We're a B2B video services company that is nearly 100% inbound lead driven. As we grow, it's not enough. Our pricing is 10-20k, so we really only need 2-3 more deals a month.
We hired an SDR to prospect and schedule meetings for our Account Exec (who's amazing at closing). The SDR just didn't produce.
We are trying ads but haven't cracked the advertising landscape.
We've just started investing in inbound/content marketing and need a few months there to see the results.
We're working on a referral system to get more from our existing clients.
We're avoiding the cost of hiring a baller biz dev guy right now.
I feel this is our next best try. Or do you recommend something else?
My response is going to be significantly different than anything else you see here.
Which is why before I share it let me tell you about my experience so you know where I am coming from. Since 2010 I have worked with over 50 B2B companies helping them reach, build relationships, and ultimately close their customers. Over 20,000 total customers reached through my efforts. Value of each customer starts at a few hundred thousand and higher as my clients were not selling B2B SAAS subscriptions.
Here are problems with the solutions you discussed:
-referral systems are inconsistent in providing quality prospects (customers don't know what profile you are looking for) as scale
-advertising and content marketing both take some time to crack (as you said)
-baller BD guys may or may not work. Baller BD guys have relevant networks of people who trust them but their past results may be a result of being part of upwardly mobile hot companies and products rather than their skills at positioning new products as a fit for your customer's needs (I say from experience of having hired someone like this).
So what is a poor newish B2B company to do? Especially since you already ruled out SDRs.
I would suggest the issue is not SDRs and lead generation firms in general. The issue is how you explained what you wanted and trained them to getting the best results for you.
From your message it seems like you defined the problem of outbound lead generation as two jobs--prospecting and scheduling.
Scheduling is only difficult if you are interrupting the prospect by forcing them to talk to you about your product rather than their needs and goals. As a rule the account exec should always handle all parts of initial engagement, curiosity generation, and getting someone on a needs analysis call.
Now let's talk about prospecting. Here are the biggest mistakes I have seen B2B companies make in training lead generation providers to give them the prospects they need:
1. Not clearly defining the prospect--most companies simply share what they do and who their existing clients are. To get quality prospects you must define this granularly to ensure someone with little to no background in your market, your products, and your customers can hit the ground running. An example from my business--if I say SAAS B2B companies to an SDR I will get a mixed up low quality prospect list. Saying this instead would get me much higher quality prospects: 1) B2B companies selling post launch offerings for app developers. 2) Each of their customers represents thousands of dollars in revenue (not a monthly subscription product) 3) B2B have established intent to buy products like mine.
2. Segmenting ideal prospect too broad or too narrow--this is a symptom of not knowing their own ideal prospect. The result is an inability to bring prospects you do get to close. After you get the prospect you should be nurturing the relationship with them via your marketing and sales function (not trying to do a fire sale right away). All lead nurturing by sales and marketing must be aligned by prospect segment. Eg. companies that say they want to work with everyone (too broad) or top 10 players (too narrow) often don't know what to do uniquely for each segment to get them to eventually close. You can blame the SDR then but really your internal functions weren't set up to treat each prospect type uniquely.
3. Cold calling--I abhor cold calling as do your customers--people view it as spam and an interruption. There is no reason why in today's world anyone should cold call. Proponents will say there are some situations where it works. Sure if you were the only one of a kind in your market and your buyer had limited information that would be the case. This is the reason why it worked in the 1980s. You would be hard pressed to find low competition, low buyer information markets now. In every market there are a small number of connectors. Building long term valuable relationships with these people the right way (by giving them a lot of value first) is the key to getting them to opening the doors for you to your market.
Do any of these sound like mistakes you have made?
I've gone through a lot at a high level.
Each of these is itself a process and system that must be thought out carefully for your market BEFORE you can use a SDR/VA or anyone else to help you with prospecting. If you are interested in getting help setting these up, let's get on a consulting call.
The issue here is whether the leadgen firm will actually bother to understand your marketplace, your customers, and your solutions so they can properly qualify prospects before those potential customers reach you. Read that sentence again because it contains a lot of information.
It's easy to sign a firm up, give them a budget, and watch them blow through it quickly with no effect. On Facebook, for example, it's easy to get paid clicks. What happens after that, on the landing page and beyond, is much more challenging to get results from.
We have an agency here in town that publicly admitted they screwed up--this was years ago, when FB ads were pretty new--with a campaign for a taco restaurant. A taco for a Like of the restaurant's page. "We gave away a lot of free tacos," one of the owners told me wryly at an event. But return business? Nope.
There are professional firms that have gotten into the marketplace that solopreneurs and The Wild West have typically ran in for the past many years. They have straightened things out to a degree, but again I would be very cautious in hiring them. I would want to know what they do that doesn't just blow my budget on clicks and hops and end the buying process right there.
Here are two firms I've heard of here in North Carolina where I have lived for the past seven years:
I have not worked with either so cannot recommend them specifically.
In my opinion, the best option is to develop this expertise yourself. Keep it in-house. You'll maintain control that way, as well as the institutional knowledge of what you learn.
If you need help with your referral program, I can give you effective direction on that.
Here is a 32-step tutorial on how to generate warm leads using a lead scrape, a couple free extensions, a CRM and a salesperson to not only generate, but properly nurture your new leads from cold to closed.
I have been asked often about my approach to LinkedIn lead generation and how it works in conjunction with digital ads and telemarketing. Here is a very quick/dirty guide that will help clarify the process, timeline and stack needed:
What you will need:
* Google Chrome Browser
* A Linkedin profile
* A verified email list
* Cold email templates
* Tool setup for [cold] email sequences
Week 1: Start Gathering Data
You can either write a scraper (Upwork, the world's largest online workplace search for “scraper”) or use a tool (recommend https://data-miner.io/). If your list requires some serious digging let me know your criteria and I'll see if the team I use can help. If you are in need of a fast and effective You can start this step 1 week before you have an SDR trained and ready.
1. Set scraping criteria - industry, title, location, company size, Linkedin profile (Y/N?), phone number (Y/N?)
2. Create a google sheet with correct headings for your CRM - search your CRM + “bulk import .csv template”
3. Load one example of a good lead to the sheet
4. Share sheet with your scraper
6. Verify these yourself if you did not order a pre-verified list - Use a tool like Verify Email Address Online
Week 2: Start Connecting
This is a very powerful step that requires LinkedHelper to automate the connection requests. You can upload your scraped list, as well as run the bot on any network search.
1. In your Google sheet with the scraped contacts, create a new tab for “Linkedin Profiles” - find/copy/paste the LI profile URLs to one column there.
2. Download this Chrome extension: Linked Helper - automate work with LinkedIn
3. Login to whatever Linkedin account you want to use to prospect this list.
4. Follow these instructions to load the LI profiles list to LinkedHelper: https://medium.com/linked-helper...
5. Select the options to invite/connect and view profile - This will give them two notifications (viewed your profile and requested connection)
Week 2: Auto-Messaging Sequence
Like cold emailing, you will be able to cold message connections gained in the previous step with a timed sequence using LinkedHub. This allows you to serve more messages and more impressions without much downside (like spam complaints).
1. Create a LinkedHub account - linkedhub | LinkedIn Lead Generation
2. Setup your connection sequence - use a simple one-line connect message like “It’d be great to have you in my network.”
3. Time your second and third messages appropriately - The second message should not be a sales message. You want your second message to go out 1 min after they approve the connection, and be a simple one sentence "thank you for connecting" message. Use the contact fields to personalize it.
4. The third message can be your “ask” - make it a great offer, or something unique for your LinkedIn connections otherwise it won’t get much of a response.
5. Add the URLs you used in your scrape to as the target for this sequence - Make sure to add the exact search terms which will include everyone on your list of contacts. Use title and industry search terms, and multiple URLs if you have to. Contacts not in your email list may get these messages, but this is ok, so long as the search criteria is for potential customers.
6. Start sequence
Week 3: CRM Retargeting
The main purpose of CRM retargeting is to serve brand impressions and educate your list on what exactly it is you do. The last thing you want to do is cold email or cold call prospects who have zero idea who you are and what your company does.
1. Load your lists to each platform for ad retargeting - Depending on your list size, you have Adwords (1000 minimum) Facebook (relative, but no min), Adroll (500 minimum), Linkedin (3000 minimum).
2. Facebook - Use FB to serve video ads explaining your product/service to the audience to educate using a medium they’ll engage with.
3. Adroll - Adroll you will use to serve impressions of your brand. You do not even care about the clicks.
4. Linkedin - You want to serve valuable content that shows thought leadership on Linkedin - ebooks, white papers, and webinars - collaborations with other brands is preferred.
5. Adwords - Load your videos to YouTube and serve “TrueView” ads to your retargeted list.
Week 4: Cold Emailing
Now that they have [hopefully] been served one or two impressions of your brand, it’s time to send them a cold email sequence. It’s very important you do not do this too early. You want it to be as warm as possible, which is why we serve LinkedIn profile impressions and ads to these people first. It’s also important you use a correctly timed sequence with if/then rules so that you make sure not to bother those uninterested, and you keep inboxing.
1. Load contacts to your CRM - If you used the formated bulk sheet provided by your CRM, you should be able to simply upload the contacts. If your CRM allows for tagging, tag every 200 contacts with a unique letter (A, B, C….). This allows you to easily decide who to send what/when by segmenting them by tag in your CRM.
2. Run a spam and record test - Before you send a single cold email, make sure you have the correct any record issues - verify DKIM/SPF settings with your host. Make sure email clients can verify you are permitted to send from that address by following the corrections this site gives you: Newsletters spam test by mail-tester.com
3. Use a drip sequence - Make sure unopened emails get the same email two days later with an alternative headline. And those who do open, but do not click get another option later. And if you are using a CRM, make sure sales is notified while someone is browsing the site so they can contact/close them right then. I recommend CRM Software - Customer Relationship Management - Agile CRM
4. Limit sending to 200/day - The last thing you want to do is show up on any blacklists. Too many complaints in a day will get you listed. This is why we want to throttle sends. Make adjustments to messages that are getting no clicks/replies and complaints before sending the next batch.
Week 5: Cold Calling
The process is created to make these calls much 'warmer', but you will want to make sure your SDR's or AE's understand the brand impressions each contact has been served prior to these calls - i.e. "We are connected on Linkedin..." or "I sent the details to your ___@___ email...".
1. If your CRM is giving you notifications when contacts are browsing, make sure to call those prospects immediately - CRM's like CRM Software - Customer Relationship Management - Agile CRM will allow you to install their tracking pixel on your site and setup desktop notifications for if/when contacts are on your site. Make sure your team has these on and are calling during the browse.
2. Next, call those who have opened, but not clicked - Then call those who have not opened.
3. Finally, call your Linkedin connections.
4. For these cold campaigns, one your SDR or AE's tasks should be getting them to open/reply to the email. This keeps your IP health up so you can continue cold emailing.
Week 5: Triggering Follow Up Sequences
Follow Up sequences should be ready for each type of call - no answer, not interested/ready... So you can keep these contacts in your funnel and at least offer them relative content they may be interested in. Have a few sequences ready to be deployed when the call is done.
1. As soon as the call is done, trigger the appropriate sequence.
2. At the end of every sequence should be a transfer into some sort of evergreen content drip - This last step ensures no contacts are ever left floating as they continue to get your content regardless if they are in an approaching/nurturing sequence, or not interested in the product, but have not opted out of emails.
From here you can get into content marketing and true lead nurturing techniques using whatever you have of value to display thought leadership and trust - case studies, white papers, collaborative content with known brands...
Reach out to me here if you need help.