Customer Acquisition for B2B SaaS and Software Companies 101

Customer acquisition is the first stage of your sales funnel and no matter how good the latter parts of your funnel are, if you’re not getting customers through it, you won’t have a SaaS company very long – no matter how great your product is either.

Buffer grew from 0 customers to 55k users and $150k in recurring revenue in ten months.

Zapier grew from 0 users to 600,000 users in three years.

And in two years, Slack grew from 0 teams to over 30,000 teams using Slack and valued at over $1 billion.

How did they do it?

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How to Execute Outbound B2B Lead Generation Effectively

Alright, you’ve got the team hired, the systems set up, the training complete, the goals set, now comes the most difficult part, keeping your lead generation team on task and productive every day.

No matter how your team is set up and what department it lives in, it’s incredibly important to have a lead generation team that is willing to put in the effort make adjustments to be successful.

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Leverage the Right Tools for Outbound B2B Lead Generation

Technology is part of our life today. But, that doesn’t mean it’s not there to solve all our problems. Especially not magically conjuring up successful outbound B2B lead generation.

Too many businesses end up failing when it comes to that concept, they continue to use tools, technology, and automation even if they aren’t delivering the desired results quickly.

Instead, it’s better to focus on how tools can augment the business and its processes. When that happens, brands can start seeing much more efficiency and success.

CRM Best Practices for Outbound B2B Lead Generation

Most outbound lead generation teams have a dedicated Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system that is the basic tool they use for keeping track of leads as they progress through funnel.

This is an area where technology has steadily been improving over the years. While not long ago, there was one main system used, Salesforce, now there are a number of options like:

For smaller brands and teams there are a number of smaller yet still effective CRM systems like:

Regardless if you are set with your team, or currently building your team, the right CRM is vital. So, if your current setup isn’t working for you, it could be time to start exploring some of the other options out there.

There are a number of factors to consider.

Accounts vs. Leads vs. Contacts

One common problem a lot of teams find with CRM systems is there are often three different databases depending on where a lead is in the system. It shouldn’t be too shocking that this can be a major source of confusion, especially if one contact is there multiple times.

Part of solving this is making sure everyone on your lead gen, sales, and marketing teams are on the same page when it comes to how leads are assigned as they go through the system.

Your teams need to understand how each of the accounts, leads, and contacts are tracked. It could be that each person spoken to is a contact, or that anyone spoken to inside one company is lumped into one lead group.

The other part in removing confusion is making sure you pick the right CRM system. Work with the CRM company to see how much of the system can be customized for your needs.

Data

Once you have figured out how you are going to classify the leads that go into your databases, the next thing you need to have is a firm understanding of the type of data you want to collect and keep track of.

Now, here’s the rub when it comes to data, it’s really easy to collect way too much information. When you do that, it’s a disservice to your team. There is no way you need to spend time pouring over data that doesn’t matter.

To avoid getting lost in a sea of data, it’s far better to find a good balance between the number of fields you want and the accuracy you need.

You should be able to figure out what some of the fields you need from your own pre-defined processes. That includes the data you’ve outline that you’ll need in your qualification processes.

Here are a few examples:

  • Industry
  • Contact info (i.e. name, email, phone)
  • Location
  • Time frame
  • Budget
  • Annual revenue

Don’t forget, that some of the data you collect can be used for drop downs, and you can leave a few fields that are specifically designed for notes and messages as well.

In these spaces you’ll want the lead gen team to fill in information after they speak to each lead that can help round out more of their goals, pains, and any other tips that can help move the lead through the funnel.

Reporting

Next, you want to take a look at the data you want to pull out and generate reporting. There are generally four main areas that you want your reporting to cover. Those include process, activity, segmentation and messaging, and productivity.

Activity

Tracking activity is going to be one of the key metrics to see how your team is performing. It can help see how the reps are working with their time, and can highlight if there are any processes that are not working as well.

Some examples of activities that can be tracked:

  • Calls
  • Emails
  • Conversations
  • Appointments

The biggest key with tracking activity is you want to make sure everyone completely understands the definitions of what each activity is and also consistently uses them during the entire process.

These reports will be a great way for management to track both the short and long term goals of not only just the lead generation reps individually, but the entire team.

One last reminder, especially if your team is responsible for entering the activity data themselves, make sure you come up with a way in the CRM to require reps to fill everything you need in before the data is submitted.

Productivity

Productivity metrics are key to determining how well the lead gen team is doing. This is especially true when it comes time to look at individual team members in order to look at their compensation and bonuses.

Again, data like appointments set and completed, and opportunities created are some of the basic information you want to make sure is being collected in the CRM system.

Process

One of the more difficult things to track in a CRM is the process. But, it’s also one of the more vital pieces of information that you need to see how your lead gen team is operating.

The process stats can help you manage your team more efficiently, by managing lead flow and workload, just to name a few. That can help also make sure no potential leads are falling through the cracks.

Here are a couple of processes that can be tracked:

  • New prospects
  • New qualified leads
  • Leads by team member

Just like with some of the other important tracking factors, with process you need to be sure your team is accurately including this data. Otherwise, you’ll never be able to fully see where any issues or backlogs might arise.

Many managers of lead gen teams will use this information in the weekly team meetings or during one or one sessions to make sure leads are being followed through with and not being neglected.

Segmentation and Messaging   

Finally, your CRM system can be used for tracking the segmentation and messaging data. This is the information the lead gen team can get directly from the emails, calls, and conversations with the leads.

This information includes things that aren’t always quantifiable, but still valuable. Information like what the leads goals and pains might be, who their competitors are, and their biggest objections.

When deciding on a CRM it’s key that you have the ability to add in some fields for messaging data. Some managers prefer to have a CRM system that includes some specific drop down choices for messaging rather than a fill in the blank.

While there are some advantages to keeping certain messaging fields open for lead gen team members to write in specific information, it’s a good idea to use more generic drop down options for certain fields.

One example would be with objections. Here are some examples of generic dropdowns for objections that cover the vast majority of them:

  • No budget
  • Uses a competitor
  • Not interested
  • No response
  • Bad data
  • Not a fit
  • Other

A similar setup can work with the field that covers the biggest pain points of the leads.

This is going to be important especially when moving prospects to qualified leads, so it might be a good idea to link these fields so pain points are required when a lead moves through the funnel.

Here, your brand should have a good idea of the most common pains, so you can use those as a pick list field. Consider the top five to eight pain points and allow the lead gen reps to tick off those the leads mention during conversations.

Other Technologies for Outbound B2B

While the CRM is one of the most important technologies a lead gen team needs, there are plenty of other tools and technologies that can come in handy as well.

Business Intelligence Tools

These tools can help with finding out more information about leads and prospects.

They can also help by automatically alerting your team when specific information about prospects is in the news or changes, saving quite a bit of time during the pre-call research process.

Here are some examples:

Dialing Tools

While it might not seem like a big deal to dial a number since it only takes a few seconds, multiply that by hundreds or even thousands of calls a week.

Dialing tools can help solve this problem. Based on your budget, there are a number of dialing tools that can help automate the process, or at least help reduce the time team members are dialing.

Here are some examples:

Each of these tools can help by offering something as simple as click to dial, or get more advanced like logging calls, having popups that appear during calls for notes, or even actual automatic dialing of specific lists.

Email Tools

Since email is becoming a more valuable stream for outbound lead generation, it makes sense to pay attention to the available email tools out there.

Typically, there are two options for sending out emails to leads. The first, is through the CRM systems, which generally allows for emails to be sent out of them. The second is through an email provider like GMail or Outlook, for example.

Now, there are also tools that allow for people to track quite a bit of information from inside applications like GMail.

A few examples:

For smaller teams that don’t have fully integrated systems, using available apps and tools in conjunction with email can solve as a great method that will work well.

Use Technology Where Needed for Outbound B2B Lead Generation

Finally, a quick note to remember. While technology can go a long way towards making a big difference it’s not the end all and be all. Technology cannot solve broken systems or fix bad processes.

So, use it in the right situations but also understand that nothing takes the place of the right team and management. The right combination of both will take your outbound lead generation team a long way.

Are You Ready to Build an Outbound B2B Lead Generation Team?

For most VP Marketing/CMO’s, one of your biggest challenge is lead generationand developing an outbound B2B lead generation team.

Generally, lead generation is defined as:

When the sales or marketing team will reach out to specific targeted prospective buyers, let them know about your product or service and try to interest them in discussing it more (with buying in mind).

In reality, there are two main functions that go into lead generation.

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