According to our State of Sales Report 2020-2021, 51% of sales professionals are struggling with lead generation. This is despite the fact that many have said prospecting is their second most time-consuming activity.
This is potentially a big concern for sales managers, as wasted time and resources lead to:
Given that efficient lead generation is a vital activity of any successful business, why are so many salespeople failing to convert?
In this article, we’ll explore where (and why) your sales team is struggling with lead generation strategy and processes and how automation can save you valuable time. We’ll also dive into why personal branding can help you stand out from the crowd, boost your credibility, and help generate awareness.
Where most salespeople go wrong in their lead generation efforts
The right customer relationship management (CRM) tool is a key part of an efficient and organized lead generation strategy.
Why? Because a CRM allows you to:
Monitor lead status and sales pipeline progress in real time to keep a pulse on activity
Glean insights from existing deals to prequalify future leads
Automate tedious and time-consuming tasks that keep your team from tackling more pressing matters (such as nurturing hot leads)
They don’t have the right tools in their workplace
Despite the aforementioned benefits, according to our State of Sales Report 2020-2021, 37% of sales professionals don’t use any technology or automation tools when sourcing or qualifying leads.
Interestingly, just under a quarter of sales professionals that don’t use lead generation technology don’t feel the need to—not because they aren’t interested, but because their company hasn’t yet found the tool that aligns with its needs and budget.
In essence, no matter the reason, many reps are struggling with lead generation even though they’re devoting most of their time to it. Without a viable CRM or lead generation software like Leadbooster, they simply don’t have the support they need to:
Source, and qualify new outbound leads
Effectively capture and qualify inbound leads at speed
Nurture prospects through the funnel
Close enough deals to meet their quota
Optimize and automate your lead generation process
While the right tools and software do help, if you don’t have a well-trained and skilled team, clearly defined processes, personas, methodologies and mapped customer journeys, your salespeople will likely still struggle with sales lead generation.
It’s important to:
Start by building strong, foundational processes and protocols
Invest in a skilled team and consistently reinvest in your salespeople
Leverage the right tools and automation’s that align with your needs and goals
Consistently optimize and refine your process
Thus, before you proceed with your lead generation strategy, make sure to:
Assess your target audience. Define who they are, their pain points, how to reach them, how to address their problems and how best to present your solutions. Rush through this step, and your reps will end up with unqualified leads that distract them from pursuing meaningful opportunities.
Invest in soft skills. Great salespeople are your most valuable resource. And reps with the right soft skills (like persuasion, active listening and empathy) translate into more revenue for your business. Make sure to identify, train and track soft skills to ensure your team is equipped to build meaningful relationships and close valuable deals.
Identify and implement a lead generation software that caters to you. Our State of Sales Report 2020-2021 respondents were 14% more likely to hit their 2020 sales targets using lead generation software. Select a lead generation tool that aligns with your team’s unique needs. For example, if your team is small and overloaded with work, investing in an automated web chat tool to instantly engage visitors, qualify leads and schedule meetings on their behalf is a big timesaver.
Clean up redundancies and automate what you can. Take this opportunity to remove practices that add little to no value to your sales efforts. Then, use your shiny new CRM and lead generation tools to automate what’s left. For example, generate invoices immediately after a customer makes a purchase or trigger a follow-up email after a sign-up or inquiry.
Your personal brand is more important than ever
When it comes to B2B lead generation, your potential customers care about your brand’s:
Social media platforms, like LinkedIn, present an opportunity for your team to strengthen their personal brands and effectively draw more leads to your business.
To get started, encourage your salespeople to:
Repurpose your existing content. Have your salespeople take high-quality content that your marketing or sales teams have produced and share it with their LinkedIn networks. But instead of simply pasting the URL, encourage them to add a personal touch to their post to generate engagement and spark discussion in the comments. By consistently sharing industry knowledge in the form of valuable, relatable content, they’ll gradually build a powerful reputation as industry influencers, which works to increase brand awareness.
Engage in comment sections. Your reps should keep up with conversations across their networks that are relevant to what you’re selling. The best way to do this is to draw on their own experiences. You want them to display expertise while also connecting on a personal level, so make sure they know to share positive experiences and tips, but to also not shy away from reflecting on the challenges they’ve faced. As failure is a part of life we can all relate to, it’s often a good jumping-off point for further discussion.
Collaborate with your existing customers. Social proof and storytelling are powerful ways to connect and engage with your audience. For example, your sales reps could interview one of their customers or clients (after getting permission) to publicly discuss their thoughts on your product or service. By highlighting their initial pain points and how your solution helped, you can share the victories and the bumps in the road. This helps to humanize your brand and demonstrate value to potential or existing leads that may see the conversation across social media platforms.
Keep the bigger picture top of mind. As they’re researching and exploring your target audience and market, encourage them to stay apprised of any new technologies and industry trends. A great way to keep up with the latest and greatest information is by joining and participating in online communities. This way, your reps can continuously adapt as demands and trends ebb and flow. Importantly, writing about these shifts (and forming an opinion on them) is a great way to position yourself as an expert and increase your following.
Millennials are stepping into leadership roles
It’s important to note that many current and upcoming senior decision-makers sit within the “millennial” (born between 1981 and 1996) demographic.
This has a significant impact on lead generation strategies, as targeting and selling to millennials is not as straightforward as sending emails, cold calling, or even connecting on LinkedIn.
Double down on social selling
With this in mind, sales teams need to focus on social selling. In practice, this means taking the more traditional formalities out of B2B lead generation and engaging with the younger generation the channels they frequent most (like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.).
When businesses think of social selling, they focus on professional platforms such as LinkedIn.
However, many younger audiences tend to favor platforms like Twitter, which is a melting pot of topical discussion, or Twitch, a free, online live-streaming service popular with gamers, where users streamed over 2 billion hours of content in the month of April 2021 alone.
In fact, Deltatre, a leading sports media service company, is testing Twitch as a potential lead generation platform. They argue that B2B lead generation efforts should take the live stream giant seriously.
That’s because, by hosting 90-minute live streams, they’ve managed to acquire leads in a manner that none of their competitors have even explored yet. This proves that live stream platforms such as Twitch are viable sources of leads, begging the question of why B2B salespeople haven’t gone down this route yet.
In essence, social platforms like Twitter and Twitch provide unique opportunities to:
Connect with untapped audiences
Experiment with new forms of content to see what sticks
Engage with younger decision-makers on the platforms they’re most comfortable on
Gain a competitive advantage
An effective lead generation strategy will help to save your salespeople valuable time while also giving them the helping hand they need.
With a CRM, lead generation software and automation tools, your sales team will be able to drive qualified traffic to your funnel and close more valuable deals.
Further, when you explore non-traditional ways to attract leads and encourage your salespeople to focus on building up personal brands, you empower them to do what they do best—sell.