Lead Generation Guide for 2016
Inside you'll find the most burning questions about lead generation from the B2B community, answered by Piotr (CEO) and Bartosz (Head of Sales). Download your free copy now and boost your sales!
B2B sales. The right way.
How to get leads? Make sure you’re marketing to the right people. You need to define and segment your target groups so that you can outreach 5-10k companies in one cold email campaign, and add something that is sure to increase conversion. What’s this magical ingredient?
You want to find leads with cold emails? Before you write a single message, you need to focus on something completely different than copywriting – defining target customer segments that you will write to.
When you target a specific segment of companies that could really get value from you, even a mediocre email chain has a big chance of generating customer interest and questions.
But without targeting specific customer segments, even the best emails won’t get you leads.
In cold mailing, the main thing a viable email campaign requires (the magical ingredient I mentioned before) is a hook – mutual point of interest between you and thousands of potential customers.
Finding one hook for your emails that would connect 100.000 random companies is impossible. But once you pick a vertical, for instance “software development companies”, that number reduces to 10-20k businesses around the world that you can easily find a hook for.
Picking verticals is how you find the right customers segment to approach, and it allows for highly personalised (=effective) messaging.
The first, and most important vertical is company type. And it’s also the most confusing one, but just think of it as the most basic question you have to answer – “what type of company could use our value the most?”.
Sometimes it’ll be many types of companies – great! But for cold emailing purposes, you’ll have to divide them into separate segments by changing other verticals.
It can be general – like “ad agencies” or “investment funds”, “service companies” or “product companies”. Sometimes it’s specific – your solution could only help companies that use a certain technology, like Java. There are many potential variables to consider here – for instance the date of founding (“companies that have been on the market for less than a year”).
Your target company type could be as complex as “service companies founded less than a year ago with a site based on WordPress”. Just remember to pick variables wisely – too many of them and you’ll realise that there are only 10 companies you can approach all over the globe. Be reasonable and focus on the crucial, key aspects of what could make a company need your solution.
This is your starting point. Moving on, narrow down your target segment to other specific verticals:
Super important aspect of your target customer segment. Depending on the company structure, you’ll be writing to different decision makers. I’ll explain it on our example – we target sales and marketing professionals that handle lead generation, because we offer a prospecting tool and lead generation services.
In 1-10 companies, we target the founders/CEO’s – because they’re the ones that make all decisions.
In 11-50 sized companies, you might encounter a “Sales Manager”, but in general it’s still the founders/CEO’s that make all the decisions.
In 51-200 sized companies, our target decision makers become “VP of Sales” or “VP of Marketing”.
There are tricks you can use here – like targeting multiple project managers if you’re selling translation services, because they could all use your services at some point.
In 201-500 and bigger size companies, it’s more complicated because there are people responsible for each part of the process – approving, controlling, etc. The best tactic is to ask for referrals upfront. Assume you reached the wrong person and need to work your way through the corporate maze to find the right decision maker.
In B2B cold emailing, it’s usually about larger regions or countries. It’s not just about a place on the map, it’s also about the business culture of the place you’re targeting. For instance, campaigns targeted at Switzerland don’t work well unless they’re from a Switzerland-based company. They prefer to keep business within the borders.
Or, if you’re writing to Scandinavian countries, you should do the exact opposite of what we generally preach – write long and descriptive emails instead of short & sweet, because they appreciate a lot of information upfront. When approaching German companies, keep it formal and write in german to increase conversions.
Pro-tip about location: start with the markets where you’re already present. First cold email campaigns convert best when they’re in your native language. Plus it’s easier to brag about your portfolio when the companies you’re addressing recognize your past clients. For instance, it doesn’t matter what you’re doing in eastern Europe if you’re writing to start-ups in San Francisco.
When you’re ready to move on, look for bigger regions or countries you could approach with a common geographical hook.
In the target company, there might be one or a few decision makers that have the authority to buy your solution.
Research it, but remember that the actual type of decision makers may be called differently depending on the company – for instance what an account manager does in one company, a marketing manager does in another.
This influences your whole email campaign, because you’re targeting your solution at their pains, and focus your messaging on them.
The most general choice. You need to know whether you’re clients are in finance, innovative technologies, or if they’re on the other side of the market in the restaurant or hotel industry.
Even when you make a good decision guided by the right reasons, you can’t control how your target segment responds. You have to experiment with switching up target segment verticals and verify results of your cold email campaigns for each segment.
In our case, we realised at some point that approaching companies that have a sales team on-board was more fruitful for us. The sales cycle was shorter, and negotiations went more smoothly.
You can target multiple customer segments, but they all have to be well-defined and campaign performance should be measured separately for each one.
This gives you a lot of room and tools for improvement – you can either switch up verticals in current target segments, or test totally different segments. For instance, you’ve got a broad target group and can’t find a common hook? Narrow it down to one city and you’ve got yourself a location-based hook to add to your emails.
The best performing campaigns are contextual – for instance, we once approached all companies featured in a contest called “Deloitte Fast 50” with an awesome success rate. The common hook was very powerful, and it was a congratulation for being one of the top companies in the region. These cases are rare, but definitely worth looking for and experimenting with.
When a cold email campaign isn’t generating positive replies (leads), and you can’t improve it for up to a month, then you have to switch verticals or find a completely different customer segment.
When you have trouble finding a target group, it’s possible that your product or service isn’t sellable – you don’t offer a business viable solution.
But if you’re confident (and have data to back this assumption) that you can add value, then your best first choice is to make an educated guess when picking the target customer segment. It’s a good starting point to narrow down the group by different verticals later on.
If you can only help a very specific, niche target, then organising automated cold email campaigns is pointless. You’ll want to approach each company separately and do your best to secure any lead you can get your hands on. A good example is telecoms, which there are about 200 of around the whole world.
A workable target segment to organise a cold email campaign to would be more than 5.000 companies around the world.
It’s no cause for celebration when you find out that you can target almost all companies around the world. Sending random outreach to a general group of companies is pointless, plus your email client’s reputation gets hurt in the process.
So even when you can target hundreds of thousands of companies, you need to group them into specific segments that you can approach with personalised hooks.
And you don’t just send all emails at once, you need a process to send a number of emails per set period of time – like 100 introduction emails per week. This number is influenced by:
Sending emails to random people or companies is spam and it means bad performance, and more importantly bad karma. Annoying busy professionals is not the way to go, because cold email lead generation isn’t about spreading information about your company. You’re trying to find good partners for mutually benefitial business relationships.
To convert 10 decision makers into clients, you need to approach 1000 properly targeted companies, or 10.000 poorly targeted companies. Without a customer segment that you can tailor-fit messages to, you’re shooting in the dark.
Only write to people that could really benefit from your product or service. Couple that with Unique Value Propositions aimed at specific customer pains and you’ve got a foundation for a highly converting cold email campaign.
How to get leads? Persistence, good processes and data analysis are the 3 main keywords.
Targeting is the most important and first process that you need for effective lead generation.