What were you doing 10 years ago? In September 2012, we were still buzzing after London hosted the Olympics. Perhaps less buzzing about the fact David Cameron was Prime Minister. One Direction were snapping up number ones and BRIT Awards left, right and centre. Gangnam Style was the first YouTube video to hit 1 billion views. And Smartlead Marketing was a brand new, shiny startup lead gen business.
Now, we’ve been in business for a whole 10 years.
A decade on from 2012, maybe we’ll never get over 1D breaking up, and we still do a great rendition of Gangnam Style at the office Christmas party. But now we’ve definitely established ourselves as serious contenders in the lead generation market. So, in celebration of turning 10, we’re looking at how the world of lead generation has evolved since 2012.
10 ways lead gen has changed in the last decade
Our world seems a lot smaller now than it did a decade ago. Globalisation was well on its way anyway and has been intensely fuelled by the pandemic and the stratospheric rise of remote working. Not just remote working, but remote learning, remote meetings, remote conferences and remote versions of just about every human interaction possible.
Technology has facilitated global integration to the point that there’s a global sense of sameness and familiarity in business that transcends borders, time zones, language barriers and cultures. As a result, your target audience is likely to be broader and more diverse than ever. We’ve worked with so many clients in recent years, particularly post-COVID, who are increasingly expanding their sales focus into international markets. Long may the increased opportunities continue.
2. Quality over quantity of leads
10 years ago, marketing departments had one overriding objective. “Pass the sales department a ton of leads to work with.” 10 years ago, sales departments had one overriding complaint. “The marketing department keep handing us a ton of leads – and they’re naff.”
This was the basis of the culture of reciprocal buck passing that used to exist between sales and marketing. Marketing were expected to drum up the interest. Sales departments were expected to “annoy the many to convert the few”. But, unsurprisingly, this wasn’t much fun for the sales team. Or the people who were being annoyed by them.
A decade on, there’s a definitive shift in attitudes towards lead generation. It’s no longer a numbers game. It’s about providing sales teams with quality prospects that are supported by intelligent data, well-researched, qualified and actually have a hope of being interested in what they’re selling. In 2022, it’s all about not wasting your time – or anyone else’s time.
3. Third-party intent data
Data has been a driver of change in lead gen in so many ways. But one of the most impactful has been the use of intent data for account identification, account/lead scoring and message optimisation.
The holy grail of lead generation is finding a way to get on your prospect’s radar when they’re at the critical research stage. Third-party intent data is most likely to give you insight into who may be actively thinking about purchasing a product or service just like yours based on their interactions and behaviours collected by other parties and purchased by you (or by us, if you’re using our data).
4. Hyper-personalised marketing
Another benefit of intent data that deserves it’s own category. First-party intent data collected from your customer’s interactions with you can help you segment your accounts and personalise your future outreach. Not just personalise, *hyper*personalise. You can create targeted, relevant content to your prospects using a wealth of data based on what they’ve read, how far they got, which links they followed, which products or services they’ve hovered over. You can use this data to create personalised content, including images and videos, and this was definitely not part of the game a decade ago.
5. The transformation of the B2B buying journey
The customer journey is not linear anymore. Maybe it never has been, but it certainly isn’t now. Buyers want to already be most of the way to a decision before they even engage in a discussion with suppliers. You need to be prepared, willing and able to meet your prospects where they are on the buyer’s journey at the point they engage with sales. It’s your buyer’s process that matters now far more than your sales process. Adapt.
6. Shift to revenue-based lead gen KPIs for marketers
The ultimate goal of the marketing department is to generate awareness and opportunities that can be converted (through the power of sales) into revenue. Therefore, the end goal of the marketing department is to generate revenue. So it has never made sense that the success of this is measured in activity rather than revenue-based metrics. That’s why KPIs are often now based on pipeline and marketing’s impact on revenue rather than MQLs.
7. Sales and marketing alignment
With more of a focus on customer experience and the seamless integration of different touchpoints in the buying journey comes the breakdown of barriers. Sales no longer begin where marketing ends. ABM is all the rage. This means sales teams are empowered by intelligence and data at all stages of the buying cycle. Marketing strategies continue beyond the entrance of the funnel into sales enablement strategies and customer success delivery, adding value at all times.
8. Sales specialisms
Salespeople are no longer everything in the sales process. More often these days, there’s a distinction between researching, prospecting, lead gen, outreach, discovery, proposal, closing, onboarding and delivery. Now, increasingly these functions are broken down into multiple specialist roles, many of them outsourced to specialists. (That’s us btw… just a little plug.)
9. Multi-channel marketing campaigns
We’re seeing a massively increased focus on building strategic, integrated multichannel B2B marketing campaigns rather than clients who are simply interested in using just one of our services. That’s because the draw is in the ROI delivered with expanded reach, increased engagement and higher conversion rates achieved when leveraging multi-channel marketing campaigns. People are much more into joined-up approaches. And we love it.
10. COVID-19 has killed the face-to-face meeting
No industry was immune to the rapidly changing business landscape during the pandemic. Although, subjectively we believe the sales process is probably most markedly impacted by the decline in face-to-face business interactions. 70-80% of potential leads would choose interaction that was conducted digitally over face-to-face (McKinsey). As a result, more often than not now, we’re setting appointments for virtual rather than in-person sales meetings. This means the field sales role is fast becoming a virtual sales role.
Here’s to the next 10 years!
We’re so thankful to all our clients for the opportunity to help you achieve growth, while we have grown alongside you. The past decade’s been a blast. As well as a steep learning curve. With the fast-paced, ever-evolving industry we’re in we don’t expect the next decade will be any less eventful. And we’re ready for it.
Celebrate your success with Smartlead Marketing. Click here to get started by scheduling a call.