Categories
B2B Lead Generation Insights and Ideas Sales Team Performance

3 signs that your sales team needs help

In a perfect world, our employees would tell us exactly what they’re thinking as it relates to their work. However, that is far from the world we live in today. COVID-19 has taken companies down uncertain paths and for most it has impacted the bottom line. With things changing everyday, some companies are being forced to close their doors and some are holding on to their cash for reasons of unpredictability. This is putting extreme pressure on sales teams as they are tasked with the urgency to generate the revenue required to keep businesses afloat by bringing in sales leads.

There is this saying that if employees told us what they really thought, they would get fired. But there is a lot of truth to this saying, particularly when it comes to salespeople feeling the COVID pressure and generating sales leads or making a sell. There are probably sales things your sales team wishes they could tell you right now, but they can’t. They are too afraid that you may come down hard, may not understand or that it could cost them their job.

As a result, you’ll often get the polite versions of their pain points. They may also downplay the urgency of the problems they are facing to stay on track during these unprecedented times.

So, the next time you see them, talk to them and look carefully for these hidden messages.

“Please help me bring in sales leads”

When it comes to generating sales leads, filling up the funnel, nurturing leads, closing leads, most salespeople don’t want to give you the impression that they’re in over their head. Especially now when they are grateful for working.

This is particularly true of younger employees who may be in their first sales role. They want to give the impression that they’re a keener. Or they may unfairly blame themselves for struggling because they don’t know any better.

They want to give the impression that they’re hungry for sales wins. Your sales team is also up against the new pandemic “normal” and because companies are conservative with their budgets right now, and some are not spending much at all, they are having trouble to stay on track and meet or exceed the new sales quota.

If this is their first sales role, this is the only system they know. Bringing in a company that specializes in sales training could be massively helpful. If your team is doing everything “by the book” and still struggling, maybe it’s time to add to the book. You could also consider the help of a lead generation company, to hunt down those sales leads for them and all your sales team needs to focus on is closing the sale – in this case they no longer need to spend research time on finding new leads.

“I expect a raise with my next yearly review”

 The traditional model of yearly reviews saw managers reviewing employees and discussing yearly raises/ bonuses at the same time. However, a lot of companies have moved away from this model… and alienated a lot of their employees in doing so. This is what is now called Performance Without Pay.

As managers, we can try to shift the narrative with statements like, “These reviews are merely an opportunity to help you do your job better. There’s no need to worry.” But it doesn’t change the fact that employees still find these reviews incredibly stressful. In fact, about 1 in 4 employees cry afterwards.

It is likely in your best interest to reward them at the same time you review them.

“I don’t actually hate meetings”

There is a very common myth that most people hate meetings. However, recent data says otherwise, with the MIT Sloan Management Review releasing a study that reveals that:

  • 69% of employees rated the productivity of their meeting as “good” to “excellent”
  • 16% rated it poor or worse

Of course, people still hate meetings with no agenda or no output. Think of it this way: People hate meetings that could have been handled with an email. But they like meetings that save them having to deal with seemingly endless email strings.

Always ensure that your meetings have both an agenda and follow up steps.

Employees can’t always tell you these things. However, savvy sales team leaders can learn how to look beyond the feedback they receive to figure out what their employees are really trying to say.

Mastering this skill can lead to a happier sales team and better sales leads numbers.

Categories
Uncategorized

Why events are powerful for B2B lead generation

Who doesn’t love getting invited to an event? If that event is tied to one’s career, with a timely topic and interesting speakers, there’s an added incentive to attend. Events are powerful for B2B lead generation. For businesses, hosting events is a great way to increase brand awareness, reach out to potential clients and generate qualified B2B sales leads, both inbound and outbound. There’s no better way to present your brand and establish face-to-face relationships with potential buyers – at a time and place of your own choosing.

In-person events have been rated the most effective B2B tactic by the Content Marketing Institute for six years running, with 81% of marketers using them. And that should come as no surprise, since a well-organized event will inspire conversation and discussion – exactly the kind of things that build relationships.

Plan your own B2B lead generation event

Creating an opportunity for personal contact has never been as important as it is today. In the digital world we now live in, people crave interactions that are up-close-and-personal. That said, B2B lead generation events can take many different shapes and formats. It could be a small breakfast for 10 key industry leaders or a more casual after-work gathering for 50 or more people. These customized, bespoke events can be highly targeted, and just as highly targeted content works better than broad, catchall copy, smaller, ‘in-person’ events can bring greater results and potential sales leads for the bottom line.

Capitalize on someone else’s event

A tradeshow can offer the perfect opportunity to make a big impact on as many decision makers as possible in a limited time frame. From a sales lead generation standpoint, remember to put any new technology or products with a wow factor in the spotlight to attract attention and help you stand out in a crowd.

Remember that tradeshows offer an opportunity to stage an event within an event. You have a captive audience at a show or conference that you can invite to your own event, which can complement the overall tradeshow by showcasing the specifics of your products or services for a select audience.

Conferences also offer opportunities to sit on panels or be a speaker. Always accept these; they bring brand awareness and exposure to the right audience.

Pointers for organizing an event for B2B lead generation:

  1. Make sure events are convivial, entertaining and relaxing and ensure your invitation sets that expectation so prospective customers will be more inclined to attend.
  2. Events should be held in convenient locations and offer refreshments or a meal, i.e. breakfast sandwiches for morning meetings.
  3. Personalize your invitations and treat every invitee like a VIP.
  4. Events should have a main drawing card: a speaker who’s an in-demand major player in your industry, or a current topic that is of great importance to you and your peers. This could be new government regulations that will have an outsize impact, or a major trend that’s just starting to appear in your line of business.
  5. Events should allow for time to mingle over drinks or coffee, to create an atmosphere conducive to connecting with others in an easy-going, casual way.
  6. Make sure your event organizers are organized, goal-oriented people who have the same objectives in mind as you do.
  7. If you have speakers from your company participating, choose good storytellers with a deep knowledge of your company and business, and a knack for leaving an impression with an audience.
  8. Remember to keep it as short and relevant as possible. Avoid long speeches or too many speakers, and no hard sells. Always keep your audience in mind.
  9. For networking, send out a team of your best people. Set them up with the attendee list and have them pre-schedule some conversations with prospects.
  10. Be sure to gather all attendee contact information.
  11. Have an after-event plan: who will compile the insights you’ve gathered, who will follow-up with emails, phone calls and meetings to continue the conversations you’ve started.

Don’t forget

Remember, whether you organize your own targeted event, or participate in a tradeshow or conference, you’ll have the opportunity to meet people potentially interested in your offer. They might not immediately fall into your B2B lead generation sales pipeline at that event, but you’ll be better placed to approach them afterwards.

It’s because of the highly personal nature of these types of micro events that they are so successful. Face to face communication is always going to be the most effective marketing channel you can use. These events will require an investment of time and resources but if done well, you’ll make a great impression and will reap the rewards for a long time afterwards.

Find out how 360 Leads can help your business with a lead generation campaign. Contact us today!

Categories
B2B Lead Generation Sales Team Performance

How to implement B2B sales lead scoring

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.

Categories
B2B Lead Generation Insights and Ideas

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.

Reach 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.

Categories
B2B Lead Generation Channel Strategy

Truths for a successful LinkedIn sales 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.

Categories
B2B Lead Generation Sales Team Performance

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.

Categories
Insights and Ideas

Using LinkedIn boosts your B2B sales leads

When generating B2B sales leads you’ll need to go to where the leads are, and nowadays, that’s on social media. According to the Black Report, social media accounts for 26.8% of a B2B company’s success. Using it to tap into interested prospects for your business can be a powerful resource. But what’s the best platform to use? The Answer – LinkedIn. Sure, you can use platforms like Facebook and Twitter, but LinkedIn has actually been proven to be the most effective.

But, you will also need to have the right strategy in place. LinkedIn won’t do all the work for you. Here are some ways LinkedIn can help attract more leads and sales:

Content over everything

Posting fresh and existing content daily is key. If you have other social media accounts where you generate content, or if you have a blog, LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to publish new content or re-purpose content to specifically speak to your LinkedIn following. This lets you share your knowledge, expertise, and updates you’ve posted in other accounts. It’s also a great way to push traffic to your website. Tip: Remember to communicate with your connections in a way that is personal, helpful and open.

LinkedIn advertising works for B2B sales leads

Using the right LinkedIn advertising or sponsorship post can be an effective tool. After all, there are over 560M active professionals on LinkedIn. Using its advertising is a great way to help your business generate more B2B sales leads. And the best part, you’ll be able to target unique audiences, create easy and effective ads and control your budget and costs. It is a sure-fire way to better connect with potential clients and influencers in your industry.

Stronger relationships are built through InMail

Sometimes, advertising might not fit your budget. But that doesn’t have to stop you from making meaningful relationships and LinkedIn helps with InMail. Depending on the type of account you have on the platform (basic or free vs. Premium) InMail can be sent to any LinkedIn user if their profile settings allow for it. Sponsored or paid-for InMail can cater to the audience you want to reach and your budget. By simply crafting an email that informs potential clients about a new product announcement or a new idea, you can increase the chances of generating more sales leads as InMail lands directly in someone’s inbox and if done right looks like a personal and unique message directly from you. Be wary of how many times your use InMail and to whom you’re sending it to, nothing’s worse than being marked as spam or getting blocked.

Group up

Another great way to learn more about your industry is to join influencer or professional groups in your areas of interest. These are very easy to find. All you have to do is simply search for keywords about your industry or that are related to your company or product and service offering. Some groups require an invitation or, admins will choose to vet someone before allowing them access to the groups, however, once you’re in you will have access to like-minded people in your industry. This is a great way to gain helpful information, establish credibility, make connections and spark conversation for new business and relationships.

Like most social media platforms, LinkedIn is constantly evolving, but using these steps can help increase your professional and personal brand on LinkedIn and help to attract new leads.

Follow us on LinkedIn and learn more about how we can help you boost your sales leads by contacting us.