David Kirkpatrick

B2B Lead Generation: Four experts’ advice on generating higher-level leads

Last week in Boston we held the East Coast leg of B2B Summit 2011, featuring two days of case studies and actionable marketing advice for more than 200 attendees.

Following lunch on day one, Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content, MECLABS, bounded onto the stage, thinly-disguised as Donald Trump to host an interactive panel of four experts, presented in the style of NBC’s “The Apprentice.”

Daniel quickly passed the “boss” baton to the entire audience who had the chance to vote on which panelist gave the best advice on three lead generation scenarios. The panelists each had three minutes to offer quick-hit tactics for each challenge.

For this post, let’s take a look at each expert’s take on one of the situations.

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The setup

The third, and final scenario, was built around a hypothetical authentication solution company, with a target audience of executive-level decision makers.

The problem was the company was generating plenty of interest among IT practitioners with its content marketing program, but not enough of the valued top management leads. The panelists were provided a budget of $12,000 to meet this challenge.

Here is a more complete breakdown of this lead gen dilemma:

 

Click to enlarge

 

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The solutions

And now, let’s find out how each of our four experts addressed Scenario #3 …

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Jon Miller, VP Marketing, Marketo:

Jon broke out a military analogy to address this challenge:

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When confronted with too many low-level leads, many marketers scramble to run more of the same campaigns, and then wonder why the results are the same.  To target executives, you need to switch away from ‘air war’ tactics and focus on highly-targeted ‘ground war’ programs that break through the clutter.  This means high-quality content delivered to the right people in an engaging way – leveraging multiple channels including direct mail, email, and phone.

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He said that the executive you want as a lead is most likely suffering from information overload, and added five tactics to help break through the clutter.

  • The basics — laser targeting, quality content and agenda for events — still matter
  • Use multi-touch programs
  • Word-of-mouth is huge — drive warm introductions from customers and partners with an incentive program
  • Target executive-level gatekeepers
  • PR and brand investments pay off

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Jim Williams, Senior Director of Product Marketing, Eloqua:

Jim presented two tactics. The first was to help your core audience “sell up” to the targeted executive audience through content pieces such as guides that offer direct steps to introduce your product or service to the C-suite.

His example (based on his business) was a piece titled, “How to Sell Marketing Automation to Executives.”

Williams said, “Really use the champion you have within the business to help sell to more senior decision makers. We don’t typically sell to CMOs, for example. Eloqua sells to a director, sr. director level role. One strategy we have used effectively is to arm that champion with selling tips and guides that will help them position marketing automation internally to executives. It’s been very well received by our customers.”

For his second tactic, Jim spent part of his budget in what is now something of an unconventional direction — direct mail.

He explained that direct mail can be a low-cost solution to reach a highly targeted audience. And, in this day of extensive email and other digital marketing, direct mail pieces actually can stand out from the crowd of other marketing messages.

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Dr. Cheemin Bo-Linn, CMO, NetLine Corporation:

Cheemin explained to the boss the best way to find higher-level leads was to accelerate and demonstrate repeatable success in the pipeline by optimizing the programs. She offered three specific tactics to accomplish this goal.

  • Search for IT executive decision makers in the existing pipeline by using a list to verify and qualify leads; use email to qualify (or disqualify) decision makers; and put some of the budget to use in a call center with a target of $10-20 per qualified lead.
  • Identify and qualify new IT decision makers by acquiring names for target companies at $1-2 per name, again utilizing a call center, but expanding the target for a qualified lead to $10-30.
  • Create a target list of companies, and set up interviews with IT decision makers with a budget of $1000-2000 per appointment.

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Bryan Brown, Director Product Strategy, Silverpop:

Bryan chose to spend his budget on one event — an exclusive round table with an analyst.

He said to hire the analyst for $10,000 to host the round table, to help the company validate its position in the market. To create higher-level leads, invite partner’s prospects to the event and leverage the large IT practitioner audience by inviting the bosses of those low-level leads’.

Leading up to the event, engage in lead nurturing with partners to educate them about the company, and offer an incentive, in the form of a $2000 gift card for the partner that registers the most prospects.

Along with inviting the IT practitioner audience’s bosses to the event, ask practitioners to share your blog posts and other content marketing pieces with their executives.

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… and the winner is?

According to the “boss” — the attendees at B2B Summit Boston — Silverpop’s Bryan Brown offered the best lead gen tactics for all three scenarios.

Coming up Oct. 24-25 in San Francisco we’ll find out if any of the other panelists can refine these pitches and take over the top spot at “Lead Gen Apprentice.”

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Related Resources

5 takeaways on B2B social media, lead generation, building a customer-centric approach, and more

Lead Generation: How ignoring 16,896 companies helped improve Sales-Marketing alignment

Lead Gen Overhaul: 4 Strategies to Boost Response Rates, Reduce Cost-per-Lead

Generate Leads with Social Media Strategy: 6 Steps to Fill Up Sales Funnel

Lead Generation: A closer look at a B2B company’s cost-per-lead and prospect generation

Google as a Grocery Store: Use SEO and search engine marketing in tandem to boost lead generation

Website Optimization: 7 ways to reduce the perceived cost of lead generation offers

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Lead Generation