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.

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.

How to kickstart your lead generation campaign

The new year is for new beginnings and if your lead generation needs a reboot, now’s the right time to give it the attention it needs so the year ahead will be a success. Here are some helpful tips for the coming year that will help with your lead generation campaign.

Review your successes (and flops)

What were your goals for 2018? Did you want to build your subscriber list, boost sales, or raise awareness on social media? Were you working on new products or services and plan to start selling them this year? Whatever your objectives, a good way to begin every year is to do a bit of reflection. Pull relevant data and see what happened over the past 12 months. If something worked, try to understand why and build on those efforts this year. On the other hand, if something clearly didn’t work, it’s time to try something new.

Data analysis for any upcoming lead generation campaign

The most important asset of your marketing department is your database, where the lifeblood of your marketing and lead generation lies. The health of that information is paramount to your business’ success, so find the time to evaluate the age, source, quality and relevance of the content, as this will ensure you are equipped to make the right decisions going forward. Take some time this month to analyze and improve your database.

Know your market

A lot of sales teams handicap their own efforts by not fully understanding the motivations of their customers. Why someone is considering buying something is as important as when or where that decision might be made. Once you understand their reasons for buying something, you can effectively position your widget or service as the best one for their needs. No amount of time spent researching a buyer’s motivation is ever wasted. It’s how you will generate the most sales in the long run.

Sales loss analysis

Good sales loss analysis can help you see what you did well and where you went wrong in a previous sales situation. This includes lead generation, marketing, sales support, sales documentation, the sales team and managing the entire process. If any of these are fumbled you could lose the sale to a competitor. Feedback from the sales team is a good start but even more helpful is hiring an independent third party to solicit feedback from prospects at all stages of the sales and marketing process.

Keyword research

Think of keyword research as not just a means to an end – better SEO – but as essential information to aid your B2B sales and marketing efforts. Keywords are what your prospects use to research the products and services they are looking for, so they are paramount to your success. Spend time now doing this critical task to amass the best arsenal for the tasks ahead – not just for SEO purposes, but to be deployed in every aspect of your outreach.

Don’t believe the hype

There are hundreds of companies that will claim to know how to sell to your audience, but ultimately you are the best judge of that. If you study your market carefully and learn everything there is to know about how (and where) they start the buying process, you will know exactly how (and where) to target them. And no slick B2B marketing company can sell you anything else, because you will know exactly what you need to get the attention of your market.

360 Leads is purpose built to help B2B companies acquire more customers, deepen existing relationships and optimize sales team performance. Find out how we can help you hit all your targets in 2019.

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.