Solving the lead generation problem for SMEs and startups

Solving the lead generation problem for SMEs and startups

Business Development

Alwyn Lasrado

Alwyn Lasrado

239 week ago — 7 min read

Background: How can SMEs and startups generate more leads in the digital era? In his previous article Mr Alwyn Lasrado explained the advantages of a fractional (outsourced) sales manager. Here he explores lead generation when the sales function has been digitalised.

An organisation’s sales success is always a function of its sales team’s talent. However, that is easier said than achieved. Customers are wary of being cold called and this limits a salesperson’s ability to reach out to interested prospects and qualified leads. Without good leads, salespeople end up doing a lot of busy work but not necessarily productive work.

With the information overload on the internet, marketing can no longer remain mass but has to be precisely targeted. In the current era, marketing has become digital and the concept of digital lead or demand generation has well and truly arrived.


The knowledgeable customer

As per statistics put by research firm, SiriusDecisions, “67 percent of the buyer’s journey is now done digitally and online searches are an executive’s first course of action”. In effect, sales has been digitalised.

However, exploding the myths surrounding the 67% statistic, SiriusDecisions further explains that digitalization of sales doesn’t mean

  1. The customer is unwilling to talk to a salesperson before reaching more than halfway through the buying cycle
  2. Sales has to wait for the customer to find them online when they’re ready
  3. Digital marketing is only for customer education

In a previous era, marketing was enough to generate interest and therefore leads, but no more. With the information overload on the internet, marketing can no longer remain mass but has to be precisely targeted. In the current era, marketing has become digital and the concept of digital lead or demand generation has well and truly arrived.

Many companies, especially SMEs and startups struggle to implement a consistent lead generation system either because of available expertise, resources or budgets. Either way they end up doing, what one would call, activity-based marketing i.e. posts, blogs, videos, ads etc. across the social media landscape rather than outcome-based marketing. The plethora of digital marketing service providers out there also feed the frenzy of internet marketing and propagating Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) resulting in either lost resources or chasing low possibility leads. This leaves SMEs rightly confused and wary when they don’t get the results that they seek for the money that they spend.


Winning at the sales game

Building on the belief that Fractional Sales Management is one of the best alternatives to bring in the sales management leadership necessary for SMEs and startups to ramp up sales, the starting point for good lead generation lies in creating a Virtual Sales Engine (VSE). This is, in effect a digital sales mechanism that is highly process oriented, measurable and effective - built on a set of strategies focused on executing better rather than stressing on being creative,  generating steady Marketing or Sales Qualified Leads (MQL/SQL) that can be handed over to the field sales team to nurture and close.

The Virtual Sales Engine (VSE) mechanism comprises of the following stages, each with its own specific set of actions.

  1. Creating a market outreach strategy that provides a target list relying on research that comprises identifying target markets, industries, organisation size at the macro level and further deep diving into departments and designations that are best suited to hear about the particular product or service one is offering.
  2. Creating content and messaging that counter business pain points with solution offerings, use cases, USP, case studies, ROI etc. as applicable which can feed the prospective clients’ need for education, nurturing interest or validation in the buying cycle.
  3. Begin interactions with the target list derived in stage 1 with the content and messaging created in stage 2 in an organized manner following a specific and progressive schedule over time generating interest via an opt-in procedure, following through with information dissemination or response as per the prospect requests.
  4. Lead qualification and appointment setting is the next step which is an important step in the qualification process that introduces for the first time a sales representative i.e. an inside sales person who interacts with the prospect leading the discussion with a series of qualification questions that qualifies the prospect based on budget, authority, need and timeline (BANT criteria) – leading to an appoint setting exercise that is handed over to the field sales team for follow up actions OR ends up being dropped/or into a nurturing mode as a future prospect.

Also read: Do you have what it takes to be a sales shark?


The path to success – quick start

It’s easy to think Do It Yourself (DIY) would work but while it likely is cheaper it would most probably come with a slow execution speed due to the lack of knowledge and expertise inequalities faced by SMEs. And one has to be wary of DIY becoming Do It Never because the business owner is burdened with 25 other issues.


Do it never or Do it yourself


Another option would be to get someone to Do It For you. It’s faster, but expensive. Also, you would not own the process. So as long as one has weighed the pros and the cons. It’s a matter of choosing the right partner to outsource the activity.

However, as with Fractional Sales Management, you can choose to Do It With i.e. engage with someone who can assist you to reach the next level together.

Do you want to grow your business? Reach out to us for a 30-minute no obligation consultation for your unique needs.


Also read: Top 5 digital demand generation channels – Are you online yet?

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