How to Deal with a Shortage of Qualified Leads

Over the last two years, several companies that we’ve worked with are struggling with a consistent issue – a shortage of qualified leads for the sales organization. There are certainly plenty of demand/lead generation activities and campaigns that they’ve launched. However, they’re just not producing the leads that they hoped to produce.

It’s usually not a shortage of quantity of effort, but the quality. What we mean by the quality is that the message is not necessarily on point with the targeted buyer. What they then try to identify are the different levels of buyers, and the proper messages to target those buyers with that would result in a higher lead percentage for the organization.

How do you help organizations with a shortage of leads?

SPI has a capability/solution we call “Voice of the Buyer” research. Essentially, it is the calling of different levels of buyers.

Let me share an example. I was working with a technology company that was specifically targeting individuals within the IT organization. We called a number of their customers and then we called a number of companies that were not their customers. In other words, just general technology buyers. We targeted three levels of buyer. Level one is a CIO, level two is someone that reports directly to a CIO, and level three is someone that’s multiple levels removed from the CIO. The questions we asked them were to identify the trigger events in their organization, what gets them initiating a buy cycle for technology.

Another topic that we ask about is what’s important to them during their evaluation process. “Now, as you’re going through your evaluation process of potential providers, what’s important to you? What’s important to you in their capabilities? What’s important to you in the salesperson that you’re interfacing with?”

Finally, “What’s important to you after the sale? What types of services and support are valuable to you?”

That’s the type of research that we do in the Voice of the Buyer. We identify and target different levels of buyers within organizations and identify what’s most important, and then we can play that research back for our clients.

What kind of information resulted from research findings?

With a recent client where we conducted Voice of the Buyer research, there were two key, eye-opening facts that we could play back.

Bad Messaging

The first was that the messaging was not on point. We identified the different levels of buyers: CIOs, individuals who report to CIOs, and individuals at multiple levels. What we found was that the CIO cares about how the technology solution aligns and supports the future strategy for the business. The individuals who report to the CIO care about the latest and greatest technology. Finally, individuals who are much lower in the organization care about price.

When we played these results back to the Chief Marketing Officer of our client, they identified that their messaging was not targeting CIOs. Although they want their salespeople to be targeting CIOs, their messaging did not. There was this understanding that the messaging was not aligned to support the goals that they have for their sales organization. That misalignment the first key finding or fact that they received from the Voice of Buyer research.

Misaligned Development

The second finding was how they had been developing their sales team and the skills they had been focusing on, was not aligned with the skills that senior level buyers care most about. Those senior level buyers demonstrated, across the board, that they cared very much about:

  • An understanding of that organization
  • The business challenges that they have
  • The future strategy
  • The ability to come in and have an executive level consultant of dialogue that aligns with the goals that that executive has

They were not interested in talking about product features and functions. Yet, that’s where the company had been investing the lion’s share of their sales development.
With that newfound information about what matters most to buyers, we could give the organization clearer direction on where to place priority, and emphasis on their marketing and sales development initiatives going forward.

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