When it comes to lead generation, one size does not fit all. While some swear by using marketing automation alone, others believe that a good email tool, tele-prospecting, or social media by themselves are the way to go.

My 30 years of experience with thousands of demand generation projects have taught me that the reality is quite different. In the B2B setting there are too many competing interests selling similar products/solutions to the same and somewhat limited number of prospects. Today’s environment requires not only savvy, but also the perseverance to use multiple approaches designed to match a company’s value proposition with each prospect’s needs and buying cycles. Since not every business has the same name recognition to open doors, I have found it imperative to use a malleable multi-touch/channel tactic.

The New Adaptable Model

By now we’ve all heard about the 7-13+ touches it takes to generate a qualified lead for the complex sale.  The “multi-channel/multi-touch” has long been in our marketing vocabulary, but few use it correctly.   When done right, a multi-touch, custom made approach can be a powerful educational tool in the development of name recognition.  It will engender the necessary level of interest in a new product for a meeting to take place and a sale to materialize.  To be effective, the “touch” should come in different flavors geared to the individual prospect response (or lack of) which, as a rule, involves the use of a variety of communication channels.  I cannot emphasize enough the fact that tele-prospecting and lead generation have morphed into a NEW engagement process.   Not only are there multiple attempts required, but they should be different in terms of the media used and level of messaging personalization.  If one sequence or messaging track doesn’t produce great results, be prepared to quickly deploy something else.

We are in a very complex period where the “straight scotch” may no longer satisfy, that is why I call the present times the “cocktail era”.  Luckily, a new breed of ”bartender” has emerged who listens and delivers the desired mix.

Recent Observations

This morning, a veteran program manager informed me that one of the most valuable leads for a very tricky campaign targeting the Enterprise and C-level came a from combinations of email touches supported by voice mails and web-links.  While direct contact proved to be next to impossible, other incidental touches resonated. Often times relationships began via Chat sessions with our reps, followed by emails and nurture calls until qualified and meetings set.

I hear about these scenarios repeatedly, which is why I’m finally addressing the topic.

The days of picking one channel such as a batch and blast, or Search alone, or dialing for dollars are over (we all know this).  Reaching the appropriate prospect to present an enticing message is an absolute necessity and it requires a combination of competence, process and tools in concert with the buyer’s needs and timeline.

To accomplish this, one must have a trained, experienced lead development team that is equipped for this arduous journey. This means tenacious, knowledgeable and well- spoken reps who know how to research and how to figure out the communications mix needed to engage, and most importantly, know how to listen. Sitting the kid at the desk with an email platform or a telephone alone won’t cut it anymore.

A comprehensive process must be in place whereby the lead development reps can be trained on each solution, touches documented and measured, rules for escalation are understood, inspiring collateral and storytelling are on hand, and quality control is exercised.  A knowledgeable, talented and flexible program manager and lead development rep staff are required to guide the process, test, adjust/improve and, using metrics, reporting to communicate the front-line findings at regularly scheduled meetings.

And finally, you need the tools to implement this journey.

Final Reflection

The old approach to lead generation is no more. Now it requires a multi-channel demand center with experts at the controls. It must be an adaptable and responsive organization structured to easily maneuver through the ever-changing, prospect driven environment.

I’m primarily writing to bust the myth/image of the gone-by call center. Sometimes when I walk among my tele-prospecting rep teams, the room is silent. It isn’t because they are not doing their job. It is because they are doing it right

Martinis all around?