We hold this truth to be self-evident, that all sales lead generation strategies are created equal. With due respect to the founding fathers, not only is this truth not self-evident. It’s not accurate.
Too often, lead generation strategies and tactics are deployed without correctly addressing three of the usual suspects: the prospect’s decision making process, the sales cycle length and the size of the investment required.
Imagine three light switches lined up in a row. Instead of reading “On” and “Off,” the two positions on the decision-making switch read “Complex” and “Straightforward.” The switch for the sales cycle length reads “Long” and “Short.” And the switch for the solution investment reads “High” and “Low.”
No one in his right mind sets out to apply a Straightforward/Short/Low strategy when marketing and selling a Complex/Long/High solution. The wicked irony is strategies that righteously begin life as correct high-end approaches too often deteriorate…and leave Tier 1 prospects feeling like they’re on the receiving end of a shabby Straightforward/Short/Low selling experience.
An example: Marketing gets excited when its efforts generate a response like the following: “Yes. I’m raising my hand. I’m interested in learning more and would like to have more information.” But marketing is incented to generate and pass to sales high volumes of these “leads” (and I use the term loosely) as quickly as possible. Marketing doesn’t have the training or the time to develop prospects to the point that they warrant attention from highly-compensated, time-pressured sales representatives.
The result: Sales representatives, focusing on closing fully qualified opportunities deep in the pipeline, may or may not have time to follow up. If they do, they quickly find out the contact may only be an information gatherer or a budget is way down the road. If they don’t follow up, the contact—who will buy at some point in the future—falls into that bottomless gap between marketing and sales…magically reappearing months later as a closed deal for a competitor.
Bottom line: The prospect development process is too complex to use marketing resources focused on high volumes. The sales cycle is too long to cost-effectively use veteran sales representatives to develop mid- and long-term prospects. This means wasted time, wasted sales and marketing dollars, and lost sales.
The answer: Successful Complex/Long/High selling demands dedicated resources with deep expertise in applying proven prospect development processes that build relationships with interested contacts and move them to fully qualified status. These processes must map 1:1 to decision maker work styles and buying processes at target companies. The resources and methodologies needed to address these requirements include a smart mix of three core processes:
- Multi-touch: From initial engagement to qualification and through long-term nurturing, frequent and systematic touches are essential.
- Multi-media: Varying media—outbound calls, voicemail, personalized email and more—are used to deliver messages in consistently fresh formats and in accordance with prospect preferences.
- Multi-cycle: Mid- and long-term nurturing assures continuous coverage of high-value prospects when planned purchases exceed the normal sales cycle.
A Complex/Long/High strategy grounded in a proven methodology like this delivers fewer, yet more qualified leads at the right time in the sales cycle. Marketing and sales costs are reduced while productivity improves. And initiatives deliver greater return.