Four Ways Digital Advisors Drive Improved Lead Generation Quantity and Quality

Digital Advisors drive Lead Generation|Knowledge Work as a Service

According to CSO Insights 45.4% of Sales Professionals miss their quota.  In SaaS companies, as many as 70% of reps miss their quota.  Aberdeen research revealed that it takes over 7 months and almost $30,000 to fully onboard and train a sales rep.   And according to the Bridge Group, average rep tenure sits at just 2.5 years.

Digital Advisors drive lead generation|Knowledge Work as a Service
Source:  The Bridge Group

Given a 55 to 70% failure rate on sales reps that have an average 2 year productive life (2.5 years less 7 months after training) it seems apparent that changes are badly needed to:

  • Dramatically improve success rates of sales reps
  • Remove human effort from the sales process wherever possible so reps can sell more

Improving the Quantity and Quality of Leads?

Problems in Traditional Lead Generation:  The sales and marketing relationship is often one of finger pointing.  Sales often complains that they don’t have enough leads or enough high quality leads.  Marketing often complains that Sales ignores the leads provided to them.  The Lead Generation Process is composed of 5 areas and is plagued with a myriad of problems:

Digital Advisors Drive Improve Lead Generation|Knowledge Work as a Service

1. Generate:  According to the Bridge Group, on average, 44%-57% of an inside group’s pipeline for SaaS products is generated by Marketing.  For non SaaS products (software, hardware, other B2B technology)  an average of 38% of leads are generated by Marketing. Research by ITSMA (2010), found that the top issue in Lead Generation for B2B marketing professionals was finding a message that gets the attention and resonates with potential buyers.

2. Capture:  Companies are making significant investments to increase the Quantity of Leads via Online Channels.  But the Quality of Leads is dismal - according to Gleanster Research only 25% of leads are legitimate and should advance to sales!  Companies spend a fortune increasing the pipeline only to throw money down the drain with low quality leads. 

3. Qualify: Today sales reps end up drinking from a firehose of questionable leads and cannot afford to take the time to qualify them all.  They have more leads than ever from digital channels but can’t scale to qualify them all with manual high touch effort.  As a result sales reps discard these leads because they can’t afford to take the time to find the needle in the haystack of the ones that are worth their time. 

4. Nurture:  In the book “The Ulitmate Sales Machine:  Turbocharge Your Business with Relentless Focus on 12 Key Strategies” the author Chet Holmes cites research that shows only 3% of your target buyers are actively seeking to buy.  The challenge is to deliver personalized content to trigger buying behavior when people are not poised to take action.  To do this you need to map buyer journeys and get people to realize the opportunity cost of not taking action.

5. Measure:  Ultimately a company wants to know did my marketing lead campaign produce sales and which campaign produced the most sales.  This is not possible with brochure ware in PDF format or spreadsheets.   With static digital assets you may know WHO downloaded an asset but you are blind beyond that point. 

Solution – Digital Advisors Generate Self-Driving Leads:  Instead of generating unqualified leads that are too costly to capture, qualify, nurture and measure companies should be generating “self-driving leads”.  Self-driving leads are:

  • Self-Qualified:  Digital Advisors provide Dynamic and not Static Advisement on real customer problems. 
  • Self-Routed:  Based on user responses the prospect can automatically routed to the best resource for rapid response. 
  • Self-Aware:  Each lead is a self-aware digital thread and can provide insights into shaping demand. 

Self Driving Lead Generation ensures the sales team is working with the best possible leads.  The four components of Self Driving Lead Generation with Digital Advisors are as follows:

1.  Digital Advisors Help Solve Customer Problems

This is best accomplished by providing buyers digital advisors that solve problems for different buyer purchasing scenarios.  Digital advisors are

  • Good for the buyer –solves problems and provides faster responses
  • Good for the company – differentiates and positions the company as the trusted advisor
  • Good for the Sales rep – delivers prequalified leads that take less time to close and no time to qualify.

Each of your online channels should be discussing different problems that your buyers are trying to solve.  For example, “Click here to determine the TCO and ROI tradeoff for on premise versus cloud. “ Or click here to “determine the ROI of refreshing your laptop”.  Unfortunately companies still talk just about features to their buyers without helping them determine if it will solve a real business problem.

2.  Digital Advisors Transform your Digital  Assets from Static to Dynamic

Companies have to shift away from an outdated mode of static white papers, case studies, best practice guides, spreadsheets and other documents.  To accomplish this there should be a content audit to determine which of these static documents can be brought to life as interactive digital advisors available on the web or chat to help buyers figure out not just what they want to purchase, but that they should purchase NOW!

I often think of the story of two vultures on a phone line.  One vulture says “I hope something dies soon I am getting hungry.”  While the other vulture says “I am not going to wait I am going to go out and kill something!”  I would argue that the second vulture has the right idea – don’t wait for the 3% of your buyers to realize they are ready to buy but instead trigger the other 97% to buy!

One of my favorite examples is technology refresh.  In IT B2B sales laptops, desktops, servers, etc have a predictable life cycle and must be replaced.  All too often organizations wait for the buyer to ask about replacement – this is a reactive approach.  If instead sellers proactively combed their customer list and sent personalized ROI/TCO digital advisors to help buyers see the value of replacement think of the impact!  The seller is not calling to “sell” something instead they are calling a customer to save them money!  These savings can be quite significant when power, labor productivity and management costs are considered.  Your company becomes the trusted advisor and you gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

3.  Digital Advisors Respond Rapidly

According to research the speed of response to a lead is the key to success:

  • Leads responded to within 5 minutes are 100X more likely to be contacted and 21X more likely to be qualified!
  • Waiting just 10 minutes to respond drops the likelihood of qualifying the lead 4X (
  • 50% of sales go to the first person who contacts a prospect (

Leads generated online digital advisors are like self driving cars.  Each lead can be self-routed to the right resource at the right time so your company is always the first to respond and has an edge over the competition. 

4.  Digital Advisors Provide Unparalleled Visibility

Static digital assets from your marketing library do not provide the visibility necessary to optimize a modern lead generation process.  In contrast with a digital advisor you can know WHO used your advisor and WHAT their interests were.  A digital advisor will let prospects purchase directly from a site or transfer to a human knowledge expert allowing you to measure WHERE you get the greatest conversion!   With closed loop feedback you can determine HOW to shape demand most. 

Impact to Sales:  By embedding digital advisors for different buying scenarios that help buyers solve problems (eg optimizing TCO, ROI, Power Consumption), inside of your online channels each lead is self-qualified and self-routed to the optimal sales resource at the right time.  The bottom line is that only digital advisors can scale to match the volume of digital online channels to determine what is a quality lead.  Reps receive more actionable leads and save valuable time lost chasing worthless leads.  Properly executed this can dramatically improve the probability of success for the 55% to 70% of sales reps who are failing to reach quota.

Digital Advisors Drive Lead Generation|Knowledge Work as a Service
Source:  IDG/Marketo