Best sources of sales leads

You probably already know not all leads are created equally. However, many B2B firms struggle to attract new customers because their lead generation techniques aren’t effective enough. Your company may be struggling because of a lack of sales and marketing alignment or because you’re looking for leads in the wrong places. One of the barriers to successful Internet lead generation campaigns is not having the right technology or analytics in place to make more qualified contacts. Marketing automation can improve these initiatives so you can increase revenue.

Despite the potential to better measure the effectiveness of lead generation and nurturing efforts, many small B2B firms continue to rely on traditional methods of attracting new business, such as cold calling and trade shows. In fact, the phone is still the top source of sales leads for small and midsize businesses, according to recent data from BIA/Kelsey’s “Local Commerce Monitor” report. In-person meetings were also a popular source of generating new clients. After these two, small companies favored online forms to gain new leads, followed by email marketing.

Are you employing a variety of lead generation techniques and failing?

It’s easy to get distracted by different aspects of Internet lead generation. Part of this issue can stem from a lack of agreement between sales and marketing on the definition of a qualified lead. Marketers are often able to generate a high number of leads, but these contacts won’t end up being a good fit for the organization. On the other hand, if the marketing team focuses on quality, sales employees may end up complaining about quantity. The lack of collaboration can create more tension between the two groups, which can further impede lead generation efforts.

Lead generation campaigns – whether run by sales or marketing professionals – need to center around the outcome rather than just quantity or quality, Louis Foong wrote in his blog Leadership. When these efforts are focused on the ultimate goal of converting prospects, lead generation can have better results. Having better access to data through marketing automation tools can improve this pursuit.

How to connect with the right leads

Qualified leads are essential for your company to meet its revenue goals. However, if you find your business struggling to generate leads, you aren’t the only one. In NetProspex and Ascend2’s recent “Client Connection Research 2013 Lead Generation Benchmark” survey, 92 percent of 445 B2B marketers and sales representatives believed their efforts were somewhat lacking.

Looking ahead to the rest of 2014, two of the most important objectives were improving the quantity and quality of leads. However, the research indicated that campaigns needed to go beyond these basic metrics for the best results. Increasing the use of data-driven marketing can help marketing and sales teams succeed in their endeavors. In addition, some company databases may contain errors and inaccuracies. When marketers are working with incorrect data, their targeted campaigns won’t be as successful, and the effectiveness of sales reps’ follow-ups could be impacted as well. You need to use data to improve your lead segmentation and analytics to proactively generate higher-quality contacts. The study pointed out that it was more than just clean data that was needed for this objective – you have to maintain a complete picture of your target audience.

In addition to gaps in the ability to apply data to lead generation, B2B marketers were struggling with their Internet marketing methods. Many companies didn’t have enough resources. Marketers had a hard time producing enough quality, relevant content, and it was difficult to demonstrate return on investment. Sales and marketing alignment was a persistent issue, company websites weren’t attracting enough search traffic, and some firms simply lacked an effective lead generation strategy.

Marketing automation can ease lead generation challenges

You can improve on many of these common lead generation problems through the use of an online marketing system. These platforms can help your teams more efficiently collect data and measure the effectiveness of campaigns, as well as segment different groups of customers. Marketing automation gives all your employees a shared set of metrics so there will be less of a disconnect between sales and marketing. In addition, NetProspex and Ascend2 found email marketing was one of the best lead generation tactics, and these platforms can automate the process by triggering communication when prospects take a particular action.

The study also indicated that longer sales cycles need more support throughout the process. Many B2B firms contend with complex, lengthy processes with several decision-makers. This requires more lead nurturing to build the relationship. Companies that use marketing automation platforms will see better results over time because these tools help them better interpret campaign results. More than half of the organizations that said they weren’t good at lead generation weren’t using these tools. Marketing automation can help you make better use of your lead generation budget and see ROI.

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