shane Snow, authors of The Storytelling Edge: How to Transform Your Business, Stop Screaming Into the Void, and Make People Love You. More of our brains “light up” when information comes from a story rather than just simple facts: “the neural activity increases fivefold, like a switchboard has suddenly illuminated the city of our mind.” Stories generate empathy on a chemical level, too. When we “put ourselves in someone’s shoes,” such as, in the case of one study, watching a lead character in danger in an action movie, our brains actually synthesize a neurochemical called oxytocin.

Get emotional. Yes, really. When done right, it works to generate leads.

 When it comes to telling your story in an actual presentation, your delivery makes a huge difference as well. While business usually requires a cool head, this is one time when passion has a place. “Emotions are crucial to the decision-making process… and move us in ways no data could ever do,” say Richard Maxwell and Robert Dickman, veteran communication experts and co-authors of  The Elements of Persuasion: Use Storytelling to Pitch Better, Sell Faster & Win More Business. That’s because, as research has shown, the left side of the brain will process your actual words, but the right ride, which attributes meaning to those words, will remember how you said it. Bottom line: if you aren’t passionate about your brand’s story, your prospects certainly won’t be either.

Ready to tell your story? We can help.

What is it that you do better than anyone else? How do you tell your potential sales leads in a way that will make them care? With our marketing strategy and creative capabilities, we can help you find those answers, and co-create your customized lead generation campaign. Contact us today.

Lead generation 101: conquer fears of cold calling

The dreaded lead generation cold call. A recent study revealed that 48 per cent of B2B sales reps fear making them.  Even though sales forces are supposedly made up of outgoing extroverts who are happiest when approaching new prospects, the truth is, we’re all human. And none of us like the awkwardness that can result when a cold call goes sideways. Luckily, there are ways to prevent this from happening, which will also boost confidence among your sales people, and reduce the fear of picking up the phone. Lead generation 101 requires that you conquer fears of cold calling.

Don’t worry about sounding like a sales person

It’s what you do and it’s an honourable profession. Remember this truth about selling: you’re in business to improve someone’s life or their business. You’re a talented problem solver and by providing your product or service you are actively improving business processes or performance for your customers. You’re adding value to your prospect’s business, and in your first conversation you need to demonstrate this upfront with an example of how you can do this. For example, instead of calling a prospect and saying, “Hi, would you be interested in hearing about how my company can help your company?” start with something like this: “Hi, my company just released a research paper outlining three key ways to immediately improve profitability in your industry. I’d be happy to share it with you in an email.” Knowing that you’re providing valuable information to your prospects can go a long way towards removing the fear and anxiety you might have around B2B sales cold calling.

Practice makes perfect if you want sales leads

That takes care of the stigma some people feel at being in the sales business. But there is another fear, the fear of rejection, that keeps many people from initiating contact. Fear causes the blood to flow away from your brain’s frontal lobe so that the more reptilian part of your brain, the amygdala, takes over. The amygdala helps you fight or flee, not the kind of reactions you need to think and respond quickly, and definitely not the ideal state to be in when cold calling prospects. The way to alleviate this fear is to practice making calls for potential sales leads. Try role playing with coworkers, (who are likely experiencing the same pangs of fear), and you will not only get better at it, but you will feel more confident so that the fight or flight reaction goes away. To reduce your fear even further, try offering something to your prospect rather than asking something from them. Much less stressful and a better way to cultivate a relationship you want to last.

Cold calling is essential to lead generation

Cold calling is an essential part of B2B sales and to be successful you need to conquer your fears and get better at it. To overcome the fear of cold calling, see above. But if you’d rather leave the B2B lead generation and appointment setting to us, we’re happy to help out. Contact us today!

How to implement a B2B sales lead scoring system

Once you’ve got a reliable B2B sales lead pipeline, your focus shifts from getting those leads to identifying, nurturing, and closing them in order to make sales. But not all sales leads are created equal. You shouldn’t spend the same amount of time on every one that comes across your doorstep. Many companies have great website traffic, visitor engagement and repeat visitors that could all be considered warm leads. Developing specific scoring criteria on what is and isn’t a lead can be the difference between salespeople wasting their time and investing it against real prospects.

So how do you determine which ones are ready to commit to a purchase, which ones are lukewarm and need nurturing, and which are just kicking tires and not worth spending any time on?

Many advantages of a B2B sales lead scoring system

The way to answer those questions is to create a B2B sales lead scoring system. Lead scoring gives each one of those sales leads a ranking based on their activities – whether that’s on your website or through any of your content marketing devices, e.g. newsletters, social media posts or ads. The lead scorecard for each company will differ but not having one means there is no benchmark for determining what you classify as a sales-ready lead.

The power of scoring leads goes beyond simply boosting sales. You will find that it gives both sales and marketing a common language that helps to align them. Marketing will have a numerical value for each lead and can alter inbound marketing to target specific factors to generate more leads that meet specific criteria. It also allows marketing to better refine its messaging for top leads, testing approaches that might not work for less interested leads. For instance, you might be able to contact these leads more often or be more aggressive with your calls to action (CTAs). It also allows you to identify those highly satisfied customers who can act as champions for your company, especially when given encouragement through a targeted campaign.

How to keep B2B sales score

Setting up a scorecard can be relatively simple, by identifying the most important factors and giving them more weight than the “nice-to-haves.” First you need to establish the minimum criteria by which a customer is defined. These are qualifying characteristics, like: Must be in a specific service area, or Must be 21 years of age or older.  Then, identify the qualities that your targets usually possess. These are common but not necessarily essential, like the table stakes criteria we just discussed. The marketing department should be able to provide data here as they’ve likely done extensive research into who your typical customer is. Third step is to identify your ideal customer, those who the sales team would regard as having the most potential. What makes one prospect better than another? Someone in control of a certain size budget? A short timeframe in which to make a purchase?

Now that the characteristics have been listed it’s time to assess the behaviour of leads, the kinds of activities that suggest their level of interest and readiness to purchase. These activities are what moves them up or down the rankings, depending on the kind of activities they’ve engaged in and how frequently they’ve interacted.

Make a list of behaviours

Begin by listing all possible behaviour sales leads can engage in. While some behaviours are more important than others, it can be helpful to assign a point value to all behaviour (even if it is a very small value). So, don’t leave anything out just because it seems unimportant. Your scorecard should include site visits, fill forms, download requests, webinar participation and more. Here are some of the lead’s activities that earn points in the lead scoring model:

  • Visited a webpage
  • Number of website sessions
  • Participated in a webinar
  • Looked at pricing
  • Started a free trial
  • Filled out a contact form
  • Downloaded a lead magnet, like a white paper
  • Opened an email
  • Clicked on a link in a newsletter
  • Replied or forwarded an email
  • Shared content on social media

Some of these behaviors will be “critical conversion behaviours” (activities that most of your leads do prior to becoming customers). These might be things like signing up for a free trial or requesting a sales demo. A thorough analysis of your Google Analytics data should make these defining behaviours obvious.  Mark your critical conversion behaviours with a star so you can give them appropriate emphasis when it’s time to assign points to rules.

Assigning points

For most companies a straightforward 1-to-100-point model will be enough. For B2B lead generation, a company might want to use a thousand-digit ranking, giving small, medium and large businesses a 1, 2 and 3 first digit. So, a lead with a score of 3062 would be a large company with a 62-point score. Another technique is to define the three (or more) minimum criteria – “table stakes” – to be considered eligible as a lead. If you assign 100 points to each of these, and decide they need to have at least three of these essential characteristics to qualify, then a lead with a score of 435 would go into the pool, but one with a score of 282 would not. This ensures that a bad lead never makes its way to the sales team, no matter how many of the behaviours rules they trigger.

Reassess lead scoring criteria regularly

Setting up a sales lead scoring system can be as simple, or as complicated, as you can get, given your marketing data. You’ll have to tweak it as you use it and check it against conversions regularly to ensure you have set up a system that works. Remember: no matter how qualified a lead is, some will never convert. So be prepared to see some inconsistencies when reviewing results.

We know all about lead scoring because we’ve implemented it for dozens of our B2B clients in all kinds of industries. Learn more about how 360 Leads can help you put together a winning lead scoring system, by contacting us.

A TV appearance can help with sales leads

Think of how much it costs to buy a television ad to help you generate sales leads, and consider that, with a little tactical manoeuvring, you can get even better exposure on television without paying a dime.

Not only do you save loads of money on advertising, but a single TV appearance can lead to new business or a partnership. Plus, it’s great inbound marketing that could drive qualified sales leads, depending on the topic and your appearance. Most importantly, you are building expertise and authority in your subject matter and that can generate more appearances and a higher profile, for you and your B2B company.

While television producers have regular guests and columnists they rely on for news, business or health coverage, as a B2B business leader, you have very specific knowledge of something most people do not.

When breaking news happens in your industry you want to be the person ‘chase producers’ think of when they are madly trying to line up guest to provide commentary. You want to get on their radar before the news story happens, so they will think of you when it does. In this case, it helps to be a regular contributor to public discussions around topics you are expert in.

When a news story breaks, news producers do what they do: they google to see what hot takes there are on the topic, and they’ll check you out – on LinkedIn, Twitter, your company website or any other platform – to ensure you’re the ideal guest who will enliven and engage their audience. Because you are being vetted without your knowledge, it’s smart to Google yourself on a regular basis to see what comes up and how your expertise is showcased.

Consider reaching out as part of your sales leads strategy

A more direct route is to find the producers at your favourite network shows, where you would love to be a guest, and send them a commentary on a breaking news item that you have special knowledge of. If you are writing a company blog, you’re in a great position to get noticed. Jump on any news opportunity to comment and draft a compelling piece that provides your learned perspective on the issue at hand. Think of this as auditioning for a spot on their show. The next time that topic is a hot issue, they will remember your expertise and call you in for comment.

What’s next

Once you have a track record of posts on your company blog, seek out other publishing opportunities to spread your name and boost your credibility. If you come up frequently in searches on certain topics, and if you are published on widely read blogs or national websites, you stand a very good chance of being called up to the big leagues: a network TV show.

Becoming the go-to person on a given topic takes perseverance and patience. Her are a few pointers on how to do it slowly but strategically as part of an overall lead generation campaign:

  • Cultivate trusted relationships with journalists and producers by showing an interest in their articles or shows.
  • Give them exclusives once in awhile to build trust and rapport.
  • Be persistent and patient. Set a goal each week, to post a blog, or be mentioned in another industry blog.
  • Always send out your best work. If you need an editor or proof-reader, make sure everything you write gets read by at least one other person. If your style is drab, think about getting writing lessons.

With persistence, solid media relationships and ensuring your voice is “out there” where the important conversations are happening, you will stand a much better chance of getting on television. It’s a repeatable process since producers are ecstatic to have found an expert and will have you on repeatedly, and it has potentially great value for your business! What could be better. Go forth and put yourself out there as a ‘thought leader’ or ‘subject matter expert’, you’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain. Need some help, give us a shout.

Best social media for lead generation

Social media for lead generation is a driving force in many facets of our daily lives and for B2B marketers social media platforms are now the number one content marketing tactic – ahead of blogs, articles, e-newsletters, videos, podcasts, white papers and case studies that should be part of your overall lead generation efforts. In other words, if you’re not on it, you’re not in it. Yet some businesses are overwhelmed by all the social networks and think they need to have a presence on all of them. This would be a mistake, as it is difficult enough to have a meaningful presence on one platform, let alone all of them. You would be stretching your marketing resources too thin; instead, for lead generation, focus on the platforms where most of your potential customers are, and build your social media presence from there.

Start by looking at your audience and researching which social media networks they most commonly use, how they use them, and which platforms best fit your products or services. For B2B lead generation, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook are the best bets. People turn to these sites to interact with their peers and friends, hear the latest news, track the markets and keep up with developments in their fields. For many users, social media is a form of professional development where they come to learn about new products and services that can help them in their own business. This makes it an ideal place to position your brand as a valued contributor of information to elevate your visibility among potential customer and clients. It’s a sell-free environment, meaning you can communicate and cultivate sales leads without the pressure of having to close. It’s a long game but one that you absolutely must be in, so here are some tips to make the most of your time and effort on the social networks.

The three goals of a B2B social media strategy are to build brand awareness, showcase your expertise, and make B2B sales contacts. Here’s how to do it on the top three B2B social media networks.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is perhaps the best platform for B2B lead generation, mainly because it’s filled with decision makers looking for ways to improve their business, find their own leads and strike up meaningful conversations. LinkedIn folks are receptive to a blog post that addresses something in their business that needs attention or a big fix. It’s also a place to stimulate thinking on aspects of their business they might not have thought about recently. One big bonus of this site is its notification system: whenever you visit a user’s LinkedIn profile that user is immediately alerted, and in most cases, they’ll check the profiles of anyone who’s viewed theirs. This acts as an introduction service, which is key for building awareness of your company before you actually initiate first contact. You can see which groups your target audience is a member of and can see what they’ve posted recently or commented on. This is invaluable in getting to know your prospects. Comment on their shared content, post your own relevant content and act as a friendly authority on the subject matter.

Twitter

A favourite of journalists, decision makers and a certain U.S. president, Twitter is where thousands of conversations are happening all at once. You will want to stay on top of your timeline so you can make contributions on a regular basis, whether that’s commenting on shared content, retweeting tweets and hashtagging keywords relevant to your industry, or following key people. One way to organize Twitter accounts you follow is by creating lists. You can create your own lists or subscribe to lists created by others. Viewing a list timeline will show you a stream of Tweets from only the accounts on that list so you don’t have to scroll through hundreds of general, and likely unrelated, tweets. For instance, if you’re in the automotive parts business, you could create a list of Manufacturers, another one called Automotive journalists, a third called Competitors. If you want to see what your competitors are tweeting, a list can make it easier to catch up on conversations. It takes a bit of organizing, but it is incredibly helpful if you want to use Twitter strategically instead of getting lost reading Twitter tirades and all the replies. Smartly crafted feeds can also be a great tool for social listening, especially if you’ve curated lists of your competitors. In addition to monitoring tweets, lists offer another way to keep tabs on the competition. From each competitor’s profile page, you can see what lists they’re subscribed to, and what lists they’re included on. This can give you valuable information about who your competitors are keeping an eye on and interacting with, so you can do the same.

Facebook for lead generation

If you think the world’s most popular social media network isn’t the place for B2B marketing, think again. Beyond brand and reputation management, with its massive audience and engagement, Facebook also provides invaluable advertising intelligence about your audience. Imagine using Facebook retargeting to show ads only to people who have visited your website. There are reams of data available once you establish a presence. Be aware of shameless self-promotion, or just posting offers or coupons. The idea is to sell your company’s story, provide useful information, and never try to fool your audience. Be honest, human and transparent and your audience will appreciate your candor and trust your insights.

By now you now that B2B social media works better as a tool that you can use to influence your sales targets, rather than a channel to direct conversions. Because social networking sites so thoroughly blend personal and professional interactions, it’s vital to never come across as a spambot fishing for leads. Instead, you should make a genuine effort to join conversations, add value to them, and in doing so present your brand in the best possible light. The ultimate goal is to ensure that each of your potential clients has laid eyes on your brand before you initiate first contact with them.

Find out how 360 Leads can help you harness the power of social media to generate B2B sales leads. Contact us today!

Three truths for a successful LinkedIn lead generation campaign

We know a thing, or hundreds, about successful LinkedIn lead generation campaigns. Why hundreds? We shipped 720 free coffee mugs to IT professionals across Canada who engaged with our LinkedIn campaign for Toshiba, as part of a larger LinkedIn sales lead generation campaign.

Now what do free coffee mugs have to do with successful B2B lead generation? While there are many things, there are three absolutes that we know can drive a highly successful LinkedIn lead generation campaign. So successful, that LinkedIn wrote a case study about it.

#1 Develop a key customer insight for your LinkedIn lead generation campaign

IT professionals have a tough job. The users they support need their gear to work, and when it doesn’t, you know who they will call. Yes, they have a two-hour battery life for a three-hour presentation and can’t find their charger. Our strategy was to make the IT professional the ‘unsung hero’ dealing with IT challenges and inviting them to engage with Toshiba to make their life easier. LinkedIn display ads, Sponsored Updates and Sponsored InMail were all part of the LinkedIn lead generation strategy based on the key insight of ‘unsung hero’.

#2 Create some creative that breaks through

Snoresville creative puts people to sleep. IT people, like most people, have a sense of humor. And with a sometimes no-win job, a sense of fun is the antidote for a tough day. Creative lines like “Mr. Awesome IT Guy” or “World’s #1 IT Gal” supported a free mug give-away that drove people to a landing page. One creative execution had two display ads connected in a fashion where the animation poured coffee into the free mug. The point of the free mug was for users to self identify they received the mug and for Toshiba sales reps to visit the IT professional to deliver the mug and have an IT conversation. You can view some of the LinkedIn creative here.

#3 Target the right audience

Mass LinkedIn marketing campaigns aren’t right for most products, with Toshiba being no different. Promoting business laptops and filling the sales pipeline with qualified B2B sales leads means targeting IT professionals in mid-market and larger companies. Why sell one notebook when you could sell three thousand with a standardized chip set? LinkedIn offers an ability to be quite targeted in reaching the right audience by geography, job title and as granular as industry or company. Do you know who your ideal customer is? Toshiba did and our campaigns, LinkedIn and beyond, put a sales rep in front of them.

People often comment that LinkedIn is great for brand awareness but wonder if it generates qualified B2B sales leads. As a top B2B sales lead generation company, we can tell you that LinkedIn has its strengths; the key is how to take advantage of the platform to deliver maximum lead generation results. Great customer insights, killer creative and pin-point targeting are the best ways to utilize LinkedIn.

On Toshiba, how did we do?

  • We booked hundreds of sales meetings with qualified sales prospects
  • Delivered LinkedIn leads at a lesser cost than some other channels
  • Sponsored InMail CTR 2X LinkedIn average
  • LinkedIn campaign drove 7% of total qualified leads during the campaign periods

For more information on how 360 Leads can help drive inbound sales leads from LinkedIn or other digital media, please contact us. We can help grow your business.

Marketing KPIs for B2B sales growth

Do you know whether your marketing is working for your B2B sales growth efforts? Whether it’s improving, or it needs assistance? Without a set of key performance indicators (KPIs) it’s impossible to gauge the effectiveness of your marketing efforts and determine whether you might need some lead generation assistance to boost B2B sales.

KPIs exist in every industry, but some are more revealing than others. Not all KPIs will have applicability to B2B sales and lead generation, and old school metrics like brand awareness or impressions aren’t as helpful as they were once thought to be. Here are some of the essential marketing KPIs that will give you clarity on whether your current marketing and lead generation efforts are paying off.

B2B Sales Growth

After all is said and done, the best way to measure the effectiveness of marketing is by seeing a concurrent uptick in sales growth. As you look at the trend, think of which marketing efforts have been applied in that period, and you will start to get a sense of which marketing tactics are contributing to growth and which aren’t moving the needle. Sales figures are something to share with the entire team so that all employees, regardless of their role, have the same goal: to drive sales skyward.

Cost of Customer Acquisition (COCA)

This is the cost of convincing a prospective customer to buy a product or service from you. For example, if you spent $100,000 on sales and marketing in a month and this resulted in 10 purchases, then your COCA would be $10,000. As your marketing strategy improves, this number should go down and each customer should cost less to acquire.

Lifetime Value of a Customer (LTV)

While it’s not an exact science, the lifetime value of a customer is worth figuring out. Add up all sales your average customer has initiated over the course of your relationship and use this equation to find out the LTV of your average customer: revenue x gross margin x average # of repeat purchases.

Sales Team Response Time

Because the quality of a B2B sales lead degrades over time, sales response times are incredibly important. Yet, according to a study of the effect of sales response time on lead close rates, B2B leads typically receive shockingly slow response rates from sales teams, much slower than B2C leads. Perhaps there is less urgency in the world of B2B, but the fact is, the longer the gap between receiving a sales lead and responding to it, the less likely the sale will close. In fact, the study showed that “firms that tried to contact potential customers within an hour of receiving a query were nearly seven times as likely to qualify the lead (defined as having a meaningful conversation with a key decision maker) as those that tried to contact the customer even an hour later—and more than 60 times as likely as companies that waited 24 hours or longer.” So start tracking response times and try to close that gap; it’ll pay off.

Email Marketing KPIs

Your email marketing strategy is one of the key lifelines to your customers so it’s essential you know how well each and every email has done. The most relevant marketing KPIs are delivery rate, unsubscribe rate, the open rate, the click-through rate, the conversion rate and the number of forwards or shares it got. By tracking these and improving on them with each new piece of email, you will be cultivating your audience.

Social Media

The reach and engagement on your social media platforms is of vital importance because this is how you both distribute content and interact with potential customers. Certain platforms might not be where you get the best traction. Find out which platforms make sense for your audience and where you can build a following and concentrate on those.

Remember, if you don’t measure it, you can’t improve it. And if you are the marketing point person on your team, you need to be on top of it. Start with a few basic marketing KPIs and add to them as you become more proficient at assembling reports. We can help you get started.

At 360Leads we use our expertise to deliver a constant B2B sales growth pipeline of qualified new business opportunities to our clients. If you’d like to chat about how we can turbocharge your current marketing efforts, contact us.

Are you / is your team B2B sales ready?

You can lead a horse to water, but can you make it drink? That’s essentially what a sales team is up against when they are given B2B sales leads to convert. They might be used to dealing with pre-existing customers, but for a business to grow, sales teams must convince new prospects to buy from them. Are they ready to sell?

If your sales team needs some inspiration, here are some tips from seasoned sales pros that can help get conversion rates up.

Lead the conversation with a compelling story a buyer can relate to

The ability to create a narrative or a storyline is one of the greatest ways to improve lead conversion. Everyone has a story and is living it every day. A potential client feels more motivated to act when they can see how their story aligns with the story they are told by the sales representative. Mastering the art of creating a compelling narrative has the power to improve your sales overnight.

Stay true to yourself and your company and be honest about whether your offer aligns with the customer’s needs

Tell your prospects directly when you don’t have something they seek. When you depart from the hard sell, the client will be pleasantly surprised, and might give you more time as a result. It’s a way of developing trust that will help you improve your close percentages in the long run. In the meantime, you must be prepared to walk away from a sales deal knowing the time is not right.

To increase B2B sales lead conversions, ask pre-qualifying questions at the outset

This is essential, so your sales person isn’t wasting her time, or the buyer’s time. Sales reps often habitually skip over this critical step in the process and waste valuable time working leads that were never going to turn into sales. Honing the skill of asking questions to determine the quality of the lead ultimately enhances lead conversion and sales.

Do your research and be knowledgeable about the customer’s business/company

Show them what their world will look like after they’ve purchased your product or service. They will appreciate imagining the difference this purchase will make for their company and will be more inclined to buy. Plus, they could turn into evangelists for your own company if the sale makes them look good in their own manager’s eyes.

Following-up and persistence is key

While a sales rep must maximize the opportunity present in every meeting, it’s not always possible to close after the first conversation. Creating a schedule to get back to a sales lead is helpful so that they feel valued while sales keeps their eye on the prize.

You can have the most compelling marketing campaign in a century, but without well-trained B2B sales people picking up the baton and being able to deliver the right sales pitch to the right sales lead, marketing efforts could be wasted. If you’d like to learn how 360 Leads blends sales and marketing into a synergistic package for our clients, please give us a call.

Do your B2B sales people control the conversation?

How many times has a sales person said that the B2B sales lead they received was unqualified, poor or just plain bad? Let’s face it, some sales leads really are poor. But many could be terrific if put in the hands of a well-equipped sales person who knows their business, has taken the time to understand their prospect’s business and can add real value. Real salespeople aren’t order-takers, they are value creators that represent the bigger value their company can bring to their sales prospect.

More B2B sales

There aren’t many B2B businesses who don’t want more sales. Earlier this week, a client of ours was asked by one of our people “what’s the quality of your salesforce?” The answer was a resounding, “meh”. Great – let’s get that salesforce more sales leads through a B2B sales lead generation program! While it’s true that more leads mean more chances to win the deal, it also means more opportunities missed if the sales team isn’t ready to add value.

A good sales methodology

A sales methodology that can apply to both sales relationship managers and sales prospecting is the Challenger Sales Model. This is a sales approach where the seller actively teaches their prospect, customizes their sales process, and takes control of the customer conversation. They do this by really understanding how their product or service can solve important business challenges for their sales prospect and add value to their business. This process not only increases the chances for winning the deal, it also diminishes price as a contributing factor to closing the deal. The process allows for the seller to provide a solution that the customer needs versus the customer specifically dictating what they want, which may not actually be right for them.

Sometime sales people are afraid to drive the dialogue and challenge their prospect to rethink how they are approaching their business problem. Challenging a prospect doesn’t need to be confrontational – in fact, anything but. It’s about being knowledgeable and confident about your business and leading a meaningful conversation on how and why your business can help add value. And if you’re business can’t add value, perhaps you don’t deserve to win the deal.

According to Corporate Vision, 74% of B2B buyers choose the sales rep that was first to add value and insight. With an average of 5.4 people involved in the B2B buying decision (CEB), B2B selling continues to evolve and highly capable sales people are critical to success.

Inbound and outbound marketing for sales lead generation: they work better together

No doubt you’ve heard about inbound and outbound marketing for sales lead generation. They’re often viewed as choices that a marketer makes when deciding how to generate B2B sales leads. Instead of thinking about this as a choice, it’s better to view them as complementary forces. Combining inbound and outbound forces can create a more cohesive – and powerful – marketing strategy.

Inbound: Content that attracts sales leads

Inbound marketing is a passive way of marketing, in which you wait for the customer to come to you, through content related to the solutions that your company can provide. These potential customers are out information shopping, and they likely have the budget to buy. However, they might not have heard of you, hence the importance of creating appealing content to draw them in.

Inbound: Make it relevant and diverse

Creating a diversity of content – from blog posts to white papers to podcasts on hot topics – helps strengthen your reputation and the likelihood these interested readers become buyers. Yet inbound won’t necessarily get the whole job done, since it also draws people who are not necessarily qualified leads. It also takes time and patience as you attract an audience. In other words, inbound marketing shouldn’t be the only strategy that you deploy.

Outbound: Requires a deft touch

Outbound marketing is traditional marketing which actively reaches out to customers where they are most likely to be and appeals to them directly, through advertising, direct mail or phone calls. These methods draw prospects into the sales funnel while clearly and overtly positioning your products and services. Outbound requires that you find customers who aren’t necessarily looking for your products or services – in fact they may know nothing about it at all.  But once they’re presented with your offering, they can see a need.

Outbound: The interruption factor

Outbound marketing enables you to choose your target audience, (something inbound is notoriously bad at doing), but there is a risk. It can feel intrusive to buyers who are used to dictating when, where and how they educate themselves. Since outbound techniques tend to be focused on the immediate, i.e. the call from a sales rep, the banner ad, or the webinar currently taking place, one way to lessen the interruption factor is by combining it with inbound marketing techniques to familiarize buyers with your company before more direct contact is made.

Soften the hard sell by combining inbound and outbound marketing for sales lead generation

The smartest marketers combine both approaches in their B2B sales strategies. Here are a few examples of how you can mesh inbound and outbound marketing activities into a cohesive sales and marketing strategy:

  • After meeting with a client, instead of the usual thank you note, why not send a link to a piece of content related to what you and the prospect discussed?
  • Create a customized email blast for your clients, prospects, colleagues to let them know about your blog and ask them to subscribe to it. This is a great example of inbound and outbound working together and can be used to promote any type of content like video, e-books, and white papers.
  • Advertisements, email marketing and hard copy mailers are all examples of traditional outbound marketing tactics that can be effective when done correctly. But don’t let ads or hard copy mailers “stand alone.” Make them even more effective with calls to action. Include an effective CTA to draw prospects to the content you’ve already created through your inbound marketing strategies. Ask them to subscribe to your blog, follow you on Facebook, download an e-book, or watch a video.

Ultimately it’s a combination of both inbound and outbound strategies – along with qualifying digital sales leads properly – that increase the odds of closing a deal. If you’d like to learn how we blend inbound and outbound marketing techniques to create customized lead generation solutions for our clients, please give us a call.

Make your B2B sales lead generation campaign perform

Being active and engaging with new leads and prospects is a good way to fill your sales pipeline and garner new business, but how often are you measuring the performance of your B2B sales lead generation campaign?

There are several metrics to track in lead generation. The key is to map out your goals and prioritize the data that’s most relevant to your business objectives. Peter Drucker, author and modern business management guru is well known for this simple quote: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” Whether it is to create solidify more face to face appointments, captures email or contact information, or drive traffic to your website, tactics in lead generation can be measured and give you what you need to enhance, improve and bolster your results.

Determine your metrics

Creating a B2B sales lead generation campaign can feel complicated on its own, but with the right objective and strategy can yield great results. What do these results look like? Are they hitting targets? Can they be improved? These are all questions that metrics can tell you. While the goals of each business will determine what to measure, there are a few common and self-explanatory ones that can easily applied in almost any B2B space when it comes to the performance of your lead generation campaign:

  1. Click-through Rate (CTR) – Determining the performance of a CTA
  2. Conversion Rate – Dividing total number of leads by total number of conversions
  3. Time to Conversion – The length of time it takes to turn an “audience member” into a paying customer.
  4. Average Close Rate – Determining the quality of your leads.

When delving deeper into more details as they pertain to marketing, cost and sales, the metrics are similar, looking at ROI, Cost Per Impression (CPI) or Cost Per Click (CPC), Customer Lifetime Value, Sales Qualified Leads etc. Whether your campaign has digital and non-digital elements (i.e. direct mail, telesales) metrics can be applied to actions to ensure you’re headed in the right direction.

Get help from a B2B sales lead generation company

Partnering with the right lead generation company will not only help with campaign strategies to grow leads and achieve results, it also leaves very little to chance – launching a campaign blindly hoping one or two tactics will yield conversions. At 360 Leads, we offer our clients support in securing new customers and increasing customer loyalty, but we also provide market analysis, insight-driven strategy and support in measuring campaigns. We also work with clients to optimize their sales force with training and lead funnel management. Essentially, a reputable lead generation company will do just that – generate qualified sales all while helping you track your result and provide analysis and reporting along the way.

What does success look like to you?

There have been many iterations of the phrase “you don’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been”. When applied in the sales world, metrics and analysis are not a burden, but rather stepping stones to lead your team to the next best step. Keeping consistent with reporting provides the feedback and data needed to tweak campaigns, tactics and strategy. Measuring the performance of your lead generation campaign is essentially mapping out your success.

Learn more about how we can help you boost your B2B sales campaign by contacting us.

Generate leads by opening the gates to your content

The majority of B2B content to generate leads is gated, meaning to get access to information, users must submit some of their personal details. But is this the best approach? Consider that once you’ve put the final touches on a white paper or a case study and you’re ready to unleash it on the world, putting it behind a gate could reduce its download rate by about 95 per cent.  That might be fine if you already have a profile in your market, like IBM or Cisco. But what if you’re in the middle of rebranding or just starting to put yourself out there as an expert? Wouldn’t it be more important to create meaningful touchpoints and get the word out about your services or solutions to as many people as possible, rather than just lock it up and hope the downloads happen?

A one-two punch for generating leads

While gated content remains a mainstay of B2B lead generation marketing, some experts believe a one-two punch works better. Real-Time Marketing and PR author David Meerman Scott suggests companies offer one of their best pieces of content ungated and at the end of it list a secondary and equally compelling offer. The idea is that if you show customers the kind of expertise you can provide, they will want more. If you immediately ask for emails and info before providing any information, you’re setting up an adversarial relationship that is a turn-off for most people.

Scott estimates that ungated content gets between 20 and 50 times more downloads, therefore a gated white paper that gets 2000 downloads could potentially get up to 100,000 if offered up for free. Then, if just 5 per cent of them go for the second piece, you’ll end up with potentially 5000 sales leads.

Generate leads with gated versus ungated

There are believers in gated content who say experience has shown them that gating content is the better way to acquire sales leads. Debra Ellis, founder of Wilson & Ellis Consulting tried ungating and gating the same piece of content on alternate days. While she found that downloads were almost 50 times higher on ungated days, the contacts who ended up calling her company had downloaded the guide on a gated day.  It proved to her that those who are seeking the kind of information and service your company can provide, are willing to pass through the gate to get to the stuff they want.

Both insights are valid when it comes to demand generation performance, but if you have a piece of content that is dynamite, why not offer it for free? It’s a way of getting your expertise, services or solutions out there, and those who take you up on your second gated piece are those who really want to work with you in the long run.

To recap, creating great content is no longer the finish line, it’s the starting line in successful lead generation business campaigns for a conversation with your customer. Businesses have to cultivate new relationships starting with some “no obligation, risk-free information” that will help potential customers with their everyday struggles. If you deliver relevant, actionable business information to readers, they will want to keep getting that from you, and your content will have done its primary job of generating sales leads.

Lead generation companies help you convert sales leads into loyal clients

To thrive in today’s world, companies need to move beyond the customer journey. To reach their full potential and earn loyal clients for life, companies need to maintain a permanent presence in the lives of their customers, an endless relationship not confined to separate episodes of actively considering a purchase. This is as true for B2B sales leads as it is for B2C and can be achieved with the help of certain lead generation companies.

Companies need to build a brand experience that lasts beyond the transaction and goes beyond a simple follow-up thank-you.

Consumers have embraced technology and have hundreds of interactions a day on their devices. But they want those interactions to be personal and increasingly expect them to be highly customized as well. Marketing guru Seth Godin describes this as the “connection economy”, and it’s not going away anytime soon. Companies that fully grasp this and look at their clients holistically will have the best chance of building a strongly loyal customer base. It’s not difficult to do but it requires going beyond the customer journey to a close examination of the entire brand experience you have created.

Know your audience

For lead generation in particular, not taking advantage of all the data points available is like wilfully operating with a blindfold on. Gather as much information about your customer base as possible. Ask: What do they care about beyond a certain product or service? What interests them more broadly? Then think about how you can legitimately align yourself with those interests. It’s not enough to just sell a product to them at the right time, you need to buttress that connection with information they can put to use in their working and personal lives. If you can create a brand identity that is about something bigger than the product itself, you strengthen your appeal among customers, while simultaneously attracting a whole new group of potential customers that connected with those deeper interests first. Remember: millennials look for brands that are different, open-minded and socially engaged. How are you presenting that to your potential buyers?

Get expert help from lead generation companies

A lead generation company not only helps you track and discover new sales leads, they can offer insight and strategy in building a better relationship with the clients you already have. Customer win-back and growth strategies nurture leads and relationships and result in more engagement. Engaging the services of B2B lead generation companies like 360 Leads can give you a winning game plan that builds on your company’s innate strengths.

Build trust

Position yourself as a thought leader in your industry without asking for anything in return. By offering free educational content you are becoming a trusted source of relevant and useful information. Better yet, make sure they know that you are available to them for advice, should they reach out for it. At the same time, make sure your company isn’t the hero at the centre of your content marketing. Today’s consumers are suspicious of overly aggressive marketing campaigns and they are looking for credibility and transparency. Above all, be useful!

Create meaningful touchpoints

Have a game plan that allows customers to become aware of you, learn about your unique value, sample your product or experience, understand how to get the most out of what they just bought from you, and refer you to their friends. That is the strategy that will deliver meaningful touchpoints for both client loyalty and repeat business.

The lead generation company telesales stereotype debunked

Your next customer is only a call away. That is, if you or your lead generation company telesales team picks up the phone.

Needless to say, because of this, telemarketing or telesales gets a bad rep; those poorly-scripted calls are made in the hundreds if not thousands, from disengaged people focused on quantity and not quality. It’s a negative stereotype that’s hard to shake, but as a sales lead generation company who prides itself in the outbound calling campaigns we’ve successfully accomplished for our clients, we’ll put a hard stop on that right here.

Just check out these numbers:

  • The best performing sales lead generation channel by 44.7% was outbound telemarketing for top performing companies as found by The Black Report.
  • Another report found that 70% of B2B sales come from human interaction – 56% of these sales came from telemarketing.
  • B2B telemarketing is different than B2C telemarketing – The State of Inbound Marketing report found that B2B companies get twice as many leads from telemarketing than B2C companies.
  • The most annoying type of advertising at home was deemed telesales while at work it is deemed the LEAST annoying and favourable option.

How do you get telesales to work for your business?

  1. Who are your B2B sales targets? Review your data and ditch the quantity over quality stereotype. Do the research and know which verticals, locations, job titles and companies matter most to you. Do the people you’re calling have the capabilities to onboard what you’re offering? Doing the upfront thinking before your outbound calling campaign will help set the right targets.
  2. What is the purpose of the lead generation company telesales campaign or call? You can’t have your eye on the prize if you don’t know what the prize looks like. Whether you are selling a product, booking a qualified sales meeting or providing a service know the purpose and focused objective of the call. Even if your prospect isn’t interested, this gives you information to refocus your efforts elsewhere. Every call, whether you book a meeting or not provides immediate feedback.
  3. Are you listening? While the right script can propel your phone call from good to great, it’s essential to listen for an understanding of your prospect’s needs rather than just listening for the sake of responding. Don’t get wrapped up in your pitch and don’t go into automatic – the call should be a genuine, two-way conversation as this is the start of building and nurturing customer relationships.

It takes a positive, enthusiastic and master communicator to bridge the relationship between you and your prospective leads – we’re lucky to work with a few on the 360 Leads team.

Until then, turn the negative telemarketing perceptions on their heads with these three easy sales leads tips and your marketing and sales may see a positive return. We can help make that next great phone call for you, simply give us a shout.

The best marketing strategy might be sales lead generation

Brilliant marketers understand that qualified sales leads often start in the marketing department. According to The Black Report, a global sales lead generation study by 360 Leads, 72.8% of companies that excel at lead generation have a well-defined, clearly articulated value proposition. These companies know their story, and how to tell it.

Articulating the difference that a company can make for customers is vital. Taking that value proposition and expressing it in a way that’s clear, simple and compelling is something that great marketers know how to do very well; but here’s the gap:

Marketing professionals say their sales lead generation company activities are 35% more successful than sales professionals think they are, and when it comes to the top reasons why lead generation company campaigns don’t perform, they can’t wait to blame each other. But given the importance of developing communications to drive sales leads, marketers should be focused on the shortest distance to profitability.

Marketers need to consider that building a brand is not enough for their lead generation company efforts. In the B2B channel, creating meaningful conversations between professional sales people and qualified customers needs to be a marketer’s key objective.

How do successful companies do that?

The most effective sales lead generation company efforts use outbound telemarketing programs and effective social media. At least in the case of smaller companies. Larger corporations have bigger budgets, so they have a broader opportunity to reach their markets using events, conferences, trade shows, email marketing, direct marketing, and print advertising. They also have larger sales forces, and in most cases, simply because of scale alone, companies with larger sales forces are more effective than smaller sales forces. But size is not the stand-alone reason for more sales success; organizations with larger sales forces have a culture where they understand that marketing’s job is to support the effectiveness of the sales force.

How can marketing support the effectiveness of the salesforce?

For starters, companies who communicate three or more times with the leads they generate are 2.4 times more effective at achieving corporate targets. But most importantly, marketers must focus their communication efforts on the broader business development plan. This means carving out budgets and developing strategy to move the dial on creating qualified sales leads. It will increase profitability, get marketing efforts closer to the bottom line and stop the downward spiral of eroding marketing budgets year over year.

Ready to generate qualified leads for your sales team? Contact us.

Lead generation: marketing and sales need to collaborate

The number of sales leads a business needs is a great point of contention between sales and marketing teams within an organization. Sales executives always find they could use more to keep the sales funnel flowing, while marketing executives believe they’re providing enough. In fact, marketing professionals say their lead generation activities are 35% more successful than sales professionals think they are.

Marketing needs to send leads to sales

To keep salespeople neck-deep in sales leads that will help them meet their targets, the marketing department needs to ensure that it is sending qualified sales leads their way. It’s not constructive to send over unqualified leads that haven’t indicated interest in the business product or service. Case in point: Poor sales opportunity qualification is responsible 32.5% of the time for a company not meeting its sales lead generation targets, according to The Black Report™.

There’s just no greater waste of time for salespeople than trying to wedge uninterested parties down the sales funnel. In fact, it’s terrible for business. Of companies that aren’t meeting their revenue targets, 70% generate fewer than 100 sales leads monthly, and only 5% generate more than 2,500.

Fill the gap lead generation

Clearly, there’s a gap that can be filled through better communication between sales and marketing teams. Marketing can help ensure sales teams meet their quotas by being more invested in this process and not turning over leads too early. There is also ample opportunity to take advantage of third-party sales lead generation companies to keep the sales funnel full. In this scenario, expenses in acquiring these leads will be a valuable investment, not just another expense without satisfactory results.