Improve the Results of Your Lead Generation With a More Effective Deal FlowJune 08, 2017 | By Wayne O'Neill
“Lead generation” is the buzzword of the day, it seems. Everyone wants to know how to improve the output of their lead generation systems and processes. Lead generation is focused on volume — getting as many leads in the door as possible.
Generating leads for your business is a good thing. But it’s only one part of a functional system that grows revenue and creates profit.
As always, I encourage you to think a bit differently than your peers and competitors. More studies and reports are coming out all the time proving that in today’s marketplace, thinking differently is how you win.
A recent article I read in Harvard Business Review is a good example. Dismantling the Sales Machine was originally published in 2013, but HBR recently re-ran it in their Summer 2017 issue. No doubt because the pace of change in customer behavior is only increasing.
Most of our clients in the last 12-24 months have been concerned with lead generation in this new selling environment. Between this trend and the HBR article, I knew it was time to address lead generation here on the RESET blog.
Here’s the first thing you should know: Forget lead generation.
Lead generation won’t get you very far. You need to look at your deal flow.
What I mean by “deal flow” is this: How you use the time of your go-to-market team relative to matching up your clients’ business and political issues with the solutions you bring to the table.
Deal flow is all about prioritizing.
Three changes have happened in the selling environment in the last decade that have impacted the effectiveness of deal flow. Get ahead of the curve on these three things, and you’ll get ahead of your competitors — and make your lead generation efforts pay off in spades.
1. Clients and Customers Are Uncertain
In the past, a client knew what their problem was. They knew what they needed, and they could communicate that to you.
Today, clients are a lot more uncertain. There are more people involved in a decision than there used to be. Your client isn’t just thinking about if they should buy your solution or not, they’re also thinking about what it will take to get buy-in, and when they should engage the other stakeholders for the best results. There’s more to the deal than “to buy or not to buy.”
Your sales team’s judgment is what makes the difference, here. Rigid sales processes stifle what is naturally a fluid and flexible situation. A plus B doesn’t necessarily equal C for every single client you engage with. Give your team the leeway to determine that maybe, for this client, A plus B equals Z — and Z is something your firm can help with.
2. Stakeholders Are Not Necessarily the Decision-makers
It used to be that the stakeholders you spoke with had the authority to make the buying decision. They held the proverbial checkbook in hand. You could focus on them and make your sale.
Today, there are a lot more stakeholders to deal with, levels to get through, and people to convince before you get to the person holding the checkbook. The business environment is simply more complex than it used to be.
You must think of stakeholders as influencers today rather than decision-makers. They influence the people with the real decision-making authority. To make your deal flow work harder for you, you have to start the process of working with these influencers a lot earlier than you might be used to.
3. Jumping to the Demo Doesn’t Get Results
Considering that clients are more uncertain, and you have to do more work with non-decision-making stakeholders today, it’s no wonder that rushing to give a demo or present your solution won’t get you the results you’re after anymore.
Presenting a solution assumes you know what the problem is, and exactly how to solve it. In today’s complex business environments, the problem isn’t always clear-cut, and the solution may need to be creative.
Instead, keep things simple at first. Don’t rush to the demo.
Disrupt the client’s thinking.
Get them to reorient themselves.
They reached out to you because they thought they needed a better mousetrap. But once you start talking to them about their everyday challenges, you might discover — together — that they actually need a system to repel those mice before the critters get that far.
The Bottom Line
Lead generation is a good thing. And sometimes it makes sense to focus on increasing the volume of leads. But you need to make sure your entire deal flow is effective, or those leads won’t go anywhere — and they won’t make a dent in your bottom line.
Effective deal flow comes from helping your go-to-market team prioritize how they spend their time. Supporting them and guiding them in this way is the surest route to increased revenue and profit today.