B2B lead generation is often thought of as being a mysterious and unpredictable process – where do good sales leads come from? How can you get more of them? How can you get higher conversions and better sales results from the existing sales leads that you already have? There is no single “right way” to do lead generation; different techniques work better for different companies or industries. However, there are several common “wrong ways” to get sales leads and to manage your sales leads. Many B2B sales organizations are still making these mistakes, despite all the great customer relationship management technology and marketing tools and accumulated sales knowledge that we have now.
Here are a few lead generation mistakes to avoid:
- Relying Too Much on Outbound or Inbound Lead Generation
Lots of businesses fall into a rut with lead generation – they get good results from one type of lead generation and then they start ONLY doing that type of marketing and outreach. For example, lots of businesses still use direct mail as their primary way of getting new customers. Other companies might rely on email marketing. Other companies might be enthusiastic adopters of social media and online marketing, which is great, but they forget to just pick up the phone now and then to do cold calls.
Whatever works for your business is fine – keep doing that; you don’t have to stop doing what works – but keep in mind that lead generation should be a diverse mix of activities. You might need to change up your routine from time to time. Try something new. Ideally, you should be getting a wide array of sales leads from a mix of sources, both outbound (cold calls, email, direct mail, etc.) and inbound (online marketing, PPC ads, search engine marketing, etc.).
- Not Pre-Qualifying Your Inbound Leads
What happens when someone responds to your ad or clicks your sponsored post or picks up the phone and calls your company? Who is the first person to answer the phone? Take a closer look at the first impression that your company is making. When a new prospect contacts you, that is a massively important event – you need to make sure they’re being welcomed into your company’s sales process and treated with care, not just getting dumped into voicemail or given an impersonal automated email reply.
We see this all the time – too many good sales leads fall through the cracks because of careless handling or bad follow up. Take some time to build a relationship with each new prospect. Ask questions. Spend time on pre-qualifying them by assessing their needs – are they serious buyers or are they just doing their initial research? Is your company or solution really the best fit for what they need?
- Not Asking for Referrals
What if I told you that your company is already sitting on a gold mine of sales leads – that many businesses never bother to pursue? That’s right: it’s your existing customers! Current customers can often be your best source of new sales leads – if you handle it the right way. There is an art to asking for sales referrals. Don’t be pushy, don’t be indiscriminate – but if you have a customer who’s had an exceptionally great experience with you, who loves your solution, who is on board with what you do, you should ask them for sales referrals. You can make it natural, like, “I’ve loved working with you on this implementation – do you know of anyone else who might like to hear from me?”
- Underutilizing Your Website
Your website should be a lead generation machine. Too many B2B sales organizations are not making good use of their website for sales purposes. A few high-level tips to think about:
- Is your website easy to read on a mobile device? More people are using smartphones as their primary way of accessing the Internet, and even B2B buyers are increasingly using mobiles for research.
- Does your website have a “Buy” button? Amazon became the most powerful retailer in the world by making it really easy for everyone to buy from them. Does your website make it easy for people to contact you, ask for more information, or otherwise show that they’re interested in starting the sales process?
- Is your website good for building relationships with customers? Does your site give your customers an authentic sense of what your company is like, or is it chilly and impersonal? Ideally, your website should put your customers inside the mind of your company and make them want more.
- Not Making “The Ask”
Too many people think that lead generation is a numbers game – it’s just about getting as many prospects as possible; get as many people as possible at the trade show to sign their name on your list, get as many email addresses in your database as possible. But quality is more important than quantity! You don’t want a long list of people who aren’t sincerely interested. This is why, as part of your lead generation activity, you need to make a specific request – an “Ask” – to get the prospect to commit to a next step to move the process forward. For example, you might want to ask for a sales demo. Or an in-person meeting. Or an initial phone call to get acquainted. Whatever your “first step” in your sales process is, you need to ask for it!
Lead generation doesn’t have to be mysterious; it’s all about finding new prospects and building relationships. Whatever tactics work for your company, you should definitely keep doing them – but be careful not to make these common mistakes along the way!