August 8, 2011 at 7:00 AM
Hands down, the top opportunity for 2012 among B2B organizations in years is taking the initiative to give birth to the role of Lead Development Representative in your Lead Generation efforts. For organizations involved with a complex sale, this direction is crucial to future competitive viability. World class B2B companies are responding to the needs of the evolving buying process by building teams of Lead Development Representatives, also called LDR’s, to provide a crucial link to connect with prospects at the early stages of the buying process. Results of Sales Benchmark Index customers who have followed this practice as well as many examples across the industry have proven the impact of LDR’s in increasing the quality and quantity of qualified leads for the sales force resulting in stronger pipelines and increased revenue.
Sales representatives are tasked and goaled to produce near-term results. Lead Development Reps fill a vital role of nurturing prospects over time, building trust and rapport that leads to opportunity. This selfless Nurturing and trusting interaction speeds up the buying process and connects sales reps to the prospect at the ideal timing of the prospect's choice.
The Vital Role of the Lead Development Representative – Generating Qualified Leads
The role of the LDR is to generate qualified leads for the sales force. This is done through a combination of inbound and outbound efforts where the LDR team performs outbound prospecting efforts as well as serves as the main point of contact to build relationships with incoming calls and web inquiries. For most companies, outbound calling represents 80% of the LDR’s time with 20% invested in responding to inbound inquiries.
There are three core elements of the Lead Generation LDR role:
- Build rapport with contacts by offering resources (webinar invitations, white papers, relevant blog articles, etc.) and understanding where the prospect is in the buying process
- Gather key information to update the CRM system and assign a nurture path and follow-up strategy
- Identify opportunities that meet a minimum qualification criteria for the sales field
But how is an LDR different from Telemarketing or Inside Sales?
Traditionally, B2B firms have telemarketing efforts with internal staff or outsource services performing appointment setting, plus inside sales representatives focused on direct sales to usually smaller opportunities.
- Inside Sales teams are essentially no different than an outside sales representative, with the exception that they are on the phone. Inside Sales Reps carry a quota and are typically focused on a segment of the market that can’t efficiently be served by a field sales force.
- Telemarketing is most often a one-time touch where the caller “catches” the prospect and attempts to pitch in a single call for an appointment, demo or transaction. The days of “dialing for dollars” are over as most firms have realized that the quality of appointments have been suspect and often only have success when they find a prospect in the evaluation mode late in the sales process. Connecting with a prospect late in the buying process makes it difficult for a sales rep to build a relationship and it often involves being part of a validation bid.
Telemarketing and Inside Sales have an important place in any holistic sales strategy, yet sales leaders often mistakenly check the box of “Lead Generation” with their telemarketers and inside sales teams as their front line soldiers.
The LDR’s Lead Generation role in contrast is geared to build rapport over a long-term, multi-touch relationship. Each touch is daisy-chained together by capturing interactions in notes within the CRM and setting call reminders and nurture paths for the prospect.
Increasing Pipeline, Driving Results
|Most B2B firms have their sales force performing this function today through the sales field’s prospecting efforts. A time study will give you great insight into how much time your sales reps are spending prospecting through cold calling through the phone, email or onsite visits. Prospecting efforts should always continue to be performed opportunistically for the sales field, but there is a better way.|
World Class firms are launching LDR teams to generate qualified leads to increase the size of the pipeline and effectiveness of the sales field where reps spend more of their time selling.
Standing up Lead Generation teams is a Greenfield effort where the experts in the field are those companies who have done it and consultants who have assisted their clients. There are a host of books available on Lead Generation, but the top experts in the field today are those training and launching LDR teams. The quickest way to get started is to work with a consulting firm with experience in standing up LDR teams. In addition, Lead Generation summits and conferences, as well as blogs from experts provide the best resources for Lead Generation team strategy and construction.
The elements of success for standing up a Lead Generation LDR team involve the following key attributes:
- Lead Definition – Define what a “Lead” is for your company among both sales and marketing so the term is objective and not up for different interpretations.
- Lead Management Process – Define ownership of prospects and contacts at points of inquiry, within the CRM, standard operating procedures to support lead nurturing, qualifying requirements, and points of hand off to sales.
- Technology Infrastructure – Configure Marketing Automation to empower LDR’s to receive valuable insights and nurturing tools.
- Pilot Strategy – Develop a plan to pilot a small LDR team of 1-3 serving a segment of the sales force.
- Selecting an LDR Team Leader – Select a quality professional to serve as the manager/director with phone-based telemarketing or Inside Sales management experience. The candidate should be a firm believer in sales 2.0 philosophy with an understanding of the buying process.
- Building an LDR Team – One of the quickest ways to gain insights into the job requirements of a Lead Development Representative is to search the job descriptions among World Class B2B organizations. This will provide you an insight into the position, role and responsibility, and compensation ranges.
Building a Lead Generation team is a competitive advantage while in in the next year as your competitors begin to do the same, this will become a means of survival. Don't wait to get started, plan a strategy discussion with your leadership team and begin the process of building this capability for your company.
Posted by Vince Koehler