How can I improve sales lead generation? What marketing and sales KPIs should I set? Could I direct marketing spend more wisely to boost revenue?
You may well be asking yourself these questions as you plan for the 12 months ahead. They are fundamental to business success – but the answers are likely to prove elusive unless you can draw the necessary intelligence from your sales, customer and performance data. Indeed a survey of B2B marketers showed that “lack of quality data” and “limited insight into target audiences” are two of the top three biggest obstacles to successful lead generation.
So which tools and tactics do you need to take your marketing and lead gen to new heights in the new year?
1) Centralize Data
The starting point to extracting actionable marketing and sales insights from your company data is to overcome any technical barriers to analysis (not to mention productivity!)
If your data is stored in ‘silos’, owned and managed by different teams, you can’t possibly expect either Board-level directors or those at the coalface of selling to have a rounded view of customer accounts and sales activity.
Your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software can act as an overarching platform to bring together data from disparate sources, enabling smarter collaboration and greater transparency.
2) Map Your Customer Journey
Equipped with this improved data infrastructure, you are in a far stronger position to examine your existing sales processes in depth.
No doubt you are fully aware that today’s buyer journey has changed radically in recent years. What’s important is knowing how these big-picture trends are affecting your business and how you should respond – we call this mapping your Customer Journey.
The rationale behind this is to analyse your customers’ every interaction with you, from their first point of contact as a prospect through to deal closure and beyond. This will reveal a clear picture of the stages they go through in dealing with your company.
At Maximizer, we did this ourselves by choosing ten deals and unpicking them using the powerful tools within our own CRM software database.
We pinpointed three phases, which are probably typical for a software business like ours:
- Evaluation: Prospects identify their business challenges, research viable solutions and make an initial commitment
- Adoption: Going through our Onboarding process, customers roll out the CRM system, learn how to get the most from it and fine-tune their usage
- Mastery: Customers measure success of their CRM project, review processes and renew their commitment to us as their chosen supplier
Your Customer Journey may look very different to this – but you won’t know unless you go through the mapping exercise!
3) Depict Your Ideal Customer Profile
The next step towards lead gen dreamland is to harness the historical data in your CRM software to depict a comprehensive profile of your ‘ideal’ customer.
In other words, you are working out precisely where your best deals came from, not only in terms of lead source (such as events or via your website) but also by looking at the attributes of the customer. What is their profile by industry sector, company turnover, number of staff, type of ownership and location?
Based on the factors and attributes you identify, you can even create a lead scorecard to formalise how you qualify leads, measuring their potential value and gauging the likelihood of conversion. This really helps to channel your marketing and sales efforts as effectively as possible.
Ultimately, you may be able to calculate a Customer Lifetime Value which puts tangible figures on how much your ideal customer is worth, say over five years. Again, the aim of this is to learn lessons from closed deals and retain a laser-like focus on leads that are aligned with your target profile.
4) Create Buyer Personas
Having formulated a view of your ideal customer, you can enhance your sales qualification process further by considering the profile of your individual contacts. Who made the purchasing decisions and what are their characteristics? Naturally, if you have a complex product, there may well be two or three decision-makers involved.
This also shows you how to mould your engagement activities to better fit your prospects’ preferences. Various studies have highlighted the benefits of this, including one that revealed half of ‘best-in-class’ companies “align marketing content with buyer personas”, compared to just 12% of ‘laggards’.
5) Choose Marketing Channels Carefully
It always pays to scrutinise the way you are engaging with customers and prospects in light of any new profiling work. What is working for you, and what isn’t? In our industry, for instance, we’ve found that large exhibitions no longer generate the quantity or quality of leads to justify the outlay, whereas smaller industry events and networking groups work well. Product videos on YouTube, blogs on our website and LinkedIn posts are all essential prospecting tools for us. This is widely recognised; recent research confirmed that in B2B, articles and blog posts are often the most effective ways to move prospects through the funnel.
But with such a range of channels available to marketers today, and the stakes so high for getting marketing right, it’s important not to make assumptions. What works for you may not work for others, so ensure that hard data lies behind your decision-making.
6) Hone Lead Scoring
Take full advantage of the insights generated by your prospect engagement analysis to hone your lead scoring methodology. This is usually sorely needed; research from eMarketer, cited recently by Chief Marketer, showed that “just 28 percent of sales leaders were satisfied with marketing’s scored leads”. So the more science you can put behind your lead qualification, the better.
How have prospects interacted with you? Have they visited your website, downloaded an eBook or opened an email from you? Attribute a score to each interaction so that you can build up a calculation of their ‘buying intent’ and spot exactly when sales should step in and progress the deal.
Below you can see our own lead scoring system – it’s not especially complicated but it is effective! When a prospect ‘scores’ 50 points, we consider them a Marketing Qualified Lead or Opportunity.
It’s interesting to note that the data governance procedures you’ve put in place to comply with the General Data Protection Act (GDPR) can contribute usefully to lead scoring. GDPR states that opt-ins to marketing communications should be ‘specific and granular so that you get separate consent for separate things’. This means giving your database contacts separate options by topic or category of communication. In our case, we’ve drilled down to four – and we’ve already learnt lots about our contacts’ interests, preferences and intent to purchase.
7) Do The Math!
Having business intelligence at your fingertips is essential if you are to set realistic activity schedules, which in turn can be used to refine your team’s KPIs.
Calculate the average value of a first deal – let’s say £2500. If your annual target is £60K of business from new customers, that’s two new customers per month. How many Opportunities does this require? Most companies close 30-35%, but we’ve taken 25% as a conservative estimate. And what did it take to generate one real Opp? Again we’ve assumed a one in four conversion rate here.
In the diagram below, we’ve worked backwards to define how the monthly targets would look in this scenario.
This is often a real eye-opener when you realise the volume of leads necessary to generate your desired revenue.
Then, using the data in your CRM, you can calculate where to invest your marketing budget to hit these targets.
What about repeat business, I hear you ask. Similar calculations can be done; and your conversion rates will generally be much higher, perhaps as high as 50%. It’s clear that you need a much lower volume of opportunities and leads to achieve your revenue ambitions.
Involving your team in these calculations and having the facts and figures in visual format can’t fail to refocus minds on the immense value in retaining your existing customers.
Ilona Hansen, a senior director at research company Gartner was recently reported as saying: “A very important pillar of lead management that is often overlooked is dealing with existing customers and keeping them happy as well.”
8) Give Leads A Dedicated Process
There is an increasing school of thought that sales leads should be siphoned off from your main database to give them the attention they deserve. Indeed Gartner cites one of the top growth drivers in the fast-growing CRM market as lead management, specifically because “users are demanding more emphasis on an enhanced lead classification and scoring process.”
Responding to this demand, we recently launched a major new software release with Maximizer CRM that includes a dedicated Lead Management module which enables companies to delve deeper into their sales processes for 2019.
Each of these tactics represents a crucial piece of the lead generation puzzle. By analysing your company data in intelligent, technology-driven ways, you gain a deep understanding of your prospects and customers, and how your sales processes could be adapted to better meet their needs. This empowers you to focus your marketing and sales spend as productively as possible, confident in your knowledge of which channels, messages and content will deliver the maximum return-on-investment to grow your business.
If you’re interested in how Maximizer CRM can improve your lead process, why don’t you get in touch with us today for a 30 day free trial.