Software and Tech Firms: Are Sales Stagnant or on the Decline?
3 Lead Generation Levers You Can Pull to Grow Sales
The world of technology and software (SaaS) is a rapidly evolving one, with new entrants entering the fray every day. Therefore, every lead and every interaction with prospects matters! One miss, and you leave potentially hundreds of thousands if not millions behind!
More often than not, the problem is not in your incredibly well-designed technology, user interfaces (UI) or user experiences (UX) that you provide customers, but a marketing problem.
Marketing is and will always be the voice of any business, start up or established.
Marketing is not art nor science; marketing is magic!
It’s therefore essential that you always optimize your marketing to reach your desired audience. Moreover, when we say marketing, we don’t mean generic ad and social media posts across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram company profiles. In fact, we often mean the exact opposite, which is establishing a core value proposition that speaks to your unique buyer profiles and that is backed up by intuitive content and a tailored approach to lead generation.
Certainly, marketing teams have their hands full with social media marketing (SMM) but when it comes down to lead generation and brand building, marketing drifts away.
I want to help you fix this issue in the most simplistic way possible.
Marketing is not an art nor is it science; marketing is magic! When companies create visually appealing and thought-provoking content that speaks to their target audiences and blend it with the right lead generation approach, the sky is the limit.
The focus of this article is on the latter since it’s often the #1 issue at technology companies.
For any software/technology company, software or start up, there are 3 lead generation levers they can pull to generate more leads and more sales.
1. Number of Target Accounts: Pre-Qualifying is Key
All business must have a good understanding of who their target market is for their products or services. Here, we’re not talking about qualified leads (lever #3), but the size of your addressable market.
Furthermore, it’s vitally important that there is a universal understanding of what a good client entails for your company (i.e., detailed buyer profiles).
Leaders of software and tech-oriented firms must ask themselves the following:
How many potential targets can they engage with (100; 1,000; 10,000)?
What geography, industry and niche are target accounts predominantly operating in?
What technologies do target accounts have in place that fits with yours (buying signals)?
Who are the decision makers at these target accounts?
These are just SOME of questions entrepreneurs must ask themselves.
What this comes down to is a company’s ability to pre-qualify target accounts ahead of deploying marketing resources. Moreover, pre-qualified leads make future list building for sales and marketing much easier.
2. Total Number of Leads
The second lead generation lever is the number of pre-qualified leads that actually turn into a lead (opportunity).
Between lever #1 and lever #2, marketing and sales must track the Lead: First Meeting Ratio, commonly referred to as a sales-qualified lead ratio (SQL).
This ratio measures the effectiveness of a company’s lead generation campaigns, regardless of the type of lead generation approach taken.
For example, if out of a 1,000 target accounts, 20% are pre-qualified, and 10% of those get into a first meeting, you get:
1,000 x 0.2 x 0.1 = 2 SQLs
That results in a 0.2% conversion rate, which is mediocre at best in this fictional example. The idea is that once they have this metric in place, marketing and sales team can aim to increase it by fine tuning their lead generation approach via:
Pulling on Lever #1 by growing the list of targeted accounts.
Increasing their touch point frequency with prospects.
Improving or updating their customer profiles.
Fine-tuning their brand messaging and value proposition.
Mixing up the lead generation channels.
The list goes on and on. The bottom line is that any lead generation approach is backed not only by the number of pre-qualified leads, but with appropriate marketing metrics.
3. Total Number of Qualified Leads
Another crucial lever directly related to #2 and the Lead: First Meeting Ratio is the total number of qualified leads in the pipeline.
Essentially, once you’ve pulled on lever #1 and #2 and have gained no significant improvement, it probably implies that the company as a whole is not qualifying leads properly. No matter how much businesses improve their messaging, if the leads are not a fit (qualified) they will not turn into an opportunity.
Revisit the following bullet points when evaluating the quality of leads:
Budget: are businesses being targeted operating in declining or mature industries and thus don’t have the right budget in place for new technology?
Positioning: is the company differentiating itself with a clear and distinct value proposition?
Need: What other needs can the company position itself to fulfill which have yet to be marketed?
Decision Maker: evaluate whether or not you’ve actually nailed down who the right decision makers are at target accounts.
Bonus tip: the title of a decision maker might be different in a small, medium or large organization. For example, the CEO might handle investment decisions at an SME but in a larger organization, it might come down to functional department heads.
Finally, if businesses are confident in their team’s ability to pre-qualify leads, it’s probably a sales skill gap within their business development team.
If that’s the case, it’s important to audit the sales process thoroughly, from prospecting, to
discovery all the way through close. Evaluate where customer-facing staff are asking the right questions and booking next steps. Otherwise, nothing mentioned above really matters.
In sum, if sales are stagnating or on the decline, a source of the problem can stem from existing lead generation strategies. Within lead generation, there 3 lead generation levers business can pull to fine-tune their approach and generate new business.