FlipMyFunnel Post

How To Pick Better Customers Without Leads

A former CEO of our guest once said, “Get me as many leads as you can; I’ll let the sales team figure it out.”

But what if those leads are mostly not interested? Time and resources could’ve been saved following up on smaller, more precise audiences instead. So, what led to this obsession with leads and why is it time for us to let go? 

Justin Keller, VP of Brand Marketing at Terminus, discusses how to throw out lead generation in favor of ABM strategies. 

Understanding leads and their place in the sales journey 

It’s easy to fall into the idea that more input equals more output. It’s true in many cases; it’s not, however, how leads work. If 100 leads go in, the odds are that 100 sales will not come out. Turning your attention to preemptive research on a smaller target could land you more sales than a much larger, non-targeted group.

Imagine a company that sells walking canes. At the end of the month, company morale is up because they were able to bring in 1,000 new leads. That sentiment shifts when they realize every single lead is a 20-30 year old without walking aid needs. If they had researched a smaller group of 60-70 year olds with walking impairments, their results would’ve been better. 

Justin had his transformative moment when the company he worked for switched from lead generation to ABM. The results: Over half of their tracked revenue came from existing accounts. 

Lead origin

While the origin of the word remains unknown, Justin ushers the educated guess that leads within sales and marketing stem from detective leads — searching for clues to get closer to solving the mystery; or, in this case, a customer sale. 

So, why did leads become so popular? It comes down to the need for metrics. How can you track whether your marketing team is on track or if it’s time to pivot? Leads make that quantifiable. But the inability to close on the majority of those leads has led to a decline in its use.

”If you look at Google Trends, lead generation begins to fade as a search term.”  — Justin Keller

Coordination & cooperation w/ sales, marketing, and customer success

A lot of businesses have been experimenting with ABM for a while, but it wasn’t until the COVID-19 pandemic was in full swing that we saw true adoption. All of a sudden, companies everywhere knew that lead generation by itself wasn’t cutting it. If they wanted to stay afloat, they’d have to dive head first into account based marketing.

”People who have been doing ABM for at least a year, maybe more, have built it into their revenue structure. They don’t need leads. They know exactly what they’re going after.”  — Justin Keller

Once those companies saw the results of ABM, there was no turning back. However, knowing the ways to keep ABM momentum moving forward and continuing to optimise pipeline acceleration is crucial to success. 

Optimizing & accelerating 

With ABM becoming the dominant strategy, Justin shares some ways that teams are coming together to drive more sales.

”The truth is, your sales team does not want leads; they want opportunities.”  — Justin Keller

  • Awareness: Are people aware and interested in your company or product? 
  • Conversion: Can we move those interested people through the sales cycle quicker?
  • Retention: Can we get those customers to buy more from us?

ABM versus leads

To drive home the differences between the two, Justin provides two journeys—one from the lead perspective and one from ABM.

A traditional lead: The potential customer pulls up a company’s website. However, when prompted to fill out a form, the lead is hesitant. They don’t want to receive calls upon calls or emails. But, reluctantly, the lead clicks through one of the emails. The lead then must set up a time to speak with the salesperson — who will reintroduce themselves multiple times as they move through the sale. 

The ABM approach: The marketer already knows that the person they’re calling is their next customer because of the targeted research done beforehand. They then make the potential customer aware of the value they have to gain. Then, without ever having to fill out a form, the potential clicks one link that connects them with the sales team. When the team receives that email from the potential, they know exactly how to serve them. 

”Remember that personalization drives engagement. As long as I’ve been in the game, that’s the golden step.” — Justin Keller

ABM is rapidly changing how companies interact with potential customers, opting for smaller targeted groups over more generalized leads. Think about whether it’s time to adopt ABM for your company. 

This post is based on an episode of the #FlipMyFunnel podcast. Check us out on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or here.

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