So, you’re ready to start building an outbound B2B lead generation team?
Great. Now here comes the hard part.
In order to find, hire, and implement the right team, you need to look at things like sales funnel activity, revenue goals, and timing.
If you don’t understand your own model, and set the right expectations from the start, you and your team will be sunk before you even begin.
Let’s look at how you can start pulling in all those different dynamics and build a successful lead generation team.
Nailing Your Sales Funnel Activity
The first thing you need to do is understand your sales pipeline goals including your ultimate revenue goal. That is, the amount of potential money you can see coming in based on things like sales calls, appointments, opportunities, deal size, and conversion.
If you already have a sales team in place, then you should have a good understanding of your numbers. You want to know your average deal size, your conversion rates, and the number of contacts reached per day.
Once you have that goal, no matter how big or small it is, you can then begin to work backwards to start drilling down the data.
Here’s an example:
Let’s say your business has an ultimate revenue goal of $2 million dollars for a year.
So, how do you know how to get there? This is where your own data comes into play.
Start by looking at your conversion potential.
The conversion rate has two different parts to it. The first goes to your activity funnel. Those are the number of opportunities you contact via cold calls, warm emails, conversations, conventions, you name it. How many of these people can you convert to prospects?
The second part of converting is the actual conversion. That is, the number of brands who are warm leads and end up buying your product or service.
Now, let’s take a look at the math.
Your sales team reaches out to 500 leads a year, converting 25% of them to prospects. Of those 125 prospects, your team converts another 25% to paying customers.
Those 31 paying customers have an average deal size $64,500 dollars, accounting for approximately $2 million in revenue.
Once you understand these rates, you can start extrapolating how to build and grow your lead generation team.
So, if you want to increase your potential sales above the $2 million mark, you will need to have more than $32 million of potential opportunities in the pipeline, the number of leads times the average deal size.
That means you need to increase the number of opportunities you can convert to prospects, and thus the number of prospects you can convert to buyers.
Your current team may have the current bandwidth to increase the number of opportunities, but if they don’t that’s when you can determine how you can realistically expand your team.
If you don’t have a current lead team and are just starting the process you can try to find the right conversion data from a couple of places. The first would be from your company’s current sales team, you can also look at industry benchmarks as well.
Once you have your sales funnel activity nailed down, the next thing your company takes a look at is timing.
After all, qualified leads just don’t pop out of thin air (as much as we’d like them to), it takes time to not only find find those leads, but also hire the right people and train them, especially if your business is starting from scratch.
Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind:
- Consider the hiring process, usually it will take anywhere from one to two months to identify and hire new team members.
- Add in time to get any new employees fully up and running. No one is going to be able to hit all their goals from day one, so that’s usually another 2-3 months.
- Businesses also need to consider the time it takes to actually generate leads, that is the time from when a potential opportunity is engaged by the team and is qualified to enter the pipeline.
- Finally, there is the sales cycle to look at as well. Once a qualified lead becomes a prospect, how long is it before they become clients? For some brands it could be a matter of days, for others, months.
These are all important factors to keep in mind, and more importantly, bake into your goal calculations. A brand new team member starting from the beginning of the hiring process could take six months to a year before they are consistently making revenue for you through the process.
This is why it’s really critical to have a realistic understanding of your sales lifecycle. Don’t take this time into account and not only are your projections going to be off, but you’ll likely find yourself quite disappointed with results that are overambitious.
Team Size and Structure
Now that you have a good idea of both your timing and sales funnel, you can start building your lead generation team.
If you’ve already got a team in place, consider if any of the following systems or structures can help improve or streamline your team. If you’re starting to build a team from scratch, this section should help you build a good framework for everything involved in the process.
Let’s take a look.
There are two standard approaches most businesses take when it comes time to start building their lead generation team.
The first is the pipeline based approach. Here, your company wants to build a team that has a heavy focus on building the pipeline.
You want to look at your pipeline goals to estimate the size of the team you want. In general, the industry average for number of calls per rep per day is 50.
So, you can use that figure, to extrapolate how many reps you would need based on the number of calls your team needs to make to find and qualify enough leads to fill the pipeline based on your conversion rates.
The second approach is the market coverage based approach. In this case, those that are looking to fully target only those potential customers that are in their exact target market.
Here, you might likely need fewer lead generation reps, depending on how many target buyer profiles each potential customer has. Since by having a much tighter target persona, the leads in the pipeline are going to be pre-qualified.
These approaches are not the end all be all, but simply a good way to estimate how many lead generation reps you might need on your team. You might find that a slightly different number is what works best for your own needs.
Now, you want to determine the structure that surrounds your team. The vast majority of brands, over 80% have their outbound lead generation team report to the sales department. The remainder typically end up reporting to the marketing department.
Again, there is not tried and true answer.
Both sides have pros and cons, but the most important thing is to focus less on who the team is reporting to and more on the structure, messaging, and communication. In an ideal world, a lead generation team should help bring together (or bridge) the marketing and sales teams.
Here, we’ll look at three different ways you can structure your outbound lead gen team.
For a more sales oriented lead gen team, you can have each rep report to a lead generation team manager, who then reports directly to the VP of sales. In this case, the lead gen reps also have communication with the sales reps they directly support.
In this case, having a dedicated manager (if you can afford it) will bring a couple of positives. It can help foster a feeling of teamwork, the manager can keep the team focused on the right processes, continuously driving pipeline goals.
A second structure has members of the lead generation team interact with their direct sales reps, but report to sales managers (the manager should be the same for both the sales rep and lead gen rep).
Again, this system is more sales focused. It can help build strong relationships among the sales and lead gen teams, including planning and collaboration, which are good things.
But, this approach has a few negatives as well, first it relies on the sales managers to be fully responsible for both their sales reps and the sales reps lead reps, depending on the manager, this could be an issue.
Also, it really removes much of the potential interaction with the marketing department, keeping lead generation fully inside multiple layers of the sales department.
A final structure involves the lead gen team reporting within the marketing department. As with the first structure highlighted, this one also has the team reporting to a lead gen manager, who then reports to the VP of marketing.
This type of system works well for businesses that have a marketing department that is heavily involved in building and maintaining the pipeline. It also helps to act as more of a bridge between the sales and marketing departments. A key potential issue to be aware of is making sure the lead gen team does not get bogged down in focusing primarily on marketing events.
Recruiting the Team
Alright, you’ve got the system in place, an understanding of your time frame, the numbers needed to grow your pipeline, now it’s time to actually build the team.
Building the right lead gen team is one of the most crucial decisions you can make for your business. A bad or dysfunctional team can cost your business millions of dollars, while a great team can bring new clients, revenue, and opportunities to you that you might not have even imagined.
So who is the ideal candidate?
- Typically 1-2 years of sales experience, having spent plenty of time on the phone, not intimidated or turned off by lots of calls or rejection
- An interest, or even better, a background in your product, service, or market
- Excellent verbal communication skills as well as written skills
- Any specific characteristics that you’ve identified specific to your own needs, these could also be characteristics that align with your best or most productive employees
If you’re not sure where to start, think of the employees you have in the sales, lead generation, or marketing teams that are top performers. Determine what characteristics they have that set them apart, and look for those in prospective candidates.
One of the most commonly identified characteristics that set top performers apart when it comes to sales and lead generation is drive.
Research has found that there are three major components that make up drive:
- Optimism: Sales is all about rejection, it’s a fact of life, but those who excel are able to face the rejection and other hurdles and move forward.
- Achievement and Goals: The best candidates are those who have a strong need to achieve goals and excel.
- Competitiveness: This is all about the will to win. Those candidates who thrive in competitive environments and want to outperform, see great results.
A quick caveat. Regardless of how many positive traits a candidate for your lead gen team might have, it’s very important to dig below the surface and do your due diligence.
Sometimes someone who looks great on paper just won’t be a great fit. It can be hard to juggle all these factors, but you need to keep them in mind in order to build the best team you can.
Now, it’s time to start interviewing. When you start preparing to interview outbound lead gen reps, you want to have a multi-step interview process that includes a few rounds on the phone. After all, this is the environment you’ll want to see them in.
After candidates pass the first rounds of phone interviews, you’ll want to have them meet with not only the hiring manager, but also anyone they will be reporting to (depending on which system you set up) as well as a few team members.
Before you begin the process, it’s a good idea to make sure every stakeholder is on the same page with what the position entails and what your needs are. Be very clear, open, and upfront, thus weeding out any potential bad fits from the start.
If you’ve never participated in the hiring process before, there are a few tips you can put into practice when hiring an outbound lead gen team.
First, get them on the phone. You can have them call you to start off the call, so you can judge how they sound from the start. Also, be sure they are fully aware of what the role entails, including the pressures of making calls, and what you expect for your quotas. Finally, let them try to close you, see if they go in and ask you for the job, it could be a good hint of their drive.
Having a competitive compensation plan is a key component to hiring a lead generation team that actually gets you results. If you want to attract the very best at what they do, you have to be willing to pay for them, so salary and benefits do matter.
Here are a couple more tips on compensation:
- Have a good balance between salary and bonuses, this includes having a minimum performance level reps must hit to get any incentives, as well as not having a cap on bonuses.
- Make sure the metrics you measure your lead gen reps on are those that actually reflect the most important outcomes of this process, things like lead quantity and quality, and opportunities created are examples.
- Don’t make compensation dependent on factors the lead gen team can’t control, things like leads closed would be an example, a great lead could be lost due to the sales team, which would punish the lead gen team.
- Don’t be afraid to generously give out bonuses to your lead gen’s team top performers, this is going to keep them positive and motivated to improve. Also get creative with them, everything from cash to prizes can help.
Be sure to keep automated reports running so you can continuously checking on your team and see how they are doing. Some top performers might deserve a bonus, while those lagging behind could use a chat to help determine what could motivate them.
Use the systems and tips listed above to help build a B2B outbound lead generation team to drive your business’ revenue to the next level.