5 Sales Lead Generation Tactics that Forward-Thinking Reps Are Embracing Today
September 27, 2018
Though none of us can truly predict what’s around the bend, scour the web and it’s pretty clear what’s hot and shows staying power. While many seers focus on the impact of what’s still to come, some zero in on the opportunity to better use today’s tools and processes. Master these approaches and technologies today and you’ll be ahead of the sales pack when 2020 arrives.
Why It Pays to Think Ahead
Wondering why you should spend time thinking about the future when you’ve got quota to meet today? Since leads are the lifeblood of every B2B business, sales reps are wise to figure out how to generate leads so they’re not totally dependent on marketing. These lead generation trends and stats from HubSpot’s State of Inbound 2017 and 2018 reports should give you pause:
- 30% of sales respondents said identifying/prospecting good leads is more difficult than it was just 2-3 years ago.
- Prospecting good leads was the top challenge cited in 2018.
- Sales reps feel they source more leads for their organizations than marketing.
- After referrals, sales considers the leads they source to be of the highest quality (versus marketing-generated leads).
Read on for sales lead gen practices and approaches for the sales pro of tomorrow....
Embracing Account Based Marketing
Account-based marketing (ABM) is high on the radar because it perfectly complements the account-based approach sales teams have embraced for years. Considering the ever-expanding B2B buying committee, it stands to reason that an account-based approach will continue to dominate in the foreseeable future. The question is, how do you drive the best lead results now that marketing is more involved?
Many view ABM as the trigger for much-needed alignment between sales and marketing. According to the 2018 Demand Generation Benchmark Survey from DemandGen Report, 73% of marketers tasked with demand generation name “focusing on lead quality over lead quantity” as a top goal for 2018. Moreover, 60% want to improve sales and marketing alignment.
When marketing and sales come together to achieve a shared goal of generating quality leads that convert, they realize the power of their combined efforts. Agreeing on the ideal customer, most promising target accounts, and the best way to attract and engage them paves the way for personalized interactions that resonate with prospects.
Plus, ABM is especially effective for selling into current accounts. In fact, companies surveyed by Engagio expect 53% of their 2018 bookings to come from existing accounts. It’s far easier to generate leads where you’ve already established a solid relationship and understand the account’s buying process and pain points. Even if you’re trying to expand into a new business unit or department, you can call upon your existing account contacts to identify and introduce you to the right leads.
Collaborating with Marketing
Continuing with the collaboration theme, the most successful sales reps work with their marketing colleagues to capitalize on their expertise and develop plans across various channels. A jointly developed lead generation strategy greatly boosts the odds of producing high-quality leads.
Through collaborative brainstorming sessions, marketing and sales can identify the topics most likely to pique an ideal buyer's interest and the biggest points of friction in the buying process. This becomes the driving force behind content marketing, triggering development of webinars and other gated assets that help generate leads. If your marketing team adds a LinkedIn Lead Gen Form to their Sponsored Content campaigns promoting these assets, you dramatically reduce the effort for leads to share their demographic information, thereby increasing form-fills and lead data accuracy.
Pooling your insights about buyers with marketing’s understanding positions you to better personalize outreach and interactions with these leads. Done well, this ensures a seamless transition for buyers as they move from content consumption to sales engagement.
Taking Advantage of Email and InMail
A key part of lead generation is sparking a conversation with a prospect. Both email and InMail are effective vehicles for that outreach. While email is a natural part of the daily business environment, InMail messages tend to get noticed because of the smaller volume in this exclusive inbox.
So how can you make the most of each tool? A simple way to use email as a lead generation tool is with an email signature that links to your social media profiles and valuable content. Then pair your email outreach with a contextual InMail to ensure you’re reaching prospects when they’re active on LinkedIn and in business mode.
You can also tear a page from the marketing playbook and develop an email sequence to use with promising leads. This approach worked well for RainforestQA. Map your sequence of emails to the buying process. Here’s an example of what that might look like:
- Email 1: Introduce a relevant industry trend with a link to an analyst report
- Email 2: Connect the trend to the prospect’s pain points
- Email 3: Propose options for addressing the pain, including stats that underscore the need for urgency
- Email 4: Share a customer success
- Email 5: Highlight your solution’s relevance and value
- Email 6: Invite the prospect to see a demo or sign up for a trial
- Email 7: Follow up
Driving Engagement with Video
According to the 2018 Content Preferences Survey report from DemandGen, 49% of B2B buyers engage with video content during the purchase journey. Almost half of them spend more than 5 minutes viewing each video, on average. Additionally, 59% of decision makers would rather watch a video than read an article or blog post. That’s good news for sales reps because video offers a unique opportunity to humanize interactions online.
Back to that email sequence above. Perhaps your first email features a video of you, so you can establish a personal connection from the start. Maybe the customer success story takes the form of a customer video testimonial. You can also post videos on LinkedIn – whether ones that you record or those produced by your company – to educate and engage potential leads.
Automating Initial Interactions with AI
According to Gartner, across every stage of the purchase process, the most popular, frequently consulted digital channel for buyers is a vendor’s website. When deployed on the vendor’s website, AI can prove incredibly valuable to the sales organization.
This technology can automate and improve many aspects of lead generation, from automatically recommending products based on known preferences and interests to enabling real-time conversations online via chat. When powering chat, AI can automatically answer a potential buyer’s simple questions and collect basic information while sales reps focus on relationship building. By tracking and analyzing website behavior and social media activities, chatbots can illuminate buyer patterns. In turn, the sales team can pinpoint quality leads.
For B2B SaaS companies, AI-powered chat can quickly generate quality leads. Landbot_io discovered that forcing site visitors to chat triggered a 4X increase in conversions. No wonder sales teams are expected to adopt AI in droves, with adoption forecast to grow 139% over the next three years.
While certain aspects of sales will likely never change – like the importance of relationship building – the tools and techniques available to sales keep evolving. The future belongs to those sales reps who take advantage of the newest ways to use technology to align their approach with buyer preferences.
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