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What I’ve Learned About Lead Generation for an Unsexy, Niche Product

Posted on 06/02/2015

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Are you having tough times with B2B lead gen?

shakinghands-business-Simpletutorials.netMany of us read through countless top 10 lists outlining best practices and new trends in lead generation. Frankly, those are great, but they look like they all are rewrites of one another. After reading a few, it feels like deja vu.

So here’s my personal lead gen success story. My goal is not to position anything I say here as a how-to guide or any kind of a list. I want to share my company’s experience, plant a seed and hope for a rich discussion with you to follow.

Our Unsexy B2B Product work for Windward Studios, a software company that develops high-end reporting and document generation software. Reporting software is present in many industries and vital to customer satisfaction and day-to-day operations, but it is heavily overlooked and usually given least priority. Anything related to reporting is not sexy, period. On top of that, a lot of effort is required in order to find and win a customer.

To sum it up, we play in a niche B2B environment with an unsexy product, which makes it tough but not impossible to grow our customer base. But recently I witnessed growth in our lead generation, so I decided to analyze how it happened.

“If It Isn’t Broken, Don’t Fix It” Is WRONG!

broken-iconFor the past few months, one of the things our marketing team focused on was improving existing pieces of our lead generation process. These pieces weren’t broken — more like passably functioning — but tweaking them produced great results.

For example, one of our metrics is the number of certified leads we get each month, and we grow this number in part through list buying. List buying is easy and quick, but it can also be expensive.

(BTW, I spoke to many colleagues in lead generation and was surprised by how many of them told me that their lists are not fully satisfactory but that they make no attempt to address this issue.)

So we decided to follow the “less is more” or “quality over quantity” philosophy and changed our approach on where and from whom we buy lists. We looked for companies out there that are not market leaders but that provide unique and very targeted ways of generating lists and leads.

This shift to quality played a tremendous role. In the last 4 months, due in large part to shifting our list-buying habits, we managed to increase our number of certified leads by 150%.

Hold Off on the Happy Dance

Dancing-Mexican-by-RonesIf your company is smaller in size, as ours is, you end up balancing three very important resources: people, time and money.

So what do you do when your target base of potential customers is pretty small and yet your sales team — a key resource — is very busy answering calls, sending emails and demoing your product?

No, you don’t do a happy dance. Instead, you analyze if “busy” means more money. Our sales team was spending a lot of time with people who created noise but not invoices.

So instead of qualifying everyone who showed a bit of interest, we changed our initial focus to disqualifying people. Now the time formerly spent by our sales people on so-so leads is spent on quality contacts and leads.

It’s kind of a counter-intuitive move, but it produced great results for our bottom line. I can’t share the details, but would love to hear your thoughts and personal experiences.

We Jumped Off the Bandwagon

carruajeHave you ever followed what was done in someone else’s success story but it didn’t work out for you? But you kept at it because in theory it is bulletproof or industry leaders recommend doing it?

Yeah, we’ve done that too. So we stopped and went back to our numbers. We made decisions about lead gen based on no emotional attachment; we just trusted our data. Before we tried these new approaches some of them looked great on paper and others looked implausible or even crazy in theory, but they were proved successful by our numbers.

Make close friends with your company data. If a lead gen activity meets your criteria and brings value, you keep and improve it. If not, you just move on and try something else.

Carrots and Sticks

KarotteNow let’s get a little philosophical and talk about some intangible factors.

Culture is crucial for shaping a company direction or incorporating change. In order to experiment and be creative, people need to know that failure is not only an option, but, as our CEO states, a requirement.

Employees pick up company culture really fast, and it heavily influences their performance and ways of thinking. I know, you’ve read or heard this many times, so I will not start preaching. All I want to say is I witnessed how culture facilitated positive change in our company. The changes described above came out of mindset influenced by that culture.

P.S. I think is time to wrap up. There are a few more factors I think played a role, but those are topics for another post. I hope the few points I mentioned were somewhat valuable to you.

P.S.S. Wow you made it this far. Thank you for sticking around. As I mentioned above, I would love to have a conversation with you. I am happy to elaborate on different parts of the post and also hear your story. Please make a comment in the comment space below.

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Author: Roman Matskiv

Roman Matskiv is a marketing enthusiast currently working on getting Windward into the Fortune 500 list. Originally from Ukraine, he came to United States in 2007 to attend the University of Colorado at Boulder. In his free time, Roman can be found running through canyons in the Utah desert, trying to catch the biggest fish in Colorado, or casually hammering on his keyboard and mouse trying to beat his opponents online.

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