As anyone in B2B business development can attest, generating quality B2B sales leads is an uphill struggle. With the nature of complex sales, many factors come into play, including brand reputation, length of buying cycle, multiple decision stakeholders and ultimately, price tag. For all of these reasons (and more), learning how to generate leads online can be ultimately easier than trying to find a better to generate leads offline.
And, now that digital technology offers more lead generation channels to reach leads – from email, to websites, and especially social media – there is even more complexity to reaching your leads. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the leads will just start flowing in any quicker. And for some b2b sales teams, this can become frustrating.
The same challenges to obtaining quality sales lead exist online as they do ‘offline’. And ignoring these challenges can cost you time and money — and perhaps your ‘faith’ in the potential that online lead generation represents.
Here are some of the main sales issues, that exist both online and offline, and how you can address them more effectively online.
Primary Issues with b2b Sales Leads Development
- Finding prospects
- Educating prospects
- Nurturing prospects
- Influencing prospects
These are sales issues that have always existed – long before the internet came along.
How are online b2b sales leads generation efforts better than ‘offline’ methodologies at addressing these issues?
- Finding (and engaging) prospects has become harder than ever, primarily because of the same technological advances. Call screening, spam filters, DVR and on-demand viewing, etc. represent many of the ways that your sales message never reaches your audience. Online strategies can help to circumvent these hurdles.
- Educating your prospects is primarily done by their online ‘community’, not your sales team. Before the internet existed, one of the larger roles of a company’s sales team was the education of clients. In most ways, the internet has interrupted that sales role. But, your content activities online can help to add your ‘voice’ back into that education process.
- Nurturing your prospects is nearly impossible if they don’t let you know that they are ‘shopping’. Today, most of the buying process occurs when your salesperson is NOT there. Some of the more effective online b2b marketing strategies help you to ‘discover’ these buyers as they go through their education process.
- Influencing your prospects to buy your product/service is now performed more by your current/past clients than by your sales team. The recommendation of a salesperson pales in comparison to the ‘ratings’ of peers. And now, with online social networks, this sharing of recommendations can be done so much easier… and quicker, between buyers and prospects. Your best bet is to engage in the online conversation. You can’t control what is being discussed online, but you have the opportunity to influence that discussion.
For these reasons, online b2b lead generation efforts can be much more effective (and cost-effective) than more traditional, ‘offline’ methods.
So, where is your sales force while you are developing online leads?
A skilled salesforce is trained to present, sell and close the B2B business service/product. And if the LTV (Lifetime Value) of your customers is high, they need to be investing major time converting the qualified leads, rather than ‘running the roads’ trying to find someone to talk to.
This does not deny your salesforce the opportunity to network and uncover lead. (Some salespeople have trouble dropping that role, based on past experience.) Lead generation just shouldn’t be the salesperson’s main job.
Your b2b salesforce should be closing business, or prepared to respond to new leads that come in from other sources, such as your online lead generation processes.
Set Realistic Expectations for Online b2b Sales
It is sometimes thought that online B2B marketing is replacing the salesforce. And I believe that it is — as it regards traditional b2b sales leads generation. And if it is not completely replacing the salesforces’ lead generation activity, online lead generation is certainly becoming a more cost-effective means to accomplish it.
But, where a B2B salesforce continues to be critical is in the finalizing and closing of the business. And that is where some B2B companies get confused.
Your online marketing activity will rarely ‘close’ any B2B business. Don’t have high expectations for direct sales from the internet activity.
But, look for more lead conversations to begin on the web. And if you approach it correctly, those added conversations will translate into more qualified prospects that your salesforce can convert to customers.
Done correctly, your online marketing and lead generation can have a measurable ROI. You just might have to connect a couple of ‘dots’ to see the real relationship between your online marketing and sales revenue. Tools like HubSpot help to automate the process of ‘connecting the dots’.
Are you looking to ‘upgrade’ your own b2b sales leads generation activity? Contact us today for a free 30-minute phone consultation to learn how you can get a better ROI on your sales pipeline activity.