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.

A lead generation company with secret powers

Lead generation is the process of converting, and to some extent nurturing, business leads. The question of whether to hire an outside lead generation company is one that confronts many businesses who might otherwise consider doing this in-house. Nurtured leads produce a 20% increase in sales opportunities and businesses who nurture leads make 50% more sales at a lower cost than non-nurtured prospects. It’s not something you want to leave to chance. Hiring a lead generation company can make sense for a B2B business because they are focused solely on lead generation, have valuable industry expertise and can save your team time rather than trying to do this in-house. Here are the biggest reasons to hire someone to do it for you:

A lead generation company talks to the right people

Good lead generation is speaking to the right people at the right time, and it comes down to having the right contacts and the right data. Lead generation companies have access to databases with millions of business contacts covering a range of industries. Data specialists can determine which leads are qualified much more quickly than your own staff could.

They prioritize with lead scoring

An experienced lead generation firm will have proven methodologies that they can put to work on your case. Sales leads scoring is one of these techniques which can save a lot of time by not talking to people who aren’t as likely to convert.

They shorten the sales cycle

By having nurtured business leads sent to you the focus is firmly on selling, and the timeline to do so is much shorter. Time is money, and you will be saving plenty of it by having qualified leads sent directly to you.

They improve your company’s web presence

Many lead generation companies can assist with a blog strategy and SEO, so that potential customers can find you more easily through a web search. Then those prospects can be turned into leads and possible customers.

They can lower your costs

Developing a hiring and training program is costly. Sometimes it makes more sense to hire a company that is specialized and already has the skilled staff. Hiring a company to find leads frees up resources for other tasks. It eliminates the time and effort required to recruit and train staff.

They allow you to focus on your product or service

Whatever area of B2B your business operates in, one thing will ring true: it’s the USP of your company that generates revenue, and it’s the USP that you need to focus on. It’s the asset you possess which can’t be bought elsewhere and where you should focus your staff’s energies and resources. Outsourcing to an agency allows you to do just that.

How to find the right lead generation company

Before choosing an agency, it’s important to do your research. If possible, scan reviews, testimonials, and ask for referrals. Ask your shortlisted candidates questions about their processes, tools, and whether they have their own CRM software that will be able to integrate with your B2B CMS for a seamless experience.

While using a lead generation company will cost you money, it saves your business money too. So, unless you want to pay the true cost of generating your own leads, you’ll be wise to pass on the hidden costs to the experts.

You still have reservations about using an external company for B2B lead generation because you think they’ll take your money and run? That they’ll make a couple of calls and leave it at that? Well, it might surprise you to discover that not only will they deliver results, but they’ll deliver them in a variety of ways. Lead generation companies may specialize in one area, but often they’re multi-faceted experts who can cover all the following services:

• Email marketing
• SEO
• Social media
• Appointment setting
• Event promotion
• Content creation

In the B2B world, an individual sales lead or a sale can be worth a lot, so it’s important to put thought into the customer journey pre- and post-sale. Find out how 360 Leads can create a winning B2B lead generation campaign customized for your company and industry. Contact us today!

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 buyer personas, why and how to create them

Lead generation buyer personas are shorthand for the different types of individuals most likely to buy your products or services – basically fictional examples of your ideal customers, like IT Irene, Mechanic Mike, or Builder Bryan. Why are they helpful? Because having a deep understanding of who your target sales leads are will increase the chances of greater sales. It allows you to create the most suitable content to draw them in and win their trust and provides insights into the different solutions they are looking for. Developing buyer personas for lead generation might seem like an onerous task, but it doesn’t have to be if you follow a few steps. The strongest buyer personas are based on market research as well as your own internal intelligence gleaned from your interactions with clients. So let’s start there.

When it comes to lead generation, do your research

The first step in creating personas is to do some basic research so you completely understand where your B2B lead generation sales clients are coming from. That includes all of the unique industry challenges they have, like regulatory issues, currency fluctuations, export laws and other problems they typically come up against. Next, look at your own digital data to see trends. Facebook and Twitter analytics can help you discover the kinds of content customers are looking at, which in turn tells you the sorts of problems they have, and how your products and or services can solve them.

Talk to sales

Your frontline sales people will be a great source of information, so tap their knowledge to find out the types of customers and sales leads they interact with. Ask them what questions they hear consistently, and how they would characterize the types of customers they see.

Interview customers

Ideally you will speak to a customer from each industry that you serve, so you get a broad idea of what features help them the most, what caused them to look for a solution and why yours was the best. Alternatively, if you can speak to dissatisfied customers about why your product wasn’t a good fit for them, this helps clarify which personas you do serve well. This can also assist your company in improving the product or service so it becomes a better fit for more customers.

Create your buyer personas

Take all the learnings and apply them to creating buyer personas. They should include geographic and demographic information, the industry they work in and their position. Get to know their preferred way of researching and buying from a company. For instance, some buyers might enjoy doing their own deep research and then interact with a chatbot. Others might prefer a longer conversation with a live person who can walk them through their purchasing dilemma. For B2B companies, a persona should be created for every industry that you serve. Give each persona a name, find an image to represent them, and create cheatsheets for all of them with samples of the language and pitches to use for each of them. This helps ensure that everyone in the company is speaking the same language when having conversations with customers.

Buyer personas allow you to target marketing efforts to specific needs, behaviours and concerns, but it also helps to align every department in the company. If you would like to talk about buyer personas and other lead generation topics, contact us.