The Pathway to Predictable Sales Growth - B2B Lead Generation and The Sales Engine
At times we’re so focused on generating leads that we sometime overlook how best to use them. Today we have a guest post from Tom Halpin, a specialist in industrial sales and marketing. Enjoy.
I’m always encouraged to find small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) that believe in lead generation. That’s because SMBs investing in the right mix of lead generation tend to have healthy sales pipelines.
But the savviest SMBs also build a sales engine to fully capitalize on their opportunities. This post explains how B2B lead generation feeds the sales engine and includes an industrial case study.
Let’s start with the foundation by defining B2B lead generation and the sales engine:
- Lead generation is any activity that feeds the sales engine. The infographic above outlines a variety of lead generation activities common in the B2B marketplace.
- The sales engine is a company’s total selling capacity inclusive of:
- The sales team – direct salespeople, independent sales agents and channel partners.
- Knowledge, skills and disciplines – product knowledge, selling disciplines and customer insights within the sales team.
- A defined selling process – a roadmap that resembles the typical customer journey or buying cycle with specific components (think education and exploration, fit and decision making zone).
- The sales toolbox – company website, presentations, demos, case studies and industry insights.
Your sales engine needs to be fed with new leads,that the sales team qualifies and nurtures into opportunities and results through a sales continuum. I think of a sales continuum as a scale that runs 0 through 10 - the sales engine advances opportunities, ultimately to new customer relationships at 10.
Example – Global Tooling Solutions, Norwood, MA
Global Tooling Solutions (GTS) is a wholesaler of work holding and tool holding products to the metalworking industry. GTS initially hired TopSpot to run paid search management on their legacy website. We validated that GTS’ target buyers were using the search engines to find products that GTS could supply. The evidence was so compelling that GTS contracted TopSpot to build a new website and CDS Visual to develop an online catalog to facilitate product search. As part of the original agreement, TopSpot started search engine optimization (SEO) and paid search management services post website launch to drive relevant traffic to the site. Within 90 days GTS booked enough web-driven sales to achieve ROI.
You can review a short case study here but here’s more detail. GTS sells exclusively through its distribution network in North America and uses independent sales agents to manage end user and distributor relationships. GTS currently has 32 independent agents and sells products through 200 distributors. GTS’ sales agents represent multiple companies and their distribution partners have hundreds of manufacturers within their product portfolio. Capturing mindshare with independent sales agents and distribution partners is both their key challenge and critical to their long term success.
GTS’ robust sales engine resolves this issue and 2 of their differentiators are highlighted below:
- Lead Generation Activity of Choice – GTS believes strongly in search marketing because Google has become the largest buying guide in the world. They’ve contracted TopSpot to ensure that when OEMs, machine shops or distributors execute relevant search queries, GTS is found.
- Sales Toolbox – Within GTS’ Sales Toolbox, their peak performer is their website, www.gts-tools.com. They’ve invested heavily in content, product selection tools and calls to action to make their website a phenomenal tool for all 3 of their constituent groups (independent reps, distribution partners and end users).
GTS has found the lead generation created by their search marketing efforts and website has helped them win mindshare with their reps and distribution partners. “We routinely hear that we are one of their only principals that provide real, actionable lead generation on a consistent basis.” – Karl Ganshirt, President, Global Tooling Solutions.
Bottomline: See the GTS diagram for how their lead referral process works but the results speak for themselves. GTS has achieved predictable sales growth and grown their business 30%+ annually for 3 consecutive years.
Conclusion: Achieving industrial sales predictably is possible by pairing B2B lead generation and a sales engine.
I hope these insights are helpful and welcome your feedback.