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.

7 Tips to Boost Your Email Nurturing Results Immediately

Email Marketing NurturingPeople aren’t looking for a reason to read your email messages, they’re looking for a reason to delete them.

Think about it.

You probably do this with your inbox too.

This is important because marketers rely on email as the top lead-nurturing tactic and according to Econsultancy, it’s the best channel for ROI. However, according to a MarketingSherpa survey of email recipients, 58% of those who stop reading, disengage or unsubscribe later cite “lack of relevance” as a key factor.

For example, I get emails often from companies that “know” me — in some cases, I’m their customer — but their emails don’t show it. I often get graphics-focused emails that are irrelevant, treat me as an object to convert or don’t speak to my needs or motivations at all.

But here’s the kicker. Each irrelevant message I receive programs and anchors me to ignore or delete future messages from that sender. The goal of this post is to share seven tips that you can use to boost your email marketing and nurturing results immediately.

Tip 1: Be human and use your empathy with emails

It’s funny when we put on our marketing and sales hats or walk into our offices how we can talk and write differently.

Let me explain. Do your nurturing emails treat people like objects to convert i.e. get a click? Or do they treat them like people you can help? As I’ve written before, the best marketing feels like helping (because it is.)

Focus on humanizing your emails to build a connection and actually offer help and value. It’s amazing the difference this can make.  Also, look at the tone of your email messages. Do you use a sales tone or an empathetic tone? Here’s how.

The following is an example of an A/B test from MarketingExperiments of an email that was sent to prospects who began a form completion but did not complete it. Note the difference in tone.

Sales tone vs. Empathetic Email tone test

The email on the left was “sales speak.”  The tone of the email on the right was changed to be more empathetic and yielded a conversion rate of 7% versus 1.5% for the control email. By addressing the customer’s anxiety (with empathy) through the tone of the email, they saw a 349% increase in total lead inquiries.

Test this yourself, and see if empathy wins.

Read more on How Empathy Will Grow Your Sales and Marketing Pipeline

Tip 2: Focus on what really matters and motivates them

In sum, treat others the way they want to be treated (not the way you want to be treated).

You might be wondering: why not “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”?

Let me explain.

Because if we do marketing and communicate the way we want, it may not matter to that other person. Marketing isn’t something you do to people. It’s something you do for people. Again it’s about them, not us.

Case in point, many marketers don’t get to talk directly with the people they are sending emails too. Often, it’s inside sales, customer service agents or sales people who are talking with potential customers live and/or in person.

Here are some ways to fix that:

  • Pick up the phone and have a conversation
  • Survey customers on your email list
  • Get out in the field with your sales team and meet customers face to face

It is critical to know what customers want to serve them better.

Read more on how to put your customers first in lead generation

Tip 3: Understand where they are in their buying journey

Be sure to provide different kinds of information to your prospect based on what point they are in the customer buying journey.

Here’s the thing: Our customers don’t see our funnels.

They only have the aggregate experience of what they see, hear, and feel from us. Still, it’s helpful to notice that all customer buying cycles fit into three distinct funnel stages.

Lead-Generation-FunnelTop of the Funnel (TOFU): People at this juncture are searching for ideas, tips, and resources to help them answer questions and get ideas for problems they’re facing. At this stage, your goal is to assist and provide enough value to get a conversion and move them from anonymous visitors to known people (i.e. name, company, email, etc.)

Middle of the Funnel (MOFU): At this stage, people took some conversion step to express interest (subscribe, register, or download, etc.). You need to learn if this person and/or their company is a fit and their level of qualification. You also want to learn about their motivation. During this stage, you’ll share content to help progress them from interest towards purchase intent.

Bottom of the Funnel (BOFU): People are moving through a series micro-yeses and decisions on their journey. At this stage, you’re moving them from being lead to a sales qualified opportunity. This is where the hand-off from marketing to sales takes place and where people ultimately make the buying decision.

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

Tip 4: Use micro-segmenting for better relevancy.

With marketing automation, you can use behavioral information. What content have your recipients read, links have they clicked, content downloaded, videos watched, events attended, etc.

Personally, I use smart tagging on contacts with automated workflows in my marketing automation to do this. At first, I did this manually. Before you do this, I suggest you organize all your tags in a tagging schema. I use an Excel spreadsheet, so I don’t lose track, and stay consistent.

Contact Tags

Smart Tagging Contact Attributes

As you know more about your prospects role and the industry they’re in, you can then create messages based on industry vertical or company size.  

Industry information will most likely tell what pains your prospects are experiencing at an organizational level. At the same time, company size will give you a hint as to the resources they have available to tackle these challenges. Be sure to add this information to your marketing data often so that you can easily define your target segments based on these indicators.

Read more on Email Marketing: 3 lead nurture paths you should automate.

Tip 5: Map content and message based on personas

Effective lead nurturing starts with listening to customers to actually understand them, and then it requires identifying the key personas of your audience.

What’s their job function? What part to they play in the buying process (influencer, decision maker, information gather)?

For example, based on my experience, a decision maker is heavily involved at the very start and the very end of the B2B buying process but leaves the middle of the process up to the influencers.

You’ll need to investigate who gets involved at which point in the buying process so that you can segment your messaging. What content do your contacts need? What are the problems they’re facing?

Read more: Content Marketing: 4 stages to mapping your content strategy.

Tip 6: Leverage trigger events to your advantage

In all my experience working with complex sales, I’ve not seen a someone take action or buy without a trigger event driving their motivation.

I define a trigger event happening associated with a consequence so significant that it causes new behaviors, ideas, and new sales opportunities.

You will find specific trigger events that matter more to your audience than others because what you offer addresses different problems and emotional motivations.

Trigger events matter for two key reasons. First, they may indicate that the status quo in an organization is changing, and secondly, they can contribute to the development of timely and relevant sales and marketing messaging.

Read more on How to Use Trigger Events for More and Better Leads

Tip 7: Test your messaging and optimize.

This is the hardest part to get right. Why?

You do not just need to know how to test. You need to know what to test.

Try some of the following test ideas with your email messages:

  • Different email subject lines (this is my favorite relevancy booster — I find that the less marketing hype used, the better). Clarity matters.
  • Personalization i.e. name, company, interest, and pronouns you use.
  • Tone of the email: empathetic vs. sales speak
  • Different message copy (length and content)
  • Template style (graphics vs. simple Outlook looking emails)
  • Different calls to action
  • Naked links vs. embedded links
  • Timing (how frequently you email)

The response to your A/B tests will help you understand which message and approaches are most relevant and helpful and convert best with your audience.

Personally, I’ve more doubled my conversion rates by A/B testing. Also, I’m getting more personal four times as many personal replies. If your email system or marketing automation doesn’t support A/B testing, start using one that does now. You won’t regret it.

Also, when you do lead nurturing tracks A/B testing is extremely useful because you can leverage what you’ve learned to reuse that optimized message again and again.

Conclusion

You now know seven tips you can use to improve your marketing and nurturing emails to improve relevancy, engagement, and conversion. If you do one thing, do this: Put yourself in the shoes of the recipient of your email.

In sum, get out of your head and imagine that you’re a potential customer receiving your message. What are they thinking? What are they feeling? If you do this, you’ll be in the right place to leverage these tips to improve your email marketing and get better results.

It’s your turn. What have you found works to create better marketing or nurturing emails?

You may also like: 

5 Ways to Immediately Boost Account Based Marketing (ABM)

What Can B2B Marketers Gain from Growth Hacking?

Fast Growth Marketing: From 0 to 500,000 Users

The post 7 Tips to Boost Your Email Nurturing Results Immediately appeared first on B2B Lead Blog.

10 Most Popular B2B Lead Generation Blog Posts of 2016

The year 2016 is quickly coming to an end and the holiday season is a time for reflection and preparation.

I’ve compiled a list of the 10 most popular and shared posts on the B2B Lead Blog, chosen by marketers, just like you, to help you get ready to have a great 2017. My methodology was compiling the aggregate social shares across Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google+.

1. The Biggest Contributor to B2B Revenue

Dave Green interviewed Trish Bertuzzi (@bridgegroupinc), author of the popular book, The Sales Development Playbook.

For the majority of B2B companies with complex sales, marketing-generated leads rarely account for 50% of revenue and often it’s often much less.

To keep valuable field salespeople productive, many of the more innovative sales and marketing departments build “sales development” teams including Oracle, Marketo, HubSpot, HP, and  Salesforce.com. Just to name a few.

Read  The Biggest Contributor to B2B Revenue

2. How Empathy Will Grow Your Sales and Marketing Pipeline

We have more channels and more content marketing than ever before, but it’s become harder actually to connect with potential customers.

Empathetic Marketing is about moving out of our self-thinking and into the mind of our customer, thus, moving away from me-first, business-centric thinking to customer-centric thinking and speaking to our customer’s motivations.

For example, Slack (currently the fastest growing start-up in history) practices empathy in their marketing, product design, and is part of their core values. Additionally, IBM is gearing up to become the world’s largest design company. In the course of their boot camps, IBMemployees are learning how to apply empathy to connect better with colleagues and clients.

Read How Empathy Will Grow Your Sales and Marketing Pipeline

3. Better Social Selling: An Interview with Jill Rowley

Jill RoleyDo you want to get better at social selling or help your sales team do the same?  If not, you should. Here’s why. B2B marketing has gone through a modernization to align better with how people buy.  Now it’s time for sales to step up.

I interviewed Jill Rowley (@jill_rowley), Chief Evangelist and startup advisor for #SocialSelling. “…we’re long overdue for transformation, a modernization of the way we sell…,” Rowley said.

Read the Interview with Jill Rowley on Better Social Selling

4. Tips On How to Use LinkedIn for Better Lead Generation

As a follow-up to this popular 2015 post, How to Use LinkedIn to Generate Leads, I interviewed Susan Tatum (@susanptatum), Partner at The Conversion Company. I met Susan through following her writing on her blog and her work in the LinkedIn community.

I see sales and marketing people trying too hard to automate and template-ize their actions, focusing on quantity and not quality. They’re approaching LinkedIn like an email blast campaign, and this is not what the network is about – Susan Tatum

Read the Tips on How to Use LinkedIn for Better Lead Generation.

5. Six Metrics That Will Give You an Edge and Your CEO Clarity

Do you know what CEOs want most from B2B marketers?

They want clarity about marketing results. And they expect their marketing leaders to provide clear metrics and be accountable to meeting their numbers just like their sales.

MarketingCharts cited a recent report from Regalix which stated, “The majority of senior marketers are using basic marketing analytics tools such as web analysis (91%) and spreadsheets (80%)…”

Find out the 6 B2B Marketing Measures that Will Give You an Edge and Your CEO Clarity.

6. Four Ways You Can Humanize Marketing and Build Relationships

We need to stop treating our customers like objects and treat them like people. So how do you humanize your marketing? According to the CMO Council, “Only 20% of marketers are able to predict the next best action for their customers.” Additionally, Forrester Consulting discovered, “65 % of marketers struggle to employ emotional marketing as they turn to automation to improve customer engagement.”

Humanizing marketing is about applying this truth from neuroscientist Antonio Damasio who said, “We are not thinking machines that feel; rather, we are feeling machines that think.” At its core, marketing is about building relationships. To do that we need to build trust. By following the suggestions in this post, you’ll make a huge improvement in how you connect with your customers.

Read about Four Ways You Can Humanize Marketing and Build Relationships.

7. How to Use Trigger Events for More and Better Leads

Using trigger events with your account based marketing and selling can help your sales team be more efficient and effective.  Why?

You’re putting the law of inertia to work in your favor, and that can help shorten your average sales cycle.

Also, you’ll spend more time connecting with people who have the motivation to actually buy what you have to sell.

Find out how identifying the key events helped one company win more sales and increase conversions by 400%. And learn 3 steps to determine which trigger events are most important for your Account Based Marketing (ABM).

Read more: How To Use Trigger Events for More and Better Leads.

 8. Five Ways to Immediately Boost Account-Based Marketing (ABM)

What are the five ways you can immediately improve your account-based marketing (ABM) and selling? I was interviewed on CRMRadio.today by Jim Obermayer (@SalesldMgmtAssn), founder of the Sales Lead Management Association and the Funnel Media Group.

Learn the five ways to improve account based marketing and selling immediately.  In the interview, we talk a little shop about the fundamentals of account-based marketing, what’s new (and unchanged) in the world of the complex sale, and how empathy marketing is the way forward.

Read about Five Ways to Immediately Boost Account-Based Marketing (ABM)

9. Fast Growth Marketing: From 0 to 500,000 Users

In this interview, you’ll hear from Jim Fowler (@fowlinator), founder of Owler on what he’s learned about expedited growth. Owler – a free competitive intelligence platform – rapidly went from 0 to over 500,000 users and they’re on pace to exceed a million users by the end of 2016.

Find out how Owler acquired so many active users so quickly and learn the lessons discovered along with the way to help you with your 2017 marketing strategy.

Read about Rapid Growth Marketing: From 0 to 500,000 Users

10. 16 Proven Ways to Getting Better Leads Now

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

In this post, I’ll share proven ways get better opportunities from your lead generation. There was so much to share, I split this post into two parts

Read 16 Proven Ways to Getting Better Leads and Opportunities Now (Part 1) and (Part 2)

Honorable mentions:

How Giving Useful Ideas and Secrets Builds Trust

Three Questions to Align B2B Marketing, Sales, and Strategy

Conclusion

As you saw, this analysis of the most socially shared posts provides a glimpse into the topics readers found most relevant in 2016. The issues of lead generation and account-based marketing continue to be big in 2016 and for a good reason. Every marketing touch, conversation, and social connection, is centered on developing relationships.

Also, these posts show that 2016 was the year of the customer and being buyer-centric. When you’re in the trenches, it’s easy to get caught up in marketing acronyms, martech, data, and analytics. What readers showed is that demand generation, B2B marketing, and sales comes down to connecting with people. And this personal connection comes down to one idea — empathy.

I look forward to continuing to bring you useful information, tips, and insights in 2017.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.

The post 10 Most Popular B2B Lead Generation Blog Posts of 2016 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.

How to Use LinkedIn to Generate Leads

It’s time to rethink the way you use LinkedIn.

Without some of us even noticing, LinkedIn developed into a useful publlinkedinleadgenishing platform and lead generation tool for marketers and salespeople looking to build relationships with potential customers.

But if you’re looking for an easy lead source, you won’t find it here. After using LinkedIn to build my own discussion groups, I’ve discovered that using LinkedIn to generate leads can be a pretty simple process  — if you’re willing to invest a little time sharing your expertise and thought leadership.

As referral selling expert, Joanne Black writes in a post:

The goal of social media is not to sell; it is to begin conversations and ultimately build relationships. Hopefully, many of those relationships will yield sales or referrals. But when you start making sales pitches on LinkedIn,you don’t attract clients. You just annoy people.

Here are 10 Ways to do lead generation via LinkedIn

1. Create a polished and personally branded profile on LinkedIn.

If you haven’t already, spend some time perfecting your profile to make sure it is clear what you do and what your strengths are. Focus on your headline and summary. It should be compelling.

Your headline will automatically be displayed as the last job you’ve had, unless you change it manually. Sales expert and author, Jill Konrath put together a great video on 4 steps to writing your LinkedIn headline and summary. I’ve applied her lessons to my own profile. You can access Jill’s free “how to learn”LinkedIn rapid learning mini-course here.

You can also check out how you rate on LinkedIn’s Social Selling Index. The tool can help recommend ways to get better.  For example, my results indicated that I can improve in “engaging with insights.”

brian-carroll-socselling-illustration

2. Connect, reconnect and help — social media marketing at its best.

Start connecting with your current and past contacts, focusing on relationships where trust already exists. It’s easy to conduct a search on LinkedIn to find individuals you’ve lost touch with.Then reach out the them and offer help in some way. Help first. You’ll find that people usually want to help you as you want to help them.

When you get a new business card from someone you meet, look them up via LinkedIn and invite them to connect with you. If you’re just starting out as a LinkedIn user, you can import your contacts from Outlook, Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo!, or AOL. Be sure to include your distinct URL in your email signature, on your traditional resume, on your blog, on your website, and on your business card so that others can connect with you easily.

3. Reach out to former clients.

You can track what your former clients have been doing since you last saw them — with no awkwardness. When contacting a former client, instead of sending an open-ended message, make a positive comment about their achievements and ask questions about their new projects. And again look for ways to help.

4. Join LinkedIn Groups where your clients/customers gather.

Groups can be extremely powerful to your personal brand. Use Advanced Search to find practitioners within your firm and in industry at-large. Through these groups, you can learn a lot about your industry by tuning into the conversations. You may discover new industry-wide pain points and learn about options to solve those pain points. Learning more about your industry by watching from afar will give you real, everyday insight into ways you can help and connect.

5. Post relevant content on groups (if that’s their approach) and answer targeted questions.

First figure out the rules of the group. If they allow content sharing, start building your credibility in the group by sharing relevant content that fits the interests of the group. This includes relevant blog posts, links to articles you have written, articles that quote you, and event notices for webinars. Be sure to stay sensitive to the dynamics of your group — don’t ever try to dominate the conversation. Your materials should be a helpful resource, not a sales pitch for you.

6. Answer targeted questions in areas of your expertise.

Many group members use LinkedIn as a discussion board, and you’ll find many questions posted on any given day. Take time each day to answer a few or to post a few questions yourself. Answer questions that are relevant to your expertise or something you’re passionate about.

If you find a question you can answer well from someone you want to do business with who’s relatively senior in a company, write a detailed, high-value response. You never know who’s reading the information. Lots of members gain a foot in the door because of the expertise they lend to a discussion.

7. Check out individual profiles

Find out if your potential customers contribute to blogs. Learn what events they are attending and even the books they are reading. This is the beauty of LinkedIn: How many other sources will surface prior work history? This helps you be more intentional and have more clues about how you could potentially help.

8. No more cold calls. Use the information to do warm outreach.

An introduction received via LinkedIn is much warmer than a cold call because it comes with a bit of trust. You’re not the stranger trying to upsell something; you come with a recommendation from a person that the receiver is connected to, or you share a common membership in a professional group.

Even if you can’t find a path to connect to someone, sending a direct message via LinkedIn is better than sending a cold email because LinkedIn implies a business context. So when you are checking out a potential customer, you can review their profile, discover their interest and determine if you have something in common with them to help warm up your call with them.

9. Search with Advanced Filters and use messaging aka InMail.

One of the best features of having a LinkedIn Premium or Sales Navigator account is being able to use Advanced Filters in search. Not only can you search by company and relationship, but Premium advanced search on LinkedIn allows you to search by function, location, seniority level, and company size, as well. Pair that with Messages (aka InMail), and now you can contact prospects directly without a referral.

When I write personal relevant emails using InMail with research I get via LinkedIn, I almost always get a response.

9. Create your own LinkedIn group

Starting your own group gives you control over its content and reach. You can choose to open the group only to people you know or (if appropriate, and if you have the time) you can open it up to a much larger audience. The goal is to engage your audience and leverage your thought leadership to make a difference with members of your group.

LinkedIn offers tips for consultants using the channel to build their business, demonstrate areas of expertise, and leverage their network. Check out the B2B Lead Gen Roundtable Group on LinkedIn. I started this group, and it’s all about sharing ideas that focus on the many aspects of B2B lead generation. The group has grown to 19,100 members, but I’m even more excited about what’s not happening. I’m learning a ton from members because we have rules about what can and can’t be posted, and it’s 100% discussion only. If you are going to do this, be ready for the time commitment this will need to be a successful group. I’ll be writing more on this later.

10. Post regular updates.

Spend a minute posting an “Update” or “What’s on your mind?” to your LinkedIn network each day. You can use updates to share a link to an article, blog post, or  video relevant to your potential customers and network. Or use the “Pulse”feature on your LinkedIn dashboard.

When you post an update, what you post gets displayed in the feed of all the people you’re connected with. This isn’t the place to sell. However, don’t be afraid to share significant announcements or news either. Add value with each update.

It’s that keeping-up process that will spark conversations about opportunities for both you and your contacts. It’s in these conversations (which could also be done by email) that ideas will arise about prospective clients, possible partnerships, and other revenue-generating projects.

Conclusion

Implementing these tips into your daily routine will require a time commitment, but it’s easy to join the conversation for a few minutes each day and check in with various groups. Also, LinkedIn is constantly evolving, so keep an eye on it. As it continues to grow, people will find new and smarter ways to utilize it. You’ll want to be there, ready to dive in and generate leads.

You might also like

MarketingSherpa Case Study: Using LinkedIn for Lead Generation: 6 Lessons

Forbes: 4 Best Practices For Generating More Leads On LinkedIn

Jill Konrath Research the #1 Facet of LinkedIn: Headline and Summary

HubSpot Blog: LinkedIn 277% More Effective for Lead Generation Than Facebook & Twitter [New Data]

Small Business Trends: 13 Creative Ways to Use LinkedIn for Lead Generation

The post How to Use LinkedIn to Generate Leads appeared first on B2B Lead Blog.