HOW TO GENERATE HIGH-QUALITY B2B BUYER READY LEADS

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1 HOW TO GENERATE HIGH-QUALITY B2B BUYER READY LEADS

2 The Overview Let s pull the camera back for a moment, shall we? Long ago, in a place far far away, B2B marketers were fraught with anxiety over the pressure to generate high quality sales leads. While this still exists today, the problem they faced back in the day was that they had limited weapons at their disposal to accomplish the task at hand. Complicating matters even worse, they were forced to use antiquated analytics tools, like excel, to manually enter, measure and track leads to conversion to sales. Common to marketing departments in the Stone Age were traditional tactics like direct mail, public relations (remember the bingo cards), print advertising and telemarketing to mention a few. They were the mainstay of every marketing department back in the day. Nearly 25 years ago when I worked in marketing for a very large, multinational construction chemicals company, we invested hundreds of thousands of dollars funding these types of programs. I ll never forget one year generating nearly 4,000 leads (in the day that was pretty substantial), and could not flag one new customer from the efforts. Exhausting to say the least. I think it s fair to say among us that were around way back when that these tactics performed relatively successful, given what measurement tools were available. The world was more exposed, buyers were easier to reach, spam blockers and caller ID didn t exist and the whole business of generating sales leads was just simply easier. Now, let s flash forward to today. I think it s pretty obvious that today s B2B marketing landscape is undergoing an overwhelming transformation. Technology advancements like marketing automation software, social media marketing, blogging, content marketing, SEM and SEO, mobile marketing, and inbound internet marketing are revolutionizing the way businesses can and will generate high quality sales leads. The promise is driven by an environment that thirsts for the immediate consumption of high quality digital information. The myriad of smart digital devices has cut the umbilical cord of the time honored inner-office mail and dictation devices. Yet despite these rapid advances, B2B marketing organizations claim that the fundamental task of generating leads is their most significant challenge. Making matters worse is the corporate cultural thinking of do it in minutes with less resources, is dominating the sleepless nights of the same professionals the new era of technology is attempting to serve. Marketing is being tasked to generate higher quality leads and do so with ever-decreasing budgets.

3 So on the one hand, technology is promising the world and on the other hand, marketers are stuck with figuring out which of the gazillion solutions will fulfill the new age of promises. And if all of this isn t enough, marketers must sort out the effectiveness and relevance of new marketing methods and not be swayed by the hype. Activities like search engine marketing via content can be powerful, but standing alone applies much risk in the lead generation game. Like the old saying goes, be careful not to put all your eggs in one basket. This article will discuss how outbound lead generation via telemarketing can resolve these many challenges. Telemarketing is nothing new, yet it has evolved to seamlessly complement today s ever-changing marketing methods. Ultimately, telemarketing should be used in conjunction with inbound internet marketing automation to qualify data points on suspects and prospects alike. Once telemarketing further qualifies each inbound lead, sales will truly be enabled to increase revenues and drive business growth. It is my hope that this article might make the case for blending some of the old with some of the new. I will attempt to make the case that some tactics of the Stone Age are critical to maintain if you truly want to accomplish the objective of generating high quality, buyer ready leads. So I invite you, my fellow comrades in marketing arms, to sit back and enjoy the rest of the story.

4 The Wind of Change: Enter the Era of Inbound Internet Marketing Inbound internet marketing efforts using SEO, SEM, social media, blogging, content marketing, earned media, webinars, virtual events and linking domains are rising exponentially. On the other hand, budgets for outbound marketing tactics like telemarketing, direct mail, and print advertising are decreasing or remain unchanged. It is a logical shift given the way in which the internet has dramatically transformed buyer behavior. Say goodbye to the days when prospects would read glossy, image-laden brochures filled with commercial propaganda about a business and its products. Today, smart B2B specifiers, who by the way are extremely overworked, will only invest time in learning about a business if marketers offer them high quality, educational, and relevant content. While this requires B2B marketers to develop a new mindset, the good news is that the barriers that previously stood between marketers and their prospects have fallen. Now more than ever, marketers have better opportunities to develop relationships with their targeted buyers. So it is reasonable to understand why inbound activities enable marketers to establish thought leadership, earn buyer trust, and cultivate long-term relationships with prospects and customers.

5 Using Outbound Telemarketing to Harness the Power of Inbound Internet Marketing While the trend toward inbound internet marketing proves beneficial, outbound marketing activities such as telemarketing should not be forgotten. It is a fairly dangerous proposition to sit idly by waiting for prospects to call. It is critical when generating high-quality, actionable leads for sales, to utilize an integrated marketing approach. E-nurturing and point scoring prospects who converted on landing pages over an extended period of time is an excellent technique and one that should be considered by all marketers. The problem with passing a scored, inbound lead to sales, is they are really not qualified. If you think about it, does marketing really know if the prospect has the budget for the product or service, whether the time is right, if the contact has the authority to make the purchasing decision, how much the prospect needs the product or service, or the size of the potential sale. The point is, sales needs leads they can action on this month or this quarter. Unqualified leads or those that need to be nurtured over time can sometimes get lost in the funnel. This is where telemarketing can come into play. With a professional outbound telemarketing approach, marketing can dig deep into the leads generated by inbound activities and fully qualify them before handing them off to sales. In this way, inbound and outbound marketing activities complement each other to close the loop and produce the buyer ready leads sales truly needs.

6 And The Winner Is? The Challenge of Generating Leads Tops the Charts B2B marketers face many challenges far above balancing inbound vs. outbound activities. Year after year, data points to the fact that the greatest challenge for B2B marketers is generating high-quality leads. According to Marketing Sherpa, 82% of marketers say that generating buyer ready leads is the toughest challenge. In contrast, nearly 50% of marketers say that generating a high volume of leads is their greatest challenge. In another study called The Lead Generation and Nurturing Benchmarking Report, the highest priorities for marketers are increasing the quality (55%) and quantity of leads (50%). And strikingly, nearly 70% of survey participants expect to increase their investments in lead-generation activities in the next 12 months by more than 20%. Sales and Marketing Alignment Proves Challenging As a result of these difficulties, many B2B marketing organizations find that closely aligning sales and marketing is near impossible. It s the constant finger pointing game. The quality and quantity of leads often stands at the center of the divide. In fact, most surveys point out that 70% of the leads generated by marketing department are never actioned by sales. These leads fall into the age old black hole. Remember my story about those near 4,000 leads, yup you guessed it, sales probably never actioned one of them. Another inherent problem we marketers are confronted with is often times sales leadership came up through the field. So their propensity to push their salesforce to follow-up and report on leads from marketing is nonexistent.

7 In addition, it is often the case that sales and marketing have varying definitions of what constitutes a high-quality lead. Sales teams often claim that marketing-generated leads lack an immediate potential to result in actual sales. For all these reasons, telemarketing blended with inbound internet marketing leverages the quality and quantity of leads that marketing can provide to sales. The Advantage of Adding Telemarketing to the Inbound Internet Marketing Mix Measurability An advantage telemarketing has over its direct marketing counterparts is that it is extremely measureable. Every ratio a marketer cares to monitor can be achieved provided the right technology is in play. Every call conclusion actioned by a call agent can be reviewed and adjustments can be made at any point during a campaign. With traditional tactics like PR and direct mail, measurability turns very gray. A Direct Approach There are many reasons why telemarketing is very popular among B2B organizations. When inbound internet marketing and outbound telemarketing are combined, the telemarketing call is not a cold-call. The prospect has been effectively nurtured and scored through the inbound internet marketing process. When done right, telemarketing can directly and immediately gauge a prospect s interest in or need for a particular product or service. Its direct strike approach brings immediacy in generating high quality leads. When speaking directly to a prospect, telemarketers can ask questions to ensure the relevance of their product or service. Plus, the organization can effectively explain the merits of any technical or complex product offering. And if done correctly, a telemarketing organization can deliver high quality leads to sales within hours of a campaigns initiation.

8 The Human Touch Because of its direct nature, telemarketing proves effective for its ability to develop an instant rapport with prospects. This human touch can sometimes exceed what many social media marketers attempt to harness. Psychologically speaking, prospects are much more likely to listen to a sales pitch if they feel that they have a relationship with the company. This human connection also improves the likelihood of a prospect remembering the company when it comes time to purchase the product or service. This human touch is much more lasting than any flyer or . Qualified Leads As we ve discussed, most sales teams are often frustrated with marketing leads that aren t qualified. With telemarketing, every lead handed to sales can be qualified. In this way, sales will significantly reduce wasted time meeting with someone who hasn t expressed a clear need for the product or service or who doesn t have the necessary budget or purchasing authority. And when marketing owns the function of generating qualified leads, sales teams can focus on closing sales rather than chasing prospects. Integrated Marketing The most effective telemarketing campaign is one that is integrated with many other marketing initiatives. In this way, calls can be made to follow up on direct mail and campaigns, tradeshows, webinars, and as we ve discussed here, inbound internet marketing conversions. Even when marketing has nothing more than a targeted list of company names, telemarketing can intelligently develop a database of decision makers and influencers. This information can be used in cold calling and also be applied to future direct mail and campaigns. In fact, telemarketing improves the effectiveness of marketing endeavors. In most cases, direct mail campaigns have a fairly low response rate of below 1%. When marketers follow up with a phone call, the response rate can increase drastically sometimes up to 15%.

9 The Take Away Most B2B marketing departments find that the fundamental task of generating high quality sales leads is their most significant challenge. Consequently, many sales and marketing departments are misaligned. Sales ignores marketing s leads leaving highly paid sales teams to chase after prospects to generate their own leads. When used in conjunction with inbound internet marketing, telemarketing holds the power to better qualify inbound leads that are being nurtured. As savvy marketers have realized, telemarketing is highly effective in cultivating relationships to build trust and convert prospects into customers. Ultimately, telemarketing s deliverables empower sales to close deals, increase revenues, and drive business growth. For a related article, download The Case for Outsourced B2B Telemarketing About the Author Market One, LLC is a leading direct marketing firm specializing in in-bound and out-bound demand generation, marketing automation, social media and outbound call center solutions. You can contact Market One, LLC at or visit us on the web at Thank you for taking the time to read our thoughtpaper. Happy Selling!

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