Lead Generation. It’s the life blood of business. And yet the vocabulary and the thinking around it is muddled with endless terms and opinions. In this piece we’re going to share how we think about it.
I received this email from a prospect. We’re discussing how Add1Zero can bring our sales execution expertise to his company. His question is representative of a pretty common theme that’s worth discussing.
What type of leads would you be expecting? People who have expressed need, budget, and interest?
Add1Zero’s core service starts at the point when a prospect submits their contact information. We call that a Lead. We take Appointments with Leads and we work to convert them to Customers. That means our clients need to provide the Leads, and many times they want to understand more about that.
Hey Mom, where do Leads come from?
It may be helpful to back out a level. Before we talk about a “Good Lead,” let’s discuss what a “Lead” is generally.
Think of the broad universe of all of the buyers (people) in the world. They’re out there. You see them everywhere. You talk to them. You know other people talk to them. At the time of this writing there are 7.8 billion people in the world.
Let’s presume only half of those people are adults, roughly 3.7 billion. Keep going with similar reduction and you end up with about 150 million adults in the US, presuming you want to focus on that market.
This is where a lot of startups fall apart because they say things like, “All we need to do is reach .01% of the population and charge them $1,000 and we’ll have a $15M business!”
When we force them to sit in that logic and deconstruct it we run into several issues such as:
- Which .01%? (that’s 10,000 different tiny slices)
- Even if I can figure out which .01% how will I contact them?
Yes, there are a lot of other issues, but those are the core ones.
Selling to businesses
At Add1Zero we work with B2B services companies that have something to do with technology, usually related in one way or another to the internet. Those companies tend to sell to other companies in the US, give or take some of our Canadian and UK friends.
A similar reductive strategy might be used when we’re targeting businesses:
- There are 32M businesses in the US…
- Maybe 4M of those are large enough to deal with (a guess based on small business counts)…
- Maybe 250K of those total businesses sell to other businesses (random Google search)…
You get the point (and no, don’t rely on these figures, do your own math). Regardless, a similar fallacy as above becomes easy to perpetrate:
“We just need to sell $10,000 to 1% of B2B companies and we’re making $25M!”
Again: tiny slices and which one? If/when we know which one how will we contact them?
Defining ‘Lead’ before ‘Good Lead’
Take all of the above and imagine we can, in fact, reduce the world of possible customers down to the right slice (we can, but it takes work – that’s why marketers talk about targeting, personas, etc.). Then we’re left how to contact them. The way a potential (B2B) prospect becomes a Lead is by attaching data like so:
Business Name → Contact Name → Contact Email address and/or Phone Number
Once we have an actual human who we might contact and we’ve attached contact data to that person, we conceptually have a Lead. That’s easiest and lowest bar to call someone a Lead.
We can pay any number of companies to source and provide this information. We can do that pretty cheaply.
So we have the most basic definition of a Lead:
“A person who might want to buy what we sell for whom we have at least a name and valid email address.”
Leads that book Appointments are Better
At Add1Zero, it’s our opinion that a Good Lead is someone who willingly gives us their contact information. We like to achieve this by a simple funnel-driven website or landing page that follows this pattern:
Web Page → Call to Action (e.g. Button) → Lead Form 1 → Enter Contact Information → Submit
We can call a Lead “Good” when they came to us via one of our marketing channels, and they submitted their information. Having done so, they’ve indicated their intention and willingness to be contacted by the company (in this case, our client). Not all Leads who submit their contact information are going to convert to a sale (indeed some may be spam), but this is an important step in the process.
What makes a Lead, let’s say, “Better” is the next step: they book an appointment. That’s this extension to the pattern above:
…Lead Form 1 → Enter Contact Information → Calendar Booking Page → Enter More Information → Submit
If submitting contact information says “I’m interested and willing to hear about what you offer…” then scheduling an appointment adds, “…now.” That’s a lot more powerful.
Inbound vs. Outbound marketing channels
There are lots of ways to express how marketing turns the world of possible contacts into Leads, which we then want to filter into our “Good Leads” and “Better Leads” like we described above. In its most basic form, marketing creates Awareness, and if it’s well-done it’s explaining and educating the audience to create Demand. Some Demand is going to filter through the funnel and become Leads.
Marketing Activity → Awareness → Demand → Leads
Any of us in the revenue generation world can quibble about definitions, but I think we’d all agree to some version of this. It’s fundamentally sound enough to use as a high level model.
At Add1Zero, we believe any marketing method, channel, or approach that brings in Appointments is the most effective, because it gets us the intention and urgency we need on a more consistent basis. We want our sales personnel focused on these types of opportunities because they’re closer to revenue.
Bottom line: Leads who schedule Appointments are the goal.
The inbound/outbound distinction doesn’t matter
If we’re primarily interested in Appointments, from the sales seat it doesn’t really matter to us how we categorize or classify the methods used to get the appointments. Someone up-funnel can “smile and dial” with outbound calls, send cold emails, send warm emails to lists, create LinkedIn content or LinkedIn messaging campaigns, improve SEO and SEM, etc. The point isn’t which of these is inbound vs. outbound, but rather which of these (for the business at hand) makes for more effective and efficient booking of Appointments.
It’s far more important (for us sales folks) that the Appointments are booked by “Qualified Leads.” Qualification of leads might have to do with any timeliness, intent, ability to pay (budget), and more.
Sidenote: Will Add1Zero prospect leads for us?
We can figure out ways to do this that would be best for your business, but there’s no silver bullet here. The time-honored “salesperson as hunter” just doesn’t work anymore. We believe you want your (our) sales pros closing deals via Appointments booked by Leads. It’s simply too expensive and too inefficient to pay sales pros to “hunt.”
It’s also unnecessary. There are many different ways to get Qualified Lead volume, and many different levels of budgets to support those efforts.
Back to Qualified Leads
The service we provide is based on one very simple metric: calls (Appointments) per week.
Appointments need to be booked, or closers can’t do their jobs. Fundamentally, Add1Zero builds systems, processes, and tool chains that enable closers to be exceptionally effective.
An Appointment slot that isn’t booked is an airplane taking off with an empty seat, or a gallon of milk past its sell-by date, or a season ticket to a professional sports game that no one used. It’s a perishable asset. When it’s lost it’s lost for good. It’s a sunk cost. There’s no getting back that hour.
In that sense, any meeting is better than no meeting. Our philosophy is “Telling is Selling.” If we can get that Appointment slot filled, even with someone who isn’t a perfect fit, at least we can make someone aware of the business and pitch the value we offer, and continue to hone that offer.
However – it’s much better when an Appointment is filled with someone who wants to buy, has the urgency to buy soon, and has the money to buy.
What makes a Good Lead?
In closing, let’s revisit the original question.
What type of leads would you be expecting? People who have expressed need, budget, and interest?
We care most about Appointments because our system is designed to maximize their value. The nice thing about Appointments is they take care of interest on their own. Very few people book Appointments with a vendor without at least some interest.
Need is subjective. We can make sure marketing messages, whether outbound or inbound in nature and method, feature the right educational content to create demand and expose need via value statements. That’s part of the consulting we always bring to the table. It’s also part of our incentive system: since we make money when a client makes money, we’re all aligned on making the entire system better to achieve revenue.
Budget can be more tricky. Lots of people want products and services. Most people want them for “cheaper” than the price you (or anyone) offers. We can use methods throughout the funnel to make sure budget requirements are clear, and we can even use methods to prevent unqualified prospects from reaching the appointment stage. Some will still slip through. In that case, we’ll use our selling skills to quickly and efficiently disqualify them and move on.
To make the best use of a pro sales team:
- Be prepared to invest in demand and lead generation via a series of channels.
- Design your sales funnel so there’s a clear conversion point to Appointments.
- Keep your sales team in Appointments with systems humming behind them to make their time efficient.
Add1Zero turns Leads into Customers with laser focus on revenue growth.