6 B2B SMB problems and how to fix them - no. 2: Lead quality

At Usher & Spur, we've identified six major problems B2B SMBs have. Over the next few weeks, we'll be covering these problems in no particular order in a series of posts. Today's problem is: "Our leads aren't high quality." In other words, you're not reaching people who are interested in buying your product or service in the near future.

Dave Hubbard from Marketing Outfield asked why lead quality was so low in a guest post for Business 2 Community, and suggested that it could be improved by providing Sales with "the type of Buyer insight that they could immediately use in their selling process". But what does this mean?

Align lead generation with the buyer

Typical marketing campaigns, he says, focus on what the marketing department needs to do, i.e.:

  • Hook potential customers (Attract)
  • Keep them moving closer to the goal (Engage and nurture)
  • Generate a lead through a gate form (MQL)

And this can give rise to misunderstandings. Not everyone who downloads your content is actually interested in buying. For example, I download content all the time, for purposes of better understanding what is out there, because it's free research, or because I need to understand a customer's competitors better.

However, when we match the marketing lead-gen process to the buyer, we can ascertain whether the seeming lead is in fact likely to buy a product or service like yours in the near future. And not only that, we can generate not just a lead, (i.e. a name, title, company, and contact), but invaluable information your Sales people can use to start building a relationship, or Marketing can pick up on to further move them towards Sales. But how do we do that?

Ascertain the potential buyer's concerns

When we attract people to our content, we can give them options which will make them tell us what they're most concerned with. Dave gives an example of an email marketing campaign that targeted C-level executives in a particular industry, and offered them free insight into 4 major challenges in that industry, asking them to select the one they were most interested in.

Pinpoint where they are in their buying journey

If the prospect has only just become aware that they have a problem, they still have a long way to go before signing on the dotted line. Marketing will need to continue to engage them during that time, so that your solution is considered. If they're evaluating suppliers, Sales needs to step up. In Dave's example, each of the topics offered led, in turn, to 12 pieces of content mapped to the buyer journey, enabling the prospect to qualify themselves.

Guide them to their decision to purchase (what you offer)

There are up to 7 people involved in the B2B buying decision, according to CEB. Each of them has their own concerns and criteria. Perhaps they are an influencer, whose opinion is valued but who does not have decision-making power (the user of the product for example). What could you provide for them to make up their own mind? What could you provide to simplify making a recommendation to a decision-maker?

But also, is there a way you could trade this helpful content for more information, such as the profile of the decision-maker they report to? Or more information about themselves or the current stage they're at? In Dave's example, the gate form to download content was replaced with a single question that helped build a profile. To get the most out of this step, you need, however, to have identified the types of people involved in the decision, whether or not you have formalized personas, and you need to be as pro-active in your information-gathering as in your information supply.

use lead information to nurture and close

As we said above, when we match the marketing lead-gen process to the buyer, we can generate invaluable information your Sales people can use to start building a relationship, or Marketing can pick up on to further move them towards Sales.

  • Buyer concerns - Knowing what keeps your buyers awake at night helps Marketing to speak to them in a way that gets their attention. It helps Sales say things they want to listen to. And it gives them both the same understanding so their actions are aligned.
  • Buying journey stage - Knowing how far advanced a decision is, helps your company gain in efficiency. Marketing knows what content to send their way, and when to hand them off to Sales. Sales has a higher chance of closing a well-nurtured prospect.
  • Buying committee profiles - When we talk about lead nurturing, we mean building a relationship with the potential customer. Usually, this boils down to keeping a lead warm with news and offers concerning our products or services. For some companies, it means providing the prospect with the information they need, when they need it, to move them towards buying their product or service. At Usher & Spur, we prefer this definition. But we also love the idea of collecting information as we go along, enabling Marketing to not just build a relationship, but also a strong profile over the course of its nurturing campaigns. Such information would effectively provide Sales with plenty more ammunition to close.

Collecting these three types of information would boost lead quality, with both Marketing and Sales gaining in the process. To carry it out effectively though would mean investing in a marketing automation platform and organizing strategically thought-out content and campaigns. Click here to read Dave Hubbard's post on Business 2 Community.

Are you ready for that? Are you doing it already, perhaps? Are you marketing automated but missing the strategy and the content? Tell us your story below, or sign up for our Starter Pack.