When you return after a fairly long time away from the office, there’s always a lot of catching up to do. I like to walk the floor and get all the news as quickly as I can. And then I meet one-on-one with all my key staff members to get the finer details. For newer members of the team, it sometimes throws them a little bit when I ask, “Tell me the bad news first.” Don’t get me wrong; I have complete faith in my team and they do a great job. But as they say, sh#* happens! And sometimes there is no real bad news, which is always fantastic to hear. When there is, my next question is, “Now tell me the good news about what we are doing or have done about it already.” For that is the most important thing isn’t it; to accept and acknowledge one’s mistakes and move on to make things better?
Despite all the prevalent industry best practices, success stories of best-in-class organizations and good advice from well-wishers, we make some common mistakes in the B2B lead generation world. I’ve chosen to list 13 B2B lead generation mistakes many marketers have made at some point or are likely to make. In addition, I’ve offered you my thoughts based on having helped client organizations for many years on what you can do to turn things around.
Piece of trivia: Why did I choose the number 13? Because contrary to what most of us believe, it is not a number to be feared, nor is it inauspicious in all parts of the world. It is, in fact, an honored number in some cultures. In Egypt, (can’t help it…still on my mind!) the Great Pyramid of Giza has 13 occurrences of the quantity 13 in the design of its stone edifice.
Steps You Should Take to Correct Your B2B Lead Generation Mistakes
- You played the “me too” game; now you’re stuck in a rut. It happens. Competition heats up around you and you neglect to work on a market differentiation strategy. That didn’t work. So now it’s time to stop being the “also ran”. Get out of that rut and focus on your core value proposition. Communicate that effectively using the right channels for the right audience. Tip: Rather than say why your company is different, show how your product or service enables different customers to do different things.
- They asked, you sold, end of story. Why? Don’t ever forget the rule of thumb that it is a lot easier and profitable to generate greater revenues from existing customers than it is to find new ones. Make the effort to educate, inform and upgrade customers to buy more than what they started out looking for. Prospects have a need they are looking to you to fulfill, but as a provider, you can offer them the foresight that will help them make an informed choice and a better investment that will serve their related needs in the long term instead of just today.
- Rushed the sales cycle, did you? Step back a little bit now and build some engagement first. Sales targets—they make us do some strange things, like acting irrationally and trying to force a sale. A sale that takes longer to close can be annoying and test our patience. Someone gives up in the end; either it’s you or it’s the prospect. Go back to that questioning and demanding prospect with the understanding that what they are really looking for is VALUE. Engage this potential customer by demonstrating value. Not only will you close a good sale, if you make sure you look after the customer post-sale, you will likely have more referral business too.
- Budgets were cut, staff numbers were squeezed, sales targets went up. Did your organization battle this as a team? Very common to see performance and productivity dwindle when companies are struggling with limited resources. As a B2B marketing organization, the inherent power of sales and marketing departments working in close collaboration can help you get through this. Sure, you want less hands to bring more leads, but have you got them all on the same page? Align your sales heroes and marketing bright sparks to work as a team that is fully bought into your lead generation strategy. Now watch the numbers grow; slow and steady.
- Your sales automation and CRM tools have become the elephant in the room. Senior management got carried away with the power-packed sales pitch of the new sales automation vendor. A huge investment was made in the new CRM and sales automation tools. Now you need to pay a high-profile consultant to show you how to use them! Okay, so if that is inevitable then you have to do it. But don’t be afraid to speak up and don’t assume that your old systems are no good or will have to be thrown out. ASK how the new tools can be made to seamlessly integrate with your existing enterprise systems. Keep in mind, you have to make technology work for you; not the other way around. There is no point in become slaves to meaningless sales metrics and reporting systems. Technology is a great enabler; but your people will drive the results.
- Your lead nurturing efforts ignored perception management. As marketers, we understand the importance of building a relationship. A majority of us, however, will be satisfied to work on an accepted foundation, which may not necessarily be strong enough to allow growth in the relationship. Start working on changing and managing perceptions that will strengthen the foundations of your most profitable relationships. The way to do this is through establishing thought leadership in all your online and office marketing activities.
- Rambled meaninglessly? Stop making a noise and be relevant. So much of this all around—companies tweeting, posting on Facebook and LinkedIn, uploading mindless videos on YouTube—gets you nowhere. There is already too much noise the customer has to deal with; especially on the social media channels. It’s very apparent that common sense is not so common these days with the excitement of being social. If your organization is guilty of having been a social media chatterbox, then this path of recovery is going to take some work and time. But it is entirely possible to get on the right track. Begin with baby steps towards delivering value and relevance in your website content, your email campaigns, your weekly blog post rather than the hourly Tweets, a well-researched, meaty whitepaper rather than some creative collage on Pinterest, and so on. As long as your marketing communication is relevant to your buyers, you will start to see results, a.k.a. engagement.
- Followed a one-size-fits-all approach? Take off the blinkers; it’s okay to commit to a lead generation process and you definitely need to have one, but learn to customize it to your business and your buyers’ needs. Your lead nurturing process must be continually refined, modified and tailored to ensure you are able to engage and finally, convert customers. Start doing this now.
- Forgot your manners? Never too late to pick them up again! You’ve done it—you’ve intruded on your target audience’s time and attention span with non-stop social media campaigns, repetitive email marketing, annoying mobile messaging, badly designed landing pages, etc. So why are you surprised when engagement levels and of course, sales start to drop? Recognize the fact that the typical customer is experiencing chronic fatigue and adrenal stress. Your social conversations can’t be without common courtesy and etiquette. Even the simple Ps and Qs will go a long way.
- Made a hodge-podge of your marketing strategy? Integration is key. No one says that what works for B2C will not work for B2B. But you have to adapt it to make it work in the B2B context, and specifically within your market. Don’t get over-excited with all the new lead generation tools and techniques. Weigh their pros and cons and ensure that your marketing strategy follows an integrated approach. Balance the tried and tested traditional marketing methods with newer ones that are yet to be proven.
- Spike marketing worked…for how long? Sporadic bursts of marketing activity will usually bring some immediate results, but in the B2B marketplace, this can do more damage than good. The old adage of “out of sight is out of mind” still holds true. You need to work towards a sustainable, consistent marketing plan that plays out addressing your target audiences in ways they will take note of. Don’t worry too much about chasing numbers; as I’ve always said, focus on the quality of leads first and quantity will start to build over time.
- Marketing frozen in time? Thaw, evolve, innovate! When a plan or strategy works really well, we are too afraid to revisit it and make changes. We worry about what to keep and what needs to change. The way to do this is to evaluate the marketing plan against what has changed in the marketing environment. Are there new channels and resources your customers will be using now to get information about your products and services. Is your marketing geared to leverage these channels? And I’m not talking about the newest social media tool or platform! It could be a new industry trade show, a new online publication launched specifically for the niche customer segment you are targeting, a new channel partner program that could do with some thought leadership. Look out for these changes and adapt your marketing to optimize the new opportunities.
- And the worst one—analysis-paralysis. Close the doors. Get all stiff necked and stressed out. Discuss what went wrong till the cows come home. And then simply do nothing about anything. Typical scenario, especially in large organizations where there is too much C-Suite activity centered around analyzing what’s going on with sales and marketing. Over-thinking the input-output cycle is not going to get you anywhere. Brings me back to where I started out on this post. Recognize the bad news and then share the good news about how you are going to implement changes. In the words of Nike, “Just do it”.
What are some of the most damaging B2B lead generation mistakes your company has made? What did your recovery plan consist of and what results did you see? Let’s discuss this on my blog. You can also email or call me, Louis Foong, at (905) 709-3827.
Image used under licence from Shutterstock.