11 Steps for successful BtoB Lead Generation

Always begin with the Cost Per Sale allowables that meet your financial requirements. Setting the cost per sale too high means the program will fail before it starts.

You must, however, balance the investment with the anticipated revenues to keep the CFO happy and grow your program over the long term.

And setting the Cost Per Sale too low will not allow you to penetrate your target market for maximum revenue potential.

1. Agree to the sales volume requirements and create your budget

You must achieve your sales quota. Once you have agreed to the the allowable cost per sale, you will haveGenerating leads is like panning for gold nuggets -- hard work! the necessary information for creating your total lead generation budget.

Simply divide your total sales quota by your anticipated average sale. This tells you how many sales you need.

To figure your lead generation budget, just take the total number of sales you need to reach your sales quota and multiply that number by your allowable CPS. The resulting total gives you the lead generation budget you have available.

The trick is to create a lead generation program that will achieve your sales onjective for an amount equal to or less than your allowable budget.

2. Make sure the sales team participates in the development strategy and process to assure their buy in

Nothing guarantees failure faster than a reluctant or unsupportive sales force.

Without their buy in, the sales people will complain incessantly about low lead quality and will judge a lead's worth based on the name of the company or industry rather than treating every lead as pure gold.

3. Identify the target markets

Marketing and sales establish the target markets matching the product to the appropriate targeted companies based on location, SIC code, sales volume, number of employees and other factors.

Lead quality begins with the list selection. Separate worthy prospects from the time wasters.

4. Set up the master database

Most available BtoB lists will not meet all of your requirements regardless of the compiler or response file.

Most companies pre-call all prospect names for accuracy and add the names for titles that are either absent or out of date. If you want to meet with the comptroller or human resources, then your raw list will probably not contain such names. This is particularly true of smaller companies with less than 200 employees.

You may also want to enhance your list by appending opted in email addresses before making the calls. Good resources exist that will ask permission to include individual employee email addresses for your particular use prior to appending them to your prospect database.

5. Determine the media strategy

Internet lead generation has become increasingly successful and sophisticated. But for most companies, the Internet alone will not penetrate narrow target markets sufficiently to achieve their sales objectives.

Deep penetration requires a multichannel approach using outbound telemarketing as the core medium supported by email, direct mail, and specialized response landing pages.

6. Calculate the lead flow to allow proper follow up of all leads

In the first couple of weeks, sales people may be able to handle relatively large volumes of leads. But as time goes on, you must allow adequate time for follow up sales calls, proposal preparation, presentations and contract negotiations as sales are made.

Only controllable media such as telemarketing and direct mail can increase and decrease lead volumes to allow for proper follow up of all leads. Internet leads generated by SEO continue to flow building over time making it more difficult to control lead flows. SEM however does offer some flexibility in controlling lead flow.

7. Decide how tight the leads should be to get the lowest cost per lead possible

An interested prospect who fills out a brief questionnaire, for example, represents a more qualified lead than someone who agrees to meet with a salesman for a free iPod. So sales and marketing should negotiate the offer and degree of commitment the team requires of the prospect for an appointment when testing the offer.

8. Create an offer for setting up the type of appointments you need

The best quality leads agree to an appointment based on the promised benefits they could get from your service or offer.

But bear in mind that the purpose of the lead generation process is to create sufficient interest to agree to an appointment and not to sell the product.

Leave enough ammunition for the sales person to close the deal during the appointment.

9. Create testing opportunities

Unless you plan to make this your last lead generation effort, set up all of your projects to learn what works best. Test multiple offers and media strategies always improving your program.

10. Appeal to influencers, gatekeepers and decision makers to set the stage for best response and conversion rates

There is nothing worse than presenting your product to the decision maker only to have the CEO, head of HR or the CFO nix the sale.

So introduce your program to all individuals within the target company simultaneously during your lead generation effort.

Send multiple messages to the decision maker, the CEO and others you know will become involved in buying your product or service.

11. Monitor the success of the program and conclude the project with an analysis to see if the program achieved the objectives

Keep an eye on your lead flow and monitor the follow up activity.

Research shows a definite drop in interest as early as 24 to 48 hours after the prospect has agreed to an appointment. Keep the pressure on all the way to the final sale.

Needless to say, at the conclusion of the program, analyze your effort to identify any weaknesses or areas of opportunity.

Successful lead generation is not a one time effort. But rather a series of incremental improvements as you collect more experience.

What other steps would you add to make a lead generation more successful? What do you think many companies miss in making their programs more effective?

Posted on May 16, 2009 and filed under Lead Generation.