Industrial Lead Generation – MQL vs SQL

Industrial lead generation - MQL vs SQL

Industrial lead generation is an important, if not the #1 goal of industrial marketers. Sure, there are other objectives of manufacturing content marketing as can be seen in this chart from the Manufacturing Content Marketing … Read more

Industrial Lead Generation for Sales – It’s Complicated!

Industrial lead generation and sales, it's complicatedIndustrial lead generation is the lifeline for manufacturers, distributors and engineering companies when it comes to accelerating their pipelines and growing sales. However, turning new leads into sales is not straightforward or simple. Just like the hit movie, it’s complicated!

There are many reasons for the failure of industrial lead generation to convert into wins in long and complex sales cycles. Before I go into those, let me give you three real-life examples of conversations that I have had with industrial companies.

Example #1: The Head of Business Development for a manufacturer of compressed air dehydrators said to me, “My sales team can tell if a lead is qualified or not within five minutes of talking to someone.”

The problem was that his sales team wasn’t receiving enough of those calls and they were having a hard time getting in front of the right decisionmakers to make that qualifying decision. Sales were down as a result and they needed to fill their pipeline with more leads.

Example #2: The North American Sales Manager of an engineering company that designed custom-engineered skid-mounted modular process systems for the upstream Oil & Gas industry said, “We don’t talk to leads until we receive an RFQ/RFP.”

He didn’t want to sell on price because the company’s strength was in providing engineered solutions. Unfortunately, it was too late for his team to start talking about their expertise because the buyer had already reached the final stage of his/her buying decision. S/he wanted all vendors to conform to a given set of specifications so it was easier to do an apples to apples comparison of bids based on price and lead-time.

Example #3: The President/Owner of a Leak Detection and Repair (LDAR) services company that primarily targeted refineries and petrochemical companies, emailed me to say, “I want to meet the right people and if necessary, jump on a plane to go anywhere, but I don’t know who to meet.”

This client had tried email blasts to rented lists and telemarketing companies to set appointments. Neither of those tactics produced results for him. He was desperate for new leads.

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Use industrial content marketing to enable sales

Industrial content marketing plays an important role in driving sales for manufacturers and engineering companies. Of course, going from publishing content to growing sales is not as easy as going from point A to point B.

If you are a manufacturer of custom-engineered systems, you know that it is nearly impossible to generate Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) without first having one or more conversations with the right people. To get to that point requires more than publishing a few blog posts and/or sending out emails.

Many of these industrial companies already know their limited pool of prospects who are qualified to buy their equipment and services. They don’t want to wait for these people to find them; they want to reach out to them proactively.

The fact is your target audience of engineers and technical professionals are in self-select and self-serve mode. They want to learn as much about you and your solutions before they’ll engage with your sales team. Industrial content marketing aligns perfectly with how today’s self-educating buyers want to interact with their suppliers.

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In Industrial Lead Generation, a Lead is a Lead, Right?

Defining leads in industrial lead generationEvery discussion I’ve had with manufacturers and industrial companies starts with “we need more leads” or ends with “we need results.” I understand and accept the fact that the main goal of industrial marketing is to generate leads. I have no issues with that but do these companies know what a qualified lead is?

That may sound like a dumb question to ask in industrial lead generation but in reality, you would be surprised by how fundamental and serious that question is. I’m not making this up or trying to be clever here.

Let me explain with three excerpts from conversations I have had in just the past few months.

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BANT May Not Work in Qualifying Leads for Industrial Sales

 

Using BANT to qualify leads for industrial sales

Sales people have been using BANT (Budget, Authority, Needs, and Timing/Timeframe) criteria to qualify leads and prospects for a long time ever since IBM first coined that acronym. It made a lot of sense from salesperson’s point of view because they want to know up front if the prospect has the money or can get the budget approved and has the buying authority. They don’t want to waste their time on unqualified leads. Nothing wrong with that!

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Lead Generation for Industrial Companies is a Process not a Campaign

I hear too many manufacturers and industrial companies talking about creating campaigns because they want to pump up their lead generation. That mode of thinking is outdated and simply doesn’t work today where you are dealing with mostly invisible and self-directed industrial buyers.

Buyers are looking for information online and interacting with sales people on their own terms. Your industrial lead generation needs to evolve to meet their needs. Otherwise you are going to struggle generating qualified leads that turn into sales opportunities. That is a virtual certainty.

Evolution of industrial lead generation

The old ways of industrial lead generation have changed. Engineers and technical buyers do most of their research, evaluation and finally selecting a vendor very differently today than in the past. Complicating the process is the fact that the buyers do not usually go on a linear buying journey. There are many stakeholders involved in the buying decision, some of whom may never visit your website and/or meet your sales people.

Now I know you’ve read/heard all this before so what exactly is different about lead generation today? Here’s a handy chart from Marketo that explains the differences between then and now.

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Take Industrial Lead Generation up a Notch with Marketing Automation

Marketing automation technology is one of the areas where B2B marketers will increase spending in 2014 according to an article I read in the September 16 issue of BtoB Magazine. There are many more choices available today in Marketing Automation (MA) offerings and one can find the right fit at various price points. This post is not a product review or a comparison of different marketing automation packages. You’ll find plenty of such articles online written by vendors and independent marketing consultants. You can visit sites of different MA vendors and get the laundry list of all the features they offer.

I’ll stick to my area of expertise – industrial marketing and the use of MA in this specific niche. I have used HubSpot for about four years for two different clients and am now using Pardot for another manufacturer. I want to zero in on two key benefits of using MA for improving industrial lead generation and conversions.

  1. Prospect Profiling
  2. ROI Measurement and Reporting

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