On a daily basis we are asked by companies to support their sales through lead generation programmes. On occasion, we still find ourselves left aghast by what some people term “qualified leads”.
With the complexity of today’s B2B environment, it’s more challenging than ever to build a sales pipeline of qualified leads.
But as marketing guru Philip Kotler ( Ph.D., S. C. Johnson & Son Distinguished Professor of International Marketing,Kellogg School of Management/Northwestern University – that’s one heck of a business card!!) points out :
“… for companies that are involved in complex sales. Too many marketing departments provide the sales force with a high number of leads, but not with a high number of quality leads.”
Once we lost a pitch because a prospect was promised a “qualified sales appointment every hour” from another supplier. Now, we have over twenty years experience of delivering high value sales leads for our clients and pride ourselves on , (a) giving best advice and (b) using the benefit of our vast experience to give pretty accurate and realistic assessment of return on investment (ROI) on lead generation programmes. We are in a business where it is easy to over promise and under deliver – and many companies do.
Why quality is always key.
This claims seduced the marketing person involved and he engaged in a trial campaign. They did indeed get an appointment every hour but very quickly had a lot of very agitated sales people knocking on his door as they were bombing around the country for meetings with lots of very nice owners of businesses who had no real idea why they were coming, and had no intention or need to change their supply to them. Shoe leather, diesel and time are all expensive commodities nowadays.
The client came back and has now been involved with us for many years. For them we are carrying out campaigns in which they are meeting prospects, who are potential buyers, with the authority to purchase, and have an established need which need to be fulfilled within a reasonable time.
Many marketing professionals have wised up to the fact that numbers alone do not make a successful lead generation programme. Remarkably, there are still quite a few that seem to believe that numbers are all that count.
It’s pretty straightforward to get large volumes of unqualified “leads” but with complex sales this quickly creates unsustainable wastage. The true cost of turning a less than properly qualified lead into a genuine sales prospect far outweighs the cheap cost of generating it.
What’s the reason for this?
Possibly the single biggest reason is a gross under estimation of the level at which “telemarketing” can operate and deliver. This in itself may not be surprising, as the general offering from suppliers tends to pander to the stereotype. This perpetuates the poor perception of lead generation.
This is where properly crafted, professional sales advocacy comes in. If you are going to contact senior decision makers, you should use well trained sales professionals. They can take the sale far further than someone calling in for a nominal conversation with the aim just to get a diary date.
This is the root of successful, high level, lead generation. It means that when the field sales person fulfills the appointment they are going into progress the sale not start it. They enter the boardroom with a comprehensive needs analysis on which to elaborate; an understanding of what’s important to the buyer; a picture of the buying landscape within the prospect company; a higher percentage chance of converting the sale.
As importantly, a professional initial sales approach provides the basis for a “stickier” long term business relationship and enhances the vendors brand.
In these instances less really can be more.
It’s why some of the World’s leading business to business brands use Broadley Speaking for their lead generation programmes.
If you are evaluating b2b lead generation companies be cautious of just “feeling the width”. Instead, make a detailed assessment of the sales quality within the team who will be you sales and brand advocates.
[ Never Mind the Quality, Feel the Width is a British television sitcom first broadcast in 1967 as a single play in the Armchair Theatre anthology series, later becoming a series of half-hour episodes, which ran until 1971.]