A problem facing organizations today is generating more leads. Making this issue even more challenging is changes in buying behavior. Depending on which study to reference, buyers are performing different activities for up to 70% of their buying evaluation before sales intervention.
A recent report by the Aberdeen Group on sales performance shows there is a fair degree of dissatisfaction among sales leaders. 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 12 years of qualitative buyer research and buyer persona development work, I found in 6 out of every 10 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 demand generation and lead generation.
Getting On Target
Marketing and sales leaders today are looking to increase their percentage of being on target when it comes to lead generation. There are four steps you can take to resolve targeting issues:
Do Lead Research: It all starts here. You can no longer assume the buyers you’ve been targeting are the correct ones. A level of lead research is needed to outfit your lead generation and nurturing team with knowledge about ideal prospects. For example – it may not always be the CIO but the IT Director.
Develop Lead Personas: Lead and buyer personas are useful in understanding consideration and purchasing behaviors. Organizations, through personas, can determine how a prospect behaves when moving from a lead persona to a buyer persona. One of the main benefits of this approach is the ability to tailor lead and buyer personas to fit the needs of dedicated lead nurturing teams as well as sales team.
Buyer-Centered Design: Designing your lead generation strategies, systems, and processes should revolve around buyers. The key is in modeling their behaviors when in lead nurturing and when they enter the buying cycle. Better results will happen when you meet buyer expectations and goals – which can be distinctly different when in lead nurturing versus buying cycle. Conversion rates at the point of when a lead persona converts to a buyer persona (becomes a sales-ready lead) will rise.
Conversation Enablement Training: What is needed is making conversation enablement a staple of training for lead generation and nurturing teams. The long ramp-up time it takes for lead generation teams to understand prospects is out of synch with the pace of change in buying behavior. As the CSO Insights report pointed out, barely 20% of organizations understand their buyer’s behaviors and buying processes! In my qualitative research, I often hear of the frustration prospective buyers have in the lack of productive conversations.
Targeting the right prospect is becoming the lifeblood of organizations today. For many companies, tackling this issue means discovering who represents their ideal target buyer. In addition, gaining greater clarity on how buyers differ in behavior when they are being nurtured versus actively engaged in a buying cycle. Combining these can be a winning ticket and get your lead generation results on target.
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