For most VP Marketing/CMO’s, one of your biggest challenge is lead generation – and 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.
The first is understanding who your targets are, and then getting a list together of those people or companies.
The second is reaching out to the people or companies on that list with the ultimate goal of getting them on a sales call or book a sales meeting.
Those who agree to further calls or meetings are those prospects who are qualified and interested in the product or service you brand can provide.
Yes, this is customer acquisition.
It should come as no surprise that the lead generation process is not only time intensive, but it’s also quite informative as well. By speaking with so many prospective clients and learning about their problems, wants, needs and desires, the lead generation process can add a lot of very valuable information to the marketing process.
It’s very important, however, to build the right lead generation team, which can be a function inside your Growth Team. While it may seem like hiring anyone with a bit of phone experience to spend the day dialing for leads should be relatively easy, that’s not the case.
There are a number of things that need to be taken into consideration before building a team, including expectations, processes, systems, and resources.
B2B companies who are willing to commit over the long haul to building a B2B outbound lead generation team usually understand the following challenges.
Challenge #1: Understanding Your Target Market
It’s amazing how many companies set their lead generation teams up for failure before they can even begin. This is because they have not put in the time and effort to have a deep understanding of exactly who their target market is.
Every marketer has to realize that their product or service is not going to be a fit for everyone. That information, has to be communicated to the lead generation team so they can understand not only exactly who they should be targeting but also know their direct competitors, their specific pain points, and even potential partners and complementary solutions to customers problems.
Without having this information well defined from the start, the lead generation team will be nowhere near as effective.
Challenge #2: Clearly Defined Customer Profiles
Hand in hand with knowing the target market is having very clearly defined target customer profiles. These are going to be the specific people who are involved in every step of the buying process.
Once again, having this detailed information is only going to help expedite the lead generation process. The team will be able to know right away if the person they have on the phone cannot make a buying decision and who they should as for instead.
Plus, the lead generation team will be able to constantly add the data and information they’ve collected from their interactions to the profiles. In the end, this information can really help tweak customer profiles for the better.
Challenge #3: Understanding “How” to Build a Lead Growth Team
Although understanding a target marketing and doing a deep dive on creating amazing customer buying profiles seem like the hard part, it’s important not to discount the difficulty in building the right team to get the job done.
When building a lead generation team it’s really important to understand how both the sales and marketing messages need to be defined and work together. All too often brands will fall either more into the sales side or more into the marketing side, a big mistake.
Instead, work on developing a core culture and putting systems in place that will effortlessly meld both the sales and marketing pieces together into one cohesive pitch.
Challenge #4: Choices Managers Have To Deal With
Because a lead generation team is sort of a hybrid system, it is very important that the manager who is put in charge of the team is the right fit.
All too often, companies (especially small ones) think that being the manager of the lead generation team is something one person can do in addition to their other role. In most cases, that just won’t work and can end up hurting the team rather than helping it.
The manager must be someone who is able to manage personalities, coach calls, develop good systems, understand data, make changes if things aren’t working and encourage the team moving forward.
Who Needs a B2B Outbound Lead Generation Team?
As brands get bigger and want to make more sales they often start thinking about if a lead generation team is going to work for them. Chances are, it can, but that doesn’t mean this type of team is right in all situations.
Consider these factors before your brand starts building a lead generation team.
Factor #1: The Sale
How complex is the sales process? For brands that have high ticket sale items (think $25,000 and up per sale) that have a longer sales lifestyle, upwards of 30 days or more, it can be a very complex process.
Usually these sales teams have to devote quite a bit of time and energy to making the sale, and focus much of their time on maybe just one or two potential sales per month. In these cases, having a solid lead generation team can be very helpful in the pre-qualification phase, reducing the number of touches the sales team needs to make the sale.
On the other hand, if your brand typically has a shorter sales lifecycle that doesn’t involve multiple decision makers before the deal can be closed, then a lead generation team is probably not necessary at this time.
Factor #2: The Economics
The other important factor to consider is would a lead generation team be worth the cost? Remember, that for every lead a team member brings in, they must also be paid a salary for their work, so have an understanding of exactly how much each of your marketing generated opportunities cost in real dollars.
If you cannot justify the cost of bringing on a team because the economics of it doesn’t work out. For example, you might estimate a lead generation team will bring in $500,000 in opportunities to the pipeline. But, the cost of the lead generation team is $495,000. In this case, is the extra cost, time and management of the team worth it?
Keep in mind, even if you might not see a huge increase in profits right away from a lead generation team. Since they have such close contact with target markets and customers, they often will gather valuable data on the market and even help spread awareness, which does have a value.
Factor #3: Building the Team
Once you’ve gone through the factors above and determined that building a lead generation team is going to be in the best interest if your brand the next question is, who gets involved?
Of course, it’s most important that the main executives of the brand are totally on board, that includes the CEO and the VPs of both sales and marketing as well as any other senior management that plays a part in company wide decision making.
All of these people, plus the team manager, should not only be behind the the lead generation team, but they can also offer a number of insights and observations on target markets and customers.
Once the decision to build the team is made, it’s important to hire the right people and develop a system and culture that allows them to succeed.
Lead generation teams can be a true game changer for many brands, but remember to fully invest the time and money it will take to build the right systems if you ultimately decide a team is right for your needs.