We are seeing a lot of demand lately for Sales Force Europe’s lead generation services. We think it’s because lead generation is harder than ever. What used to be a knock on someone’s door or a phone call or two is now on average 12 points of direct and indirect contact. Instead of one 'salesy' role, business development has become a blend of about three roles. And then if you are trying to expand your home-grown company abroad, the pain is extra.
Today we talk about what you can do to maximise your lead generation strategically without gambling a big investment.
Come and knock on our door. We’ve been waiting for you... It’s not the 1970s anymore, so why are so many companies going about an old-school way of approaching leads? Three is still company, however, with at least three different roles combining for successful lead generation.
The first is the researcher or administrative person, who creates and maintains lists of qualified leads. The maintenance part is important because, especially if your target audience is in marketing or development, there’s a hugely high turnover, with key contacts changing annually. Lead qualification lists have to be reviewed regularly, lest they go stale.
Next, is the marketer who creates a content strategy and creates those 12 unique touchpoints. This person works closely with the researcher to understand who to create content for, and then feeds this content to the last role to leverage.
Finally, you have the more traditional sales role that makes qualifying calls and negotiates deals. While there are three personalities on a modern lead gen team, perhaps only this last one is known to the customer, acting as their face of the business. When they are ready to expand to new markets, a lot of companies will hire a single business development lead that usually fits this last profile. It’s definitely an important role — you need someone on-message and ready to close — but they’re not always effective without support of the other two jobs. Leads need to be first qualified and then “pre-educated” on your brand before this salesy-er role steps in.
Let’s face it. Online advertising is freakily customized to our incredibly specific consumer profiles, down to our geographic location, relationship status, and buying habits. But we kind of like it that way. It’s no longer OK to send the same generic salesy message to your entire mailing list. (And if you are contacting prospects in areas of greater privacy regulations like Europe and California, you may not be able to do that anyway.)
We want every LinkedIn message, each Facebook retargeting ad, and every newsletter to offer particular solutions to our particular needs, to acknowledge to our ‘incredibly unique’ lives. For example with our own lead gen at Sales Force Europe, we use SEO and online advertising to source a lot of our leads. Then, we find a lot of success with our CEO Rick cultivating relationships over LinkedIn and from him answering relevant questions on Quora. And we can’t diminish the effect of networking at industry-leader events.
This past Autumn, Rick really enjoyed Amsterdam’s IBC Show and Lisbon’s Web Summit, and, of course, he won’t miss the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next year. All of our sales processes are closed only after many points of contact, personal phone calls, and even in-person meetings.Each company and each target audience is different. And each culture is unique, potentially with touchpoints in various languages. Add to all this a bit of experimentation and a lot of analytics to understand what’s working, followed by constant tweaking per target audience.
Now, your still growing company may not have the budget for three full-time roles. Outsourcing lead generation becomes a great option because these roles don’t need to be full-time. Instead, you could contract the cost of one full-timer, but your account could be served by three part-timers.
This is a recipe for a shorter sales cycle because this mini outsourced team would normally have loads of experience selling to and creating materials for that market and they maintain much cleaner, much more up-to-date, and highly qualified lead lists. Scaling your business through lead generation isn’t just about throwing resources at something. It’s about scaling up and down services in response to the market, whether you’re expanding to a new country or a new vertical.
Outsourced lead generation works because it can react to different stages in your sales cycle. Sometimes you have many qualified leads and need more hands-on account rep time to nurture those leads into sales. Other times, like when entering a new marketplace, like a new country or vertical, you need to focus most of your resources on creating that pool of qualified contacts to reach out to. And, of course, you need a content strategy to appeal to them.
There’s one more part of the lead generation that you can’t neglect — ratings and reviews. (Queue doomsday movie score.) We have never been more influenced by the opinions of others. Do you offer a product or service? Before they click “Buy” or “Sign Up Now”, they’re going to Google you. And, try as you might to make your own website show above all else, often you’ll be outranked by ads from your competitor and comparison and review sites.It’s your job to curate and cultivate your digital footprint as much as possible. This means accepting profiles on your industry directories and then asking your favorite customers to add their voices to the mix. Work in recruitment? Ask your happier employees to post on Glassdoor.
An American organisation? Get a rating on the Better Business Bureau. Business software? Claim your profiles on GetApp, Capterra and SoftwareAdvice. Consumer product? You better encourage your happy customers to review you on Google and Amazon. And, no matter what you do, no matter how B2B, if you choose to have a Facebook Page, make sure to ask for reviews on there — and to have someone checking it daily because the worst publicity you can get is an unanswered support question.
What creative lead gen tactics have made your team successful? Share in the comments below!
Sales Force Europe has spent the last 15 years helping tech companies expand to Europe by providing on-demand market strategy, lead generation, and sales team outsourcing services.