Successful Lead Generation: InBound Marketing

Successful Lead Generation: InBound Marketing

Issue: 

2014, December

Successful Lead Generation: Is Inbound Marketing Delivering the Revenue You Need?

Top performing B2B sales organizations rarely employ just one lead generation tactic.  B2B companies today use multiple lead generation tactics including email marketing, search engine optimization, tele-prospecting, inbound marketing, direct mail and trade shows.

Why then are so many consultants and companies out there actively promoting inbound marketing as the dominant lead generation strategy of our time?

Inbound marketing is based on developing high-quality content that attracts qualified buyers, who are in the early stages of the sales cycle. “Build it and they will come,” they say.  But I wonder: Can you build enough content, and who will come?  Despite their best intentions, many B2B companies are not able to generate enough business from an inbound marketing lead generation program alone.

Lead Quality Drives Increased Revenue

But the debate about inbound marketing is not just about volume.  It’s about quality.  B2B companies know that lead quality is equally—if not more—important than the quantity of leads generated.   Let’s take a closer look at the quality of leads produced by inbound lead generation tactics and how this impacts your ability to further develop these prospects into customers.

Most leads from inbound marketing include basic demographic information captured on forms required to download or access content. There is a direct relationship between requesting more detailed information and declining response rates. The more information you request, the fewer prospects that will download your content.

So your inbound lead may consist of a person’s first and last name, the company or organization, an email address and maybe the size of the company.  This is hardly enough to qualify the prospect.  And who knows if this information is accurate.  I am thinking of a healthcare company that recently had a white paper downloaded by Dr. Kildare at the MASH Hospital Unit.

Furthermore, if you have defined your target as C-Level executives in your industry, are they likely to search the web for solutions themselves? Many executives will delegate this responsibility to lower level people within their organization. Your “qualified” inbound marketing lead may actually be an administrative assistant or lower level executive with only limited decision-making or influencing ability.

Compare this to a qualified lead from a professional tele-prospecting company. The prospect has been personally engaged by a trained, experienced salesperson who has helped identify a pain point, possible solutions and qualified the prospect by numerous pre-determined factors. Of these two examples of qualified leads, which one will your company be able to more quickly and efficiently convert to a customer?

Defining Lead Quality

At my company, we define the attributes of a truly qualified lead as one that includes:

1.  Relevant industry. 

2.  Firmographics (revenue, number of employees, number of locations). 

3.  Decision makers and influencers identified. 

4.  Environment documented. 

5.  Decision-maker engaged. 

6.  Business pain(s) uncovered/validated. 

7.  Decision-making process and timeframe documented. 

8.  Budget allocated or process for budgeting documented. 

9.  Competitive landscape documented. 

10.  Sense of urgency or compelling event exists. 

A quality lead sets the stage for relationship selling, lead nurturing and prospect development. The more successful your prospect development program—the more successful you will be at generating revenue.

Another benefit of prospect development is reaching prospects earlier in the sales cycle. Some companies may not even be aware of their pain proposition or whether a solution exists or not. Inbound marketing only identifies prospects that are actively searching for a solution. Your outbound prospect development program may identify prospects before they even start their buying research.  

Why wait for qualified leads to come to you? Adding outbound prospect development to your lead generation mix allows you to aggressively and actively beat your lead generation and sales forecasts. 

Author: 

Dan McDade
Dan McDade's picture

Dan McDade is president and CEO of PointClear, and the author of The Truth About Leads.  Reach him at dan.mcdade@pointclear.com