b2b lead generation
This article is right on about the follow up strategy for trade show leads. When I started IT’S YOUR CALL I knew that most companies didn’t do the necessary follow up on leads gathered from trade shows. I went to exhibitors at small business trade shows and asked who would do the lead qualification to all the prospects in their gold fish bowls? I then explained that being a B2B telemarketing service we could help them out!
The trade show is winding down and the exhaustion is setting in. So much planning! So much work! You’ve got a bunch of hard-earned leads when that nagging thought creeps in… what happens now? Do we have a solid plan to make the most ROI from these fresh contacts?
According to new research from Certain, 57% of survey respondents said it takes their organization four days or more to follow up with leads after an event concludes. Only 6% can follow-up with prospects on the same day or the day following the event. Timing is the key for successful follow up. Is your sales team ready for the leads that you gathered?
Having a solid follow-up plan is one of the most important parts of your overall trade show strategy. Too often we find exhibitors don’t have the necessary sense of urgency or a well-thought-out plan to successfully contact leads obtained at the show. It is all too common for leads to NEVER be contacted. Leads seem to “disappear into the ether” without a well-developed and executed after-show protocol.
There are many ways to capture a lead on the show floor and the follow-up method will be the same no matter how they were collected. There are many sophisticated CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems available that make this process easier. Touch screen and badge scanning technology allows you to instantly capture their info. The most important thing to keep in mind is that leads are time sensitive.
Common Lead Follow-up Methods
- Phone call
- Email — this can be done directly from the show floor if you are using interactive technology.
- Social media – LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are powerful and immediate contact points.
- Direct mail including follow-up packets — include a thank you letter, catalog, informational brochures, special offers and maybe even a company branded give-away (people love freebies). Have these prepared before the show to get them out quickly after.
- Best case is to schedule appointments directly from the show floor.
Keep in mind that the follow-up process starts on the show floor by qualifying your prospects properly and organizing their information immediately. Having the staff keep good notes on what the lead was interested in, buying timeline, and purchasing credentials will help identify leads as hot or cold. Using a score card is also an effective way to make sure they are being qualified correctly. Hot leads need to be followed up on immediately, within 48 hours of the show. Again, CRM software can help prepare a lead to go through the sales funnel quickly and efficiently.
Using interactive technology can also help qualify your leads with targeted surveys to find out what they are interested in. Analytics track what products and services are investigated. Automatic follow-up emails or custom messages can be scheduled with more useful content and information. New inbound marketing systems give customers what they want no matter where they are in the sales funnel.
Lead Follow-up Timeline
- Send a simple thank you email 1-2 business days after the show, even if you emailed them directly from the show floor. Mention the topic of the conversation you had with the person and how your product can solve their problems. The personal touch can make a dramatic difference.
- Follow up with a phone call to schedule a face to face appointment 1-2 weeks after the show.
- If appropriate, extend a personal invite to an open house or corporate seminar at your facility 2-3 months after.
- Deliver content and special offers catered to the lead via drip-campaign emails.
Lead Follow-up Tips
- Have a meeting with follow up staff to clearly communicate timeline and expectations.
- Craft emails with a recognizable and personalized subject, such as “(James), here is the information you requested at (show).”
- Include succinct and mobile friendly email content highlighting the value your company will add to their program, your solution to a problem they are currently having, why your product/service/company is superior, a call to action, and a product/service overview. Give them valuable content they want and will use.
- Put all potential leads into the CRM tool your company uses for future use. Make sure to drop them into a specific Nurture Campaign to keep them engaged.
- Hold your sales reps accountable for actually following up with the qualified leads generated on the trade show floor.
- Don’t start the follow up conversation with a sales pitch. Start with referencing the conversation you had with them on the sales floor (this is where those notes will really come in handy)
Following up in a short amount of time is crucial. Prompt, personalized and helpful follow up touches will lead to more sales. Organizing your leads into categories based on importance will help you prioritize and get the most return on investment from your trade show. But most of all, don’t let those leads melt away over time. Contact them!
This is a great breakdown of the B2B telemarketing process for generating leads. Defining the steps helps all involved to understand the various stages of the sales funnel. Working with our customers we make sure that everyone has the same definitions for the various aspects of the sale funnel.
Funnel measurements have two important benefits in B2B lead generation:
Helping marketers forecast outcomes. By tracking the conversion percentages, marketers can apply those conversion percentages to each new campaign and predict what the outcome will be before the campaign occurs. Such predictions are very helpful in capacity planning and budgeting.
Helping marketing identify funnel leakage and optimize revenue production. Marketers can apply both their own internal, historical baseline conversion ratios (i.e., an aggregation of conversion ratios) and industry benchmarks, like those gathered by MarketingSherpa.
Executive-level funnel metrics provide marketers with the 50,000-foot view to provide an end-to-end perspective. But when there appears to be leakage, zooming in on a particular leak is essential.
In that context, let me share seven funnel conversions for telemarketing.
But first, let’s agree on the scope. In B2B, there are two important functions in this area:
- Following up on, qualifying, educating, and nuturing marketing responses until they are sales-ready leads.
- Prospecting into target accounts to identify and qualify existing demand and to generate demand and convert that demand into sales-ready leads.
For both of these activities, it seems the key funnel stages would be similar. But, what are they?
Before I share a point of view on this important subject, let me say that telemarketing is very complex and the interpretation of outcomes at various stages of the funnel are more and more subjective. Plus, in one call, the telemarketing rep may go through all the funnel stages.
- Dial – a telemarketing rep making an outbound dial; or a customer making an inbound call.
- Connection –the dial converting into a connection.Those dials that do not convert into connection either have busy-outs, dials with no answers, recorded phone company messages about the number being out of service or changed. A very high percentage of dials not converting into connections means the list or lead source is problematic.
- Conversation.– the rep reaching someone to have a conversation, however short; a prospect reaching a telemarketing representative via an inbound call.
- Decision-maker conversation – some of the conversations are with those who would be part of a decision and some are not, either because the telemarketing representative is speaking merely to a receptionist or to someone otherwise not involved in the solution area.
Decision-maker/decision-influencer conversations are much more predictive of future purchase intent than non-conversations. Even when following up on marketing responses, it’s not uncommon that 20 percent of more of the leads never make it to this stage.
- Qualified Account –Usually, the first thing a telemarketing representative does is qualify the person. The second thing is often qualifying the account. Is the account in the target market? Those that are would get this kind of status.
At the top of the market, the funnel may end here with an attempt to set an appointment, the idea being that the sales person will take meetings with the right people in the right accounts because the buying potential is so large.
- Acknowledged Need – The next thing a telemarketing representative does is discover if there are buying plans, and if not, at least an acknowledged need. Those who meet the other criteria (Qualified Account, a stakeholder in the decision processs) and have an acknowledged need are the most likely to convert into a sales-ready lead.
In fact, for some larger accounts, the sales organization may decide that this level of qualification is sufficient to warrant sales follow-up. Others in this stage might warrant tele-nurturing.
- Sales-Ready Lead.Sales-ready leads meet any other qualifying criteria, like a particular timeline for buying, the existence of a budget, etc.
And then, of couse, the overall sales-marketing funnel extends beyond the telemarketing operation as sales people validate leads, convert them into opportunities, forecast them, and close them.
There are some problems with the above funnel however:
- It doesn’t account for inbound or outbound emails sent to or from the telemarketing representative or the clickthroughs that might happen.
- It doesn’t factor in online chat sessions, where there might be an opportunity to identify the prospect, qualify their interest, role, and the account they work for, all before having a live conversation with them.
- There is also nothing in here about leaving messages, per se, like a voice mail.
- There could certainly be other stages, like a presentation stage, where the telemarketing representative presents, however informally, some kind of elevator pitch to the prospect.
- It’s also possible that by sending an Outlook meeting request or speaking to an admin, a telemarketing representative schedules a phone meeting.
- Finally, there isn’t a stage for doing some kind of preliminary investigation of an account and/or a contact, like going to LinkedIn or the account website.
Obviously, these limitations speak to the complexity of B2B telemarketing for the complex sale, and the evolution of this capability to include more and more Web-based tools for both discovery and communication.
One of the benefits of working with IT’S YOUR CALL is that we track what occurs which each dial. The results are then given to our customers in a weekly report. Thus allowing them to manage their telemarketing campaign and measure the ROI.
I asked a six person sales team I was coaching if they knew how many sales meetings it took (on average) to generate one qualified proposal. No one knew for sure.
A business owner I coached didn’t record the stats from her direct mail campaigns. She always made a few sales so she just kept it going. (But at what cost?).
A manager of a small B2B call-center I met didn’t know how many decision-maker conversations it took (on average) to set one appointment. (It’s different with every caller he said…).
Management guru Dr. Peter Drucker said, “What gets measured gets managed.” Want to avoid sales mediocrity? Then track your numbers and improve your ratios. If you’re responsible for generating new business, start by looking at a meaningful number worth tracking…your desired income.
As a salesperson, what’s your annual income goal?
Let’s say your goal is to earn $84,000 a year ($7,000.00 per month). To figure out how to do that, work your ratios backwards as follows.
- How much revenue is required to earn $7,000 monthly?
- How many sales does that equate to each month?
- How many proposals are required to yield one new sale?
- How many prospects do you need to set appointments with to yield one qualified proposal?
- How many decision-maker conversations must you have to generate one appointment?
- How many dials (see definition below) are required for one decision-maker conversation?
And there you have it. Schedule X dials a week and you’re on plan.
A “Dial” means:
- You reach a prospect’s voice-mail
- The receptionist says the prospect is not available
- The number is not in service
- You connect with a live prospect
You can’t control how many decision-makers (prospects) you connect with, but if you make the dials and have an effective introductory call process, the decision-maker conversations and appointments will come.
The number of dials you make per week is completely in your control. The key is knowing how many you need to make each week and scheduling them.
- Elements completely out of a salesperson’s control – conversations with decision-makers
- Elements partially within a salesperson’s control – Number of appointments made and qualified proposals submitted (your effectiveness has a bearing on results)
- Elements completely within a salesperson’s control – Number of dials made!
Whether its called B2B telemarketing, B2B lead generation or just plain old cold calling, the success of this strategy is determined by how comfortable you are with your pitch. The tips below are good to keep in mind when you get on the phone. I would add, though, that practicing and role playing before you make the actual calls help to develop confidence. If you want to learn more check out “Cold Calling for the Clueless” an e-book for the non sales professional.
Whether you’re a sales professional delivering working from a large prospect list, or a business person on the receiving end of a cold call, the unsolicited sales call often creates discomfort in both parties.
But a review of tips from respected sales experts shows that cold calling can turn into a happy win-win situation for everyone.
Here are the top guidelines that experts consistently mention:
- Be genuine, be yourself. This requires real conversation, not reading scripts.
- Research your prospects to determine their needs and identify what you have in common that can be used to fuel conversation and create bonding.
- Delay pushing for your sales goal right away. Instead, focus on the prospect’s problems, which you can acknowledge and validate, demonstrating that you care.
- You only have a few seconds at the beginning of your call before you risk losing the prospect. Prepare a confident, concise opening statement that provides the all-important WIFM (“What’s in it for me”), drawing in the prospect and creating the conditions for real conversation.
- Remember always: It’s not about you, it’s about the prospect.
This article is written from the PR perspective but whether its from this industry perspective or any other marketing industry perspective the consensus is that a follow up phone call needs to occur after the trade show. Customers have hired IT’S YOUR CALL to follow up on the b2b leads they’ve generated at trade shows and we have always uncovered “hidden gems”. Not only will follow up secure permission for opt in mailing lists but also has the extra benefit of qualifying the prospects.
- Contact the Right People Weeks Before
Typically, a trade show will release a list of press members who are covering the show. This may include bloggers, influencers, and journalists.
While these contacts are not themselves leads, their audience is. One of the most important steps you can take to snag time with these influential people is to reach out to them by email at least several weeks before a show. Request that they stop by your booth, and if possible, schedule a time for them to do so. Remeber that media get jammed at trade shows so you want to be early enough for them to see you. If they are overscheduled or not attending the conference, not to worry. Offer them the opportunity to interview you in advance and embargo the interview till the show.
If you can, give them samples, a free trial, or a demo of your product or service. And don’t forget to provide background information or any helfpul collateral.
- Land a Speaking Engagement
Securing a speaking gig is a great way to generate more credibility around your brand, as well as yourself as a thought leader.
This isn’t always easy to do, so you must plan well in advance. Thought leadership begins with your owned media. In addition, once you have established credibility, you will have to submit an application to speak, likely months in advance. Here’s one tip to help get you in the door: Submit if you can with a customer. Trade shows are loaded with vendors eager to speak and you can differentiate yourself by presenting with a customer.
Landing a speaking engagement at a trade show is well worth the effort, as it will drive prospects, not only to your booth, but to your website since you will (with any luck) create a memorable presence.
- Establish Your Goals
Of course, the end game is always to turn strangers into buyers. However, the stage you’re at in your marketing game will largely determine your goals and means of achieving them.
If you’re a startup, you’re main mission at a trade show might be to create a buzz by handing out free swag. However, if you’re well-established, you might be aiming to launch a new product, or secure greater publicity.
Get your strategy in place by first determining your end game.
- Get Busy on Social Media
In the weeks and days that precede a trade event, you’ll want to create a buzz on social media. If your brand is launching a new product at a trade show, why not use Snapchat to reveal a hint of the product, mentioning that the full product will be unleashed at the upcoming trade show.
While you’re at the trade show, take full advantage of Facebook Liveto capture real-time highlights of the event.
- Follow Up
Want to know something a bit frightening? One statistic says:
“90% of trade show attendees received no follow-up within 12 months of their visit.”
If you want anything to come of your trade show experience, you must follow up. That means inputting new contacts into your CRM, reaching out via email or telephone, and asking for permission to add them to your email list.
Just think… if you can accomplish this one task that so few B2B companies are paying attention to, you’ll have the upper hand to win your prospects’ attention.