Leading customers through the sales funnel in our modern economy can be a bit of a fickle game for entrepreneurs, and it takes far more than simply boosting your inbound marketing efforts to do so.
It can be especially challenging for a startup to introduce a new product into the market with no proven success stories, or a game plan to generate outbound leads. That’s according to Lisa Schnare, Director of Sales Development at Influitive, who shared some tips and tricks for Building an Effective Outbound Lead Generation Program during a Lunch and Learn session at Volta earlier this month.
Here are some of the key takeaways from that discussion:
In order to get the right message in front of the right people at the right time, it is important to know precisely which industries will benefit from your new product. Articulating your ideal customer profile – a description of the ideal business that’s the right fit for your solution in B2B marketing – is the first step.
“If you’re not 100 per cent sure who your ideal customer is, leverage your resources here at Volta or online. But, don’t try to do lead generation until you are,” Schnare advised.
The sales team should know the product inside and out, and be able to clearly explain the pain points it resolves better than anyone. Take the time to train and explain each feature so that your team is confident with their approach. If you aren’t there yet, stop – do not pass go.
Ensure that everyone is on the same page and then proceed.
The right message, the right way
Preparation is everything. Set aside some time each day or week, and dedicate it to prospecting. Set another chunk of time aside, just to do follow ups. Keep a script or main talking points on-hand so that you clearly communicate your value proposition to target prospects.
Being knowledgeable (and not defensive) about your most common objections shows that you are well-informed and have researched exactly how the product will fit into the prospective client’s workflow. Just remember to speak naturally – you’re not a robot.
With respect to when you should be prospecting, bear in mind that Mondays and Fridays are far more challenging to reach people and have meaningful conversations; often, they are catching up from or winding down for the weekend. Also, be conscious of time zones; you likely won’t connect with anyone if you call outside of business hours, and you certainly won’t win anyone over if you disrupt their sleep.
Finally, consider how your prospects like to be reached – maybe it’s a cold call, a LinkedIn Message, a Tweet, or an email. Whichever method you choose, it is imperative that you keep the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation in mind for national outreach, and the General Data Protection Regulation in Europe.
“Your medium can help determine the best cadence for your outreach, which also helps identify the tech stack you need,” Schnare said, adding there’s no real method that works every time. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different frequencies, length of your messaging, or test campaigns or blitzes to keep content fresh.
You’ve done your research, and you’re almost ready to roll. Pull your target list, prioritize based on location, and make note your outreach using a CRM system. This will help you track – and not spam – potential clients. Some free CRM programs include HubSpot or Zoho; paid solutions include SalesForce or Microsoft Dynamics.
There are also times when industry activity can open the doors to new opportunities for you to engage. Setting up alerts on trigger topics that relate to your solution is a great way to become aware of new prospects and make them part of your outreach routine. Some free tools to consider using include LinkedIn, Google News, Twitter Lists or Skrapp; paid systems include LeadIQ, or ZoomInfo. Or, you can purchase lists – though it can be quite costly.
“These tools make it easier for you to prospect, which also means it’s easier to spam,” Schnare cautioned. “Do not scorch the Earth. It will not only land you in trouble with CAN-SPAM and GDPR – it will damage your brand forever.”
Following up and qualifying
This is where a well-integrated CRM system will help you shine; you can set reminders to connect or follow up with potential clients. This will also ensure that the contact you make is not too frequent, and that you are well-prepared for the conversation.
“You don’t want to become a professional stalker,” Schare said, adding that you should always keep your follow up communication short and to the point.
Ideally, on first contact, you will have determined what solutions they currently use. This will help you articulate how your company can add value, and if there is a sense of urgency to purchase or replace existing services.
Make sure they know exactly what it is you are selling, and clearly state the next steps to manage expectations (set a meeting time/date, sending a demo, or email).
Most importantly, be persistent
You’ll have to be persistent in your approach, and should be prepared to try to make contact at least six times in the first month (with about three-to-four days in between attempts). After that, give it a couple of weeks before pursuing the same person.
If you aren’t being well received, consider that you may have the wrong person, or you do and they are simply not interested (but could be struggling to say so).
It’s all about striking a balance between the quality and quantity of messaging. Once you find your groove and get the outbound lead generation plan in motion, you’ll know exactly what medium, messaging and frequency works for you.
“Work hard and it will pay off – trust the process,” Schnare said. “If you’re doing it properly, you are helping people, not bothering them.”
Lisa Schnare is an Outbound Lead Generation Expert with more than eight years experience in the field. She has built lead generation programs for several local startups, including Introhive and Affinio. She is currently the Director of Sales Development and the Head of Halifax Operations at Influitive.