Play the long lead generation game

One of the key things your realize as you get older is that no one knows what they’re doing.

Everyone is just winging it.

Adults are just who have learned to pretend to know what they’re doing.

The same is true for businesses.

Hardly any business has their shit together.

A shocking number of companies has no idea why exactly anyone is buying their products, who their best customers are, and where they came from.

(Granted, these are not easy problems. Just look up the famous McDonalds milkshake jobs-to-be-done story.)

Most B2B businesses also have no way of converting people that do not show up with their credit card in hand.

At most they have a process for people who show up with a few specific questions.

But that’s about it.

Every other lead falls through the cracks.

Which is most leads.

Only a tiny number of people (~2%) are ready to buy at any given point.

And every business is fighting over this already tiny segment of the market.

In marketing lingo, everyone is fighting over Bottom-Of-The-Funnel (BOFU) leads. (In a B2B context BOFU leads = Sales-Qualified-Leads = SQLs.)

What about the remaining 98% of the market?

They are not ready to buy right now. Maybe they don’t have the budget, maybe they have a contract with a different vendor, maybe the timing is just not right.

But they will be ready to buy at some point in the future.

And if you can get a foot in the door now, you will be the first person they think of when they are ready to buy.

So when you get any sign that there is some interest, you should take that seriously.

You should not just throw these leads into the trash only because they are not ready to buy right now.

Today’s tire-kicker is tomorrow’s customer.

For example, at my agency, we look at the following four segments:

  • I. People who are looking to hire a cold email agency right now and are evaluating different options.
  • II. People who are interested in cold email but haven’t decided yet if they want to hire an agency or do it in-house or not at all.
  • III. People who aren’t specifically interested in cold email but are looking for ways to grow their business.
  • IV. People not interested in growing their business, e.g. because they can’t handle more customers right now.

People in category I are the easiest to convert. They are already looking for a solution and are evaluating different options.

We just have to get them on a call and explain why we are the best option.

But there’s a huge opportunity to play the long game with people in the remaining categories.

You have to invest into building a relationship with them, by providing value that is directly relevant to the stage they are in and by making sure you stay in touch.

If you do that, they will remember you when they are ready to buy.

I’m not convinced you can actively move people through a B2B funnel.

Either people are ready to buy or they are not.

But what you can do is make sure people stay in the funnel and move themselves down the funnel whenever they are ready.

However, what everyone is doing is just pushing people to buy right now even if they are not ready.

As a result they remember the company with a bad taste in their mouth.

There’s a huge opportunity in playing the long game.

Because no one else is doing it.

Because no one has their shit together.

Written on April 27, 2024

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