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Lead generation ideas for the digital age

29.10.19

by Thomas Emmerson

Lead generation ideas for a sales team

It’s never been easier to reach more people instantly, yet it’s also never been harder to get their attention. At any one time, there are dozens, hundreds or even thousands of people looking to buy what your business sells. So how do you connect the dots and generate qualified, valuable leads for your sales team?

Businesses are harnessing technology to connect salespeople with potential customers and investing heavily in their sales tech stack. From new CRM systems to improve lead management to greater reporting and analysis to understand friction points, there are few areas where a business will look to improve the competitive edge its sales team has.

Yet all of this technology isn’t able to remove the barriers created. In HubSpot’s annual analysis of business behaviour and challenges, they found that 37% of salespeople struggled the most with prospecting, and in many cases, this was documented in businesses that have access to CRMs and other target identification tools.

In this article, we’ll explore some new approaches and technological aids that the modern sales team can harness to improve lead generation in the digital age.

CRM 2.0

Many businesses across the globe have no record of the people they do business with beyond their invoicing software. 18% of salespeople don’t know what a CRM is and 23% of those that do cite manual entry as the biggest challenge when using their existing CRM.

Having a CRM enables you to capture prospect data and for salespeople to nurture them. If a salesperson leaves records of their contacts, and the interaction they had had are in a single place, this makes it easier for a new rep to manage. Yet the time dedicated to keeping the records current often means the CRM is out-of-date and irrelevant.

This is a huge shame because modern CRMs have a wealth of tools that can be harnessed for lead generation, so long as they are used. Lead scoring in most CRMs allocates points to contacts in your CRM and adds or subtracts points based on information entered about that contact. Other CRM systems have automatic alert systems so that when a prospect reaches a certain score the sales rep is alerted to reach out to them and assess the opportunity. Some CRM systems even use Artificial Intelligence to measure and score contacts.

Even a simple CRM can be extremely powerful if it enables you to filter and segment contacts so sales reps can focus on certain targets with a targeted outreach or nurture campaign. CRMs have evolved so much, however, that a business needs to know whether they are after an easy way to store customer data or a tool to turn that data into a powerful lead generation tool.

Not sure where to get started with your inbound lead generation tactics? Download the free guide for 30 great lead generation tips and tricks here.

Information on the go

Salesman checking CRM on the go

Many sales reps feel caged if they’re tied to their desk and don't get to spend as much time out on the road talking to customers. If you store customer data and need sales reps to access it before, during or after a meeting then you need a cloud-based CRM and sales system.

An app isn’t just convenient but it can tap into tech to ease the sales process. From VOIP calling to business card scanning which sends the contact’s details straight to the CRM, the modern salesperson needs technological aids to stay on track.

Technology can also be harnessed to reduce the amount of manual entry into the now crucial CRM. 27% of salespeople are spending an hour or more on data entry each day.  Many CRM and sales tools integrate with popular email platforms, like Gmail and Outlook, to send information from emails into the CRM autonomously. You can even access CRM data from within these email platforms so you can check company and contact details before clicking send.

Need an alert on your phone when an existing contact visits your website or fills out a form? Easy. The challenge with modern technology isn’t accessing this sort of insight, it’s having the knowledge and skills to act upon it.

Harnessing robots

Automation, recurring tasks and sequences can streamline manual tasks

Using automation, recurring tasks, templates and sequences can streamline the follow-up process – which is where lots of salespeople spend the most time for the smallest rewards.

Many salespeople spend a bucketload of time chasing leads, creating and sending proposals and then following up those quotes. Often to no avail. It falls into the perception that that is simply sales. You need to put in the numbers to get the numbers out.

There is an easier way, however. By harnessing automation and the ever-evolving sales tech stack salespeople can reduce the monotony and focus on finding new opportunities safe in the knowledge that their current opportunities are being managed by the machines.

Templates are a start as many of these can pull information from the CRM to populate places that would need to be deleted and changed from a copy-and-pasted email. But it’s with automation that templates become really useful. Sequencing an email follow-up process can deliver a stream of emails to a prospect or lead, and will automatically turn off when someone replies to one of your emails.

But instead of falling into the trap of poorly crafted and spammy emails that you can’t get rid of the smart salesperson is using automation to make sure their follow-up process is followed. For example, the same technology that can spam someone with dozens of meaningless emails can simply create a string of call reminder tasks. This ensures the prospect gets the attention they need to close without feeling like they’re being spammed.

Process mapping

Structuring the sales process (pipeline) and having all salespeople follow the same process enables greater analysis of what works and what doesn’t. It’s also the first step in having a well-crafted and repeatable sales process that new salespeople can follow with confidence.

The aforementioned automation can be used to alert a salesperson that an opportunity has spent too long at a set stage of the pipeline and should be contacted to progress or drop. It can even alert senior business leaders on Deals that haven’t been followed up to create greater accountability.

The process mapping can even extend to the cold-calling or introductory portion of the sales process. Using sales playbooks means experienced salespeople can create a guide for junior salespeople to follow to greater success. It can include key questions that are often overlooked and even help with identifying a bad fit client, or someone that’s going to take a lot of time to go nowhere. This can be a particularly good approach when Zety 2019 identified that 80% of the sales are made by 20% of the salespeople. Process mapping can help translate that success onto other reps.

This process mapping should extend to lead generation by outlining how to identify a good target, how to best outreach to them and get through the initial stages of prospecting to develop a real opportunity.

Reporting

Integrating the sales process, contact management and sales activity into a format where it can be easily analysed is key to understanding where business succeeds and where it struggles. Understanding the performance of the sales team goes beyond who is hitting sales targets and needs to analyse who is hitting their call, meeting or email KPIs - or those salespeople that don’t put in the effort but still get the sales to harness their approach and standardise it.

Good sales technology these days offers a myriad of reporting points to show who the best customers are, where they came from and how you can get more of them. Again, in a world where there is more data than ever before the trick lies in being able to harness this data and use it to improve.

Something like a CRM may seem like an investment in marketing. After all, they can use those contacts in email marketing campaigns and target them in social media advertising. In reality, a CRM and solid sales tools are a business investment. Storing generated leads, prospects, contacts and customers in one place increases the value of your business and allows you to do more with the resources you have.

If you’re interested in generating more sales leads or managing the ones you have better with a sales-focused CRM then talk to us about the solutions that will best suit your business.

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filed under Sales, Lead generation