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When business owners embark on a lead generation strategy, their expectations are often all wrong. It doesn’t matter if they’re hiring a sales rep, focused on appointment setting, running social ads, holding events or implementing email campaigns.

And when lead generation expectations are wrong, so is everything else: the process, the budget, the activities, the content, the staffing.

Maybe they're chasing the wrong goal:

  • “We just want to close one deal a month.” 
  • “We just want two new appointments a week.”
  • “We just want 10 qualified companies a month to call.” 

Those all sound easily attainable with the right lead generation strategy – to the business owner. But these aren’t realistic expectations.Unless you’re Microsoft, who has big name recognition and a big list, it just doesn’t work that way.

So, what’s the right goal if you need to show a return on investment? 

The goal is conversations - conversations that lead to information about contacts, qualification in and out of your list, identification of future opportunities, the start of relationships, future call back dates and future opportunities. In short, the goal is conversations that will lead to future opportunities when prospects are ready. 

Our data shows that if your list is not accustomed to hearing from you, it takes a year of consistent nurturing using multiple attraction strategies (including warm calling) targeting the same contacts in the same target market to begin to get sales qualified leads. Now you’re asking, why so long? If we’re nurturing them, shouldn’t we get more leads, faster?

Not really. With new business development, you’re starting communications earlier in the client buy cycle. You reach out and monitor those people who engage with the content you’re sending. Many of those marketing qualified leads are just becoming aware of the problems you’re bringing to their attention. Those contacts haven’t figured out yet if they want to address the problems. That’s why when you call, they may tell you they aren’t yet ready. 

Contacting prospects earlier in the Client Buy Cycle with your lead generation campaign puts you at a distinct advantage:

  • It allows you to begin establishing yourself as the subject matter expert contacts should watch until they are ready to engage in the sales process. 
  • While it lengthens your sell cycle, it gives you the opportunity to influence how contacts perceive their need and what they want in a proposal when they move to that point.
  • You gather information about your prospects. From number of locations and users, who they are using today for your services, what frustrates them most, their strategic initiatives, etc.
  • It gives your sales reps a business reason to contact prospects, creating a whole different conversation and leaving a lasting impression.

You have a different goal with your lead generation with different expectations. Your goal is no longer the transactional two appointments per week. Your new goal is conversations that lead to future opportunities when prospects are ready. Your new expectations are an increase in conversations with contacts in your list and segmenting of those contacts into near, mid- and long-term opportunities. 

Yes, you still want appointments, but if you don’t look beyond that, you’re missing the real value of your strategy. Too many companies quit well before they have reaped the benefits. Are you one of them? 

For more on this topic, read NewVoiceMedia's whitepaper, Global growth: sales development best practice.

This post was originally published on the KLA Group blog, and is republished here with permission from Kendra Lee.

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About Kendra Lee

Kendra Lee has built a successful career as a top seller by consistently exceeding sales goals. She is a prospect attraction authority, sales expert, speaker, author and a business owner who knows how to shorten time to revenue in innovative ways. After starting her sales career in accounting with IBM, Kendra founded KLA Group on the philosophy that sales is not an art; it can be learned.

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