All the sales leads you can eat. 100% guaranteed results. Every time.

It’s a brave service provider that promises this.

And yet, a business owner contacted me this week seeking exactly that reassurance in terms of lead generation. Of course, I can absolutely understand the ‘risk-adverse’ mindset when you are bootstrapping a young business and every penny counts. And coming from a direct marketing background myself, I applaud his need to understand what kind of ROI he might get. 

However, there is also a fundamental confusion between ‘telesales’ and lead nurturing.  One lends itself to low-price, high volume products (and a good dose of the hard sell) and the other, to higher value products or services, where softer selling skills are essential to success. The latter demands a considered consultative approach where trust, transparency, reliability and proven results are discussed between seller and buyer over a period of time.

As a Business Development Director, working for some of the UK’s leading Direct Marketing Agencies, I saw it like this:  I was responsible for looking after the clients my agency didn’t yet have.  And this gave purpose to all lead generation – or nurturing - as I prefer to call it.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get the opportunity to learn more about my enquirers business to be able to give further advice on the strategy he should adopt, but certainly for anyone considering their lead generation requirements and ring-fencing budget for this business-critical activity, I would offer the following thoughts.

1. All hail!  The ‘lead generation’ Silver Bullet

Of course – you guessed it - it does not exist. You’ve got to do the work. There is no quick fix.  It takes time, and financial investment.  80% of B2B sales are made on the 12th contact, so it’s time to start thinking how you are going to win the trust and keep the attention of your prospect for that length of time.  Forget the silver bullet.

2. Concentrate on finding the right marriage partner

We all know the adage that acquiring a new customer is exponentially more expensive that keeping hold of an existing one. However, we really need to give our businesses a fighting chance from the outset! It is utterly pointless to invest time and money in lead nurturing activity that recruits the wrong kind of customer; one that is only interested in a first date, and lip-smacking free lunch.  Make sure your lead nurturing strategy is flushing out those clients or customers that are the marrying kind.

3. The dying art to lead nurturing

Every sales person in the world craves that bright, sunny day when they pick up the phone, dial the number of a complete stranger, who bizarrely has all the time in the world to chat, and after just 3 short minutes of ‘features and benefits’ lands the financial deal that is going to transform their commission at the end of the month.  The rest of us continue to work in the real world, where we deploy the 80:20 rule.  Lead nurturing is 80% preparation and 20% call time.

4. Getting competitive advantage is a piece of cake

48% of your competitors will never bother to follow up a lead after the first call.  So after you’ve got all your features and benefits primped and preened, gaining a competitive edge is really quite simple.  Speak to your prospects more that once, and you’ve already knocked the competition out of the water. Isn’t it obvious – from a profit point of view – what activity you should be devoting at least a couple of hours each day to?

5. Silk purse, sows ear syndrome

Your lead nurturing investment is only as strong as your weakest link.  And I’m sorry for any bruised egos here, but if YOU are your weakest link – please don’t look to blame the lead nurturing resource for your failure.   Get the right lead generator in place, with the right supporting collateral, and a strong product or service and they will bring you solid, qualified meetings.  But, if you then turn up to that meeting, un-prepared, lacking in focus, talking about yourself, not the prospect, not having done your homework and generally thinking that you are the best thing since sliced bread, your investment will come to naught.  Lead generation requires you to do the hard work on your ENTIRE sales process – end-to-end, including yourself. Trust me, I’ve seen the horror stories.

Think not what your lead generation team can do for you, but what YOU can do for them to give them the best chance of success.  You absolutely must work as a cohesive, professional, hungry team. Not ‘them and us’.

My business offers a professional lead generation service – Meeting Makers – but I am very diligent about the clients we work with. I insist on very thorough preparation, because guess what – 20 years of experience has taught me you get out what you put in.

Regardless of how you are currently looking after your future clients, please make sure you are managing the process to succeed, rather than to fail.  And to do that, YOU will have to do the work too.