10 Most Popular B2B Lead Generation Blog Posts of 2017

10 most popular B2B Lead Generation Posts

January is a time for new beginnings.

To help you launch into a great year, I’ve compiled a list of the top ten most popular and shared posts on the B2B Lead Generation Blog in 2017.

This following list was compiled based on aggregate social shares across Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and views.

The list starts at number 10 moving up.

#10: How to Improve Lead Routing to Skyrocket Sales 

lead-routingHave you intentionally optimized your sales lead routing and assignment process? If not, you could be losing sales, and marketing ROI not see it.

For example, LeadData’s new report, The State of Lead Management, based on a survey of 527 B2B sellers and marketers found an average 25.5 % of marketing-generated leads get assigned to the wrong account owner.

Did you catch that? Over 25% of marketing-generated leads get assigned to the wrong person. In this post, you’ll get 7 tips to increase your lead generation ROI by improving how you route leads.

Read about How to Improve Lead Routing to Skyrocket Sales Results

 #9: Getting sales enablement right to increase results

sales_enablement

Sales enablement is intended to help raise performance, but a lot of efforts have backfired due to departmental silos. And now there’s growing gap between what salespeople need and what they’re getting to improve performance.

So how do you get sales enablement right?

I interviewed Dave Brock (@davidabrock), author of the Sales Manager Survival Guide, also CEO of Partners in EXCELLENCE. Dave’s brilliance is his focus on practical simplification.

Find out how to get sales enablement right to increase results

#8: How to do lead management that improves conversion

Have you looked at your lead management approach from the perspective of customer experience? If not, you may want to start now.

Here’s why: According to Forrester, top performers convert 1.54% of marketing qualified leads to revenue. This means almost 98% people who start the customer journey are lost.

Find out 5 areas you need to focus on to improve lead management and increase conversion.

Read more: How to do lead management that improves conversion

#7: Seven Tips to Boost Lead Nurturing Email Results

People aren’t looking for a reason to read your lead nurturing email messages, they’re looking for a reason to delete them. Think about it.

Marketers rely on email as the top lead nurturing tactic. And according to Econsultancy email is the best digital channel for ROI.

Read 7 Tips to Boost Lead Nurturing Email Results

#6: Stuck on words: how can marketing connect with customers better?

customer connectionHow can marketers better connect with people we hope will become our customers?

Why? Because the trust gap between marketers and customers has never been bigger.

For example, this survey by Hubspot showed that only 3 percent of buyers surveyed consider marketers and salespeople trustworthy. Yikes.

It starts with the words we use which ultimately affects how we think and act towards others.

Read Stuck on words: how can marketing connect with customers better?

#5: How customer-hero stories help you connect emotionally and sell better

customer-hero storiesJust 13% of salespeople produce 87% of revenue in a typical organization according to the Sales Benchmark Index.

You may be wondering: what do the 13% do differently?

They connect emotionally with their buyers.

I interviewed Mike Bosworth. If you don’t know Mike Bosworth already, he is a thought leader in the B2B sales/marketing space.

Read more: How customer-hero stories help you connect better

#4: New B2B Persona Research from Salesforce and LinkedIn Study

Getting the right content to the right people continues to be a challenge in B2B marketing and lead generation.

Salesforce analyzed more than 15 million data points, spanning a four-year period, from two of the most massive B2B databases: Data.com and LinkedIn.

The results will surprise you.

I interviewed Mathew Sweezey (@msweezey). Mathew works with Salesforce and is the Principal of Marketing Insights to talk about the report, B2B Personas: Targeting Audiences.

Check out the New B2B Persona Research from Salesforce and LinkedIn Study

#3: Lead Nurturing: 5 Useful Tactics to Get More Opportunities

Lead-Nurturing-TacticsLead nurturing is one of those things that’s easy to talk about but hard to do.

Find out how to apply lead nurturing to help advance leads through three stages of your lead generation funnel to get more qualified opportunities.

Learn 5 tactics you can use immediately to improve lead-to-customer conversion.

Read more: Lead Nurturing: 5 Useful Tactics to Get More Opportunities

#2: Why customer advocacy should be at the heart of your marketing

Customer advocacy marketing programs help you increase revenue by improving customer acquisition and retention (and they’re also your best source of leads).

I interviewed Mark Organ (@markorgan). Mark is the Founder and CEO of Influitive, and he’s been a thought leader in the space of sales/marketing technology and customer advocacy.

Read about Why customer advocacy should be at the heart of your marketing

#1: Who should own lead generation for a complex sale?

Who should own B2B lead generation: sales, marketing or both?

You might be thinking, “isn’t the answer obvious?” It’s not.

Let me explain.

Sales and marketing don’t do a great job of lead generation because they both believe it’s the others job.

I asked the 19,830 members the B2B Lead Roundtable LinkedIn Group about this topic. In this post, you’ll get a ton of actionable tips.

Read Who should own lead generation for a complex sale?

Conclusion

The single biggest issue for B2B revenue growth remains lead generation: increasing lead quality and quantity. This analysis into the most popular posts gives a glimpse into what subjects readers found most relevant.

Additionally, this list shows that increasing conversion, understanding customer motivation, managing and nurturing leads better, and improving sales performance are topics on the minds of readers.  At the same time, connecting and building trust with buyers has never been harder.

That’s why we need to go beyond rational-logic based marketing to understand how our customers feel. Empathy is not just a “soft” skill, it’s an incredibly powerful tool to understand customer motivation and increase lead conversion. I’ll be sharing more about how we can connect with customers better using applied empathy.

The post 10 Most Popular B2B Lead Generation Blog Posts of 2017 appeared first on the B2B Lead Blog.

How to Improve Lead Routing for More Sales

lead routringHave you recently looked at your lead routing and assignment process? If not, you could be leaking revenue and marketing ROI.

Case in point.

LeadData’s new report, The State of Lead Management, based on a survey of 527 B2B sellers and marketers found an average 25.5 % of marketing-generated leads get assigned to the wrong account owner.

Did you catch that? Over 25% of marketing-generated leads get assigned to the wrong person.

This means individuals who expressed interest are not getting the attention they deserve.

LeanData also discovered sales and marketing leaders also have different opinions on lead follow-up effectiveness. For example, the chart below shows 30% of marketing leaders believe that sales will always follow-up on marketing-generated leads compared to 61% of sales leaders.

Lead Routing

Source: http://www.marketingcharts.com/online/b2b-marketers-and-salespeople-point-to-problems-with-lead-management-76968/

There’s room for improvement.

In this post, I’m going to share seven tips to help you improve lead routing for more sales.

Tip 1: Set up a service-level agreement on lead routing with sales 

Do you have the following things documented with your sales team?

  • Written criteria for lead routing (territories, vertical focus, product interest, etc.)
  • Sales time-to-follow-up expectations (2 hours, 24 hours, 48 hours,)
  • Management support to help keep sales team accountable?
  • Clear process flow from form completion to sales hand-off?

I helped a client develop a service level agreement to improve lead routing and increased their leads-to-opportunities by over 200%. 

Here’s how.

  1. Developed a universal lead definition which influenced how they score leads. And field sales agreed to engage all marketing-qualified leads within 24 hours.
  2. Qualified all leads with inside sales and distributed within two business hours.
  3. Used a checklist to update territories often to keep up with changes.
  4. Routed leads via automated rules in Salesforce.com. The workflow notifies the salesperson and creates a task with a deadline.
  5. Setup rule if a qualified lead is not opened/edited by the assigned rep within 24 hours, they get a reminder message from their manager. And if a sales lead goes more than 48 hours, they get a call to see if that contact needs to reassigned or if they need help.

It takes some time to plan the process and collaborative work with sales. But it’s worth it. Using this approach, they converted 200% more leads to opportunities.

Tip 2: Qualify that people actually want to talk to a sales rep before routing

Use your potential customer’s and your sales rep’s time well. When someone downloads a single piece of content (like a white paper), are they ready for a sales rep to call? Not likely.

The key to lead routing to match readiness of the lead (i.e., future customer) with expectations of your sales team. If you don’t do this, you’re starting them off with an immediate disconnect.

First, you need to qualify each lead to see they are “sales-ready” which means they want to talk to a salesperson. You can find this ideal point by using lead scoring and lead qualification. There is only so much information that you can get off a Web form or that someone will volunteer in an email.

For more, read: Lead Qualification: Stop generating leads and start generating revenue.

Tip 3: Provide tools your reps can use to follow-up after handoff

Like a relay race, there’s a point when Marketing’s and Sales’ hands are on the baton when you make a handoff.

Here’s what I mean.

You need to be clear when marketing is going to hand the lead off to sales. You need to be clear when marketing is going to hand the lead off to sales. So don’t drop the baton because that hurts the relationship.

Additionally, salespeople often struggle with their follow-up approach.After working with hundreds of sales people and seeing their sales processes first hand, I frequently hear this “stuck point.” They often ask, “How do I advance the lead when there isn’t an immediate need?” And sales people are often stuck wondering, “What else can I talk to them about?”

Without your input, sales people can resort to boring or irrelevant messaging. This is not because they lack creatively, it comes down to their time. Help your salespeople spend their time connecting and selling rather than building content and messaging.

Create a few emails and some talking points to help them connect with the motivation of leads based on their interest. In sum, help your sales team with messaging and content to engage relevantly.

Tip 4: Schedule appointments for the sales team — Help cut “telephone tag.”

Here are three potential ideas you can test to optimize your lead routing for more sales:

Route leads based on sales skill

Use lead grading to rank what level of expertise leads need based on the need. More general inquiries can go to inside sales reps first. Do not frustrate field salespeople with sending them people who don’t want to talk to them. Make sure you sort your leads based on anticipated needs or interest then route them as soon as possible.

Distribute leads based on product or industry vertical know-how

Use your sales team’s industry experience and knowledge. The more you know about your reps, the more you can match with leads they’ll have the most success. This is why round-robin lead distribution can be deadly to conversion. It assumes every salesperson is the same.

Route leads based on location of remote employees

If you have a large distributed field team, you likely route leads via territories or regions. But smaller teams and inside sales teams can also use local lead routing too. You can help your help your sales team make local connections.

For example, if a contact works from home in CA, but their office is located in MN. Who do you route this lead too? Can that person based in CA connect work with someone local? You need to real collaboration with sales to do this.

Tip 6: Develop to track and measure sales follow-up on lead routing

Does your routing support the real-time tracking and reporting of all marketing-generated leads? You can monitor and measure lead routing in the following ways:

  • Stage of the sales pipeline
  • Industry vertical and initial interest
  • Salesperson responsiveness (time-to-open/edit and initial follow-up)
  • Territory performance (benchmark and compare performance)
  • Marketing campaign or lead source
  • Lead scoring and grading
  • Forecasted revenue and time-to-close

For more ideas, read 6 Metrics That Will Get You an Edge and Your CEO Clarity

Tip 7: Use a checklist to make sure no leads get lost or missed

Airline pilots, portfolio managers, surgeons use checklists so why not marketers? By using lists, you can improve your performance and get more consistent results. For more on this, read HBR: Using Checklists to Prevent Failure.

You can use the following list of steps to help you focus where you need to improve lead routing now:

  • Get buy-in from sales team on your “sales ready” lead definition
  • Provide qualification information for each sales lead
  • Centralize the lead qualification process with a clear lead definition
  • Document the lead hand-off process and accountabilities at each stage
  • Qualify and Distribute sales ready leads immediately
  • Communicate lead hand off to salesperson using automated rules and human oversight
  • Measure sales pursuit on leads (If not followed up will leads get pulled or reassigned)
  • Sales management must also audit and track rep follow-up
  • Close the loop on marketing-generated leads -what gets measured gets done
  • Train your salespeople on how to follow-up and give you feedback
  • Get close-loop feedback from the sales team on leads
  • Share best-practice lead generation follow-up across the sales team

Conclusion

In sum, you can get a boost to your lead generation ROI without any extra spending by improving how you route leads. Using the example I started with, if you were to improve lead routing, it’s like getting a 25% lift in leads. Here’s this best part: You can do this without spending anymore more budget. That’s the kind of results we can all get excited about.

It’s your turn. What’s worked for you to optimize lead routing? Share in the comments below.

You might also like

Lead Generation That Converts Leads into Sales Opportunities
16 Proven Ways to Get Better Opportunities Now (Part 1)
3 Good Questions to Align B2B Marketing, Sales, and Strategy
Lead Nurturing: 5 Useful Tactics to Get More Opportunities
Marketing 101: How to get started in lead generation

The post How to Improve Lead Routing for More Sales appeared first on B2B Lead Blog.

16 Proven Ways to Get Better Opportunities Now (Part 2)

Marketers spend a lot of time and effort generating inbound leads, but they often struggle getting those leads to convert into sales opportunities and customers after they hand them off to sales.  salesopportunities

In this post, I’ll share 16 proven ways get better sales opportunities from your lead generation and account based marketing. There’s so much to share, I split this post into two parts (you can read part 1 with tips 1-8 here), and today is part 2, featuring tips 8-16.

8. Touch longer-term leads frequently and relevantly. 

To remain relevant to people during the nurturing process, clockyou have to be consistent. My threshold for consistency is to reach out to leads at least once a month. Different marketers have different thresholds, but I would say that quarterly isn’t enough to be remembered—there is just too much noise in the way. For more tips read 6 Ideas to Create More Relevant Lead Nurturing Emails

 9. Educate and help with your lead nurturing. 

Most case studies and whitepapers have a sales edge to them. That won’t work for lead nurturing. The content must be educational and helpful. One partner worked with an outside publisher to develop educational Webinars and brought in some editorial support to help them develop some thought leadership pieces that didn’t focus on products or sales.

Share information that sticks with them. Give your potential customers educational content that helps them grow as an individual or a company. Here’s a nurturing litmus test: Can prospects benefit from the information you provide, regardless of whether they buy from you? Read more on stop cold calling and start do lead nurturing


Educate and help with your lead nurturing. Share information that sticks with them.
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10. Use third parties to add credibility.

Most marketers try to generate all the content they send to leads themselves. But third parties can do that work for you and, more importantly, validate what you are doing in the marketplace. For example, one partner started partnering with analysts that covered their industry. They paid a fee to re-purpose the research and shared it with their target audience.Example

Meanwhile, linking to third-party media articles costs you nothing. You don’t need to get permission to send hyperlinks to items that you think are relevant. It helps to personalize the emails. For example, you could write, I saw this article in IndustryWeek that I thought you might find to be relevant based on our last conversation. Having precise profiles of the different leads means that you can automate that process. Read how the halo effect drives lead generation.


11. Build trust and connection from a single voice. 

Remember that people pay attention to who is sending them emails. Anonymous general info@ email addresses may save money and be scalable, but they don’t build connections. The re-engagement or nurturing process has to start with a human being. You need to have a person behind the email and the phone call. And it should be the same person. Our goal is to build the relationship through people to the point to where the lead is sales ready and then hand that link off to the next person.


Customers pay attention to who is sending them emails. People buy from people, not companies.
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12. Market to their role, not their title. 

It seems like everyone is a vice president these days. You need a quick process to identify the person’s function and role in the company rather than going the by title. With a partner, we developed a method for determining a contact’s role and function in the enterprise based on a series of conversations. Unless you do that, you don’t have a way to segment them accurately and send them the right content.

13. Nurture accounts/organizations, not just people. 

It’s important to have a closed-loop feedback system so that you can track all activities with all leads inside an organization. Especially with B2B, selling happens at a corporate level and a business unit degree in addition to an individual level. You need to be able to track interactions to be able to determine the program of selling the entire organization.


Give prospects tools and content to help them have crucial conversations inside their company.
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 14. Create a clear connection between marketing and sales. 

The point at which marketing hands a lead off to sales isbaton teamwork like a relay race: It’s important to keep moving fast without dropping the baton. At one partner, we got sales to commit to contacting all leads within 48 hours if they had the following three things:

  • The sales lead conforms to the universal lead definition
  • Confirmation that the lead wants to speak to a sales representative
  • Qualification information for each lead

It’s important to document the process so that both sales and marketing can track all steps and evaluate the process objectively

 15. Begin marketing and sales “huddles” to gauge progress.

HuddleA football team would never think of skipping the huddle between plays. Sales and marketing should view their work together in the same way. They need to talk frequently about what’s happening with their leads if they want to see ROI. It’s important to close the loop on every lead and to discuss ways to improve the process. In my experience, sales and marketing should huddle on leads at least once a month. Here are some questions to ask:

How many of the sales leads we’ve given you in the past two weeks are active?

Have you talked to them and are you moving forward?

It’s also important to celebrate wins together as part of these huddles. You need to feel that you are all part of the same team. When that happens, you start seeing improvements at all levels. For example, one partner had an administrative person at the meetings enter information about leads into the CRM system as people were talking. And soon sales began to see why they needed to capture accurate information about leads in the system. If they do it, they know that nurturing will happen on their behalf.


A football team wouldn't skip the huddle between plays. Neither should sales and marketing.
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16. Bring your passion for creating a better future for your team.

Building clarity around the lead process helps build your passion for making a difference in your organization. It creates closer ties between marketing and sales and helps sales do its job better than ever before. You will begin qualifying leads in a disciplined and rigorous way. And that brings a significant improvement in revenue generated from marketing. Read more on Where’s the Passion in B2B Marketing?

The post 16 Proven Ways to Get Better Opportunities Now (Part 2) appeared first on B2B Lead Blog.

16 Proven Ways to Get Better Opportunities Now (Part 1)

When I’ve talked with marketers about their b2b lead generation results, I’ve heard statements like, “We’re LeadGenerationNurturingFunnelgenerating a ton of leads, but they aren’t converting” or “We need to increase lead quantity” or “We need to generate more qualified leads.”

Marketers spend a lot of time and effort generating inbound leads, but they often struggle getting those leads to convert into customers after they hand them off to sales. I’ve learned it’s not about generating more leads. It’s about doing better with the ones you already have.

In this post, I’ll share proven ways get better opportunities from your lead generation. Because there’s so much to share, I’m splitting this post into two parts with today’s post featuring the first eight.

1. Create a universal lead definition. 

If you are trying to measure lead generation and you don’t have a universal lead definition (ULD), which is an agreement what the word “lead” means, you won’t be successful. This point is particularly the case in high-growth organizations, where the number of leads is growing all the time. Without a ULD, salespeople will have a tendency to focus on the companies they already know and relationships they previously had and ignore the others. They need to keep their numbers up and don’t trust uncertain leads to move the needle.

To get past this, you have to sit down with the sales team and ask, what are the major things that you need to know for you to feel that something is viable?  These are the key points of information that sales often wants to know about a lead:

  • Role in the organization
  • Their role/authority is in the buying process
  • Their motivation
  • Stage of investigation

It’s important to remember that the first definition process is iterative. It’s not a one-and-done thing. Revisit the universal definition and make changes. And be asking questions, including “are we asking the right questions?”


2. Use your empathy.

EmpathyWhen you’re in the trenches, it’s easy to get caught up in marketing acronyms, data, and analytics. What you need to remember is that, ultimately, your lead generation comes down to connecting with people.

This personal connection comes down to one idea — empathy. Learn about the importance of putting the empathy back into customer interactions, and then read some simple strategies for achieving empathetic marketing.


B2B Lead generation success comes down to connecting with people. It’s about relationships.
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3. Use the phone. 

The phone is the gold standard for qualifying most leads. I’ve found that you could e-mail, do web profiling, lead scoring, and measure all these touch points. But in the end, if you want to know something, you need to pick up the phone, talk to someone, and engage them in a conversation. Also, if you plan on doing account-based marketing (ABM), this is key a requirement.

4. Follow-up about potential customer’s motivation first.

One of the mistakes I see in lead handoff is that sales will notice that someone downloads a whitepaper. Then they do a follow-up call and want to set up an appointment. Nope. That’s not going to get you anywhere. You want to be able to engage them in more of a discussion rather than trying to make an immediate qualification.

To do that, you need to ask a question that helps you understand their motivation: What question were you hoping to answer by downloading our white paper or what motivated you to download our white paper? The next question is, was that you were asking the question, or was that someone else in your company asking the question? The goal is to be a trusted advisor or a relevant resource to your audience until they move to the point of being ready to talk about initiatives or a project.


Instead of trying to sound interesting to others, be interested in them.
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 5. Start re-engaging your old leads now.

Consider going back to your 3-month-old or old leads and re-engage them in some meaningful way. My research has shown that about 70-80% of leads marketers leadgenerationnuturinggenerate end up getting lost, ignored or discarded.

Rather than continually struggling to find new leads for the sales team, marketers must develop a lead re-engagement process that requires the sales team to return slow or unwanted sales leads to the marketing team. The key is looking back to your past marketing activities to find the gold lost in the sales pipeline. If you want to make a difference in this year, go back to review the leads you generated last year last year, and there’s a lot of opportunities there.


6. Learn what qualifies as lead nurturing.

What is and isn’t lead nurturing? A silly question, I know, yet it’s one that marketers often answer incorrectly. This concept of lead nurturing is more nuanced than it seems. Lead nurturing involves providing prospects with relevant and valuable information and helping them on their buying journey and adding value regardless if they ever buy from you. This specialized treatment is much more likely to result in a conversion than sending out generic promotional emails. Learn the exact definition of lead nurturing, and read some examples of what does and doesn’t make the mark.


Lead nurturing is consistently sharing relevant and valuable content with viable prospects.
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7. Tip Filter content by role and by the stage of the buying process.

Executives get a lot of similar content. But if you can demonstrate that you’ve done filtering on their behalf, you can get through to them. I’ve found that readership will up significantly by sending one targeted piece to leads rather than a generic newsletter targeted to everyone.

Begin by asking your sales team:

  • The questions do your customers ask most often?
  • What are they likely concerned with now?
  • How likely issues are they facing?

LeadNuturingchannels

Find content — such as articles, blogs, and white papers — that addresses these issues. Pass this content by your sales team, and ask them whether their customers would value it. As much as you can, repurpose content. For instance, white papers can be transformed into articles and articles into blog posts.

Once you’ve determined who they are, you need to support a continuing conversation. For example, if you have a Webinar, you send them a follow-up email with more information and then call to ask, did you find that webinar helpful? Did it bring up other questions?

You might also like:

10 Ways to Optimize Your Lead Conversion Rate

The post 16 Proven Ways to Get Better Opportunities Now (Part 1) appeared first on B2B Lead Blog.