A. SELL LESS: Remember, the purpose
of a lead generation effort is to generate qualified inquiries
not close a $5 million deal. That's what your high priced
salespeople are for. So focus on selling only what you want
your prospects to immediately grab for -- whether it's a
white paper, a self-assessment, the results of a survey,
a helpful job aid, more information, whatever. (We'll explain
the virtues and drawbacks of various lead generation premiums
and how to choose which one to use in a future E-Visory.)
Too many training marketing types
use a lead generation opportunity as a platform to sell
everything but the kitchen sink -- then tack on the premium
as an afterthought. Sorry, but it's important to sell your
premium from the get go for all it's worth. Rhapsodize about
your company and its products and services only to the extent
that this reinforces the value and credibility of your premium.
By the way, do try selling an appointment
as an optional add on to your premium -- but position it
as a no obligation needs assessment that will benefit your
prospect, not an adversarial sales call. It's not unusual
to have 20% of all respondees choose this option.
B. TELL LESS: Lead generation is
about providing incomplete information that leaves your
prospect wanting more. So jettison every tidbit of information
from your lead generation effort that goes beyond provoking
your prospect to respond.
That's right, scrap that product
fact sheet. Save that press release. Hold off on that case
history library. Don't provide any information that prospects
can use to hastily and prematurely conclude that your products
and services are not for them.
If you're doing direct mail or
media advertising lead generation, consider not mentioning
your URL. That's right, redo your letterhead or address
block to eliminate your Web site address, and leave it off
your reply form as well. Why? Because the last thing you
want is your prospect wandering off to your Web site to
try and fill in the blanks. The next thing you know, they've
haphazardly satisfied their curiosity about what you have
to offer and your salesperson never gets to the plate. Or
they're off on an extended Web surfing expedition and your
promotion is dead meat.
Even if you're doing e-mail lead
generation, consider NOT providing a link to your Web site
(but do provide an e-mail hot link). Or be sure you have
a special Web reply page that supports your lead generation
mission and is not linked back to your homepage. (Of course,
if the name of your company is BetterTraining.Com, then
your efforts at URL subterfuge are unlikely to be successful.)
C. ASK LESS: By all means, do ask
prospects to provide basic information that will help your
salespeople with their follow up efforts. But don't go overboard.
Do ask for phone and e-mail address
-- and title, if the list you are using doesn't already
include it. Otherwise your salespeople will be wasting time
with the switchboard police. "I'm sorry, but I'm not authorized
to give out that information." Do ask for an idea of the
size of the training population you are interested in --
but do this by offering a choice of ranges, not an empty
field that could be interpreted as a request to share proprietary
Don't ask your prospect for the
size of their training budget. This is inappropriate and
should be evident enough from their title and the size of
the potential training population. And don't bother asking
whether or not they are a decisionmaker. Everybody always
Should you ask your prospect how
urgent their need is? Why not just add a "Comments" section
to your reply form. Give your prospect an opportunity to
tell you whatever else they would like you to know.
D. QUALIFY LESS: Don't bother using
telemarketers to qualify inquiries before distributing them
to the field. In our experience, field salespeople don't
generally trust or abide by somebody else's opinion as to
whether a prospect is qualified. Also, a telemarketer may
turn off an important prospect that your salesperson could
have cultivated. Even if the telemarketer wins the prospects
confidence, there can be a real loss of continuity during
the time the salesperson gets around to following through.
If you prospect among qualified
lists, offer a relevant premium (no coffee cups or other
spurious bribes), and capture a prospect's title and the
size of their training population, this should be more than
enough for an enterprising salesperson to go on.
E. POLICE LESS: Don't require your
salespeople to provide follow up information on each and
every lead to Headquarters. There's little benefit in terms
of fine tuning your lead generation efforts -- and no mileage
at all in trying to second-guess the industriousness of
your salespeople. Instead, provide your sales managers with
a monthly summary of the leads you've provided to their
team. Leave it to them to coach or critique their people.
No one is in a better position than they are to determine
what sort of lead follow up effort is warranted.
If you want to cost justify your
investment in lead generation, simply wait until the end
of the fiscal year and then compare your top 20 new business
wins against the leads you've provided over the last 18
months or so. If you don't find a significant number of
matches, then marketing and sales need to have a powwow
to determine what sort of corrective action to take.
By the way, if you do find a strong
correlation between your leads and new business wins, don't
let your marketing department and your sales department
get into a battle over who should get the credit. Always
give the salesperson wholehearted recognition for any sale.
Recognize your marketing people based on the overall lead
F. SPEND LESS: One benefit in eliminating
superfluous elements from your lead generation efforts is
a significant saving in costs. Less graphics and design
expense, less paper and printing expense, less postage expense.
In fact, a good place to begin
is a simple personal letter and reply form prepared to look
like it came right off a standard word processor and laser
printer. This also has the advantage of being quick to turn
around. Too many training company promotion groups avoid
the unadorned personal letter because it just doesn't seem
like promotion -- which is exactly why it is so effective.
An even more lean and mean approach
is the post card. This is not my favorite cup of tea, because
while it is minimalist and inexpensive, it does look like
promotion, and almost begs to be tossed. What's more, it
doesn't cost that much less than a personal letter when
list and postage costs are reflected. But you still may
want to try it -- especially if you are trying to cull out
a less-than-qualified list.