This is a guest post from David Kreiger, the President and Founder of SalesRoads, a conversation-based lead generation service that generates uniquely-qualified sales opportunities.
A nightmare scenario materialized for thousands of businesses at the onset of the pandemic: their largest source of business dried up overnight and the outlook seemed grim. I’m talking about professional trade shows and conferences, which as of 2019 were estimated to be to the second largest source of B2B revenue in the country.
“I remember coming back from vacation and getting texts, all the trade shows had been canceled,” said Stephen Spiegel, CEO of CrewHu and a SalesRoads client. Understanding his firm had to move quickly to salvage the year, Stephen assembled his team and decisively moved to generate new pipeline through a series of initiatives, eventually launching an outbound sales program. “I would say outbound sales has been a big success story,” Stephen followed up.
Stephen’s story isn’t just a one-off, but rather a singular example of stellar leadership responding decisively to crisis — and I have the data to prove it. My firm surveyed 103 sales and marketing professionals on their lead generation efforts in 2020 and found conclusive patterns amongst the best performing businesses that mirror Stephen’s story. Here is what we found.
- Successful Firms Reallocated More Budget
Respondents who reallocated 50% or more of their original trade show budget were 17X as likely to report positive revenue outcomes compared with those who reallocated 49% or less.
It’s worth noting, increasing the amount of budget reallocated was not correlated with reducing negative outcomes — in other words, there was a measured risk with reallocating a higher percentage of budget, but in a world where standing still is falling behind, the firms who invested more found the most success.
- Successful Firms Diversified Their Channels
Respondents who told us they reallocated to three or more new lead generation channels were 5X as likely to report positive revenue outcomes compared to those who only reallocated to one or fewer channels — and unlike the percent of budget reallocated, there was a an inverse correlation between the number of the channels activated negative revenue outcomes.
To revisit Stephen’s story, outbound appointment setting was not his first initiative. CrewHu started by recreating their best channel, trade shows, virtually. But recognizing virtual events were not enough to sustain growth, they eventually launched their appointment setting program. CrewHu’s story encapsulates the power in spreading risk — and maximizes chances of success — by trying multiple channels
- Firms Found More Successes Than Failures WIth All Their Investments
When asked how successful their lead gen initiatives had been, our respondents reported overwhelmingly more successes than failures. In fact, for outbound sales programs, there were nearly 8 respondents who reported success with their programs for every single respondent who reported “no success at all.”
Outsourced or in-house, sales or marketing, our respondents found success with their investments. Do you think those firms who reallocated less than 50% of their planned spend now wish they would have followed Stephen’s thinking and reallocated a little more, or activated a new channel if the first attempt didn’t work?
What it Means for Building Pipeline in 2021
Hopefully the nightmarish scenario of 2020 won’t repeat in 2021, but for sales teams everywhere there is still work to be done. If your pipeline is still in recovery-mode there has never been a better time to invest in a new skill set, activate a new channel, or try a new approach.
In closing, here are 3 ways you can act decisively to win the moment — and the year:
- Try hosting a virtual event — 41% of our respondents said virtual events are better than in-person events for generating leads.
- Activate a new channel — if you previously had a dedicated trade show budget and don’t know where to put it this year, consider outsourcing a new program which can be scaled up-or-down depending on success.
- Double-down on what’s working — if you’re having success with a current initiative, consider front-loading the investment in the first half of the year to get a jump on your competitors.
You can read our full White Paper, The State of Trade Show Lead Generation, for free and un-gated, on the SalesRoads blog.