B2B Sales professionals understand that identifying target prospects, building a sales pipeline, and, ultimately, closing deals is far from easy. Yet, expectations often run high, while budgets can be tight, and timeframes short. Perhaps through necessity, companies sometimes seek a magic bullet, a quick fix, and instant results. Building sustainable lead generation is the goal.
However, the outcome is rarely straightforward. This blog aims to shed some light on the importance of a long-term mindset in B2B lead generation, providing statistics and KPIs that illustrate the value of taking a sustainable approach.
High Expectations, Limited Resources
Generating sales leads can be a thankless task, particularly for mid to large-sized organisations targeting other such businesses. Decision-makers are often well-guarded. Response rates can be disappointingly low, regardless of which channel you use. Moreover, in many cases, companies regularly start with a cold target database and no inbound leads to leverage. They’ve also probably tried and failed many times.
So, generating quality leads is, by no means, a walk in the park. Research indicates that approximately 61% of B2B marketers find generating high-quality leads to be one of their most significant challenges. This challenge is exacerbated by the stop-start nature of much marketing outreach. The idea behind this staccato approach to business development is that if efforts don’t bear fruit relatively quickly, in around 2-3 months, they never will.
B2B Buying Decisions are Rarely Swift
But, certainly, with big ticket items, decisions are rarely taken swiftly or lightly. And, committee decisions can mean that your target decision-maker is hard to track down, regardless which channel you use to do so.
Thus, expectations are high, but the resources, and time, allocated are often limited. Pipeline development is crucial. And, in an ideal word, multiple touchpoints should be the go-to approach. However, logic will tell you that nothing is going to happen overnight. And if you spread your activity too thinly, you’re guaranteeing failure.
The Misconception of Quick Wins
Many businesses turn to lead generation agencies as a last resort. Content development and distribution may be slow to generate inbound leads. Advertising may be frustratingly expensive, delivering weakly qualified enquiries.
So, business developers may look for alternate routes to try to deliver ‘quick wins’, especially when it comes to peer-to-peer contact i.e. picking up the phone. One could say that they expect miracles. Yet, achieving success from a standing start, from a cold database, is extremely challenging. The pressure to deliver results immediately can, therefore, lead to uncomfortable conversations.
Given that generating quality inbound leads can be very costly, and take a considerable amount of time to yield results, the pressure is on. With limited patience and high management expectations, in-house business development decision-makers may be forced into adopting an unrealistic view of what’s possible, and how quickly.
The Value of a Long-Term Approach
B2B lead generation, especially in high-value sales scenarios, demands a long-term approach. Building a sustainable lead generation system takes time and effort. Decision-makers must understand that nurturing leads and developing relationships can lead to significant long-term benefits.
Simply, not every target prospect is in the market. Many will have incumbent, long-contracted, suppliers. And, your offering may not fit their requirements no matter how much you want it to be the case.
According to MarketingSherpa, 79% of marketing leads never convert into sales. This underscores the importance of a long-term approach. Studies also show that it can require 10 marketing-driven “touches” or more to convert a lead into a customer. This demonstrates the need for continuous nurturing and relationship-building
Identifying the Most Productive Segments
It’s crucial to collaborate with your lead generation agency to identify the most productive segments within your audience. A targeted approach is more effective than casting a wide net. This is where working hand in hand with your supplier becomes essential.
Whilst there is some current argument about the value of segmentation and profiling, a report from Marketo found that segmenting your audience and delivering targeted content can increase revenue by up to 760%. This substantiates the importance of identifying the most viable profiles and personas within your target audience, since ‘selling anything to anyone’ will never yield success.
The Overlooked Value of Client Wins
Businesses often fail to consider the long-term value of a client win. Or, perhaps, they choose to ignore it. That may be through budget necessity. It’s likely there’s pressure from above. Yet, whilst the initial investment may be high, the lifetime value of that client can be substantial. So, it’s not just about short-term return but the overall impact on the business.
It should not just be about the initial sale; it’s about the long-term value of a client. Therefore, organisations must shift their focus from quick, one-off wins to lifetime value, and to the long-term benefits of client retention and loyalty. Otherwise, they will constantly end up with a stop-start outcome from any business development efforts.
Think of it this way. If you could guarantee that your best client, that remains with you for years, would come out of your ongoing lead generation efforts, would you stop if there was a period when lead numbers drop?
Look at the Numbers
Let’s take a look at some key inputs, and KPIs that further emphasise the value of a long-term approach:
- Client Lifetime Value (CLV): The CLV is a metric that calculates the total revenue a client is expected to generate over their lifetime as your customer. This metric demonstrates the long-term financial impact of a single client win.
- Lead Nurturing Success Rate: Measure the effectiveness of your lead nurturing efforts. A high lead nurturing success rate indicates that your long-term approach is paying off.
- Cost per Acquisition (CPA): The CPA is a key metric that reveals how much it costs to acquire a new client. A lower CPA over time signifies the efficiency of your lead generation efforts. Of course, this will relate to the value and complexity of the sale.
- Client Retention Rate: This metric shows how well you retain clients over the long term. A high client retention rate is a testament to the quality of your services and the long-term relationships you build.
- Lead Conversion Rate Over Time: Analysing your lead conversion rate over a more extended period provides insights into the effectiveness of your long-term lead nurturing.
Circumstances change. Market triggers come and go. Some audiences may be more receptive than others. That’s both at a sector level,and for specific job functions. Geographic markets differ. And, there are different degrees of competition.
That’s why, where possible, the key to successful B2B lead generation is a collaborative effort between your organisation and your lead generation agency. Building a sustainable lead generation system involves working together to continuously enhance your campaign. That means integration as far as possible. That could be following up events, email click-throughs, or even reaching out to set up discussions with LinkedIn connections. It certainly extends to chasing down inbound contact form enquiries where internal recourse is limited.
There are rarely shortcuts to success. The value of a long-term approach cannot be overstated. It’s essential to collaborate with a lead generation agency that understands the importance of nurturing leads and building relationships. All of the statistics and KPIs demonstrate the substantial benefits of a sustainable lead generation strategy. That’s certainly been our experience working with a wide variety of high quality B2B clients for the past 23 years.
To learn more about enhancing your B2B lead generation efforts, please contact us.
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At GSA Business Development, we prioritise building lasting client relationships as opposed to over-promising and under-delivering. We understand the value of the long game in B2B lead generation.