B2B marketing is all about making buyers aware that you can solve their problems. This starts with lead generation, the process of identifying the accounts that will be the targets for your brand. Good lead gen gives you control over how your business will grow. It allows you to find the buyers suffering the most from the problem that your product fixes. This shortens your sales cycle. Good lead gen also identifies who has the financial ability to pay the price you’re asking for it. This enables you to boost potential prices (and profits). But how do you find those people? How can you accurately decipher a good lead from a bad one? How much of your lead gen should be about quantity, and how much about quality?
I spoke with the LeadCrunch team, the demand generation company that uses artificial intelligence algorithm for lead generation. Their algorithm analyzes leads’ histories and behaviors to provide leads that convert into sales far better than traditional lead list providers. Here’s their advice for finding your customer soul mate – again and again:
Focus On The Right Companies
The first step is determining who you want to sell to. You want customers that will pay their bills on time, love your product or service and stay loyal for years. Yes, you need to find the companies that are likely to need your product, but it is even more important to find the companies that are ready, willing and eager to buy. This may seem fairly straightforward. You likely already have information like industries and locations you’re targeting. However, that is no longer enough – most companies do not fit cleanly into a single industry code and the firmographic data on revenues, employees and other company information is often wrong. LeadCrunch estimates that as much as 40% of all list data sold by major vendors is either wrong or expired.
Models Are More Precise Than Filters
Repeating your past success in a predictable way is the key to growing fast. The best way to do this is to create a model of your ideal customer profile (ICP) that captures the key attributes that are shared among your best customers. Often these attributes are hard to identify. For example, you might be a shipping company that does really well with domestic less-than-truckload orders. These could come from any industry or from businesses of any size. Using filters will undoubtedly miss many great opportunities while providing false positives on others.
The best route to take is to use a vendor who has an artificial intelligence model that finds new contacts that have key similarities to your loyal customer base. These systems work by taking a list of your existing “best customers” then data mine these companies to find similarities and differences. The system reads thousands of websites and blogs with an artificial intelligence engine that finds common words or concepts. The output of the system is a list of accounts and contacts within those accounts that are most similar to your current best customers.
By using models instead of filters, the system often finds “green field” opportunities in new industries that have been overlooked by sales and marketing. These are often the fastest to turn into sales since there is less competition.
Finding the Buyer
Contact information degrades at about 2% to 5% per month. That means that most databases for company contacts are wrong since they only get updated every year or so. Worse, it is very hard to find the right person who makes the buying decision. This is one of the reasons sales teams spend so much time prospecting. To address this problem, many companies are increasingly outsourcing the process of researching contacts and roles.
It’s critical that you incorporate human verification of contacts into your lead generation protocol, in addition to processing leads into either marketing or sales qualified. The key to a successful process is combining the power of artificial intelligence with systems that allow call center professionals to make fewer calls to qualify leads. This allows sales teams to focus on closing deals.
For example, if you sell equipment to franchises, it may be all well and good to get the interest of potential buyers or shift managers, but the real catch will be corporate headquarters and current owners who are looking to enhance their business.
Lastly, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that your audience is only C-Suite executives, which far too many companies claim. It’s much more likely the person who actually makes the decisions is a bit lower on the hierarchy – a manager of the department that will use your SaaS, the director of the factory that your equipment is useful in, and so on. While C-Suite executives may seem like the obvious choice, they’re often the wrong one.
Understand The Metric Your Buyer Is Measured By
The metrics your buyer is evaluated with are their greatest motivators; understanding them will give you a much greater depth of understanding of how to convince them to buy.
When searching for these metrics, work from most obvious to least. For example, if you’re targeting the Sales Manager, their obvious metrics are department sales, new customers and employee retention. However, they are also likely being measured in large part by employee reviews, which count softer metrics like “how supported do you feel by your manager?” and “what would you change about your department’s processes and practices?”
If you can find those all-important but silent metrics that the buyer is concerned about, and present a solution to them, they’ll be more likely to make the purchase, either to enhance their own review, or prove that they’re the expert that their company hopes they are.
The best way to know if you’re targeting the right companies is to create several buyer personas, and then track which groups are the most reliable customers, and the highest spenders. Finding the right buyers can be a bit like dating – you make a list of priorities, you hunt for the perfect match, and you only settle down when you know you and the other party really get each other.