The Future of Lead Generation: 5 Experts Share Their Predictions
The business world moves fast, and the companies that are able to predict changes before they happen are the ones that stay on top. In the B2B lead generation space, this is especially true. With new techniques, technologies, and platforms constantly popping up, it’s important to be innovative and stay ahead of the game.
To make sense of all these changes, we sat down with five lead generation experts at Abstrakt to get their thoughts as to what’s next in the field. Here’s what they had to say.
Chris Gooding – President, Abstrakt Cloud Solutions
“The ease of adding automation to your lead generation process is becoming more and more available. Salesforce is the vehicle we use for most of this, but there is so much out there.”
There’s a lot of new B2B lead generation technology out there, and many people are overwhelmed and unsure where to start. Chris is a firm believer in marketing automation, as it provides the ability to create complex customer journeys that do a lot of the leg work that a sales team would normally have to deal with. Setting up these automated systems takes time, but the output of those efforts is what will sustain business growth heading into the future.
When talking to Chris, he really emphasized the multifunctionality of Salesforce. Salesforce is traditionally known as a CRM service; however, the potential of this software is often not fully realized. With everything that happened in 2020, people are beginning to realize that selling can truly be done anywhere. Because of this, the marketing universe for companies everywhere will expand. Services in Salesforce like Pardot can start entire email campaigns and data analysis in a few clicks, and AI components such as Einstein can make recommendations to businesses based on their stored data to find the most likely conversions in their potential leads.
Even some communications with website visitors can be automated with chatbot services through Salesforce. This is one of the elements Chris had the most to say about, noting that their main function is “automating what you can to get someone to a decision point quicker.” If you have the right chatbot built out, you don’t need to have someone there fielding questions and you’re only talking to the people you should be talking to. Smarter chatbots will become more common; in the past, you had to have someone fielding chats and routing them accordingly, which cost a lot of time for employees. Now, you can build out chatbots to be as robust as you want—an upset client could go directly to the account manager and a prospect goes directly to sales.
Jason Bahnak – Partner
“Calling and digital lead generation are separated right now. I think those are going to merge together to where communication can start in a digital space and flow into a phone conversation when the time is right.“
There are many ways to generate and qualify leads, however, sometimes all the different options we are presented with are seen as mutually exclusive. The truth is that the businesses best prepared for future growth have a combination of tactics they use to push leads through a sales pipeline.
Jason notes that there is not enough integration between digital communications (LinkedIn, email campaigns, etc.) that get sent out and cold callers now, but in the future that is going to change—digital conversation and the actual conversation will blend into one thing. There will be a natural flow of lead generation and qualification, where communications start on the digital level and progress to a phone call. After all, most conversations need to go to voice at a certain point, but leading to that point with digital communications builds trust and mutual interest.
Amie Milner – Vice President of Sales Enablement
“In a digital world full of AI intelligence, buyers are craving the human connection again and someone walking them through a process and building a relationship.”
Last year really showed us all how important human connection really is, and in 2021 applying it to your business strategy is a must. Sales development representatives (SDRs) work on building those connections every day, and Amie says that their role is only going to become more important in the future.
SDR teams are being put back into the spotlight as outbound activity rises back up and having a constant awareness of what’s going on in your market will help you identify leads before competitors can swoop them up from under you. The only way to keep up is to maintain contact in a consistent lead generation effort. Amie notes that the “SDR role will become even more multi-channel,” meaning digital and verbal communications will begin to flow seamlessly through an integrated team. The role is challenging and requires a lot of grit, but it also requires more leadership from new hires in the SDR position. Having control over so much of the relationship-building process will force SDRs to find ways to connect with leads in unique, unprecedented ways, building sales pipelines that are founded on human connection.
Melanie Clark – Vice President of Marketing and Inbound Operations
“People have too much going on to care about how a company gets them leads. They want to partner with a business or hire a person that does any and all of it.”
The business landscape moves so quickly that sometimes it can be difficult for businesses to keep up all on their own. This is why Melanie predicts that businesses will adapt to the “whatever it takes” solution. The people who stay ahead are the ones who will do anything to succeed, and oftentimes that means thinking outside the box and hiring marketing experts to take their lead generation to the next level. With new technologies and tactics being created every day, the businesses positioned to win in 2021 and beyond are those that understand that anything is fair game.
A lot of this forward-thinking, open-minded approach creates a demand for outsourcing lead generation and sales pipeline development to experts. According to Melanie, many companies “want to partner with a business that does any and all of it.” This leaves the existing internal team to focus on their roles and allows the outsourced SDRs and lead generation experts to do what they do best—grow your business.
Doug Yocco – Senior Director of Agency/Inbound
“The website and your outbound efforts should work hand in hand. In order to be successful with lead generation in 2021, make sure that you are creating a streamlined experience from website to contacting and vice versa.”
Doug’s central insight into the future of lead generation is his multi-pronged marketing approach. Each marketing channel is crucial to generate business leads, but the two main areas these channels fall into is online branding and outbound. This means combining both digital marketing and outbound cold calling into a cohesive unit, leveraging multiple marketing channels to drive consistent new leads.
“When it comes to an online presence, building a strong foundation is key. In developing a sitemap, understanding your top-level keywords as well as long-tail (conversational) keywords is key to your success! Don’t just think about the term Lead Generation, but think about Lead Generation and Appointment Setting Services to Help Grow My Business.”
When building a good website, there are some important concepts to keep in mind. Branding is everything, and the messaging and differentiation that it generates is what separates you from your competition. Think about it—when you buy a pair of Nike shoes, are you buying it for the shoe itself? Chances are, you’re buying the shoe based on the branding of the company and the way it makes you feel. This branding comes in many forms, from quality UX/UI design to keywords that define your company’s services. These keywords also help people find your business easier, with metrics known as search engine optimization (SEO). If words like “air conditioning repair” come up frequently on an HVAC business’s website, search engines like Google will rank your website higher in queries that include those keywords. You can check these metrics through services like SEMrush.
Once your online presence is optimized for success, it’s time to connect it to your outbound efforts. Being able to refer clients back to a polished website or having an online blog post drive new leads that can be contacted creates a multidirectional pipeline that seamlessly integrates client research and guided assistance from a representative. Having these systems in place has never been more crucial for a business, and the bar is only going to raise in the future.
The future of B2B lead generation is bright, but these are some of the best practices to keep in mind according to our experts. Embrace human connection, integrated processes, and the power of automation to grow your business for the future. Sound like a lot to take in? Contact us today—our experts are ready to help. Schedule a meeting to learn more.