[warning long post]
We are frequently asked if we provide leads on a commission basis or if we can provide a guarantee for a certain number of leads per month.
We usually turn the question around and ask the company if they have an existing sales pipeline and can provide metrics of success for cold outreach.
Based on this, we can decide whether we might take them on as a client.
In most cases companies do not and they move on.
In fact, the MORE experienced a company is, the better they understand that to develop this process properly takes time and effort, and they are willing to invest in what is required.
It is generally the LESS experienced companies that want leads on a guarantee or commission.
The Problem With One Approach
A company that is resting its whole growth strategy on one activity, local lead generation, with very little else in place is preparing to fail.
A whole suite of activities is required to ensure local lead generation works.
The reason for demanding gurantees is due to poor results from cold lead generation that burned these companies in the past....
However, if the one thing they are trying doesn’t work, then it’s likely there is something wrong in the sales process and the deeper issue has not been exposed or corrected.
Cold Leads Are Different To Warm Leads
The reality is that businesses can be sustained and even grow for a long time with almost no cold outreach, if the founders or leadership team have a well developed network within which they can prospect and pick up referrals.
If the leadership team then decides to broaden their market and move into cold outreach or new business generation, then a great deal of research, design, groundwork and strategy is required.
To gain a better understanding of where lead generation sits within a growth plan or a sales pipeline flow, take a look at the table below.
Please note the orange bands in the middle of the table which represent traditional lead generation sits.
Companies that are not generating many leads, need to look at stages 01. 02 and 03 before lead generation and the ones who are not turning leads into clients consistently need to examine stages 06, 07, and 08 after lead generation.
Lets take a look at what each stage of the process means.
01. Market Research
At the top of the pipeline development process sits market research.
In many cases experts have started a company with received business. What I mean by this is they have a legacy client that supports them for a long period, or a few clients from their network that they just “received”.
The problem with this is that a company can become quite established without ever having to speak to the market and understand what it needs.
Assumptions are made based on a few clients without rigorous understanding of the market, competitors and trends or an ability to speak to cold strangers.
An adequate market research process is required to speak to enough customers, understand their challenges, analyze the existing solutions, and see what trends are affecting the audience, and finally what gaps exist to solving these problems.
From here the cold outreach strategy can be built.
02. Brand Positioning
Brand positioning goes much deeper than choosing a company name, or creating a website, and a logo.
This entails excavating and articulating the DNA and identity of not only the company, its founders, its unique solutions, but also of the company’s relationship to the market, their needs and what they are lacking.
A well designed brand strategy influences everything about the company from messaging, to product design, the pricing and all the content and thought leadership that is required to reach the market in an effective manner and convert new business.
Brand is measured by the target audience's responses to the company in every way. If cold outreach is not working, questions should be asked concerning:
What is our reliability and authority profile in the market? What is our reputation with existing and past clients? How do new prospects perceive us?
Are we distinctly understood and believed for the solutions which are offered to our audience? Is our messaging clear and engaging because we deeply understand our target audience and their motivations and pains?
Do new prospects have a good experience interacting with our business and want to come back? Do we have fans or a community which resonates with our message and mission?
03. Demand Generation
For experts, thought leaders and companies providing a high ticket service, educating your market about solutions available to them, is key for new business generation.
In many cases, your target audience will not yet be able to create a bridge in their mind between their existing problems and your solution. For this reason, selling, pitching, providing demos or product brochures will not work with strangers.
Demand generation is all about providing insights and information in such a way that makes the connection in the mind of your prospects between their pains and challenges and their desired destination and outcomes, in ways they previously had not understood.
Usually demand generation takes the form of webinars, educational events, information content such as videos and training, but also at this stage thought leadership is searchable online.
04. Lead Research and Local Lead Generation &
05. Appointment Setting
These do not really need much explanation as they are generally the activities best understood and most required by companies.
However at this point you can see that these mere two tiers 04 and 05, are positioned after quite a lot of work and sit before quite a lot of work in order to result in a new paying client.
06. Sales Development
After a lead shows interest in your business but before a sales call, your prospect with need more information to prime them to buy.
This information usually describes the problem you solve and how, evidence of your work such as case studies, metrics and results and your bespoke methods.
Sales development is also an excellent opportunity to address many of the common objections that potential prospects raise, through well written belief shifting and insights driven articles and videos.
The biggest difference between demand generation and sales development is that demand generation is designed to connect the problems prospects face to your solution.
On the other hand, sales development is designed to take those who are already somewhat interested in what you do and persuade them that you and your company are the best possible in the market to deliver the desired solutions.
07. Sales Call Framework
Again this one does not need a lot of explanation because many experts and consultants feel confident that if they have a qualified prospect in front of them, they can convert them into a paying client.
However it should be mentioned here that a sales call or sales meeting is NOT a demo or a pitch presentation of services.
In fact a powerful sales call framework or script is much more consultative, and entails asking key questions of the lead, gathering information about their challenges, asking about their goals and getting them to the point of admitting they cannot solve the problem themselves.
Only at this point is a presentation of a solution offered, forming less than 30% of the entire consultation. This pitch is tailored to the words and examples the prospect themselves recently shared.
A great sales call framework takes some time to develop and to train your team on so do not skimp on investing in improving this step of your growth journey.
08. Sales Enablement
Between a closed client and a sales call sits a period called sales enablement and for many companies this is a real achilles heel.
Particularly if a company simply wants leads generated, the perception can be that interested leads will close or will not.
However there is quite a comprehensive process required to track leads after the call and continue to move them towards the sale. This is often because prospects need to engage other stakeholders, consider proposals and gain budget approvals.
This requires some great record keeping in the form of a CRM or database to store notes and schedule reminders to follow up. It also requires more valuable content in the form of a regular newsletter or more intimate updates providing value [more education, more illumination].
This stage could also entail a more hands on follow up approach including visiting, calling, meeting other stakeholders and negotiating terms.
09. Paying client
Finally we arrive at a paying client.
I think you can see that a company that wishes for leads, even guaranteed leads, has no surety that these leads, even qualified ones, will convert into paying clients without a thorough design of their sales process.
Google published research outlining the fact that the average prospect requires up to 7 hours of exposure across 11 touchpoints and 4 different channels or places to be ready to sign up and pay.
Based on these numbers, lead generation alone, falls far short of the required touches, time frame and channel breadth.
Serious investment into market research, brand positioning, demand generation, sales development, sales enablement as well as lead generation and a solid sales process are required.
If you would like help with any of these stages, please reply to this post or emaiil email@example.com and we can set up a short conversation.