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Guest Post: Relationships Matter In Lead Gen

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Guest Post By: Jeremy Sacco

The idea that relationships matter may seem obvious: successful closes, especially for big-ticket items, often depend more on establishing a good relationship with the customer than with the details of your product.  But in the lead-gen industry, there’s another relationship that can be critical to your success: the relationship between lead buyers and the lead gen companies they work with.

Like many fast-growing industries, lead gen sees its share of fly-by-night, low-price, low-value competitors. Establishing a relationship with those types of players is difficult or impossible – first because they’re mostly interested in volume, and second because they’re not likely to be around for very long.  But when working with reputable lead sources, there are a few key ways to get the most out of the partnership.

Do the math: measure your ROI

In our experience at BuyerZone, a surprising number of lead buyers gauge the success of a given lead program off the cuff. They hear from the sales team that ‘many’ of the leads aren’t closing and decide that the leads aren’t any good.

The problem is, in most B2B situations, it doesn’t take many successful closes to see a positive ROI from a lead gen program, so an overall impression might not give you the real picture. We’ve had customers come to us expressing disappointment in their leads – and after we pushed them to calculate their actual ROI, they realized they were making their money back many times over.

So do the calculations. Make sure you measure the percentage of contacts and closes for each lead source so you can know they compare to each other, and calculate revenue versus cost for each program to get a hard ROI number. Then you’ll be in a better position to negotiate prices, lead volumes, and other details.  When you compare the ROI of a lead program to direct mail, media buys, and other traditional marketing channels, you should be able to see a clear benefit.

Stay in touch

You’re an expert in your industry, right? So is BuyerZone: we’ve been doing lead gen for over a decade. But one of the weaknesses of lead aggregators is that we’re not experts in your industry. The best lead generation services understand this, and value feedback from the lead buyers who are actually out in the trenches doing the selling.

Specifically, talk to your lead generator about how they’re bringing leads in, what qualifying questions they ask, and the types of additional information they provide. Your expertise can help better inform buyers and improve results for you and the aggregator both.  What industry forums, publications, or events are good potential sources of leads? What new trends in the industry will impact the quality or volume of leads?

On the flip side, keep in mind that lead generation services who seem uninterested in hearing from you may not be good choices for long-term partnerships. Even though we handle lead generation for over 150 products and services, in dozens of industries, we know the importance of customizing the lead gen experience for each product.

Test, measure, repeat

The ability to customize your lead program is an important route to success. Work with your lead provider to test all of these components and find out which work best for you:

  • Lead volume – Do you want as many leads as they can provide so your sales team can go for wide coverage? Or is your sales channel better suited to a more intense focus on a smaller number of leads?
  • Geographic coverage – You may want to start with a core area, then slowly add more cities, counties, or states.
  • Delivery method and management – are simple emails enough? Probably not. A good lead management system provides tools that can help you track and maximize the value you get from your investment, and quality lead providers can customize your delivery options. Test all the delivery and management options available.
  • Product coverage – Does your lead provider offer leads for several products or services you can sell? Test them separately: leads for multiple products – even from the same source — may perform very differently.

Because you’re carefully tracking ROI (right?), you can change these attributes one at a time, let them run for a month or more, depending on the volume of leads you’re seeing, and see exactly how they perform.

Communication is everything

There are plenty of other reasons to work closely with your provider, such as credit policies (what types of problem leads can you get refunded for?), new products to cover, and simply staying in touch about new products and services. That said, I’d love to hear your side of the story. What can lead generation services learn from the buyers? What do we need to listen to you about? Let me know in the comments.

Jeremy Sacco is the Editorial Manager for BuyerZone and blogs about lead generation, sales tactics, and online marketing for About Leads.

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