When talking with small and medium sized businesses (SMBs), I’m always encouraged to find those that believe in lead generation. Why? Because SMBs investing in the right mix of lead generation tend to have healthy sales pipelines. However the savviest SMBs not only invest in lead generation but also build a sales engine to fully capitalize on their opportunities. In this blog post, I’ll explain how B2B lead generation feeds your sales engine and share an example of how one company is using both to activate new customer relationships.
To set the proper foundation, let’s define B2B lead generation and the sales engine.
- Lead generation is any activity that feeds the sales engine. The infographic above outlines a variety of lead generation activities common in the B2B marketplace.
- The sales engine is a company’s total selling capacity inclusive of:
- The sales team – direct salespeople, independent sales agents and channel partners.
- Knowledge, skills and disciplines – product knowledge, selling disciplines and customer insights within the sales team.
- A defined selling process – a roadmap that resembles the typical customer journey or buying cycle with specific components (think education and exploration, fit and decision making zone).
- The sales toolbox – company website, presentations, demos, case studies and industry insights.
At TopSpot most of our services feed the customer’s sales engine so having an established selling process is crucial for clients to take full advantage of the lead generation we provide. In everyday language, TopSpot brings new quality conversations to the client’s door. From there, the client’s sales team qualifies and nurtures opportunities along their sales continuum. I think of a sales continuum as a scale that runs 0 through 10. The sales engine is designed to advance opportunities along the sales continuum, which hopefully results in new customer relationships at 10.
Example – Global Tooling Solutions, Norwood, MA
Global Tooling Solutions (GTS) is a wholesaler of work holding and tool holding products to the metalworking industry. GTS initially hired TopSpot to run paid search management on their legacy website. In doing so, we quickly validated that GTS’ target market was on the search engines looking for products that GTS could supply. The evidence was so compelling that GTS contracted TopSpot to build a new website and Catalog Data Solutions to develop an online catalog to facilitate product search. As part of the original agreement, TopSpot started search engine optimization (SEO) and paid search management services post website launch to drive relevant traffic to the site. Within 90 days GTS booked enough web-driven sales to achieve ROI.
GTS sells products exclusively through its distribution network in North America and utilizes independent sales agents to manage both end user and distributor relationships. In total, GTS has 32 independent agents on the ground and sells products through 200 distributors in any given year. GTS’s biggest challenge is competing for mindshare with both its independent sales agents and distribution partners. Mindshare can be defined as “how often are my partners thinking about and promoting my products in the marketplace?” For example, GTS’ sales agents represent multiple companies and their distribution partners have hundreds of manufacturers within their product portfolio. Capturing mindshare with both partners is critical to GTS’ long term growth.
GTS has a robust sales engine as outlined above but I want to illustrate how they are providing actionable lead generation to their independent reps and converting it into new business.
- Lead Generation Activity of Choice – GTS believes strongly in search marketing because Google has become the largest buying guide in the world. They’ve contracted TopSpot to ensure that when OEMs, machine shops or distributors execute relevant search queries, GTS is found.
- Sales Toolbox – Within GTS’ Sales Toolbox, their peak performer is www.gts-tools.com . They’ve invested heavily in content, product selection tools and calls to action to make their website a phenomenal tool for all 3 of their constituent groups (independent reps, distribution partners and end users).
In total, GTS has found the lead generation created by their search marketing efforts and website has helped them win mindshare with their reps and distribution partners. “We routinely hear that we are one of their only principals that provide real, actionable lead generation on a consistent basis.” – Karl Ganshirt, President, Global Tooling Solutions.
See the infographic below to see GTS’ lead referral process works.
You might find it interesting that GTS has grown their business 30%+ annually for 3 consecutive years. Is that an accident? I think not. They’re feeding their sales engine and investing heavily in their independent rep and distribution partner relationships every day. The end result is predictable sales growth.
Certainly achieving sales predictability is multi-faceted but pairing B2B lead generation with a sales engine is solvable. For more on this topic and other B2B sales insights, visit The Halpin Group.