By William Wickey, content and media strategy, LeadGenius
Lead generation can be a loaded term—and an elusive one to define. But no matter how you define a lead, what will really matter when it comes to your bottom line is lead quality. How do you identify the right potential customers, e.g. ones with enough roof space to install solar panels, so that you aren’t wasting your time following up on bad leads?
At LeadGenius, a team of researchers is using Google Earth to identify commercial structures in any given city with at least 600 square feet of Southern exposure, and another team is checking contact data for building owners and property managers at each location. From this research and our work with clients, we have learned that these are the four benchmarks for lead quality for solar providers in the commercial market:
Four benchmarks for lead quality
A lead is not a single data point. It’s a cluster of relevant customer information. High quality leads combine demographics, firmographics, buying signals and contact information. Demographics include a prospect’s basic personal information such as name, job title and age. To personalize your messages and segment your lists, you want to know not only an individual prospect’s demographic data, but also how they stack up against the rest of your target audience.
What demographics are to people, firmographics are to organizations. Firmographics are company information such as annual revenue, capital events, market share, employee count and growth rate. Buying signals are data points unique to a company’s ideal customer profile.
In addition to detailing inbound activity, a buying signal is anything that hints at a prospect’s receptiveness to your product or service. This could be the use of a particular technology or recent changes in property ownership, an important buy signal for solar, as new property owners are more likely to make a long-term investment and are good targets for solar. This type of data is highly valuable, but it is also particularly time consuming to capture at scale.
Since most B2B marketing campaigns are multi-channel, high quality leads also need multiple types of contact information. To automate and execute a full funnel strategy, you want accurate contact information in every channel—email, snail mail, phone number, Twitter handle, Facebook profile and LinkedIn.
There’s validation and then there’s verification. Validation is determining if all your fields are filled in, email addresses are formatted correctly, phone numbers have ten digits and mailing ZIPs match cities. Verification is making sure data points go together. Email marketing campaigns break down when names don’t match up with email addresses. Sales reps stumble on calls when your data says the company’s annual revenue is $2 million, when it’s really $20 million.
Accurate data allows your team to allocate time and resources to prospects with the highest probability of being receptive to your message. Without accurate data, you are not only throwing away marketing and sales dollars, you are wasting your reps’ time and squandering potential opportunities.
3. Reliability: Keeping your prospect lists up to date
Reliability is about processes. Lead generation is never a one-time event. It is an ongoing process optimized for meeting the requirements and expectations of your sales team. The solar market is a moving target. A list of 100% accurate leads will not stay that way for long.
Speed, freshness and a repeatable process for enriching existing prospect lists are all key components of a high quality lead generation program.
4. Fitness for purpose
Sometimes we’re so focused on lead volume we forget the underlying motivation for our lead generation. The most important factor to consider in a lead generation program is how it aligns with your overall business process.
Marketing teams are typically responsible for generating as many leads as possible in order for sales to generate customers. But even the warmest inbound leads often lack the critical data needed for a sales rep to close a deal. According to Hubspot, 61% of B2B marketers still send all leads they receive directly to sales while only 27% of those leads will actually be qualified for a sales call. What marketers sometimes fail to realize is that sending more and more leads to sales can reduce productivity.
High quality leads speed up cycle time, increase productivity and reduce total cost of acquiring new customers. High quality lead generation programs are reliable, optimized and tailored to your unique marketing and sales processes.
Outbound strategy for solar success
So now that you know how to evaluate whether you have high quality leads, next you need to put that data to work to find the right clients before the competition does. With a longer than average customer lifecycle, most solar providers find that inbound alone cannot satisfy the lead volume they need to hit their growth goals.
As we have outlined, a good outbound marketing strategy relies on quality lead generation. Your marketing efforts have to be targeted at your most likely-to-convert customers and you must personalize the messaging to connect with them in a meaningful way. Quality leads combined with an outbound marketing program will light the way for increased business success.
William Wickey leads Content and Media Strategy at LeadGenius, a provider of Account Based Marketing and lead generation solutions. William specializes in growth marketing, content strategy, and branding. Prior to LeadGenius, William consulted on book launches and new user acquisition for New York Times Best-selling authors such as Ryan Holiday, Tim Ferriss, Robert Greene, Robert Kurson, and Neil Pasricha. Connect with William on Twitter.