Having a pipeline full of high quality leads is generally said to be a prerequisite for healthy growth.
But many B2B companies find getting there a challenge.
While almost all engage in some form of marketing and/or sales activities to generate leads, many lack certainty on the efficacy of those efforts – as revealed by a recent lead generation survey conducted by the B2B Technology Marketing Community on LinkedIn:
Why is that so many companies struggle to generate quality leads?
We offered one potential answer in another post Why conventional Lead Generation channels don’t generate high quality B2B Leads.
Part of the problem is that many of the most widely used lead generation tactics – such as Content Marketing, Thought Leadership, Display Advertising, and Search – are not the most efficient to consistently and predictably generate high quality B2B leads.
Widely used conventional lead generation methods all have the potential to create leads over time in their own right.
The problem is they do not exclusively target the high-level executive decision makers you need to reach to make something happen plus often also cannot target the companies who are your best prospects.
As a result, you’ll end up having to spend the time to weed out the leads they generate and end up throwing many away.
So how do you consistently and predictably generate high quality B2B leads?
One effective strategy is to micro-target the right people who have purchasing authority for whatever you’re selling.
So first, define who they are as precise as possible, then use the media channels that are most effective for reaching executives with purchasing authority or influence – without reaching a whole bunch of people you don’t want.
Here are three effective ways:
Email remains one of the best ways – if not THE best way – to connect with high-level executives to try to convert them to leads.
According to CMI (Content Marketing Institute), 79% of B2B marketers credit email as the most effective distribution channel for demand generation efforts.
However, garnering high quality B2B leads consistently using email requires a certain level of expertise. Keep in mind, you won’t be the only one vying for their attention – C-Suite executives’ email boxes are always full.
It takes insight and skill to write copy that will capture their attention and get them to respond. Plus there are also technical, and data challenges to making sure your emails reach their intended destination.
Bottom line, you need an experienced email with a winning formula for getting results.
The question is, do you Buy or Build?
Getting people with the necessary skills in-house can be expensive – and you’ll also have to pay them over the 6-month to a year-long learning curve required before their efforts are seriously productive so it may ultimately cost less to outsource.
If you only want to speak to specific people, picking up the phone and calling them is an obvious choice to reach them and only them.
But is it effective for reaching high-level executives? Research suggests that it is not:
One potential reason why cold calling tends not to work probably has a lot to do with the way companies do it. Given how many calls it takes just to get through and reach a person, the best salespeople won’t do it.
So companies have to rely on third-party telemarketers or very junior-level reps who lack the knowledge and expertise to effectively sell… and provide an amazing first impression of your company!
Certainly, too, cold calling can be an annoying intrusion for executives, and that might turn them off.
However, surprisingly, research indicates that executives don’t necessarily mind getting a call out of the blue IF it provides them with information/insights of value.
Can a third-party telemarketer or junior SDR, reading from a pre-canned script, offer the kind of insights executives seek and value? Unlikely.
Can they answer basic questions prospects might ask? Maybe if they are well prepped… but the moment the conversation goes off-script, they will be lost.
So, to summarize – outbound telemarketing CAN work, but the approach needs to be carefully thought out so that it offers information and insights of real value to execs – and the people you use to do it must either be experienced or exceptionally well trained.
It may seem quaint in this digital age, but yes direct mail still exists and it still can work! The benefit of direct email is that you can address it specifically to the people you want to reach.
It can still be effective if you target the right people who represent your best prospects.
However, one major downside to direct mail is that producing and sending things in the actual physical universe can get pricey. Postage alone can add up quickly.
But if you are targeting a couple thousand prospects or under, it’s not too bad. Plus if you do send a pitch by mail, it’s got to be good to get prospects to read it.
If it looks and smells too much like a pitch, there’s a good chance they or their assistant will instantly assign it to the “circular file.”
So – assuming you want a higher volume of high quality B2B leads – and honestly, what company doesn’t – the fastest and easiest way is to specifically target your very best prospects, i.e., companies that represent your best possible customers, and executives/job titles who are high level enough to have real purchasing authority or influence.
Email, phone, and direct mail are the most direct way to target specific people.
However, keep in mind that each has its own unique challenges and requires a certain level of expertise to be effective. Moreover, odds are it will take a major investment and amount of time to build the capabilities in-house.
We know because using email to drive executive leads is what we do and all we do, and we are a leading expert in the field, and even for us it can be a challenge!