There are many ways to generate new leads and grow your business. Companies typically use inbound marketing, social selling, warm calling, events, and social media marketing. The desired outcomes are the same - to get our sales people in front of the ideal customer. Through these experiences with various clients, we have identified four problems in the sales cycle that can be identified from the data generated by your CRM system; your sales pitch/narrative, market size, poor product-market fit, and the product itself.
The first stage of any lead generation program is to identify the ideal customer. This isn’t necessarily as easy as it sounds, especially for startups. Is it the C-Suite or operations leaders? Is it the CFO or the technical department? Even if the target persona is CTOs for schools and school districts, that can range from LAN managers that are great at security connecting employees to email and phones, to highly qualified technology visionaries in large, well-funded school districts. (See this article about buyer personas.)
Over the last several years of running these lead generation programs or working with sales leaders, I’ve identified three main challenges in the early stage of campaigns.
- The first is that the campaign isn’t generating enough leads. This can be the result of a few factors. One is the pitch. Is your narrative clear and compelling? (See this blog about developing your messaging strategy.) Are you addressing big picture problems? Do you know where your customer's pain points are? Another issue could be that you are missing the target market or persona. Does your target industry really need your solution? Is the tech department your target, or business unit managers?
- The second challenge is that our clients get in front of the ideal customer, but the sales process gets stuck very early, often resulting in not reaching the proposal stage. This can be the result of a poor product-market fit, which essentially means that the market you are talking to doesn’t have a need for the product – that the product doesn’t solve important enough problems. This issue can be picked up in the medium term if you are paying attention to the data. One or two sales meetings happen, then the customer goes quiet. If deals get stuck for in the Needs Analysis stage, this needs to be addressed, urgently.
- The third problem is poor close rates. You get to the proposal stage and go into competition with other vendors, but lose most of them. In this case, the product IS the problem. It could be quality or price or design or something else, but if the customer is buying, but not buying from you, it isn’t a marketing or a sales problem, but rather a product problem. There is no denying it. Unfortunately, this is a problem that is only picked up over the entire sales cycle, which could be 3-9 months.
The point is that we need to pay attention to the data produced in our CRM systems. You should be able to easily pick up where deals get stuck, which personas and vertical markets are generating better results, and of course close rates. The important action point is that you quickly pivot your sales, marketing, and/or product strategy to optimize your lead generation and sales efforts.