A Story from the Front Lines of B2B Lead Generation Transforming an Energy Client’s Sales Strategy Using Best Practices
If you’re looking for an instant return on investment, then B2B lead generation isn’t for you. It takes us months of preparation and cold calls to set our first appointment, and it might take a few more months before your company can close a deal. But as our clients know, if you’re willing to wait, building a sustainable sales pipeline can have a significant, long-lasting impact on your revenue.
Last year, a solar and LED client turned to us to jumpstart their sales strategy. As a small business with fewer than 20 employees, they didn’t have the resources or time to dedicate to sales, and they were relying on referrals to keep their business afloat. They were in desperate need of a quality solar B2B appointment setting program, especially because the pandemic was around the corner.
Our client’s story isn’t one of immediate success—it took us almost a year and a complete change in strategy to land their first big deal, but it was well worth it in the end. Learn how implementing best practices paid off for our solar client in just two months.
Reaching B2B Appointment Setting Success After 11 Months
Many of our LED and solar clients don’t understand how B2B appointment setting works until they start to see it in action. They assume that we can make a few calls, find a solid lead, and immediately send them over to sign a sales contract. In reality, it usually takes around three months and 10 calls before we can even set an appointment with an LED lead, and that’s after a few months of preparation.
Why does B2B appointment setting take so long? Here are a few reasons:
It requires a lot of research to find good prospects in target industries and areas. This particular client was targeting companies in any major U.S. city, but they had strict parameters for industry and business size. During their onboarding process, we learned that they wanted to reach companies with over $25 million in sales revenue that owned buildings with more than 50,000 square feet of space. More specifically, they were looking for commercial office buildings, warehouses, parking garages, manufacturing facilities, and schools that needed new LED lights.
Our team has to be strategic about prospecting. We take a strategic prospecting approach for every client, but in this case, we had to be extra strategic if we wanted to find leads that fit our client’s criteria. Our sales development representatives (SDRs) spent countless hours compiling lists of potential leads and gathering data about their companies.
It takes time to qualify leads. After creating a list of prospects and adding data to our customer relationship management (CRM) database, we still have to contact our leads and see if they’re a good fit for our client’s services. If a lead has zero interest in using LED lights for their business and is adamant that they never will, they’re probably not worth chasing. Lead qualification allows us to send the right leads down our sales pipeline.
We have to search for the key decision-maker in a prospective company. There’s no point in trying to convince a teacher that their school needs an energy overhaul—they might agree with you, but they aren’t the right person to set an appointment with. Finding the key decision-maker (KDM) of a company is a crucial part of the sales process. For solar and LED leads, our SDRs try to reach facilities managers because they’re responsible for making energy-related decisions for their company.
Leads need nurturing. If you received a call today asking if you need LED lights, would you set an appointment right away? It’s likely that 99 times out of 100, the answer’s no. Even if you did want to convert to energy-efficient lighting, you wouldn’t make a six-figure decision after one call. When our SDRs find a qualified prospect, they usually have to call them at least five times to assess their needs and explain how our client’s services can help. The lead nurturing process allows us to figure out what prospects are looking for and prep them for the final sale.
We began the prospecting process for our energy client back in March 2020. By the time we went live and started trying to set appointments, the pandemic was in full swing.
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It’s never easy to make a sale, but it’s even more of an uphill battle when you’re in the midst of a deadly pandemic. If you’re struggling to make ends meet, you’re not going to sign a $100,000+ contract to switch to LED lights. Month one of the B2B appointment setting process usually sets the tone for the entire program, and we were off to a shaky start.
Most prospects hung up on us when we tried to start a conversation. Some just wanted a human to chat with after being cooped up in their houses for weeks. Others were open to the idea of adding solar panels and LED lights to their facilities, but they didn’t know when they’d have the money to do so. Those were the leads that we nurtured because we knew that they had the possibility to turn into clients in the future.
We didn’t set any appointments in our first month, which is typical. Building a successful, sustainable pipeline is a long-term process, and month one is when we create the foundation.
No Luck During 2020
We never know when our clients will make their first big deal. Sometimes it’s two months into their B2B lead generation program; in other cases, it can take an entire year. The longer it takes, the more likely our clients are to consider canceling their program. This client was no exception. They were dissatisfied with their results and weren’t closing any deals. We quickly learned why when we had a meeting to discuss their sales appointments.
In B2B appointment setting, our team finds and nurtures leads before setting a final sales meeting with our clients. Ideally, our clients stun the prospect and get a signed contract in no time. For our clients with minimal sales experience, it’s never that easy.
After wrapping up a disappointing sales year in 2020, we learned that despite setting meetings with a high volume of leads, our client kept losing out on deals because they were sending proposals through email. Our client’s emails were getting buried in KDMs’ inboxes, and they were signing contracts during in-person meetings with other energy companies.
Implementing a Proposal Strategy Overhaul
In late January 2021, our client committed to our best practice of reviewing every proposal with prospects in a face-to-face or virtual meeting. That way, prospects could get to know our client and learn what differentiated them from other LED providers.
Major Contract Signed on March 25, 2021
After 11 months of dead-end leads and minimal success, we got an email from our client letting us know that they had closed a $115,000 LED lighting deal with a private K-12 school. We nurtured the lead for four months before setting an appointment, and our client won the deal because of our new proposal strategy.
In two months, we turned an unsuccessful lead generation program into a revenue generator—all because of one best practice.
In B2B Lead Generation, Best Practices (and Patience) Are Key
In sales, every component of the pipeline has to work efficiently if you want to make a deal. We can send over 100 appointments a month, but if our clients are skipping out on meetings or trying to win contracts over email, our solar and LED B2B lead generation programs won’t be successful. Any meeting, whether virtual or in person, is better than no meeting.
At Abstrakt, we encourage our clients to follow these best practices during sales meetings:
Meet with your leads: It’s nearly impossible to convince leads to partner with you if you never meet them. Proposals are just words on paper until you add context.
Create a detailed presentation: Don’t ad-lib your sales pitch—have a presentation ready. If you forget a critical detail or the lead asks you a difficult question, you have reference material to fall back on.
Be prepared: Get to know your future client before you meet them. Leads want to work with companies that truly understand their needs and have their best interests in mind.
Connect with your lead: If another LED company can do the same work, why should a potential client choose you? Sometimes, it comes down to who they feel more connected to.
Outline next steps: Don’t end your sales meeting with “talk soon!” Let your lead know when you’re available and tell them what to expect in the next meeting.
If you follow our best practices and trust the process, you’ll be signing major deals in no time. And remember—be patient. Building a B2B lead generation program takes time, but it will pay off.
Ready To Grow Your Business?
If you need outside help creating a sustainable sales pipeline for your solar or LED business, Abstrakt can help. We have years of experience developing successful inbound and outbound marketing strategies for businesses throughout the country. Get in touch today to learn more about our lead generation process and how it produces proven results for companies in various industries.