Is your lead generation burning your brand?

Every time you have a lead generation campaign and you get a 3% response that means 97% of targets didn’t become leads. But those 97% are still future prospects and if you interrupt them without adding value you risk turning them against you and making it much harder next time.  In this interview with John Smibert our CEO, John Bedwany discusses this problem and how we can use our lead generation campaigns to build relationships that drive future pipeline.


John S.: Hello, I’m delighted to have John Bedwany with me again – welcome back, John!

John B.: Hi, John!

John S.: Hey John, we’re working through your challenges in the B2B sales area, and challenge number five is we often burn the brand with all the outbound type lead generation, demand generation we do.

John B.: Correct.

John S.: I understand that, and being a customer in some sense it really annoys the hell out of me, all these organisations coming to me. What’s your solution to that?

John B.: Before a solution, let’s understand what the problem statement really is, because demand generation is needed.

John S.: Of course.

John B.: We have to continue talking to the marketplace to actually drive the demand.

John S.: Without demand we’re not going to make sales!

John B.: Correct. But here is the reality of what happens, no matter what type of demand generation we’re currently doing, you hit 1,000 people, we’re lucky to get a 5% response rate.

John S.: We’re doing pretty well in a lot of cases.

John B.: 50 say yes. Let’s get the world’s best practice, 100 say yes, so 95 to 90 percent of the people we spoke to said no. Now, if we put our hand on our hearts and we ask yourself the question what type of experience did those people have with the touch…

John S.: Those 900-950 people…

John B.: Correct. Disruptive at worst, irrelevant at best, and sometimes we’re lucky and we get the lead. Why is that? Because the messaging is stop-start and has no intelligence behind it to contextually take the person from one message to the next. Now, if you continue that demand generation type engine, sooner or later they stop taking phone calls, they stop turning up to events, they stop looking at your portals via the digital mechanisms, and you start to lose them because they opt out.

burning-brandJohn S.: Because they don’t see you creating any value for them whatsoever.

John B.: You’re interrupting them, there’s no value. So the solution is really, really simple. Strategic sales and marketing coverage.

John S.: Okay, so define strategic sales and marketing coverage.

John B.: One, understand who it is you’re trying to talk to. Many times the demand agent is talking to the wrong people anyway. Two, understand the key messages that you believe are important to them. Three, give them the messages the way they want to absorb the messages. Four, follow up in a respectful way to understand whether it was of benefit to them. And then five, give them some type of heads up that in the next wave they’ll be expecting some things.

John S.: A lot of people teach salespeople to do that, don’t they? “This is how you do your lead generation, this is how you do your prospecting.” But you’re saying don’t do it with salespeople, but still do it strategically, the way a lot of salespeople are taught to do it.

John B.: Very good, that’s true. But again, I go back to the point that unless you’re able to have a roadmap of what you’re trying to say to whom and when and how they want to absorb it, whether it’s a salesperson – which is too high a cost today, as we know – whether it’s a marketing person or whether it’s digital, the important thing is understanding the roadmap of the message that you need to take to the marketplace to whom, and then send it to them when they want it, not when you want it.

A failing businesswoman wearing a box over her head holds her hands before her face.

John S.: And if I’m understanding it correctly, you’re saying let’s do it from the perspective of the customer, not the fact that we want to do demand a generation process for a product or a service, and therefore we’re understanding the customer, we’re understanding where the customer’s currently in their thinking and their buying journey and so on, and we’re working with them as they progress. So every person you contact, they’ll be in a different position and you’ll be handling it differently strategically.

John B.: Exactly. And the important thing here too, John, is some people don’t want to be contacted for six months, some people don’t want to be contacted in a month’s time, some people don’t ever want to be contacted. Have the respect to listen, and understand what they want to talk about when, and make sure you’re there when they need you.

John S.: Okay, I think I understand that quite well. And really it always worries me when we decide we’re going to have a demand generation programme or we’re going to go out and hit 1,000 people. Yes, every one of those 1,000 people are in a different frame of mind at that time and a different situation in their business and we’re not cognizant of that at all, so I like what you’re saying.

John B.: Correct. And you have to have the data to actually make sure you know what you’re doing.

John S.: That’s important, having the data, the research, everything you need to really do it properly. People don’t do that, they just make a phone call.

John B.: That’s correct. “I’ve got a pipeline gap, here’s $50,000. Give me 50 leads.”

John S.: Great advice, John. Let’s talk about challenge number six in the next interview, and then we’ll move on to marketing challenges.

John B.: Sounds great – thanks, John!

John S.: Look forward to it, John!