In the challenging world of B2B marketing, having a lack of leads is rarely a problem. At any given moment, a few clicks of a mouse — or taps on a smartphone — can yield hundreds, if not thousands of potential targets for your sales outreach efforts. What B2B marketers need is not more leads — it’s more relevant leads.
Building relevance into the lead management process benefits your marketing/sales process on multiple levels. When we target relevant leads, marketing teams can create personalized campaigns that resonate with their needs and ambitions. Sales teams can stop wasting so much time trying to qualify low-quality targets and focus on those with the potential to become clients. The result? Happier, more productive sales and marketing teams, and a boost to the bottom line.
Before those leads can benefit your organization, you’ll need to cultivate them. And before you can cultivate them, you’ll have to find them.
The First Key to Relevance: Creating Personas
Before you can go in search of relevant leads, you need to define what makes a lead relevant. By defining personas, you can sum up all the qualities that go into a relevant lead, and attach a name to the composite of those characteristics. Well-crafted personas will help your marketing and sales teams focus their efforts, and provide the foundation for laser-targeted personalization campaigns.
Fortunately, you have several sources of information available to help you create the right personas for fueling your targeted sales and marketing efforts:
- Analyze the purchase history of your existing clients. How did they come to make their first purchase from you, and where did they go from there?
- Use intent monitoring to understand what your targets are signaling about. Which blogs are they reading? Which e-books are they downloading, and which webinars are they attending? This information gives you vital clues about the challenges that are on their minds … and how you can help.
- Survey current and potential customers — online or in person — and use their responses to flesh out your persona characteristics.
- Conduct industry research to understand the trends that are affecting the people in your target market.
How to Find Relevant Leads
Once you’re armed with personas, finding relevant leads — targets whose needs align with your solution — is a matter of focused effort, both online and offline.
Hitting the web is often a first resort for tracking down leads, but we can’t forget the importance of real human contact. Industry events, for example, offer ideal opportunities for putting a human face on your brand. You can start real, in-person conversations, where contacts can open up to you about their challenges, their frustrations, and their goals for the future. Trade shows, expos, conferences, and other industry meetups also allow you to create some brand awareness in circles where you may not yet be known.
Make sure your sales team is comfortable talking to people wherever they go — airports, taxis, social events, etc. You may be impressed by how easily casual conversations can steer into a discussion of what you do, and why they might need you. You never know where a great lead can come from!
Of course, digital technology lets you cast an even wider net and uncover scores of relevant leads, particularly if you leverage the power of intent monitoring. Intent signals let you “listen” on the web for activity connected to the problems you solve, and identify targets before they even know your solution exists. You can continue to track these new leads and better understand their challenges, then address those challenges in your messaging, in a manner which makes them sit up and take notice.
4 Keys to Resonating with Targets
By this point, you should have a healthy supply of relevant targets to work with. Now it’s time to use what you’ve learned about those prospects to begin conversations that can lead to conversions.
- Begin with your marketing objectives. Decide what you want to accomplish through your marketing using “SMART” goals, (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound), and work backwards from those objectives to keep your efforts focused.
- Develop messaging that resonates. Every minute of every day, your targets are being bombarded with generic messages which have little, if anything, to do with the challenges they’re facing today. To cut through the noise and be heard, be the exception that speaks specifically to what they need in the moment.
- Keep listening. Continue using signal data monitoring to keep your finger on the pulse of your target market. When you notice surges in online activity, focused on a particular topic, capitalize on those opportunities through specific, targeted messaging.
- Be an authority. Leverage your subject matter experts to build trust among your target audience and establish your organization as a trusted thought leader. When your targets see you in this light, they’re more likely to trust you to solve their problems.
- Be relatable. While the information you share needs to be authoritative, your approach should always be relatable. Don’t talk down to people; meet them where they are, and gently guide them to a better, more enlightened place.
B2B marketers have more information available to them than ever before; however, it takes more than information to build relevance into your sales and marketing process. To uncover, connect with, and cultivate relevant leads, it takes strategic thinking, focused effort, and targeted use of the tools you have available — particularly intent monitoring. By building powerful personas, using those insights to identify relevant leads, and build campaigns for resonating with those targets, you can start getting more out of your lead management… and seeing the results in your bottom line.