If you're thinking of looking for a good way to generate business leads then using lead generation companies is a great place to start. In fact, we have a list of some top questions to ask lead generation companies before you commit to them.
However, being able to generate numerous, quality, leads is a fine-art and not without complications, and some trial and error. Make sure you're up to speed with the common pitfalls with our top 4 mistakes lead generation companies stumble into when finding business leads and more importantly, learn to avoid them...
As well as being a major part in creating a stable and steady cashflow for your business, being able to fill your sales funnel with quality leads is one of the primary focusses of any company wishing to thrive and grow.
Of course for many SME's, finding the time to both run their business, carry out the actual business activities, and keep an active sales process and lead flow going is a massive balancing act. However, like many other aspects of your business, hunting down business leads can be farmed out to lead generation companies or bought in (although this is a spotty solution and not highly recommend...).
Whatever approach you take - even if you keep it in-house - make sure to keep the following list of potential mistakes in mind to maximise your lead-finding potential.
1. Focussing purely on the numbers game
There's no escaping the fact that sales and marketing activities require some kind of input quantities that are disproportionate to the end result. To some degree there is a base truth that the more numbers funnelled into the top, the higher the numbers output at the bottom.,
For example, take a look at the image displayed here showing median averages across HubSpot customers. You can see that for every 1500 visitors to a website there are only 2 customers produced, and that's if they're hitting a conversion rate of 2% between visitors and leads.
Whilst these are HubSpot customer averages (they don't speak for your industry or potential performance), the figures highlight that there is still a need for a larger volume of interest at the top of the funnel to produce the desired sales results at the bottom.
Just focussing on the numbers alone, just pursuing the volume and hoping to pass along a large number of generic leads is not what you should be looking for.
All leads begin as curious visitors attracted to you from a variety of means. Ideally this interest should be generated from a starting point based in your industry. For instance, if you sell high-spec SCUBA gear, you don't want to attract website visits and initial interest from people looking for children's snorkels, or worse, people looking for something completely unrelated like dog food!
This is where some traditional lead generation methods such as telesales and leaflet drops struggle as they cast too wide a net and end up with a poorer ROI.
How can I avoid this?
- Whilst you should definitely aim to increase volume at the top of the funnel, aim to attract more of your target market audience.
- Look at the way in which approaches like inbound marketing work as they can help you shift your marketing efforts away from pure numbers alone and into meaningful numbers that work!
2. Not listening to the metrics
Steve Ballmer - former CEO of Microsoft - once did a mad run across the speaker's stage at a developer conference, shouting 'developers, developers, developers'. He was highlighting Microsoft's focus on helping software developers create great things with Microsoft's products.
If I could do the same then I'd be running up and down your office shouting 'metrics, metrics, metrics'. That's because metrics, that is the analytical data behind your marketing efforts, is a hugely important factor in being able to uncover what works and what does not.
Now, some things work. Some things don't. Isn't that the way in life? Well, I'm afraid it's the very same in business and definitely when it comes to sniffing out potential customers.
Finding people that you want to speak to is a blend of art and science and there is definitely an element of educated, research-based guesswork going on at the beginning. The skill, however, that separates the good lead gen companies from the bad is in their ability to measure and quantify their actions and repeat what works!
If you're speaking with a company that has no way to accurately measure the marketing activities they're performing then it may be time to move on, or dig a little deeper to see how they track what's working and what's not. For your business, it could make the difference between sales improving or sales going nowhere.
How can I avoid this?
- Ask your potential lead gen partner how they measure their efforts. Do they use a platform, such as HubSpot, or do they use a few different analytical tools to build an overall picture?
- By being able to look at what activities are working best for you and driving the figures in the right direction, you can ensure that more time and energy is being spent in pursuing those activities, and less is wasted on those that are not.
3. Not qualifying OUT as much as they qualify IN!
You want to be speaking with anyone who's interested right? Well yes and no...
To maximise your sales time and energy, you should really only be focussing on the leads that are the best-fit. Harsh as it can sound, if someone's not a right fit for your products and services, then dealing with them is going to be unproductive at best and a complete waste of time at worst, for both you and the lead.
There are a number of reasons why a lead might not be the right fit:
- They don't have the budget level to engage your services
- They aren't in the right industry to benefit from your offerings
- Maybe they're not at the right stage in the buying journey to need your solution to their problem
- Or it could be the lead isn't experiencing any sort of driving need to engage with you, but exhibits a mild curiosity instead
This is why simply buying leads in as a job-lot is fraught with problems as they're not usually qualified, nor specific to your products and services.
One simple way to start filtering your potential customers is by allowing them to self-identify. If, say, you wanted to target businesses with over 100 employees, one simple way to qualify your leads early on would be to add a form field that asks your visitor 'what is your company size?'. If they select '10-30', for example, then you already know it is unlikely that they're going to be a great fit for you and what you offer.
How can I avoid this?
- Make sure your selected agency is performing some kind of business leads segmentation early on in the process to gain some early ground in qualifying them.
- The more you know about your leads before you engage with them the easier it is to see which ones can make the cut at the marketing-qualified stage, before you turn up the sales thrusters to full.
4. Ignoring the ideal buyer persona
Following on from the last mistake, it's of the utmost importance to spend your marketing on the right people. "Who are the right people for my business?" I hear you ask.
Well fortunately we a few resources you can use to find that out:
- Here's a simple, but effective, 3 step method to finding and creating your ideal customer profile
- We also have a real-world example of a complete customer profile
- And finally, we have a free worksheet (with another example) that you can download and reuse to flesh out as many buyer personas as you need to fit your client base
Once you've done the research and got to grips with who your ideal customers are and what their activities involve then you can start to build your lead generation techniques and strategies around this.
How can I avoid this?
- If you're outsourcing your business lead production to a third party then they should definitely be involved (or do it on your behalf) in the customer profiling stage to identify the best people to look for and how they can get you the best return on your investment possible.
- Use our free resources to build up a picture of your ideal customer and target them to get the best results
Have you used lead generation companies? Did you get some good results from them?
Hopefully by arming yourself with good questions to ask lead gen companies before you start working with them, and the knowledge of some common pitfalls to avoid when spinning up the lead machine, you'll be well on your way to becoming a lead generation machine!
Let us know if you've encountered any problems that you think we've missed and tell us about your experiences good and bad.