Talk to a sales representative and the most said after word that you come across in his conversation is “leads”. Yes! You go it right, leads is the most important word in the dictionary of a sales representative. Leads are the most crucial elements in a B2B lead generation process as they are considered to be the nucleus of a customer acquisition process. It becomes imperative for a sales representative to have a well-qualified lead during their lead generation process. Sales representative rely heavily on their contacts and networks to get a good qualified and warm lead. However, lead generation is a never ending process – as they say, “it’s all about the next lead”.
Let us try to understand the entire dynamics of a lead generation process and how a lead contributes immensely. The following illustration depicts a typical sales process followed by sales representatives across the board, across industries, across domains.
On close observation of the process, the ultimate objective of a sales representative following this process is to reach the green circle of “closure”. When he gets a lead or when he identifies a lead and makes the first step, he takes the lead (the target customer) through the entire journey of this sales cycle. At each milestone, he gets closer and closer to the lead before the lead becomes a customer at the end.
So, it is very critical to have the right qualified lead at the beginning. Identifying a lead that could become a potential customer is a very crucial step in the entire lead generation process. A lead is mapped to the company’s strategy, product or service roadmap. A lot of due diligence needs to be done before approaching the lead. In a sales representative’s language, this process is called “Discovery”. SO the next big question is, how to qualify a lead?
There are multiple ways to qualify a lead in the process of lead generation and ensure that it is the right target customer.
The most important aspect of lead qualification in the lead generation process is to identify if the lead has heavy pockets; whether they have the money to buy the product or service that you are offering and more importantly, whether the person you are talking to has the authority to make these buying decisions.
Once this basic discovery is done, then it is all about getting insight into some critical questions that the sales representative needs to get insight into about the lead
- How does the lead purchase the type of product or service that you are selling?
- What is the decision making process?
- Who are all involved in the organizational hierarchy in this decision making process?
- Any remedial actions in case the lead is not interested in buying at the moment?
- What could be the potential challenges or roadblocks that could hamper in the journey down the line?
- What is the overall mood of the people involved in decision making?
- What are the references or any internal resources that can be leveraged to ensure that the lead takes the decision in your favor?
As a sales representative if you ask these questions then it leads to a conversation that will enable you to assess if there is a real need for the lead. However, what sales representative need to ensure is that at a lead level, they need to draw a line between “being aggressive” and “being pushy”. Very easily one can cross this line and irate the lead causing the entire effort of lead qualification to fizzle out in a matter of few minutes.
Sales representatives have a natural tendency to follow up on their leads during the generation process and sometimes, they tend to forget that too many follow-ups can cause a pain to the leads and it can change from a deal maker to a deal breaker.
Remember, even before the lead becomes a lead, they are strangers to you and they have absolutely no clue what you are going to talk about and why you are even approaching them. Hence, it is very imperative for you to understand the psyche of the lead and give him or her the comfort feeling when you are talking to them.
Another critical aspect to be taken into consideration is that your leads are well informed in today’s information and digital era. Probably, your leads have researched a lot and are aware of your product or service and they might be well prepared compared to you. Even though it makes your task easier, it is a challenge in itself because they are not only prepared with the ground work, but they might throw some statistics to you which will take you aback. So, appreciate them for their preparation and that will allow you as a sales representative to get closer to your leads and sign them up.
Secondly, what companies need to understand is that how they want to incorporate the lead generation strategy. Do they want to have an in-house lead generation team or do they want to outsource this component to an expert service provider? This can be detrimental to how their business is structured and how much bandwidth do they have in terms of time, people and money. Lately, many companies have opted for the outsourced model, because they feel that if they are doing the lead generation activity in-house, they usually follow a linear model where they have one or maybe two channels for generating leads. However, once they outsource the entire scope of work, the experts use a network of various channels to help the companies get the right qualified warm lead for the business.
In a nutshell, it’s all about leads in the process of B2B lead generation because if you don’t have the right qualified lead, you can’t think of converting the lead into a customer who will contribute to your company’s revenue. I always believe that for an effective sales cycle, it is very imperative to have the right input, which comes in the form of lead. As a reader coming from various industry backgrounds, we look forward to your views on this article and what insights would you like to share. If you find this article a value add, then please don’t hesitate to share this with your peers and other people in the network.