Sales enablement

Tips for Improving Lead Gen to End the Year Strong—and Start 2016 Even Stronger

What is it about October that gets us thinking about the end of the year already? The kids have only recently returned to school. Summer just officially ended the month before. And the leaves—or most of them, at least—are still on the trees. So what’s with the end-of-the-year mindset?

Oh, right: It’s the pressure to meet annual goals!

Among those critical goals for sales managers is improving lead gen. Lead generation can be a tricky business as you have to balance a handful of dos and don’ts, priorities and strategies. Yet quality leads are a must!

As the end of the year draws closer, how can you as a sales manager both finish the year strong and set you and your team up for success for 2016? We have some ideas for you, among them making sure you have the right people, making sure you have the right strategy, and making sure you build relationships with these leads and maintain the relationships once the leads become customers.

First, have the right people in place
As with just about anything sales-related, your first step towards success is to have the right people in the right roles to generate leads. Since generating leads is at the front of your sales process, those generating them are “often responsible for leading sales conversations, closing deals, and managing clients.” 

Just having the right people on board is not enough, however. These individuals need to be armed with the right skills and tools to be effective and productive, and that’s where your job as a sales manager becomes critical. Spend some time on training as well. What are your sales reps doing well in their lead generation efforts? In what areas are they lacking? Are they equipped with the best tools and content for the job? Also make sure expectations are clear, and your inside sales reps know how many attempts they have to make in order to generate one lead.

Second, have the right strategy
Once you have your people in place (and trained), focus on the strategy you’ll use to improve lead generation. RainToday and ITSMA found that the number one challenge for companies trying to generate leads is “finding a strategy that gets the attention of potential leads.” Of the 845 B2B services professionals polled, 42.1% said this was extremely or very challenging.

This is where it becomes essential that you know your audience and targets, because you can’t develop a strategy without this knowledge. And it’s more than just a general profile—you need to know deeper insights to your targets. Move beyond “IT manager at a Fortune 1000 company” as a profile to get specific. What is important to them in their job position? How do they make decisions? What are their specific pain points? What helps them do their job better?

It’s only once you’ve developed a profile of your targets that you can begin pursuing them, and doing so will give you a competitive edge, as you use this information to raise yourself above the rest of your competition. Yes, this kind of insight into customer needs and pinpoints can really make you stand out when all the other sales reps are focused on generic sales pitches, not tailored strategies.

And how do you make it clear to prospects and customers that you have this kind of insight? Build relationships with them.

Third, focus on the relationship
Finally, you need to remember that leads are people too, and being relationship-focused is far more valuable than being product-focused. The Pipeliner CRM blog has a useful post on the benefits of relationship building as part of the sales process. As post author Anton Rius says, “Building a relationship with people from the beginning of their buying journey is more work up front, but those people will be more likely to refer you when they become a customer.” This kind of effort to build rapport is also likely to lead to more referrals, and according to the New York Times, 65% of new business comes from referrals. In addition, according to Nielson, people are four times more likely to buy something when referred by a friend. We’d say those are pretty good paybacks for relationship building!

Your lead is not just a blank slate for you to pull information from. Leads are also people who have specific needs, wants and interests. Tailoring your strategy to specific groups of leads will help to narrow your scope. This provides you with quality rather than quantity.

Businesses also need to look beyond the present and ask how they are going to retain these prospects. This is another way relationship building can help, by forging strong connections with new customers so they become repeat customers. Focusing on the customer also makes it easier for a sales rep to tailor information to that customer’s needs, wants and interests, as well as focus on selling value over product.

By building a relationship with your leads, you are not only generating interest, but you are generating trust. It’s hard to put a dollar value on trust! Trust goes a long way in business. And it can turn a one-time customer into a loyal one.

Lead generation might require a balancing act, but if you know what to expect, you can set yourself up for success. It requires the right people, the right strategy, and a focus on the relationship. Once you’ve developed how to generate your leads, you will be able to not only overcome your generation challenges, you will be able to stay productive, effective, and set to end the year (and begin the year) with a strong step forward.

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