What to Measure to Create a Successful Lead Generation Strategy

By Jason Swenk on November 28, 2021

What metrics should you track to create a successful lead generation strategy? Kara Brown had been working on a string of supply chain corporate jobs where she oversaw IPOs and eventually decided to create her own business and focus on lead generation. She believes filling the top of the funnel now will be the first to capture market share in the recovery. With LeadCoverage, she focuses on B2B revenue operations and acquisition strategies for scaling companies. In her conversation with Jason, they spoke about what she has seen working for lead generation, what every company should be measuring to keep a profitable business, and how you can save time on prospects that won’t become customers.

3 Golden Nuggets

  1. Measure what’s happening in your funnel. Many agencies don’t have a really good lead generation source and are leaning on word of mouth to get new clients. You really have to find that source to keep growing. Where do most businesses fail? Kara says most companies she works with fail at truly measuring what’s happening inside their funnel. At the top of her lead generation strategies are “share good news, track who’s interested, and then follow up.” Another successful strategy is getting as niche as possible. “When your niche is small, you can be hyper-targeted in your approach,” she says. This will save you a lot of time with clients that don’t meet your criteria.
  2. Measuring volume, velocity, and value. Kara is not running a creative agency, but she is all about making her business as profitable and valuable as possible. When it comes to how valuable her consultancy or her agency is, she thinks in terms of measuring volume, value, and velocity. Velocity is how fast are they getting in your funnel? Volume is how many deals can you handle any one time and how many deals are going to fill your pipelines? This is all about close ratios and trying not to spend too much time on deals that won’t close. And value is all about what is this potential customer truly going to be worth to you? For this, try to be really honest and don’t overvalue customers.
  3. Lead with pricing to save time. When you are speaking with potential customers, do you lead with the budget? Doing so could really help your closing ratio and save you a lot of time on deals that aren’t going to close. Kara prefers to be really straightforward with her approach and start the conversation by stating what her company does for customers and say “this is our minimum monthly rate” to find out whether it is on that potential customer’s budget or not. If they’re not, then she offers to use the rest of the call to give free advice. She assures this is helpful and saves her a lot of time.

Sponsors and Resources

Sharpspring: Today’s episode is sponsored by Sharpspring, an all-in-one revenue growth platform that provides all of the marketing automation, CRM, & sales features you need to support your entire customer lifecycle. Partner with an affordable marketing automation provider that you can trust. Head over to sharpspring.com/smartagency to enjoy an exclusive offer for podcast listeners.


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Measure Your Way to a Successful Lead Strategy and Stop Wasting Time on the Wrong Prospects

{These transcripts have been auto-generated. While largely accurate, they may contain some errors.}

Jason: [00:00:00] What’s up, agency owners? Jason Swenk here, and have another amazing digital agency podcast guest for you. We’re going to talk about lead generation for your digital agency. It’s going to be a fun show, so let’s go ahead and get into it.

Hey, Kara. Welcome to the show.

Kara: [00:00:22] Hey! Thanks for having me.

Jason: [00:00:23] Yeah, I’m excited to have you on. So tell us who you are and what do you do?

Kara: [00:00:27] Yeah, I’m Kara Brown. I’m the CEO and founder of LeadCoverage and we do B2B lead gen for supply chain, heavy industrial, and tech.

Jason: [00:00:35] Awesome. And so how’d you get started in creating an agency?

Kara: [00:00:40] Yeah, that’s a funny story. So I was the 12th employee at a company called Echo Global Logistics. Very sexy, all the trucks. Uh, actually a super sexy, the guy that started Echo Global Logistics also started Groupon. So I got to send the first Groupon email. It’s a true story. It came from my inbox. Got to watch them grow like crazy and then ended up being on the team that took the company I was working for went public.

So I did an IPO at about 25. Uh, I was asked to move to Nashville to do another IPO for a private equity company, for another supply chain management company. Sort of a stream of, of supply chain, corporate jobs. And then ended up back in Chicago, popped out two kids, moved to Atlanta, moved here for a sort of a garbage brokerage jobs. So it was sort of similar to supply chain but in a different space.

Instead of going public, that company raised $95 million in equity. When I exited that, the question was like, what to do next? And someone told me the statistic that less than 2% of female founders will ever break a million dollars in revenue. And I said, well, that doesn’t sound that hard.

So I did it with an all female team. It took us about 10 months and now we’re on the path to ten million.

Jason: [00:01:54] Awesome. So is Groupon still around? I haven’t heard anything from them.

Kara: [00:01:58] Yes. They’re still around. They’re a publicly-traded company. Please buy some Groupon things.

Jason: [00:02:05] So you must have some stock.

Kara: [00:02:08] Yeah, I think… They still exists. They’re still out of 600 West Chicago and sort of a Chicago tech darling from the early two thousands.

Jason: [00:02:15] Very cool. Uh, funny story, my wife got me a Groupon in a helicopter, like 10 years ago for my birthday. And I’m like, I’m not doing it. I’m scared to death of helicopters.

That’s right. Let’s talk about lead generation. You know, I find a lot of digital agencies, they take on the wrong clients and they take on the wrong clients because they haven’t been building their pipeline. They haven’t been building their pipeline because they don’t have a really good lead generation source in order to really kind of tap on because they’re based on word of mouth.

So what have you seen working for lead-generation?

Kara: [00:02:55] Sure. So we have nine lead gen strategies, but I’ll start sort of at the top. So at the top is share good news, track who’s interested, follow up. Most companies that we interact with, either customers or people that would just help out as friends.

Are doing one or two of those and almost none of them, almost none of them, of the companies we talked to are tracking any of it, right? Like really, truly measuring what’s happening inside their funnel.

And so one of the things that we’ve found successful for Lead Coverage is getting as niche as possible. So our niche is supply chain management companies over a hundred million in revenue or venture-backed. And basically, if you don’t hit one or two of those criteria, we may take you on as a client, but we may not. We may say no, thank you. And that’s been very successful for us. So in terms of lead gen, when your niche is small, you can be hyper-targeted in your approach.

If you’re wide and not very deep, it’s really easy to end up talking to a lot of folks that aren’t super valuable. The other thing that we like to measure, which we can definitely talk about later, we do a lot of measurement in our company, is we measure volume, velocity and value. And I think most important for agencies is value, right?

So a very smart man part of the Groupon kickoff team in the very beginning of the early days said to me, hey, Kara, it is… it costs to you, just as much money to run a $250,000 account as it does a $2,500 account. So get upstream and get as big as you can. Get your, get your retainers as big as you can, as fast as you can. Because that’s where the real money-making happens.

Jason: [00:04:48] You mean you don’t want to race to the bottom? I see a lot of people when they initially talk with us, we really kind of determined that pricing is one of their big issues. And they’re like, well, my competitor is actually cheaper. We’re actually more. I’m like, what does that matter? Do you want to win that race?

I was like, I don’t.

Kara: [00:05:10] We just decided to raise our minimums. I went to a trade show last week for our very specific niche industry, right? So every single person at that show could be a customer for us, which I think is super important. We went to the show and the number that I told everyone, nobody said it was too expensive.

And I came back to the office after two days in the trade show floor. And I said, we need to increase our minimum because no one told me it was too much. And when no one’s telling you, you’re too expensive, you’re not charging enough.

Jason: [00:05:40] Yeah. Yeah, totally. Yep. Totally agree. Get in a little bit more about kind of the velocity and the volume and the, the value. Let’s talk a little bit more about that.

Kara: [00:05:49] Yeah. We love measurement. So we are not a creative agency. We don’t have a creative director. We don’t do creative. We don’t do color theory. We’re probably very different than most of the folks that listen to your podcast. But I still listen to the two Bobs and I’m all about agency work. And I’m like all about sort of consulting and how do I make this business as profitable and valuable as possible?

So when I think about how valuable my consultancy or my agency is, I think about volume, value, and velocity. So how fast are my customers finding me? And then how fast can I get them to close the deal? Velocity story is a funny one. I have a client that we have been or potential client we’ve been talking to for over two years.

And I think I may tell him it is time to stop talking to each other. Like it’s nice. But, um, I’ve sort of sent him enough info. I’ve done enough. We’ve had enough phone calls. I’ve talked to enough of his people. It’s been two years. If you’re not going to buy, you’re not going to buy, right?

So that’s velocity. But we also had a few weeks ago, our first one call-close. So we were introduced to someone, they came through a LinkedIn post that I wrote, which I should definitely mention how we do LinkedIn because it’s really interesting. And one call the guy was like, great. Let’s do it. And our minimums, Jason, are $15,000 a month.

And the guy was like, I don’t want your minimum. I want to be a big fish in your pond. We were like, all right, let’s do it. So those are really exciting. So velocity is how fast are they getting in your funnel? Volume is how many deals can you handle any one time and how many deals are going to fill your, fill your actual pipelines?

This is all about close ratios, right? So you can have a whole bunch of conversations, but if they’re only closing 5 to 10% of them, you’re spending a lot of time on deals that aren’t going to close. So I have a thing that I do… fair it may not be nice, but it helps me save a lot of time.

I will look at who I’m talking to before I get on the phone. And if they’re not in our box, I will open the call with something to this effect: It’s so nice to meet you, Jason. I want to talk a little bit about what we do and who we do it for. I’m going to tell you how much. If we’re not in your budget, we’ll use the next 25 minutes. I’m going to give you 25 minutes of free advice.

My minimum is $20,000 a month and my core market is supply chain technology and heavy industrial. Does that feel like something that you can afford? And if they’re like, oh my budget’s like $2,000 a month or something crazy, then I’ll say, hey, no problem. Let’s use the next 25 minutes and I’ll give you all the free advice I can. That’s really helpful.

They also don’t call me again. So I don’t have to like go down the rigor mortise of like giving them a proposal for $20K a month. And they’re like, uh, we’re not on the same page. So that stops that and then value, right?

What is this potential customer going to be worth to me? Like really, truly going to be worth to me. And I don’t do the work you do. So I don’t work with agency owners. But I would imagine that there are a lot of folks out there who overvalue potential customers, right? I think this product is going to come in at 80 grand and it comes in at 20.

I think that this customer is going to stick around for two years and they stay for three months, right? So being really, truly honest with yourself on values really important. And the best way to check out value is just to have someone, probably not you, if you’re the CEO. Go back and look at your, at your previous customers, right?

Like take a deep dive and really be honest with yourself on how much is each customer actually truly worth to you?

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Yeah, I love it. And I love that you get right to the budget in the very beginning. There’s so many people, you know, when I’m speaking to a crowd, one of the two questions I’ll ask is all right, how many people get the budget every single time or almost every time? And then, you know, how many people ask for it?

And by the it’s about 50% of the room than ask. And then 50% of that, it’s only a quarter of the percent of agencies are actually getting the budget. And that’s before they put all that work in it. I would always go to them and say, I just need a range of what you’re trying to stick around.

Because here’s the deal, especially on pricing, and I learned this the hard way when I talked to a small company, I never heard of called Berkshire Hathaway. And I pitched them like a $20,000 website. They were expecting 30,000. So like if I started out, like I would always try to lead with what’s their expectation and then match them there. But I would also even have a floor.

Uh, so pricing is very important.

Kara: [00:11:12] So I actually disagree. I lead with our pricing. Because if they’re willing to pay you $30,000 for a website, there’s probably $120,000 somewhere in their budget, right? And I think as a woman, this isn’t necessarily agency owner, but as a woman, knowing other women in business, we tend to undervalue ourselves.

And what I’ve found is, as my retainers have gone from 5 to 7 to 12 to 15 to $20,000 minimums, no one’s saying no, right? Like very few people say to me, I can’t afford you, right? Unless they’re like just out of the box, but if they’re in the box and they understand the value and I’ve done a good job of delivering what we do and showing them what we do and how we do it and what the value is we bring. As long as I lead with my minimum… Actually, it’s not even the minimum.

I learned something at an EO event, the entrepreneur organization that the human brain anchors on the first number that you tell someone. So when someone says to me, Kara, how do we work with you? I say, well, our average retainer comes in between 30 and $40,000 a month, but our minimum is 20. So instead of them saying, oh, I can get this person for five grand a month because I say something like our minimum is five grand.

They’re already like, oh, well she’s like, she’s really expensive. Like, can I afford her home? Like, oh, like maybe I should find another $30,000 a month somewhere to pay this person. So I think it’s really important that you set your own standards and there’s always money in corporations. I have worked for enormous corporations in my corporate career.

There’s always money. Always.

Jason: [00:12:58] Yeah. Yeah. I call it the reverse engineer effect when you’re going over the range, because so many people, when they go, I just need to know a range. A thousand, fove thousand? I would literally start at a billion and then a million and then a hundred thousand and 20,000. So they echo that first number going, holy cow, no one else said that.

What makes you so unique? And you can really separate yourself. And switching focus a little bit. You hinted a little bit to the LinkedIn post. Tell us how you do that.

Kara: [00:13:28] Yeah, so we can attribute $480,000 to two LinkedIn posts. And that’s just in 2020, not in 2021. So super proud of this whole process.

I post super regularly on LinkedIn. Sometimes I post about being a woman in business. Sometimes it’s about marketing. Sometimes it’s just like, I don’t know thoughts of the week that I’ve decided that I want to share. I have a ghost writer. She’s on my team. Should we speak for about an hour a week. Now, because we’ve been working together for a while, she can get almost four LinkedIn posts out of that one hour.

I also write for Forbes and Entrepreneur and other magazines. So she does those for me at the same time. And she writes the post themselves. They’re my words, but she physically crafts them. They go to my team, my team adds the emojis and make sure that they’re, if people are tagged and then they go into a file for me to approve. I approve. And then they get scheduled.

So we have posts that are going out. We’re recording this in September. We’ve got posts going up through the end of November and I’ll be gone the entire month of October. So I’ll still be posting even though I’ll be in Europe, which is really nice. And so we can see attribution of almost $500,000 to LinkedIn.

And this is LinkedIn thought leadership. And it cost me probably 2000 bucks a month to do this. So it’s my most ROI driven piece of, of lead gen that we do for myself. And it’s been a terrific way for us to meet people.

You can’t always track every single lead back to LinkedIn, but it was a, it was a funny story. I was at this trade show I just mentioned in our niche industry. And I ran into some guy that I had known from a million years ago. And he said Kara, I read every LinkedIn post and I was like, awesome. And he said…

Jason: [00:15:11] Stalker.

Kara: [00:15:12] Stalker, right? Well, that’s the whole point, like, please stalk me. And he said, may I please introduce you to my CMO? I think that I’d really like to make sure that you two meet each other and now they’re going to be a client.

So you never know who’s reading it. They may not be liking, sharing and engaging, but put it be putting yourself out there is super important.

Jason: [00:15:31] Yeah. I love it. And these are just regular posts. Do you have a call to action on there or is it just helpful?

Kara: [00:15:36] Yeah. So we’re trying to, the LinkedIn algorithm changes pretty regularly. We do this for clients as well. So we have a human being on our team who is regularly trying to sort of like bust the LinkedIn algorithm. Not in an ugly way, just in a, how do we use it to our advantage? So one of the stats she told me that I was really surprised is that less than 2% of people that are on LinkedIn are actively posting.

So just by actively engaging in LinkedIn, they’re already in the top 2% of folks that are sort of voyeurs only, right? And so, as long as you just put anything out there, you’re going to be sort of doing better than other folks. If you get into like exactly what, you know, doing posts, doing polls calls to action links, links back to landing pages. Links to, to form fills and video.

We can, it’s a whole another podcast we can do just to talk about how to like optimize LinkedIn. In my professional opinion, that this is specifically for my market, which is supply chain, heavy, industrial and tech. I don’t need to put video out there. I don’t need to be super complicated about it because no one’s buying from LinkedIn, right?

LinkedIn just keeps me front and center for the folks in my world and in my universe. That when I see them at the trade show or when I send them an email or when they see something from me that’s interesting and they have a need. They’re like, oh man, there’s this woman who posts all the time on LinkedIn.

She’s really interesting. I’m going to reach out, right? So it’s just about staying in the conversation.

Jason: [00:17:03] Yeah. It’s about consistency. You know, you mentioned you were chatting with someone for two years. Holy cow, like if I was chatting with them, but when I look at my, our stats, most people don’t buy from us for about a year and a half to two years.

They’re digesting that content, which isn’t a sweat off my back and if they never buy it and they just get helpful content, I’m perfectly fine with that as well. But, but yeah, just to go through the proposal process for two years, that is a yeah. Shit or get off the pot dude.

Kara: [00:17:34] And yeah, this particular human is such a nice guy and he’s so kind, and I know he does want to work with us and he is very specifically strapped by, you know, investors and sort of what these investors want to do.

I get it. And it doesn’t bother me to like, have a relationship with this person. He is also well connected. He’s a good human, but we are going to have to at some point, be like, hey, I can’t do one more deliverable for you, right? Like I can’t, I can’t put together another email or send you another proposal.

Like they’re all the same. Like, it hasn’t changed. Like the same proposal you got two years ago was going to be the same one I’m going to send you now because what we do, hasn’t really changed.

Jason: [00:18:13] Awesome. Well, this has all been great, Kara. Is there anything I didn’t ask you that you think would benefit the audience listening in?

Kara: [00:18:19] You know, I think one of the things that’s really important to us, Jason, is the combination of failed the market. That sales and marketing, including PR and AR analyst relations, which I know a lot of folks in digital marketing don’t really touch analysts at all. Cause it’s kind of boring, but really important to your senior leaders, right?

So if you’re going up market, and this is not small business, this is enterprise. So we’re very fortunate in the, in our niche. We have sort of along the spectrum, small business, all the way up through sort of big corporate enterprise, even publicly traded companies. And so we get to touch everything from analyst relations to public relations, all the way through, but long story short, the deeper we get in the niche, the higher our prices can go and the more we get integrated with both PR AR and sales.

And the stickier you get, the more you can deliver math back to your client that goes to their boss, that goes to the board. The longer you’ll stay in the organization, the more valuable you are and the more sticky, just the stickier that you get in inside those orbes.

And so that’s my sort of best piece of advice is if you can deliver math back to your clients, specifically math that goes to the board or to some sort of senior executive, you will be very, very sticky. So find something that’s meaningful to your customer that you can deliver on a regular basis. That means something to their boss.

Jason: [00:19:46] Awesome. Love it. What’s the agency website people can go and check you guys out?

Kara: [00:19:50] Yeah. We’re lead coverage.com and we’d love to hear from anyone who wants to talk more about lead gen or anything about supply chain.

Jason: [00:19:58] Awesome. Well, thanks so much, Kara, for coming on the show. Make sure you guys go check out the website, connect with Kara.

And if you guys want to be around the most amazing agency owners in the world, where they’re sharing  what’s working currently to be able to see the things you may not be able to see as well as have fun scaling your business. I’d like to invite all of you. Go to check out digitalagencyelite.com. This is our exclusive mastermind just for digital agency owners.

So go to digitalagencyelite.com and until next time have a Swenk day.

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