There are a number of prosperous businesses around that have grown from start-ups to profitable companies by relying simply on word of mouth and customer referrals. For these businesses, proactive lead generation and new client acquisition has not yet been necessary and focus has instead been on meeting demand and fulfilling customers’ requirements to retain their repeat business. At some point though, this situation is likely to change. Referrals may slow down, demand decreases and suddenly you have the time, the desire or maybe even the urgent need to start actively growing your B2B sales.
It’s at this point you need a well-planned lead generation strategy, but where to start?
Set precise, attainable, measurable lead generation goals
Know where you are now and where you want to get to, and specify a deadline. For example, ‘increase our business-to-business sales by 15%, from £2million to £2.3million revenue, in the next year.’ Lay down the KPIs that you’ll use to measure your performance against this goal, such as cost per lead, cost per sale and ROI.
Get to know the people that already spend with you
The good news is you already have an active customer base, which means you have the advantage of being able to fully understand your future buyers. Start by conducting research with your current customer base and aim to create semi-fictional buyer persona documents for each different decision maker type that buys from you.
Once you have this valuable information, you can begin to look at the prospect and data universe that’s available to you. Understanding this data is the only way to lay the foundations of a lead generation plan that will generate quality sales leads and revenue.
Determine which channels you will use to reach, engage and nurture prospects
While industry recommendations and benchmarks can give you an indication of the marketing channels to consider for inclusion, the platforms you select for your lead generation strategy should be based on the buyer persona documents you’ve created. Are your buyers used to receiving email after email? Consider standout direct mail and innovative social media approaches. Perhaps those you want to target are out on the road a lot? In this case maybe telemarketing will be the best approach for obtaining a response. Of course, it’s important to remember that no single channel will get you the results you’re looking for. The best quality leads are usually those that have been nurtured across multiple channels, with an integrated strategy.
Have a lead management process in place
The error many companies make when they begin actively pursuing new business is to assume the current resource they have will be enough to generate and manage incoming opportunities. Ensure you have a team in place that is responsible for not only implementing all of your lead generation activity, but continuously measuring it against the financial targets you’ve set.
Of course, this advice is just the basic starting point for creating a successful B2B lead generation plan. To really create a strategy that’ll deliver a steady flow of profitable new business opportunities, there’s plenty of additional advice I could share with you.