Here’s how to generate leads and get call-backs.

Has selling really changed in the last decade? Well, sure. Social media, marketing automation, AI, predictive analytics, and all kinds of technology have cast doubt on traditional sales techniques and encouraged organizations to rely on digital sales prospecting. That’s a problem because the best lead gen strategies aren’t digital. They’re personal.

A new generation of salespeople have entered the workforce, many of whom only know how to communicate digitally—sending emails, texting, and “talking” on social media. Even seasoned salespeople have been lulled into a sense of sales complacency, having been convinced that lead gen technology can do their jobs for them. Reps also engage in this mindless activity because their managers make them do it. Their KPIs are linked to the number of cold calls they make, emails they send, and contacts they have on social media.

These reps wait for a response. When they don’t get one, they continue to badger people with emails and cold calls.  But we all sit on the delete button while sorting through our never-ending inboxes. We make those cold emails and social media messages disappear with the tap of a finger.

Every sales leader wants to know how to generate leads—not just any leads, but qualified leads. The first step is to stop expecting digital lead gen miracles. In B2B sales, closers aren’t the ones with the best technology. They’re the ones with the best relationships.

Emotion Trumps Emoticons

Millennials, Gen Z, and whatever comes next have grown up in a digital world. So, it’s logical that younger generations prefer digital communication rather than picking up the phone and having a conversation. I understand. It’s fast, it’s easy, and it’s what they’re used to. But it’s also impersonal and fails to convey real emotion.

A millennial and I were recently discussing the fact that technology provides many great tools, but that people do business with people. She agreed, but she went on to show me two different ways to text “I love you.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.  I said, “You’re texting ‘I love you’?” She told me because she was at a conference, she couldn’t call her boyfriend to tell him she loved him, so she texted him instead.

Baby boomer that I am, I pointed out that she could have waited until the break and actually used her phone the way it was meant to be used—to have a real conversation, to communicate emotions rather than emoticons, to hear people laugh, to share stories and tell people how you feel. That doesn’t happen with texts.

I don’t know what effect digital communication has on millennial romance, but I do know its effect on sales and lead gen. Buyers have changed, but doing deals hasn’t. People still do business with people. Relationships still rule, and face time still counts. Salespeople must build their skills and learn how to engage clients in real sales conversations and understand when it’s time to stop typing and start talking.

I don’t care how many connections your salespeople have on LinkedIn or how many sales prospecting emails they send. They will keep spinning their wheels until they learn that real connections are what guarantee qualified lead gen. That means developing the skills or proficiency to engage clients in real sales conversations and then making the effort to stop typing and start talking.

How to Score a Call-Back

Getting prospects to call you back is deceptively simple, and it has nothing to do with the number of cold calls you make, emails you send, or pitches you make on social media. Receive a referral introduction from a trusted colleague of your sales prospect, and you will always receive a call-back. Plus, these are qualified leads, because you’ve asked for an introduction to exactly the person you want to meet.

Case in point: 84 percent of B2B leaders start their individual buying journeys with referrals, according to Sales Benchmark Index, and nearly 3 out of 4 business execs say they prefer to work with sales pros who were referred by someone they know.

Here’s how a referral introduction works:

  • You ask a colleague or a client (your referral source) to introduce you to your sales prospect.
  • Your referral source talks to your prospect and gets agreement to meet with you.
  • Your referral source introduces the two of you by email.
  • You thank your referral source and schedule a time to meet with your prospect.
  • You call your prospect, and she answers the phone because she expects your call. You’ve set the time for the meeting, and she’s accepted the invite, so she’s free to talk.

Yes, it’s really that simple … but it’s not easy. For referral selling lead gen to work, sales leaders must:

  • Commit to a strategic and proactive referral selling system
  • Provide training and ongoing coaching to help reps build referral skills
  • Establish referral metrics, accountability, and rewards

That might sound like a lot of work, but the effort will enable your team to secure immediate results. With referrals, you’ll get the meeting at the level that counts and convert well more than 50 percent of your sales prospects to great clients!

You’ll never have to ask the question: How will I get my prospects to call me back?

Lead Gen Tip: Disconnect to Really Connect

With digital sales strategies, your team is missing out on opportunities to talk to prospects and clients, and to engage them in value discussions. You’re giving them information about your company and your prices, but prospects don’t care about any of that stuff until they know what’s in it for them. And then you wonder why no one calls your sales reps back. That’s not how to generate leads.

New, fancy technology can be alluring and exciting. But there’s much to be said for the “old school” ways of connecting with people. It’s time we all remembered the value of getting personal—at work and at home. We don’t regret the text messages we don’t send. We regret the time we don’t spend with the people we love. Put down the phone and really be with the people who matter—your spouse, children, boyfriend, girlfriend, family, co-workers, or friends. They’ll love you for it. Your prospects will appreciate it too.


Still planning your Sales Kickoff meeting? Invite Joanne to speak about the most effective lead gen strategy of all—referral selling.