Sep 06, 2017 | Sales Best Practices

Talkin’ Bout My Generations: How To Generate Qualified Inbound Leads For Your Sales Team

Lauren Alt's Avatar

Lauren Alt

Marketing Programs and Operations Manager

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Full disclosure: This post is not about millennials. I know the way these things normally go and when you see the word “generation” in the title you can usually expect “millennial” to follow, but let’s give those poor souls a break today. In this post, we’re aiming the spotlight on the greatest generation: lead generation. This gives you the ever important inbound leads, which lead to more pipeline, more meetings, more revenue, and more fistbumps.

Cue the dictionary:

Lead generation – This involves whipping up interest in concepts behind what you have to sell. Examples include webinars, ebooks, and people out on street corners in animal costumes giving away free fidget spinners (please use wisely).

Stay in the Lead

Here are a few lead generating strategies that help aid lead generation tools and ultimately deliver new inbound leads. Outreach can then help sales reps convert said inbound leads to customers with multi-channel follow-up sequences involving email, phone calls, and social touches.

  1.  Write something everyone wants to read – Use social listening to identify your customer’s pain points.If a few people are vocal about it, there’s certainly a great many more who are suffering in silence. Create a super-valuable resource and give it away for free on a network like LinkedIn. Use that content to hype up deeper, mid-funnel content that you can gate behind a form to capture leads. Show readers your value with the free content, and you’ll up your odds of getting more interested, qualified inbound leads on your gated ebooks and other content. 
  2.  Build a tool that everyone wants to use – the more interactive the better! Use this tool to help show how you can solve a big problem your target personas have. For example, we built an ROI calculator that shows the results you can expect to see from implementing Outreach. We calculate the increase in meeting and revenue based on a prospect’s input. This is so much more compelling than a drab white paper!
  3. Secure an industry influencer to host an online or offline event – You could sponsor a webinar or a breakout session at a popular conference. If you don’t have the cash to be in the conference itself, you can still sponsor a gathering in the area around the event, often called Fringe Events. This is a long-range planning strategy that involves months or even years of advance work to develop the relationship with the influencer and secure the venue, but the payoff is big.
  4.  Diversify content creation – To paraphrase a famous politician, “Everything has already been said, but not everyone has made an infographic out of it yet.” People have different learning styles and different demands on their time. If you are blogging, contact some of your connections and record podcasts based on those blogs. If you are podcasting, get in touch with an animation house and generate a video-based on the discussion. Turn printed into spoken and visual into auditory. The exact same words in a different channel can have much greater impact. You don’t have to recreate the wheel each time - you can repurpose a top performing blog post into a video or an ebook, or use feedback on your podcast to drive your blog strategy. When your content tells a cohesive story, you work smarter and have a bigger impact on your audience!
  5. Get personal – The biggest problem with personas is that they don’t actually exist. Individuals tend to be very different from the aggregate characteristics of the segment you are targeting. In the past, demand generation went out on the widest angle spray and interested leads just selected themselves or ignored the message. Today, inbound marketing can be much more sophisticated using techniques like retargeting based on viewing profiles and AI-based look-alike audience selection. If you need to, take a refresher in account-based marketing and the latest advances in martech.

A Case Study: Outreach

Let’s take a look how a solid inbound strategy can help you reach more qualified leads.

Outreach.io is all about, you guessed it, reaching out. We wanted to ramp up demand for best practices in strategies to generate inbound leads, so we looked at the types of issues that were holding companies back from reaching out to potential customers. We found that even experienced salespeople struggled with answering common objections on the fly - they were easily deterred by the initial “no” which sometimes led reps to shy away from the phone entirely. We wanted to fix this by sharing strategies that have worked time and time again for our top reps.

We created a lead generation ebook called A Sales Leader’s Guide to Cold Call Objection Handling. It was a no-nonsense, practical guide that salespeople needed and it immediately found its audience. This white paper grew to be one of the top five performing pieces of sponsored content on LinkedIn - so popular that we even released a Google Sheet version!

The mistake too many companies make at that point is that they stop there, congratulate themselves and go out to happy hour while all those leads from the white paper slip away. We had every intention of going to happy hour, but we knew the leads came first.

This is where our inbound leads began. Building on the popularity of the post, we gained more followers on LinkedIn, more subscribers to our blog, and more traffic to the gated landing page of this whitepaper on our website. We used these as our lead generation funnel and set up sequences in Outreach to help our sales team convert these leads into revenue.

Now, cue happy hour.

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