26 November 2015

How Can I Generate More Leads?

Clare Methven
Written by Clare Methven

Clare Methven is the Co-Founder of The Marketing Centre and specialises in working with small and mid-size businesses. She has over 25 years’ experience working in PR and marketing agencies focussed on construction, financial services and travel companies.

Many of us think new leads = more business, and as a result we’re constantly on the hunt for the new. It’s a natural impulse, but most of the time it’s wrong.

We’re not saying new leads aren’t important to B2B businesses, of course, but as many as 71% of inbound leads are wasted. The most common question clients ask us is how can I generate more leads? A better question is what am I doing with my current ones? No matter how much water you pour in, a leaky bucket will quickly empty.

So how can you make sure you’re making the most of what you’ve got? It’s all down to process and quality control.

Take control

Take a closer look at your pipeline.

Map your sales process, from target (i.e. someone you know) to prospect (someone you’ve spoken to) to opportunity (someone who has expressed an interest) to sale (someone who has sent a purchase order).

Do this in detail. How do people find you? What do they ask you? What is the follow-up? What is the communication like every step of the way? Ask yourself which of your sales and marketing team is responsible for each stage of the process and how success is measured at different points.

Conversion rate isn’t simply one figure, the key is to measure conversion rates at each step so you can find the leaks and fix them as they happen. If you understand the point at which your leads are failing, you can take action.

Who does what?

Each step should be owned by a person or department in your business. Ideally, your marketing team should carry customers from lead to prospect, before the sales department handles the final step to get the contract or order over the line.

Even if you handle all this yourself, a clearly defined sales process is essential for maximising the value of your leads. If you’re not monitoring the journey your potential customers embark on, adding more to the mix isn’t going to improve anything.

Smooth handover

The handover from marketing to sales can be difficult. Marketers will want to move the maximum number of leads into the funnel. Sales teams will only want to see those with a reasonable chance of conversion, the definition of which is often ‘a guaranteed sale dropping in my lap”.

The conflict that follows means many leads will be thrown away, locking businesses into a cycle of continually looking for new opportunities. When only around 6% of B2B leads ever make it to the closing stages of a deal, this is especially troubling.

A smooth handover from marketing to sales is vital

Often the friction between sales and marketing teams is caused by a failure to define what is isn’t a ‘quality’ lead in a business. What a marketer considers to be a valuable lead is unlikely to match the definition given by the sales team.

As such, it’s essential that sales and marketing teams are aligned on what constitutes a marketing-qualified lead (MQL) and, later in the journey, a sales-qualified lead (SQL). These definitions should be clearly documented to prevent future confusion.

Waste not, want not

As Marketing Centre Marketing Director Robert Stead says: “An ex-client of mine hired me specifically to develop leads. I developed a fantastic database but the business owner repeatedly asked me to source new data. After around six months I asked what he was doing with the leads I provided. It turns out only half of them had been supplied with a quote, and only 10% of those had been followed up over the phone. It was a huge waste of effort on everybody’s part.”

It’s an all too common story.

Finding leads is a huge challenge for any business.If you’re failing to plan, measure and act on the best ones, you could be missing out on valuable business.

Don’t simply ask for more leads, make sure you make the most of the ones you’ve got.

The Marketing Centre provides proven part-time Marketing Directors to ambitious businesses – the effective, economical alternative to marketing consultants. Find out more, here.


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