“Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill kill the poor tonight!” – sang the 80s punk rock band, Dead Kennedys.

And although it’s never happened the way they predicted, it’s happened with a little twist in the world of B2B lead generation.

How?

Today’s business culture screams “Kill the peddler!”, and sellers get figuratively killed at the beginning of the lead generation stage faster than you can say pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanokoniosis.

You ask 100 business owners about their top frustrations and for 95, lead generation is right on the top and for the other five, it’s among the top three frustrations.

So, it’s a huge problem.

Very often the problem is caused by not knowing the difference between…

A Lightbulb Business and A Laser Business

Lightbulb businesses have very broad markets, but to serve those broad markets, they have to water down their offers.

By contrast, laser businesses have narrowly defined markets and offer them uniquely specialized services.

And even if you target a broad audience, you probably use your website as a hub where you send all inquiries.

In his book, Big Ticket Ecommerce: How To Sell High-Priced Products And Services Using The Internet, Internet marketer Bob Regnerus recommends that, besides its main branded brochure website, every business should have several lead generation microsites, optimized for market segments, each segment being part of the broader target market.

After your microsite has captured sales leads, it can send them to your main brochure site. As Bob writes, “While a brochure site makes a poor first date, with a few improvements, it can be an excellent second date.”

So, let’s see how you can generate not only more B2B sales leads but also better sales leads by tweaking what you’re already doing.

The whole lead generation process starts with…

B2B Research and Discovery

Identify Your Target Audience

The game starts with defining who you want to do business with (buyer, company and project) and the three angles you want to define them.

So, let’s see an example of storing all this information

[1] Technology adoption life cycle.
[2] Leading edge products do their work effectively at a certain cost. Cutting edge products to their work a bit more effectively but a significantly higher cost. Leading edge solutions can do 70-90% of what cutting edge solutions can do, but cost only 25-50% of what cutting edge solutions cost.

 

 

[3] Business indicators that executives track by in the boardroom, as opposed to technical indicators which techies track in the server room.

* If you sell products, this section may be irrelevant.

To make it easier to see through each section, stay with short bullet points, as over the years, some points may well change. Then you can change the master list and distribute it to your colleagues to make sure everyone is on the same page.

Create Your Buyer Persona

In this section, start out with the perfect client information and go deeper.

Demographics

  • Age, ethnicity, marital status, and gender
  • Household income level
  • Home owner or renter?
  • Children and their ages
  • Political orientation (conservative. Vs. liberal)
  • Economic orientation (free market vs. state protection)
  • Religion

Career

  • Current industry and job level
  • Career afflictions and aspirations
  • Time in current position
  • Education level
  • Perfect dream job
  • Daily used skill and tools
  • Success measurements
  • Supervision level
  • Forms of evaluation

Personal Life

  • Description of a typical day
  • Work life balance
  • Hobbies, recreation
  • Clubs, networks, societies, etc.
  • Content preference
  • Preferred form of communication

Consumer Behaviours

  • Sources to learn about new products or services
  • Sources to do due diligence’s on upcoming purchases
  • Used off- and online resources
  • Preferred form of shopping: Off- or online
  • Negotiating habits (tactful negotiator vs. tactless haggler)
  • Owned mobile devices and their uses
  • Indulgent or luxurious purchases
  • Most impulsive purchase ever made

Pain Points

  • Most frustrating part of the day
  • Worst customer service experience
  • Stressful activities
  • Sources of nervousness
  • Sources of anger
  • Sources of euphoria
  • The worst job you can imagine
  • Biggest fear

B2B Business Development Strategy

Now you have your target market and buying persona, so you can start crafting your strategy to take your message to your target market.

I use the term business development because it integrates both marketing and sales. And we know one without the other is about as useful as a neck massage en route to the gallows.

So, let’s work our way from a high level to the lower tactical level.

Key Performance Indicators

There are some vital performance indicators that you have to keep an eye on both to measure where you are relative to where you started and where you’re going and to be able to predict possible undesirable events.

Marketing-qualified lead (MQL): A suspect that has fulfilled a set of criteria which show that it’s likely to become a client down the road. Assign points to various criteria, so you can rank your MQLs.

Sales-accepted lead (SAL): A lead that’s been taken over by sales but hasn’t been fully qualified yet.

Sales-qualified lead (SQL): A prospect who’s been fully vetted both by marketing (MQL) and sales (SQL) and is now ready for the next stage, which is finalizing and closing the sales.

Number of new interactions: New entries into the sales funnel.

Number of new subscribers: New subscribers to a piece of recurring content, like newsletter, podcast, multi-part email training program, etc.

Number of new projects proposed (proposals submitted): High probability new clients.

I know accountants love seeing financial indicators, but those are lagging indicators (vs. leading indicators), and to successfully run a business, you need indicators that show you what’s likely to happen not where you’ve already been.

Content Strategy

Content strategy is the macro view of how you use what specific piece of content in your interaction with your website visitors. Make sure your content strategy is in alignment with your overall business strategy.

Also consider that micro side of content strategy, which is the content map.

The map links the individual content pieces together in such a way that every piece is a logical continuation of the previous one and a logical prelude to the next one.

The map ensures that the transition between content pieces is smooth.

Communication Style

Communication style is used to polarize the market and it’s highly defined by the business owner(s)’ style and the audience.

Accountants are expected to be as serious as appendicitis, but when you listen to Greg Kyte, who is both a CPA and a stand-up comedian, you understand communication style.

Or think of President Trump. He is excellent at connecting with his audience and doesn’t mind that some people have very low opinion of his simple communication style.

Select your communication style, key phrases and expressions, and use them as your distinctive elements. Some people love you and some hate you for it. As long as no one stays neutral, you’re winning.

Many years ago, The Rolling Stone magazine interviewed Mick Jagger and asked him about his haters. He said, “As long as I’m praised on the title page, I don’t care who curses me on page 200.”

Businesses that have raving fans also have raving haters. That’s the duality of life. There is no left without right, no up without down and no night without day.

Resources / Assets

In lead generation, you need three key resources.

List

Hmm. The list.

The quality of your list is about 60% responsible for your overall campaign success.

It’s a touchy subject because many people believe that unless it’s a list that you’ve built from scratch, it must be a spam list; something to stay away from.

Maybe yes, maybe no. One thing is certain. If you want to use a list that someone else has built, make sure it’s from a reputable source. Lists can be…

  • Self-built permission-based lists
  • Purchasable lists
  • Rentable lists
  • Rentable lists with full owner’s control

I recommend staying away from purchased lists. They are usually of low quality. Owners can do that because by the time the low-quality list backfires at the list user, the now former owner is long gone with your money.

Rented lists are different. When you rent a list, you can contact list members only once. Whatever happens, it backfires to the list’s owner. Knowing this, rented lists are well maintained. And whoever responds, gets on your own self-built list.

That’s why reputable organizations rent out their lists but under very heavy supervision to make sure the list rentees follow the rules and don’t misbehave.

The other form of renting is that the list owner/renter asks the rentee to submit the message to send out, and the renter has to approve the message before the renter, NOT the rentee, sends it out. At no point has the rentee access to the list.

Of course, the best list is a self-built list, but everyone has to start somewhere, and at one point, everyone has used non-self-built lists.

If you have to, use only rented lists and insist that the list owner approves your message and sends out your message. Write into the contract with the list owner that the only aspect of the process you somewhat control is the message, which also has to be approved by the list owner.

This way, whatever happens, you are protected from nasty surprises.

Although here at Riverbed, we use only own home-built lists in our marketing, but for the sake of thoroughness, I’ve deemed if necessary to mention the other methods too.

 

Offers

The offer is that initial product or service that you want to offer to your list in exchange for some form of permission to stay in touch with them.

On the product side, this can be some digital content and on the service side, some low-cost productized off-the-shelf service.

The quality of your list is about 30% responsible for your overall campaign success.

Create an offer ladder from information to premium-calibre products/services.

  1. What is your entry-level, often free product/service?
  2. What is your top-end premium product/service?
  3. What offers can you pace out evenly between #1 and #2.

Messages

Your message is the interface between your prospect list and your offers. Your message has to seduce your list members so much that they read your messages, take the necessary action and avail themselves of your offers.

This message is not merely content, but a proper sales piece, so for this puppy, you definitely need a copywriter NOT a content writer.

The quality of your message is about 10% responsible for your overall campaign success.

Only 10% because if there is a mismatch between your list and your offer, no copy can save your campaign.

  1. Start documenting the words and phrases that make up your personal communication style. Thanks to one works he loved using, insurance sales man and motivational speak Charles Jones became Charlie “Tremendous”, Jones.
  2. Ask your significant other, your children and closest friends to help you to compile such a list.
  3. Then use those words to bring your messages alive with your unique colour.

Tools for The Job

From the marketing perspective, you need at least a reliable customer relationship management (CRM) system and a marketing automation (MA) system.

The CRN allows you to store vital prospect/client information, and the MA allows you to connect with your market based on certain criteria that you set inside the MA system.

B2B Outbound Strategy

Warm Emails

With a little research and planning, you can send out emails that may be cold on the surface, but come across as warm emails.

  • Send them to specific persons, and send them individually from your email client, NOT your marketing automation software.
  • Use elements in your email that prove to recipients that your emails have been individually crafted based on individual business issues.
  • Get the required names from the company’s “About Us” page. If it’s not there, look the company up on LinkedIn. Then insert [“Name” “@domain.com”], without the braces, into the Google search box, and check the results.
  • If you can’t find the email address, plug he name and the domain name into an email permutator to send your emails.
  • And if that doesn’t work either, then send a snail mail letter.

The advantage of written communication is that recipients read your message in their own time when they are relaxed and their guards are down.

It means even if they don’t respond, they quickly forget about the “incident”, so 1-2 months later, you can contact them again.

Cold Calling

Some people like doing it, some don’t.

My bias is as a former technology buyer. I never talked to cold callers but asked them to send me their info packages. Less than 20% of them did. I read them and made my selection. And I always returned every single info package with minimum wear and tear.

My experience is that those buyers who take cold calls who enjoy playing with salespeople in a nasty way. They drag them along with promises and then disappeared.

The disadvantage of cold calling is that recipients are forced to listen to callers after an interruption in their workflow. They are agitated and their guards are up.

The other problem is that if prospects don’t respond, they remember you and the agitation you’ve caused them for a long time. It may take a year or more before you can try your luck again.

Some Cold Calling Dos

  • Do talk in a calm and relaxed manner
  • Do introduce yourself and ask if the callee has [specific amount of time] to talk to you. Time your message and then use that time frame: E.g. Can I have 53 seconds of your time or do you prefer me to get lost?
  • Offer some free but valuable content to initiate interaction. The content must focus on an expensive problem your buyer’s industry typically suffers from.
  • Stay in touch with interested callees via email, but not phone.
  • Do slow down buyers’ speed inside the sales funnel.

 

Some Cold Calling Don’ts

  • Don’t ask, “How are you doing today?”
  • Never ask for an appointment. Buyers are not ready yet.
  • Don’t offer to call again. If callees are interested in your content, they call you when they’re ready. Stay in touch with them via email.
  • Don’t rush buyers to move faster in your funnel. They just get ticked off and disappear.

Cold Prospecting

Look, even sending warm emails is cold prospecting. But any form of cold prospecting can be warmed up a bit. Buyers are not allergic to cold prospecting. They don’t mind intelligent cold prospecting. They are allergic to pushy, pathetic pitch-puking peddlers.

They are allergic to salespeople who push a tad too hard for the appointment. Buyers know that, at appointments, pushy salespeople push for the sale in a “take no for an answer” manner.

Keep your cold prospecting communication asynchronous or delayed (sort of non-real-time) interactions (email, fax, carrier pigeons, etc.). At this point, buyers are not yet ready for synchronous or real-time interactions (phone, Skype, etc.) interaction.

Offer something valuable that doesn’t require your presence. Buyers are eager to learn about your ideas and solutions, but not ready to meet you… yet.

  • Keep your messages fairly short.
  • Always send your message to a specific person with a specific name. Never send your messages to “Dear Sir” or “Dear Madam”.

Tradeshows

While tradeshows can be pretty expensive to attend, they can also be very valuable.

Buyers attend tradeshows to find out about advancements in their industries, which means they attend with open minds.

So, as a tradeshow exhibitor, your job is to further open their minds about the expensive problems your products/services solve.

Relate your product/service to an expensive strategic problem (a problem senior execs agonize over in the boardroom), and orchestrate your tradeshow booth around that problem and its long-term consequences.

  • Set up your booth and select your tradeshow staff for problem-solving not for selling. No one buys at tradeshows.
  • Collect the names of interested people for given problems.
  • After the tradeshow, create webinars based on the most common problems and invite the tradeshow visitors.
  • Stay in touch with people and offer them new pieces of content.

Local Events

Undoubtedly, the best way to build trust is by having a face-to-face interaction with self-qualified people.

Face-to-face means more of a workshop and less of a seminar and self-qualified means a paid event.

Yes, money is the walk of the talk. When you ask people to invest in their own successes, you will quickly learn how serious they really are.

The message as to whether or not they believe in their own abilities to achieve their goals and dreams becomes crystal clear whether or not they cough up the dough.

When people pay to listen to you, they take you seriously. Then during the workshop, you can deepen your perceived expertise by connecting well with the audience and offer them something they can use next morning in their work.

As the sign of goodwill and without letting people know, record the event and send out the recording to the attendees. And make your notes available too. Both in the notes and the recording, include the next call to action for another piece of content.

That comes into serious play when the people start circulating your notes and recording among their contacts.

  • Every event should revolve around solving a specific problem. “How to grow your business” is an idiotic topic. “How to generate leads from LinkedIn for your coffin making business.” Is a good topic. Very specific.
  • Pick a problem and have all participants work on it. First individually, then in pair, then in fours and then the whole class. This exercise outperforms the sharpest sales pitch. You perform proverbial brain surgery in front of an audience. Nothing is more powerful.
  • Hand out cliff notes in advance, so people can take their own notes and personalize your notes.
  • Unexpectedly, the next day, send out the audio recording of the event. Never mind editing. Speed is more important here. Encourage speedy implementation and offer help if needed. But don’t pitch hard.

B2B Inbound Strategy

After having successfully used outbound marketing to initiate contact with your target market, now it’s the market turn to get back to you, so you have to have a good inbound marketing system.

The difference is that in outbound marketing, the seller takes the action and the buyer responds to it.

In outbound marketing, the roles change. The buyer takes a certain action and the seller responds to it.

Nevertheless, this action-reaction sequence must be carefully choreographed and orchestrated.

Webinars

Webinars are very effective because you can touch your market both in an auditory and visual angle. Yes, the kinaesthetic sub-modality is missing, but kinaesthetic people and also either auditory (some) or visual (most), so you can cover the full range, giving you the highest chance to attract people to the next step.

Webinars can be either real-time or recorded. If interaction is important, then make it real time. Otherwise, it can be pre-recorded.

You can use the tips from the “Local Events” section.

Podcasts

If you don’t have slides that that you want to present to participants and your presentation is not interactive with the audience, a podcast is often better choice than a webinar. While a webinar takes up your full attention, you can do many things while listening to a podcast.

If you have great content, you can do educational podcasts all by yourself, like Sean D’Souza’s The Three-Month Vacation.

The other option is that you can do interviews with successful business owners in your niche market, like Matt Inglot does in his Freelance Transformation podcasts.

Blog Posts

A big dilemma for blog owners is whether to write to their own blogs or write guest blogs for others.

Well, writing for your own blog is simpler, but guest blogging creates more credibility. All you have to do is write a short intro, long enough to be indexed, on your own blog and link it to the guest blog. This way you can swat two flies with one decisive smash, well, or two birds with one stone, if you prefer.

For extra credibility, use footnotes, references and illustrations in your post. By illustrations I mean process visuals that help readers to better understand your presented concept.

Whatever your topic is, present it in your unique voice, so it will become unique information. Many people present on motivation, but when the late Zig Ziglar did it, it was quite different from other presentations.

  • Close your blog posts with specific calls to action (CTA). Each post should have one single CTA.

eBook Offers

eBooks are an effective way of reaching out to the market. They can range from short 1-page tip sheets to 15-page white papers or much longer books.

  • Start small. Offer a short tip sheet on something without registration. Then in the next round, offer something more substantial that requires registration.
  • Different people digest information differently, so you may want to repurpose your written materials into audio and video formats.

Tools

Tools can be, assessments like Hubspot’s website grader or Perry Marshall’s Marketing DNA Test, quizzes, calculators, like bob Bly’s Direct Marketing DM Calculator or other tools for which people have to register, so they can receive their results.

If you can set up your tools non-downloadable, then people have to keep coming back to your website and once they’re there, you can offer them other useful bits and bobs as well.

For instance, when people see their assessment results, you can offer them some content to help them top improve those results, so they can take the next step inside your sales funnel.

FAQs

You can divvy up your business universe into…

  1. Target market members outside your sales funnel
  2. Prospects inside your sales funnel
  3. Paying clients
  4. Past clients

They all have different concerns and questions regarding your business.

Target market members outside your sales funnel have never worked with you, so they are, quite understandably pretty timid. They may or may not have every bought from your industry.

So, although they don’t have first-hand experience, rest assured, they have their biases. For instance, if you’re a realtor, you have to overcome the associated stigma that realtors are some of the slimiest salespeople and they do anything, maybe short of beating up their prospects, to make a buck.

Right? Wrong? Don’t ask me. But this is a common stigma.

If you’re really a realtor, write a section about the benefits of not buying but renting. Try talk people out of buying properties.

Then offer a quick quiz to help people decide whether to guy or rent.

Perry Marshall has an excellent quiz on Facebook marketing. It helps uncertain people to decide whether or not Facebook advertising is right for them.

Keep this piece on your website as open, ungated content that requires no registration.

Then at the end of the quiz, in case they decide to buy, offer a meaty piece of content on the ins and outs of selecting the right realtor. In your content piece, be brave to disqualify yourself as the possible ideal choice.

For instance,…

What type of property are you looking for? 1) Condo, 2) Townhouse, 3) House, 4) Acreage, etc.?

Please note I’m an acreage specialist (owner too) and, due to lack of knowledge and interest, I don’t work with any other types of properties. But if needed, I can refer you to experts in your area of interest.

This is very polarizing. It also shows, you’re a specialist.

 

Prospects inside your sales funnel have already digested some of your content. They have different concerns. They are in your funnel because, continuing the previous example, they plan to buy acreage. You can offer those people something on how to do a superficial property inspection before involving a realtor.

I don’t think you want to be dragged around when the prospect is still in the beginning of the shopping stage.

Here you can also start detailing how you work with clients (here you can use your “What We Believe” document), explaining some of your processes.

 

Paying clients need other questions answered. I know realtors usually get paid after the transaction, but play with me on this example as if you’d get a flat engagement fee at the beginning.

Paying clients want to how and when you can be reached and how long it takes to respond. They want to know how much time – per week, per month – they need to dedicate to working with you.

You have to let them know that as the expert, you do the expert work, but the legwork is theirs to do. Hint: Dentists don’t go to the pharmacy to pick up painkillers for their patients.

Let’s separate the expert work and the donkey work.

 

Past clients also need a different set of questions. But this section is only valid if you have a very special process to start working with brand new clients, so past clients feel a bit privileged to buy from you again.

Also, consider that those people are your real referral base because they’ve already had experience at working with you, so they know what clients can expect from you.

Granted, most of these clients are likely to contact you directly if they have questions, but this section can also create a great contrast for new clients, so they can perceive value in working with you as a returning client.

Social Media

Even if you don’t actively post on every social media channel, you may consider monitoring your channels because other people may post something on your timelines which need to be responded to.

Rightly or wrongly, people put far too much emphasis on social media comments, so it’s worth investing time to keep the energy clear.

Even if you have some bad comments, which is unavoidable, you can reduce the impact by addressing those comments in a civilized manner.

Also, for some people this is the only form of interaction. They may not want to receive your emails but they enjoy your LinkedIn or Facebook platforms.

If your company is big enough, then you may even need a full-time person to monitor your company’s social media channels and address concerns, complaints, compliments, praises, curses, demands and accusations.

Industry Authorities (Portals) (Guest Blogging, Etc.)

Industries have their trade associations, like The Flat Earth Society of Canada or the American Association of Candy Technologists, and they have plenty of quotable research and survey materials on the industry they represent.

You can use these research and survey results to add credibility to your information.

It’s one thing to say that hot dogs consist of X% of Y ingredient, and another to pre-empt your statement with “According to the National Hot Dog And Sausage Council”.

Now you merely report the findings of a credible industrial authority.

Measurement and Monitoring

The great advantage of direct response marketing is that, unlike corporate image marketing, it can be tracked, measured, evaluated and tweaked for better performance.

In engineering, like industrial control systems or amplifier design, closed loop means that there is a feedback loop from the output back to the input, and this feedback signal from the output tweaks the input in order to get the desired output. For the sake of peace, let’s skip the pretty complex maths behind it.

In lead generation, you get pieces of buyer behaviours and tweak your marketing inputs to get the desired buyer behaviours. Yes, it’s a rather fiddly process, but the more accurately you tune your lead generation machine, the better you can optimize the quality and quantity of your sales leads.

Under “Key Performance Indicators” earlier we discussed marketing-qualified lead (MQL), sales-accepted lead (SAL) and sales-qualified lead (SQL).

In this section, we monitor conversion…

  • From a suspect (total number of website visitors) to marketing-qualified lead (MQL)
  • From a marketing-qualified lead (MQL) to a sales-accepted lead (SAL)
  • From a sales-accepted lead (SAL) to a sales-qualified lead (SQL)
  • From a sales-qualified lead (SQL) to a client/customer

The other big difference is that only lagging indicators can be monitored.

Other monitorable indicators are…

  • Total campaign cost
  • Total campaign revenue
  • Cost per lead
  • Cost per client
  • Bounce rate
  • Channel ROI – ROI from a specific marketing approach, like LinkedIn, Webinars, email outreach, etc.
  • Sales size
  • Average gross profit margin

If it’s an ongoing marketing effort not a specific “from-till” campaign, you can use cost, revenue, gross profit per week, per month or per quarter. But it must be a relative indicator something per something.

Good analytics programs are insanely sophisticated, so you can monitor whatever you want to.

But don’t try to tweak and optimize everything at once because you can go mad in the process.

For instance, take your sales funnel and optimize it from the top. Monitor your suspect-to-MQL conversion and tweak the components that contribute to it.

Check your suspect-to-MQL conversion in different channels. Using split testing, you can rank your channels for top-of-funnel conversion.

Then you can move to MQL-to-SAL conversion within the same channel. Than do the SAL-to-SQL and SQL-to-client conversions.

Note that every conversion stage has lots of moving parts, so the process can take a bit of time to optimize.

Then go back to the suspect-to-MQL stage and go through all the other channels.

Then you can make a conversion map.

In Excel, you can use conditional formatting to colour code specific percentage ranges, so you can see in one visual gulp how your funnel performs at specific stages, so you can take the appropriate action.

One more thought. No matter which software you use, sooner or later you have your own home-grown indicators that your software doesn’t track. Then you have to do some tweaking in Excel.

You just have to import the desired data into your Excel file with your custom calculations and Bob’s your uncle. You can have everything and in format you desire. Well, what else can you wish for? Maybe an electric cheese cutter?

But in the words of Ann Landers, “You can’t have it all. Where would you put it?”

Some analytics tools are…

Improve Both the Quality and The Quantity of Your Communication

As for quality, keep in mind a few important factors. Make sure your content is…

  • …one of a kind and is not commonly available at a quick Google search
  • …hyper-relevant to your target market – Use the correct lingo. E.g. Customer vs. client vs. patient vs. guest, etc.
  • …in alignment with the keyword that has landed the visitor on your site.
  • Uniquely valuable by being scarce
  • It’s easy to view on any device and its consumption makes you pause and reflect (not just jumping to the next article)
  • …of unique style, so when people consume it, they can say, “I’ve known this concept, bit have never seen it be so well presented.”
  • …presented in a very unique tone and style.

One great example is Sean D’Souza’s Three-Month Vacation podcast. Informative, entertaining and very valuable.

Also, make every new 1-to-1 interaction more intimate, meaning that if you communicate via email, offer chat access to you. If you communicate on phone, offer a video conference, so you can actually look each other in the eye.

And now for quantity.

Sometimes more is better, but sometimes less is better.

Read your analytics and discover how far your content pieces are read, so you know where to make corrections.

You can also check with your list members to see how often they want to hear from you, so you can segment your list accordingly. Some members want to be notified as soon as you have a fragment of thoughts, while others prefer a weekly summary.

Making the Most of Lead Databases

Many people don’t like this idea because they think leads from databases are just low quality as leads from purchased lists.

Well, yes. Exactly.

But they are not as low quality but as high quality.

Let’s remember that the quality of a lead depends on your approach to a lead and how you qualify/disqualify that lead.

I believe it was Shakespeare who wrote somewhere that words have no meaning except the meaning that we give to them through context.

In lead generation, the lead is the content, but you provide a meaningful context to (in)validate that lead.

If you have a friendly and relaxed, not heavy-handed, approach, in the worst case you get a quick “no” from a potential lead, and you can move on.

It’s like when the server in a restaurant and asks you if you want dessert.

If you say, no, that’s fine and dandy.

The problem is when you ask for some sort of custom dessert prepared for you and when your server brings it to you, you say you’ve changed your mind and don’t want it. And that’s the moment when she may ask the chef to convince you to eat your dessert or, following the famous Pink Floyd method, he’ll cut you into little pieces with a rather large, scary-looking clever meat cleaver.

And you can’t even blame him.

It all depends where you get your leads from and how you approach those leads. And once a lead is interested, it’s up to your lead nurturing process.

No, don’t worry about leads from databases. Just make sure you have the appropriate sales gauntlet set up that people have to run to qualify to work with you.

The best databases, available from the Standard Rate and Data Service (SRDS) directory, are based on verified facts and exhibited behaviour.

If you do your own database compilation, you’d collect the same data, but it would take you much more time and effort.

So, unless you firmly believe in the “buy a dog, but bark yourself”, you probably get your lists from various sources.

You can also get useful, but less detailed info from Manta, Info USA, Info Canada or Zoominfo

I know some people say that this list thing is not acceptable for inbound marketing.

Look, to proactively initiate relationships, you have to each out. But then you need names of people to reach out to.

Without this initial outreach, you can starve to death in your “pure as snow” inbound marketing ivory tower.

Summary

Many businesses make the mistake of paying too much attention to the sales end of their sales funnels and neglect the lead generation end.

But when I talk to business owners, many of them incessantly complain about those nasty underpaying and over-demanding clients.

Yet, some others relentlessly brag about their great clients who are an absolute bliss to do business with.

So, what in the name of the holy sausage causes the difference?

Well, although there are many moving parts in the equation, not all parts are moving in the same way. It’s like a cart being pulled in four directions by the four horses.

And what do the complaining business owners desire? Well, more sales leads. Maybe one out of 100 says “better sales leads”.  For most business owners, business lead generation is a “more of the same” game.

The reality is that improvement doesn’t come from more low-calibre sales leads. Unlike wine that improves with time, mildly problematic sales leads can become borderline psychotic clients demanding all sorts of unrealistic features, deliverables and special concessions, while threatening you with legal action.

In gardening, people pay premium for good seeds because they know that the end product depends on it.

Business is the same. You have to start with good leads.

So, if you want to improve the overall quality of your clients, you have to go back to the lead generation stage and tweak the process there.

In this article, we’ve discussed a number areas you have to pay attention to, and if you tweak each area just a little bit, the compound improvement may surprise you in a positive way.

No, it’s not quick and easy, but if it were, every one of your competitors would do it and tighten the noose around your neck. And that would be a bad way of ending an otherwise nice day.

But if you do it, you can see significant improvement pretty soon and the taste of working with those new, high-calibre clients can be pretty sweet.