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5 Things You Need to Know to Boost Your Lead Generation

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In a recent poll of B2B marketers, 78% said generating high-quality leads is their biggest challenge, and 44% of marketers said generating a high volume of leads is. To help alleviate the frustration, I offer five things every marketer should know to improve lead generation.

1.  Look Beyond the Top of the Funnel

Too many marketers view lead generation as an exercise in filling the top of the sales funnel. But just filling the top of the funnel is not lead generation. It’s response generation. And most “responses” don’t buy.

Marketers need to look past the response, further down the funnel. They need to begin thinking in terms of lead management, which encompasses the entire funnel from response to close of sale. By taking this holistic view of your lead-generation efforts, you’ll do more than just generate leads. You’ll manage leads, engaging with prospective buyers and nurturing them through the buying process.

To effectively manage leads, you must move from a top-of-the-funnel approach to a process-based approach. This can be achieved by adopting a process framework that consists of:

  • data

  • lead planning

  • lead qualification

  • lead routing

  • lead nurturing

  • a content-development process

  • metrics

Using a process-based approach will improve the number of qualified leads that get sent to sales. In turn, sales will increase conversions. Together, marketing and sales will have a direct impact on corporate revenue.

2.  Lead Generation Is More Than a Marketing Tactic

Lead generation is not a tactical exercise. It’s a holistic strategy. In his Propelling Brands blog, Adam Needles discussed this point by saying, “So I put a stake in the sand with this post---asserting my belief that demand generation is a strategic activity; that it is, in fact, the charter of B2B marketing; and that it spans and should be defined in terms of our holistic interaction with buyers throughout their buying life cycles.”

I couldn’t agree more with his assessment. If lead generation does indeed span the buying life cycle, then marketing isn’t the only entity that should be involved. Sales must be part of developing the strategy.

As I mentioned earlier, lead generation is about managing the entire funnel, which includes passing leads to sales and helping them to close more deals. By gathering sales’ input and collaborating with them on lead-generation strategy, you will ensure that you are working towards a common goal with sales (this is the “lead-planning” component mentioned above) and that sales will be receptive of marketing generated leads. This approach will lead to shorter sales cycles and greater effectiveness for both marketing and sales.

By shifting the thought from tactical to strategic, lead generation will take on a whole new meaning in your organization, one that will start of yielding much better results.

3.  Technology Won’t Solve Your Problem

Marketers are increasingly turning to marketing automation in hopes of improving their lead-generation efficiency and effectiveness. However, marketers need to understand that technology alone will not solve their lead-generation challenges. Why? Because automation only automates what’s already there. It doesn’t create anything. Using an automation technology will not create a lead-generation plan or develop a strategy.

To make automation work effectively, first develop a strategy that consists of:

  • the right people

  • process (as mentioned above)

  • relevant content

These three components can then be enabled by automation technology leading to exponential improvement in lead-generation results.

4. It Doesn’t Stop Once You Have a Customer

Building a successful marriage doesn’t stop once you say, “I do.”  In the same way, managing the dialogue with buyers doesn’t stop once they buy. Ongoing communication and engagement with customers is crucial. It should be a significant part of your demand-generation strategy. If you want to quickly improve the revenue results from your lead-generation plans, you should be sure to look at your current customer base as a key target segment.

5.  Take an Integrated Approach

As marketing automation has increased in adoption, so has B2B marketers’ love affair with email.  While email is certainly an effective medium for lead generation, it’s not the only one.  The best results will come from using an integrated multi-channel approach.  Research has indicated that buyers (both prospects and customers) will respond to and want to receive information in a variety of ways.  Therefore an integrated approach will yield the best results.  There are naysayers that claim direct mail and teleservices are dead. But these and other channels (social, web and live events, etc.) should not be used exclusively either.  They should be incorporated as one of many media in your lead generation campaigns.  Make sure to constantly test to determine the best mix of media, as well as the best response by medium.  This process is not a one-time exercise. It’s part of an ongoing, dynamic strategy.

The landscape of B2B marketing has changed and continues to change. The focus is now generating quality leads and engaging buyers in meaningful dialogue.  By looking beyond the top of the funnel, adopting a strategic mindset, and using resources effectively, organizations can transform lead generation results to greatly improve their impact on revenue.

Want to get to know more about how to recharge and manage your lead-generation process? Check out our free virtual conference, Digital Marketing World, this Friday.

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Carlos Hidalgo is CEO of The Annuitas Group the leader in the development of marketing & sales lead management processes. He is a frequent speaker on the topic of lead management process, demand generation and marketing automation and is passionate about helping their clients improve the return on their marketing and sales investments.

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  • by Karen Janowski Thu Feb 10, 2011 via blog

    Nice summary. One of the biggest slams on marketing's lead-gen efforts is "we just get a lot of garbage leads." By following the trail of leads through the buying cycle, marketing can better understand whether the activity generated is truly resulting in revenue. Often the disconnect has its roots in different definitions of "lead."

  • by Aarow Financial Group, Inc Thu Feb 10, 2011 via blog

    Good article. Thanks for the insights.

  • by Kirsten Wright Thu Feb 10, 2011 via blog

    Lead section I have always struggled with. This definitely clarified a lot of questions I have nad gave me a great path to start following. I especially appreciated the section on "lead gen doesn't stop once you have a customer"...that is where I know I struggle!

  • by Dhana Thu Feb 10, 2011 via blog

    Nice summary. I like the first point, about looking beyond the top of the funnel. Marketers increasingly think its a number game, and thus they are focused on driving large traffic at the top of the funnel, instead of focusing their time, energy and money on driving limited quality traffic !.

  • by Martin Bailey Fri Feb 11, 2011 via blog

    I really like your comments about looking beyond the funnel and realising that engaging in conversation is the important part and that it’s not all about sales!

  • by Pekka Sahlsten Fri Feb 11, 2011 via blog

    I sincerily believe that the failure to adopt an integrated lead+opportunity management process is one of the biggest causes of inefficiency in sales organizations. I wish a lot more companies would see the light.

  • by Lava IP Wed Feb 23, 2011 via blog

    Nice article! Marketing team should focus not only on “lead generation”, but also on “lead management” and should have closer alignment with the sales team. This will help the company to achieve the conversion from leads to sales. When marketing teams tries different tactics to generate leads, by being involved in complete lead management process and conversion tracking it can be able to find out the right mix of media for its lead generation tactics.

  • by Amber King Thu Oct 6, 2011 via blog

    I agree with you especially you no.4 tip. Lead generation is a continuous process, it does not and should not stop after you get a customer. It is important to have a steady flow of leads in order for your business to grow. Great tips by the way.

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