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Study: Lead Generation is the biggest B2B headache for the past 2 years

One the essential survival functions for Business-to-Business (B2B) companies is lead generation. They are in constant hunt for new prospects that can use their products or services and keep the business running. But, as it turns out, lead generation is not only an important operation; it’s also the biggest challenge among B2Bs.

BtoB Magazine (btobonline.com) conducted a survey among US B2B marketers and found that 60% of the respondents said that generating leads is their biggest challenge in 2013. This is consistent with the findings when the study was also conducted in 2012.

Lead generation B2B headacheIn 2012, the top 3 challenges were generating more leads at 61%, reaching target audiences at 48% and measuring and attributing conversions to the correct channels at 39%. This year, the top 3 are lead generation at 60%, reaching target audiences at 55%, and elevating online brand presence at 39%.

Also noticeable in the study is the big surge in the challenge posed by customer retention or loyalty, which jumped from last year’s 24% to this year’s 33%. They also consider the incorporation of targeting in their overall marketing plan as an increasing problem, from 28% to 34%. If you think about it, both these surges can be attributed to the rise of competition (thus making customer retention hard) and the ever-changing preferences of prospects (which hampers target marketing).

But why is generating more leads perceived as the biggest challenge?

One of the possible explanations can be seen on the graph itself. For both 2012 and 2013, the second biggest challenge is reaching the target audience, which makes sense to the fact that B2B lead generation is giving them a tough time. Not being able to send the message to the desired people ultimately cripples the very purpose of marketing, and with that being the case, where would the leads come from?

Another possible reason is the type of B2B lead generation tactic they use. Perhaps companies have become so overwhelmed with social media thinking that it will deliver all the leads right at their doorstep. Or maybe they’re just not creating content that engages prospects and facilitates conversion. If they’re dependent on search, perhaps they need to optimize their sites more meticulously.

This study can either be a testament to the fact that B2B lead generation itself is no easy task, or a constant reminder that every other endeavor that revolves around it has a long-term impact. Let’s see what 2014 has in store.

B2B Survival: Leads come and go, but business relationships endure

 

When the internet was just a toddler and people still depended on traditional media to acquire information, they were practically too easy to please. You could just present them with something educational that they haven’t heard before, and in no time they’d say “Wow, I learned so much from you,” and converting them to leads is just icing on the cake.

That hardly ever happens today, though.

Given the abundance of information available online, people are no longer wowed by trivia and know-it-all approaches to content. Their need has shifted to different things, such as customer experience, accessibility, and most importantly, building relationships.

This is more apparent in a Business-to-Business (B2B) setup where professionals hook up with people of their kind. If you’re running a company, you would want to work with people you like and trust, and that’s something you don’t just achieve by being a walking encyclopedia.

Relationship-focused marketing does not eradicate traditional marketing in any way – you could still pursue your usual tactics while being relational at the same time. It’s actually more of a philosophy that fuels the main core of how you execute your marketing practices. Shifting your focus away from making money and more into strengthening bonds can bear fruits that don’t go stale.

First, good relationships make your marketing operations easier by word-of-mouth publicity. Business people usually have no problem recommending you to their friends if you’ve really built a reliable reputation around your business name. It also makes expansion easier if you have plans to go outside your current territory.

Another benefit of building relationships is that it keeps your company afloat. Tenured business would attest that financial stability typically relies on “regulars”. Having a set of 5 companies who are always willing to work with you is better than dealing with 20 new transactions that won’t likely be extending their business.

Lastly, not only that building lasting relationships preserve the cash flow, but it also saves your company money. Experts estimate that it is 6 to 7 times more expensive to acquire new customers than to keep current ones. Businesses that consistently satisfy their clients need not to worry about high churn rates, and it even facilitates the entry of potential leads.

Commerce is a people-oriented field, and it should be no surprise that relationships are the bloodline that sustains it. It’s like love – nobody wants to be on “dating mode” forever; sooner or later you have to find the right commitment and settle down.

Mid Year Report 2013: Current Trends in B2B Lead Generation

The numbers are in.

The B2B Marketing Technology Community on LinkedIn conducted this year’s lead generation survey to better understand how new challenges are affecting today’s B2B marketers. It’s an annual event awaited by the entire LinkedIn circle that boasts the most comprehensive analysis of B2B behavior.

It s purpose is also to identify new trends and best practices so the word can be spread throughout the community. They have surveyed more than 800 respondents and here, the highlights of the survey results were picked out for further emphasis.

Here’s what they’ve found out:

  • The number one challenge for B2B marketers: Generating high-quality leads. Some would expect to hear that the biggest challenge would be gaining the public attention, or cold-calling constraints, or even the basics such as penetrating a strict business industry. But no, companies apparently have no trouble generating leads as much as they want to – but the question is, do those leads meet the quality standards they require?
  • The most effective lead generation strategies are: Email and SEO. This one is not so much of a surprise. Although social media is devouring most of public attention especially this year, the traditional Search Engine Optimization and the ever faithful Email are still the backbone of lead generation success. Who says old school is out?
  • The greatest barrier to lead generation success: Lack of resources. Considering that the respondents are mostly from the mid-sized business industries, the lack of resources would always come up as the ultimate obstacle. Being understaffed and under-budgeted can definitely alter the way a business would attack its market, not to mention time constraints and building pressure for the third and fourth quarters of 2013.
  • The most outsourced marketing operation: Web graphic design. The online competition has never been tight – the attractiveness of a company’s website can now be tantamount to its credibility and online fragrance. Companies now invest in making sure their website is up to current standards, hiring experts in aesthetic appeal and likeability.
  • The most allocated marketing operation: Events. Despite the action in cyberspace, the bulk of the marketing budget still goes to outside-the-office events because of obvious reasons. Mid-sized to large companies host an average of 2-3 events a year, and a lot of spending goes into making sure they generate enough buzz and lure potential prospects. This strategy wouldn’t have continued up to this day if it didn’t show positive ROI.

Reference: B2b Lead Generation Report 2013

Generating B2B Leads? You Ought To Delight And Entertain

While some pundits will say that this is just what selling is all about, I would like to point out the fact that there is a difference between selling and selling right. Selling is just that, selling. There is no concern on whether you want to generate qualified sales leads or not. You can lie, deceive or misinform, just to get results. Of course, if you want to be effective, you need to be honest and factual. Now this is where the problem with B2B lead generation comes in. You ought to show your business prospects the facts, but number and figures alone will not get you those B2B leads at all. You need to take care of presentation as well. And this is how you do it:

  1. Surprise them – give them an ‘Aha!’ moment. Give them a familiar situation, but one where your insight is fresh and innovative. That can help your B2B telemarketing team.
  2. Tell them a story – stories can be an incredible way to keep their attention. A well-paced narrative will keep your prospects spell-bound until the last chapter of your presentation. Pepper it with trivia and other relevant facts that they can use.
  3. Make it fun – this will also liven up the conversation, as well as help grease the wheels of your appointment setting process. This can aid you greatly in relationship-building.

There are other tactics that you can use to delight your prospects, but these three would be a good place to start. You can succeed in your lead generation campaign better this way.

 

Make Your Lead Generation Campaign Flu-Free

This is the time of the year that would most certainly bring worries for many business owners (correction, worries for everyone). It is inevitable, and everyone is needed to handle it – the flu season. And this can have a negative impact on your lead generation campaign. If the situation becomes worst (where key appointment setting personnel becomes absent due to sickness), then you really will have a hard time to generate the needed sales leads in your campaign. You will need a contingency plan in place. Considering the various methods that you need can employ, which ones are the most important? You will find these below:

  1. Plan specific employee roles – to prepare your company during the flu season, you need to come up with a plan that includes the specific roles of each employee. Study your critical operations (like those in telemarketing), find out the people necessary in those parts, and discuss with them what plans to make in the event some calls in sick.
  2. Conduct a flu awareness campaign – nothing beats an aggressive information drive. Not that your employees are anywhere dense in head, but a little reminder about sneezing and cough etiquette can go a long way in preventing the spread of flu in your workplace. This is also a good time to inform everyone about medical services and, if available, flu vaccination to prevent flu infection.
  3. Invest in more technology – the nice thing about technology in the work place is how it can contribute to overall B2B leads productivity of everyone (without the requisite close physical contact with each other). If this is possible in your office, have your employees work from their homes. Working remotely from their homes is also a contingency plan that extends beyond that of the flu season. It can provide you and your people added flexibility on how they go about their work. Just make sure that you have the equipment for this arrangement.
  4. Test your systems – this is related to point number three. You need to ensure that the communication and work tools installed in your employees’ homes are in good working condition. Conduct a test run of your system and see if there are any bugs that you need to take care of. Try picking a date, and then send at least a quarter of your employees home to use the system. See if they connect with your production floor.

Of course, this arrangement will work perfectly for companies that does not handle that much sensitive data. This is a different story if you handle data processing and retrieval tasks. In cases like these, you really have to keep your personnel reporting to the office. Still, as long as you keep everything clean (and remind your people to wash their hands after using the washroom), then you can still prevent the spread of the flu. It may border on the obsessive, but a little cautiousness can be a great help in maintaining the health of your company. In this way, your lead generation campaign can be flu-free.

 

How To Retain Current Customers In Lead Generation

Generating new sales leads can be hard, so why spend so much effort if you can just get it from your current customers? Of course, this will only work if your current clients are actually still willing to do business with you. That is why it is important to know some customer retention skills. Lead generation can be a very demanding work, especially if you are talking to prospects for the first time. It will be very sensible if you could just talk to your current customers and see if they would like to sign up for a new service (or simply stay with you in the future). So, what are the basics that you should keep in mind?

  1. Communicate consistently – this is very important, especially if you have some new policies or changes that are taking place. For example, you are going to terminate your current line of product or service, and you want to know if your prospects are interested to accept the change. Communicating with your customers and B2B leads will not only help in disseminating information, it also serves to cushion the impact of such change when it happens.
  2. Know what your customers want – while this might sound like an easy tip, you might be shocked to learn that all you did was ‘think’ that you ‘know’ what your customers want. Be more active in learning their desires, their needs, as well as their requirements. Only then will you be more effective in offering business solutions. It would be a good idea to employ telemarketing here, since this will give you an open channel for communication.
  3. Improve constantly – in order to maintain a business relationship as much as possible, you must constantly improve your product offers. Appointment setting is a task that can be made much easier if you have something new and exciting to offer. Current clients and business prospects would be thrilled to know that you have something good to offer.
  4. Have a channel of communication – it can take many forms, like social media, a reply option in emails, or perhaps a regular telemarketing call. All these can be used in order to gauge the current of customer thinking, as well as provide an avenue in which to identify what customers want from you. Also, you can provide your customers an avenue to air their grievances.
  5. Always be ready for the competition – you cannot take your competitors lightly. In one way or another, you will always be faced with the possibility that they might steal your prospects and clients. Be ready to deal with their machinations. Remember, you need to retain your customers if you want to save time in generating B2B leads.

Of course, if you need help in marketing, it would be a good idea to outsource the work to a capable telemarketing firm. You need to be in touch with your business prospects, right? It might require a little aggressive tool to improve your sales leads generation.

 

Aimless Lead Generation Tactics To Be Avoided

When we are conducting a b2b lead generation campaign, we must use whatever tools available to us in order to maximize our impact in the market. Be it social media, email marketing, search engine marketing, or even telemarketing, you should know what tools to use to reach out to your prospects better. But there is also the fact that you also need to know how to reach out to your prospects. Taking the wrong step, or using the wrong words, will only make you lose sales leads. Knowing what not to do is also as important as understanding what is required of you.

So what are these common marketing moves that simply mess up with your campaign?

1. Answering objections the prospect has not even raised – anticipating what the prospect might say is a good practice, but raising these objections yourself is a horrible move. Frankly speaking, you end up digging your own grave because you created an issue that may not even exist in the first place. Best advice is to wait until the prospect raises an objection before answering.

2. Letting the customer take control of the next step of the sales process – are you trying to leave all the work to the prospect? Then do not be surprised if you receive absolutely no replies for your email or b2b telemarketing campaign.

3. Focusing only on the features – knowing your product or service inside and out is a good idea, but using that as your sole pull on your prospect is not good appointment setting tactic. Experience will tell you that B2B leads are best generated by telemarketers who know how to connect their product to the results the prospect is looking for.
4. Faking your intimacy – if there is one thing that prospects hate, it is people whom they feel are fakes. Remember, generating sales leads takes time since you need to build trust. Save your personal greeting and high-fives with the prospects for later (preferably when you have established a friendship with them, not before).

5. Creating a sales too early – one reason why creating a sales proposal too early is bad because it will only work once the prospect has already defined what their problem is (not to mention the solution the need). It is better to create the business proposal after you have reached an understanding with the prospects already.

6. Talking more, listening less – calling prospects on the phone requires that you listen to what they say. If you notice that you are spending more time talking than listening, then you are not doing your work right. To begin with, how can you suggest a working business solution to prospects if you do not fully understand what the problem is in the first place? So listen up, right now.

7. Chasing dead-end sales leads – given the level of competition and the economy today, it may be hard for you to accept the possibility that you are going after B2B leads that will not produce results at all.  It is important that, in the first five minutes, you determine whether the prospect will need what you offer and has the money for it. If not, then tough luck, and proceed to the next one.

There are other things that you should be avoiding, but these are the most glaring ones. It is best to avoid them all together if you want to keep your lead generation campaign successful.


The Importance Of Niche Telemarketing

B2B telemarketing lead generation can be one of the most effective methods to find quality business sales leads for companies who have open minds when it comes to lead generation.

But of course, not just any telemarketing company will do. Not even a highly respected telemarketing firm with years of experience will do the job. The important thing about telemarketing to make it highly effective for your particular business is that it should have years of experience in your specific niche, without which your lead generation campaigns will be treated just like everyone else’s. This is called niche telemarketing.

What is the difference of Niche Telemarketing?

Imagine if you run an enterprise software company and you decided to bring in professional telemarketers for a more direct approach at getting b2b sales leads. However, you simply hired the cheapest one you found “because you’re just testing it out”. Or perhaps you chose a call center that has been in the business for years just to make sure. But the problem is: your telemarketers have years of experience—in selling personal insurance. Not only do they not have the skills to sell your products to your highly-technical and inquisitive telemarketing list, but they don’t have the experience of selling to companies and organizations. Because of this, they wouldn’t be able to answer standard yet important questions right away. They might also use hard selling to get your business leads to buy, thinking that enterprise software can be sold right away just like insurance. This, of course, will definitely put off those in your business list. For the sake of argument let’s say the call center you hired promised to do their best while learning the ropes. But are you willing to turn your business into a lab rat so that the call center can practice sourcing b2b sales leads?

The best telemarketing call center to hire to make your b2b sales lead generation extremely productive is to look for a firm that not only has experience, but has experience in your specific niche. That’s right. Don’t just hire a telemarketing company, hire a b2b telemarketing firm with skills in getting qualified IT sales leads for your business—or whatever kind of leads your business specifically needs. Make the most out of your telemarketing campaigns by hiring niche telemarketers. Doing so not only increases the chances of finding highly qualified b2b sales leads, but because these professional b2b telemarketers already know what your leads usually ask, starting your lead generation campaign won’t take as long as it would compared to a “generic” telemarketing company who still has to learn the ropes.

It’s all about choosing the right service provider for your lead generation campaign. So hire the one that will be most beneficial for your company.

How To Balance Business Lead Quality And Quantity

As discussed in the previous post, the decision to prioritize sales lead quality or quantity is dependent on the nature of your business. As a business to business company, your b2b lead generation campaigns should concentrate on finding quality business sales leads so that no effort is wasted even if the conversion process takes a long time. However, just because b2b companies have to focus more on the quality of business leads during lead generation, it doesn’t mean that you have to forget about the quantity of b2b leads being generated. In fact, it is possible to find quality b2b leads in quantity. Doing so is not that simple and will require considerable effort on your part, but the rewards will certainly be well worth it.

Here are the important factors required to find quality business sales leads in quantity:

Market research.

To increase the quantity of your lead generation campaign results, you have to be able to reach as much qualified prospects as possible. To do so, you need to perform thorough market research on your target market. It may take some time before you collect the necessary information that would allow you to efficiently identify qualified business prospects, but it will all be worth the effort. Hiring a telemarketing call center to perform data profiling services on your company’s behalf can be beneficial. Or you can also hire telemarketers to carry out telephone surveys to find out more about your target market.

A/B testing.

No matter what marketing strategy your company uses, it is important that it undergoes a testing phase before being formally implemented as a part of your b2b lead generation campaigns. Direct mail, newsletters, and email correspondences should be tested before sending to all prospects in your business list to make sure that there are no grammatical errors or wrong spelling in your content. Even the telemarketing scripts used for cold calling and appointment setting should be tested to make sure that there are no flaws or lacking information in the spiel. Listening to the telemarketing script first will also help you identify whether the choice of words are compelling enough to attract your business sales leads right away.

Preparation.

Before you launch a b2b lead generation campaign, your sales and marketing team should be well prepared to respond to each prospect inquiry. You must also have more than one appointment setter on duty to handle the meeting schedules. Ideally, it is best to generate only as much business leads as you can handle at a time, but keep the lead generation process ongoing so that you continually have business leads coming in. This way, your team will not be overwhelmed and can follow-up on all the leads without any lost opportunities.

Once you have found the criteria for identifying your target business leads, perfected your marketing script and prepared your team to cater to your business leads, you can launch a much larger scale b2b lead generation campaign to find more b2b leads without worrying about whether you are actually reaching the right sales leads for your business.

Using Location-Based Marketing For B2B

While b2c marketers are ecstatic about how location-based marketing has greatly improved their sales lead generation, certain business to business or B2b marketers are left questioning themselves whether this type of marketing strategy can also be an effective option for finding b2b leads for their business. The answer? A resounding YES! Frankly, I believe there is no marketing strategy specifically made for only b2c or b2b marketers and customers. With the right preparations and implementation, all strategies can be adapted to deliver what marketers require of them, whether it is business sales leads or consumer leads. Another thing that makes location-based marketing optimal for b2b are the various apps made available to the market. Traditionally, to network with as much business people as you can during conventions and other events, you would have to do a lot of walking and talking. But doing so usually decreases the quality of relationships that you can build. Through these location-based apps, identifying the attendees of such occasions has become so much easier. All you would need to do is log-in, and you would be able to see all the attendees of the event.

Location based marketing can be a great lead generation method for b2b companies. Here’s how your marketing people can use location-based marketing to get those much needed yet highly elusive business sales leads:

  • Attend Trade shows.

What better venue to use location-based b2b marketing than on trade shows? These events, along with conventions and seminars, are ideal because they require business people to converge in one place.

  • Claim your online presence.

Even if you don’t require your business leads to visit your office to make a purchase, it is still advisable to verify that you own the establishment where they could check-in. Doing so will allow you to edit the contact details for that location so that whenever a business lead is nearby, they would be able to find your contact information right away.

  • Leave tips.

With Foursquare, your clients may leave tips for your establishment that can be viewed by others who have checked in. These tips are not only beneficial for b2c, but also for b2b. Anything that allows your clients or b2b leads to write about your company can be classified as reviews and may also be used as valuable content online.

  • Create partnerships.

As a b2b marketer, you’re obviously connected to a lot of businesses in various industries. Why not use these connections to expand your reach? Offer discount coupons for clients who purchase certain service or product packages from you that they can use at one of your other client’s businesses.

If you spend time on it, location-based b2b marketing will prove to be a highly efficient b2b lead generation tool. It’s all about finding ways to make a marketing strategy work for your business, not the other way around.

 

 

The Function of B2B Lead Generation

By: Markus Lundin

The need for a company to find business to business sales (B2B sales) has grown considerably with the abundance of contact and marketing information on the Internet. B2B lead generation is the process and steps to take in which you can market your business to another business whether through blogging, social networking sites like Twitter or FaceBook, and even modified press release coverage for blogging. With the diversity of the Internet any business not taking full advantage of what it has to offer should consider them self living in the dark ages.

B2B lead generation is taking flight and many businesses are getting on the bandwagon and making the most of this incredible idea. Twitter has been the talk of the town with creating new applications that are compatible with handheld devices such as the iPhone and setting new expectations in the name of social networking. Using join us” links and following people or businesses through Twitter has become a huge leader in B2B lead generation marketing.

Getting the word out not to just potential customers, but other businesses is a great way to expand your reach of business. If you are a manufacturer of computer parts than you can go to these social networking sites and create a good business to business marketing scheme. This is what technology is opening the door for and if you are reluctant to walk through it than you are only cheating yourself. No matter what side of the door you are on opening up communication between businesses can benefit every party involved. Not only can sites like Twitter or FaceBook spread your company name but it can link to invaluable information for businesses that are interested in what you are offering.

The power of blogging has become one of the greatest marketing strategies the Web has ever seen because this puts people in touch with people all over the world. Much like forums, blogs are creating new avenues of people meeting people and is the prime function of what B2B lead generation is all about. Creating a business lead in the new generation of networking from business to business and popularity that this is getting is unfathomable.

This is a fairly new interest in the world of Internet marketing but as the Web grows and reaches new plateaus so does the way we access it and manage it. The Internet has become such a valuable resource some companies are closing the doors to their physical stores and just taking up shop on the Web because of marketing strategies like SEO, B2B lead generation, and Google AdWords. The future is here and they are using the Internet in just about all walks of life in terms of reaching out to a broader spectrum of clientele. Getting on board now is only going to benefit you in the long run and make you more prepared for where this is all going. In terms of the Internet itself it’s still just a baby in a very large world that connects it through its nature. Utilizing and maximizing the full potential it has to offer will only make your business world a more fruitful and prosperous venture.