Billy Beane and the art of piloting lead generation programs

Warning: If you have been giving the task of generating leads and have been given a limited budget, then you should quit. Depending on how limited it is, you will probably fail. That typically means that the organization you are working for doesn’t understand lead generation. We can talk more about this in depth in future posts, but lead generation takes time and money.

The Pilot’s License: One of the great situations for marketers today is that a number of lead generation vendors will allow you to test their programs. The wave has caught on as the outsourced appointment-setting service organizations and telemarketing firms are on board too. Not long ago, we had to make major commitments to vendors to get going. These were big bets that got people fired. Take advantage of this situation and try everything you can. Some will fail but at least you know. By the way, these pilots are not FREE and should not be either, the lead generation vendor has to do work so you should expect to get anything for. If you are a c Expect to pay for this, but expect to not have to make any long term or higher dollar commitment YET.

Set a reasonable goal: On-Base Percentage: Now, you need to decide what you are going to test for. As I have mentioned before, the best lead generation marketers I have run into have expectation set that they will give sales AT-BATS, its up to sales to hit the home runs and grand slams. Pilots are short-term limited engagements remember so you have to set your expectations correctly. The vendor hits a couple home runs in the pilot should not make them better or worse than the vendors they are up against. Now you are using the pilot to gamble. You know how many “nobodies” hit home runs in their first at-bats in the majors? You have took at this like Billy Beane of Moneyball fame would in evaluating talent. Billy would never judge a prospect on home runs, instead he would look at ON-BASE PERCENTAGE. When you look at lead generation vendors, you are looking for the fundamentals to consistently give the sales team at-bats and thus the ability to hit. If the sales team stats look like the vendor batted 1 for 50 with 1 home run and 49 unsellable prospects, they are not likely better than the vendor that had no home runs but 15 sellable prospects in the 50.

So, set a goal that will set you up for success going forward, I suggest one way: At-bats, how many of these guys fit your qualified lead critieria (Geo, company type, right guy, willing to listen). Its that simple, you want to judge these guys up-front and quickly, live by your unified lead definition. As processes iron themselves out, you can start attributing more ROI metrics.

If you are comfortable with you’re current lead generation process and have an idea what the cost per opportunity rate is for your lead sources, this can work as well. That is the total spend versus the number opportunities created in the SFA.

Test multiple vendors: This is a big deal, don’t test one test a bunch. That is why I mentioned the budgetary issues. If you can’t test multiple vendors at the same time, you can’t test, it’s not a test. Bottom line. Get a number of vendors in the door.

Beware of the Direct Sales feedback: I am a broken record, but if you pass these lead to the direct sales reps for feedback, they will all lose. You have to have infrastructure set up to handle, qualify, and pass leads to your direct reps. This is especially true with field sales reps, they are not good sources of feedback. Time is their enemy and they don’t like to spend their day war-dialing and trying to turn leads into prospects. They just don’t. You will not win in this regard. Now, there is a caveat, if you are using appointment setting services, this is not true. These services are built for direct-to-direct sales and should be passed accordingly.

Craig Rosenberg is the Funnelholic. He loves sales, marketing, and things that drive revenue. Follow him on Google+ or Twitter