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Can You Predict Your Ideal Scenarios For Lead Nurturing?

"Sales Checking For Leads" © All Rights Reserved Kenny Madden

Depending on which reports you may read when it comes to lead nurturing, approximately 60% or more of B2B businesses do not have a formalized lead nurturing program.  Yet, depending on these same reports from the several research organizations benchmarking such effort, companies who perform effective lead nurturing enjoy a better than 25% higher return on their efforts than those who do not.  Which begs the question: why are companies slow to adopt to lead nurturing?

Reasons

I suspect one reason may be that the pressure for instant results from lead generation efforts is a primary driver.  Especially from firms heavily rooted in measuring results monthly and quarterly to a fanatical nature.  Which makes you think:  how much potential revenue is being left on the roadside in the speedy monthly pursuit to instantly convert leads generated into month-end results?  If organizations who find themselves in this predicament were to evaluate their efforts against what has been bypass in their pursuit, I believe they would find a sizeable amount of opportunities.

Another important reason why adoption may be either slow or unproductive is that there is a “once size fits all” mentality to lead generation and lead nurturing.  While efforts are made to develop the usual litany of content such as white papers and other mediums, they are focused on a generic understanding of challenges and issues.  While mapping content to the buying stages or journey has come into vogue, a review of forty qualitative research programs I have been involved in indicates that today’s buyers do not think or behave in such linear fashion.  Their information needs do not necessarily align or map one-to-one to a linear view of buying stages.

Buyer Scenario Modeling

While modeling the ideal buyer is of extreme importance, in the form of buyer personas, it is only one model of multiple to understanding buyers today.  In terms of lead nurturing; perhaps one of the most significant efforts an organization can make today is in the area of buyer scenario modeling.  Here is buyer scenario modeling defined:

Buyer Scenario Modeling is the process of analyzing research-based modeling of possible events, buying scenarios, buyer behaviors, buying decisions, and alternative future outcomes.”

Lead generation, lead nurturing, and content marketing can each be enhanced dramatically as well as integrate together on a more effective level with buyer scenario modeling.  This is more so than any mapping to buying stages or journey.  Buyers today do not think today nor are they forced to think in a linear fashion as they may have in the past.  Buyers are thinking in terms of the situation they find themselves in and the world swirling around them; pulling from their ecosystems and networks to meet objectives.

Changing B2B with Predictive Buyer Modeling

I recently introduced the idea of how predictive buyer modeling will change B2B as we know it.  One of the underpinnings of this idea is the use of buyer scenario modeling.  What companies can do more effectively through this process is begin to segment their lead generation and lead nurturing programs according to predictive scenarios, buyer behaviors, and buying outcomes.  Gaining knowledge and insight into how buyer scenarios develop, what challenges occur to trigger buying considerations, how buyers interact with others, and why decisions are being made.

One such Fortune 100 company who helped to co-create this concept with me recently segmented their lead nurturing efforts by modeled scenarios of the time buyers were investing in researching, evaluating, and decision-making once a challenge, problem, or issue arose.  Not happy with their lead generation results, they reorganized programs around four identifiable and predictable buying scenarios to achieve a much higher return on their efforts.  Content was developed to support the buying scenarios buyers found themselves in and not according to previously mapped generic buying stages.

This type of effort turns out to be good for all parties involved.  Marketing no longer is wasting effort and content on non-applicable situations.  Selling teams are nurturing leads at the right level and more importantly – timing.  Buyers are getting their information needs met at the right time, the right place, and the right situation of challenges they are dealing with.  To a greater degree, companies will be better able to identify and predict the ideal scenarios that give them the best shot at winning and being a long-term alternative to buyers.

Why

Buyer scenario modeling is needed in today’s connected buyer world due to the multiple types of scenarios buyers find themselves in today.  If companies are not in synch with understanding possible scenarios and outcomes, then they will be left out of the picture so to speak.  It is time for companies today to make giant leaps in their lead nurturing efforts.  Buyer scenario modeling may be just the springboard they need.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Are Your Lead Generation Tactics Targeting The Wrong Buyer? 4 Steps You Can Take.

Target
Target (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am a big baseball fan and a one-time want to be pitcher.  Hitting the target within the strike zone with a variety of different pitches is what separates Cy Young award winners from ordinary pitchers.  Their ability to target different parts of home plate with predictable ball movement is an amazing skill and if you have it – you can earn millions playing the game.

Lead generation today is becoming the art and science of targeting.  A problem facing organizations today is getting a handle on who to target and where to target.  Making the issue even more problematic is the changing behaviors of the buyer.  Quantitatively, we are seeing through various studies and reports that buyers are engaged in the buying process differently.  Depending on which study, buyers are performing different kinds of activities for nearly 70% of the buying process before sales intervention.  And, they are making numerous choices along the way.

A recent report by the Aberdeen Group on sales performance shows there is a fair degree of dissatisfaction among sales leaders with 56% saying they were not seeing sufficient growth in top line revenue.  Nearly 30% expressed dissatisfaction with lead conversion to sales.  A recent CSO Insights report indicated that only 20% of organizations understood their buyer’s buying process.  These two perspectives combined point to one of the key issues – targeting the wrong buyer.

Looking back on over 10 years of specific instances of qualitative buyer research and buyer persona development work, I found that in 6 out of every 10 instances of helping an organization– a different buyer was identified than the organization had been targeting!  If you are off-target with the buyer – you will be off-target on your lead generation tactics.

Getting On Target

Marketing and sales leaders today are looking to increase their percentage of being on target when it comes to lead generation.  If they are not of the mindset to get the current rate of being off-target down, they will continue to see the same dissatisfying results.  There are four steps to resolve to targeting issue:

Buyer Research:  It all starts here.  You can no longer assume that the buyers you’ve been targeting are the correct ones.  I have been party to many conversations where a sales leader laments about this lack of understanding who to target yet in the next sentence tells me that their lead generation teams are busy targeting a certain role or profile.  To get to the heart of the issue takes committed buyer research.  Qualitative efforts to understand markets and buyers are what improve the target success rate.

Buyer Modeling:  For both marketing and sales, this is an important step.  You not only want to model who your buyers are but model their buying behaviors.  I am not talking about profiling here – which unfortunately many buyer persona efforts are nothing more than profiling exercises and yet still on the wrong buyer.  I am talking about going beyond buyer personas and using a set of modeled buyergraphics that point to how your buyers behave during the early phases of the buying process.

Buyer Designed LeadGen: Designing your lead generation strategies, systems, and processes should revolve around your buyer research and buyer modeling.  If your lead generation strategies and tactics are designed around the buyer, then conversion rates will rise and productivity amongst marketing and sales personnel involved will rise.  The area of lead generation is where marketing and sales are usually out of alignment.  With the age old battle of sales feeling that they are getting bad leads.  Designing lead generation around buyer research and buyer modeling gets marketing and sales aligned around the same target – the right buyer.

Buyer Training:  Like built-in appliances, organizations have routinely conducted product and sales training.  I do not have statistics to back me up but I am willing to guess that a random survey would prove that the majority of training is product training.  What is needed is to have Buyer Training become a staple of training in both marketing and sales today.  The long ramp-up time it takes for marketing and sales to understand the buyer today is out of synch with the pace of change in buyer behavior.  As the CSO Insights pointed out, barely 20% of organizations understand their buyer’s behaviors and buying processes!  Folks – we are training marketing and sales people to understand and do the wrong things.

Targeting the right buyer is becoming part art and part science today.  For many companies, the first important step in tackling this issue is discovering who their right buyers are and where they are with qualitative buyer research.   Just like a Cy Young pitcher who knows who is up to bat and what the batter’s tendencies are and where to target the baseball over the plate in the strike zone – lead generation today has to get in its own strike zone.

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Boost Demand Generation Using Target Ready Buyer Models

 

©All rights reserved by Kenny Madden

Recently, I published two articles related to 5 ways buyer behaviors are affecting B2B sales, and 5 ways they are affecting B2B marketing.  Without question, changing buyer behaviors are also impacting how we think about Demand Generation or as it has been conventionally called – lead generation.   Contrary to hyped notions of sales going away to wither in the desert – lead generation and the new label of demand generation are more important today than ever.

What needs to change you might ask?  An easy answer is to say plenty.  The complicated answer is to say that the mindset towards demand generation needs to change.  The kernel of truth regarding this dichotomy lies somewhere in between the new labeling of demand generation and the more conventional labeling of lead generation.  And labels can be a dangerous thing.  It is easy to go on doing the same thing and call it something new.  It is much harder to call something new and transform as well as adapt.

The promises of demand generation as well as content marketing are to overcome the hype and truly enable businesses to transform and adapt.  A critical way to do this – and admittedly easier said than done – is to become buyer-centered as oppose to product-centered.  Still, a very hard proposition when corporate infrastructures remain wedded strongly to being organized by product and individual profit and loss performance.

How Can CSO’s and CMO’s Respond?

One way senior executives in marketing and sales can respond is to look beyond traditional lead generation and think in new terms that a new label such as demand generation can offer.  Here are 7 key principles CSO’s and CMO’s can begin to think about in terms of demand generation:

Buyer centered: putting the buyer at the center of demand generation process as opposed to a strict product-centered approach serves as a marker for transformational shift

Buyer network: we are moving fast and furious to a networked business society – referring to this term both technologically and socially where independent purchase decisions are a thing of the past

Buyer behavior: to make demand generation effective, efforts need to be aligned with sound understanding of buyer behavior relevant to different segments

Buyer experience: as I have written often about, demand generation must have experiential elements for the buyer and advocate thinking in terms of demand fulfillment

Predictive modeling: in this case predictive buyer modeling can be used to understand various buyer scenario models and align demand generation efforts with these buyer scenarios

Descriptive buyer segmentation: moving beyond the traditional methods of segmentation to further granular buyer views that are descriptive of actions, goals, perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors

Enabling Marketing and Sales with Target Ready Buyer Models

Boosting sales revenues through demand generation involves going beyond enabling marketing with target market data and sales with contact information.  Yes they are the staples of a starting point – like household bread and milk.  However, it sufficed when buyers were totally dependent upon sales to get their information.   In today’s hyper-competitive marketplaces, businesses will not be able to survive for a long time just on basic bread and milk data alone.

Enabling marketing and sales has a lot to do with readiness.  I advocate that organizations today can begin to transform demand generation with descriptive target buyer modeling by making use of insights-based Business Buyergraphics and creating Target Buyer Models.  Giving marketing and sales the insight they need on critical buying moments and the language of the buyer.   Target buyer models extend far beyond the creation of buyer personas which still hold value; buyer personas are nevertheless proving to be less and less adequate on their own to address the new rules of competitiveness in the B2B landscape.

Target buyer models incorporate the principles mentioned above and allow for teams to be at the ready for different buying scenarios.  In addition, at the ready to understand more deeply buyer challenges which are serving as the catalyst to begin searching for a solution.  Further, strategists can begin to predict how buyer purchasing behavior may change based upon different demand generation strategies and tactics put into place.  Better anticipation and prediction abilities translate into lower risks and wasted dollars – the traditional plagues of lead management.

B2B businesses today can reinvent and give their demand generation efforts a big boost by becoming more buyer-centered and making use of both predictive buyer modeling and descriptive buyer segmentation.  Using descriptive target buyer models to give marketing and sales teams the clearest picture yet of exactly who their buyers truly are.

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