B2B entrepreneurs, lead generation is not enough

  • by: Vladimir Blagojevic

If you’re a niche B2B entrepreneur, you already know: you need to continuously build and nurture your network and generate leads, to regularly win high-value projects. The problem is, the way lead generation is done today is fundamentally broken.

PART I: LEAD GENERATION IS AN INCOMPLETE PROCESS

There are 462 million results for the term on Google as of this writing:

Google results for

Google results for "Lead generation"


Why?

Because we live in the midst of another gold rush.

In the middle of the nineteenth century, gold was discovered in California. Masses of would be miners rushed to the unspoiled lands, lured by the promise of getting rich quickly. And while many did find gold, many more have died in the process, including 80% of native American population wiped out over the next twenty years.
The Gold Rush also had a severe environmental impact. Rivers became clogged with sediment; forests were ravaged to produce timber; biodiversity was compromised and soil was polluted with chemicals from the mining process.
Something similar is happening in our new digital world. With the advancement of marketing and sales automation tools, many self-proclaimed lead generation experts and growth hackers have spotted an easy opportunity to call any attention they can get you ‘a lead’.


But not all leads are created equal

In summer 2019, I asked 60 B2B entrepreneurs to share their biggest lead generation challenges with me. Over the same year, I worked more closely with a bit over 20 B2B entrepreneurs and had spoken to many more.

Most of the people I spoke to were seasoned entrepreneurs with products or services that create high value for their customers.

Yet, most of them agreed that the results of their lead generation activities were underwhelming at best.

Despite 7000+ startups promising to automate your sales and marketing and double or triple your results...

Despite the seemingly endless ‘lead generation systems’ sold to you from your Facebook feed using false scarcity and other high-pressure, manipulative techniques...

Despite a seemingly endless stream of books with similar promises...

Despite all the advertising agencies and all the lead-gen companies ready to jump on your email or LinkedIn account and start the numbers game...

Despite it all, our experienced B2B entrepreneurs remain frustrated with the results of their lead generation efforts

Their major complaint?

Unqualified leads:

  • Not targeted, wrong contacts

    • “we end up with wrong contacts, without budget nor authority to decide”

    • “we generated almost 2000 leads via our blog, but most were not the decision-makers in the companies we target”

  • Not sales-ready

    • “Many are curious, but it’s a struggle to bring them from being interested to really buy”

    • “It’s so hard to get someone to sign up for a demo, and then most sign-ups don’t show up”

    • “Once meeting is done, we follow up, but they never get back”


After spending the last 13 years marketing and selling expert services, and 8 years helping B2B businesses connect with their best customers, I’ll be first to admit:

The way lead generation is being done is fundamentally broken

The worst part?

Beyond burning a hole in your pocket and generating underwhelming results, the spammy, “numbers game” approaches risk burning bridges with your potential buyers.

If you are delivering a high value service to your clients and doing your best to create value every step of the way, why would you treat your prospects differently?

Any of those contacts could potentially spend hundreds of thousands with you, refer you five new valuable clients and help you learn and develop your services.

It’s hard enough as it is to earn your future client’s respect and trust. Why do things that erode trust from the very first contact?

This is especially problematic for niche B2B services and software companies

Why?

Because many niche B2B service and software businesses fall into a category of the so-called credence goods:

In the middle of the nineteenth century, gold was discovered

A credence good is a type of good with qualities that cannot be observed by the consumer before purchase, making it difficult to assess its utility.

In other words, the clients will not acquire your services unless they trust you.

They need to trust that you will be able to help them achieve the desired results, but also that you are honest and have their interest at heart.

Any inkling that a potential client might get that you care more about your own financial gain than your clients results could be enough to turn them off.

That’s why lead generation is failing you: generic mass outreach, salesy messages, manipulative tactics, asking for the sale (or a call) before you have identified the client has a need, and before you have shown your value or built up any rapport... these all serve to erode trust.

So the question becomes: What should B2B entrepreneurs do instead? 

WINNING CLIENT’S TRUST IS NOT A “NUMBERS GAME”.

IT’S ABOUT PEOPLE. 

IT’S ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS.

In order to regularly generate quality sales opportunities, win more deals and work with better clients who value your expertise, you need to shift your focus away from ineffective lead generation. 

You need to stop thinking about it as a numbers game. 

You need to focus on building trust with your current and your future clients. 

But what does that mean concretely?

The four R’s of client trust

In their book ‘How clients buy’, Tom McMakin and Doug Fletcher claim that trust can only be transferred to clients through referrals, reputation and relationships. 

I would add one more: retention.

The four R's of client trust

The four R's of client trust


Doing your best work to create exceptional results and happy clients, who then come back for more, should be the foundation and your ongoing focus. 

Creating happy clients is at the basis of another trust transferring activity: client referrals. 

Referrals are the best, warmest prospective clients you can hope for. Spontaneous referrals are usually the most genuine, but that doesn’t mean you cannot do anything to stimulate them. 

Unfortunately, referrals and retention are not always sufficient. You need to get known beyond that warm network. 

Luckily, you still have the two other levers you can pull on: 

  • Reputation — establishing yourself as a trustworthy authority in your niche

  • Relationships — building relationships with your past, current and future ideal clients. Relationships that add value and build trust, every step of the way 

In the next part of this report, I’ll show you my three-part framework that you can use to “pull” on these strategic, trust-building levers.


PART II: HOW CAN B2B ENTREPRENEURS BUILD TRUSTING RELATIONSHIPS — AND TURN THEM INTO HIGH-VALUE CLIENTS?

Table of contents

STEP #1. DEVELOP YOUR UNIQUE POSITIONING
1.1 Unique Positioning: how does it look like in practice?
1.2 What is Unique Positioning?
1.3 What does Unique Positioning consist of?
1.4 Your Ideal Client Profile
1.5 Your Category
1.6 Your Positioning Story

STEP #2: BUILD RELATIONSHIPS THAT BRING YOU CLOSER TO YOUR IDEAL CLIENTS
2.1 Align your communication with the way buyers find, evaluate and buy niche products and services
2.2 Start relationships on your clients’ terms
2.3 Translate your unique insights into authority content

STEP #3: NURTURE WARM RELATIONSHIPS INTO QUALIFIED CONVERSATIONS
3.1 Qualify conversation-ready leads
3.2 Start conversations with conversation-ready leads
3.3. Nurture the leads not ready for conversations

CONCLUSION


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It contains a 3-step framework that B2B entrepreneurs can use in 2020 to build trusting client relationships at scale. 

The report will be launched later this month. Just fill out the form, and I'll email you your copy when it's out. 

Meet Vlad

Vlad, founder of ScaleXL

Vlad, founder of ScaleXL

I work with niche B2B service and software businesses who want a reliable process for building qualified client relationships based on trust.  

I developed a customizable process to help these businesses finally identify, nurture and qualify their ideal clients – month after month, consistently and reliably.

I call my process Scale XL - client relationships at scale