When the question is raised whether one approach is better than the other, in any sort of context, I find that often the most satisfying answer is “it depends, both are needed, just not at the same time”. Now, if you are someone who likes a good yes-or-no answer, my describing this answer as ‘satisfying’ might feel ever so slightly sadistic, but do hear me out, it gets better, I promise.
In this case, I am talking about speed. In the context of lead generation, were I to ask “how fast do I need to outreach to get as many qualified leads through the pipeline as possible in the shortest amount of time?”, your first instinct would probably not be to respond “slowly”. Yet could that be the key?
Clients, an elusive resource
Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away —that would be Paris, France—, I started my career in retail. As with any job in retail, I was hit with a number of KPIs to fulfil, such as sales, ATV, AUT, CR, etc. Beyond these acronyms hides the most valuable resource of any business operating in a consumerist economy: clients. My entire career success was solely dependent on other people’s willingness to purchase the goods I was selling, and I struggled at first with that thought: how could my professional success be so obviously and so absolutely beyond my control?
Retail even has one advantage over lead generation: the prospects come through the door by themselves, the role is to convert them. Yet, they don’t come through the door in a constant, predictable, endless stream. Clients and prospects are human after all, and as predictable as our species can be under a macroscopic lens, there is still a whole lot of randomness involved. Clients will come, or not; prospects will be interested, or not; and there is little we can do to successfully, predictably control that. So, what can we control?
Every cycle has its downtime
Each human hair goes through the following stages: the anagen phase, during which the hair grows; the catagen phase, during which the hair stops being connected to the nutrient supply; the telogen phase, during which the hair stays dormant in the follicle; and finally the exogen phase, during which the hair falls out of the follicle, whilst the anagen phase starts again for a new strand.
Much like our own hair strands, we need a certain amount of downtime in between periods of activity to be able to function well —and no, it can’t be substituted for caffeine—; and, since it is humans that are making the decision to purchase goods and services, it stands to reason that that process will have a downtime too.
As a lead generation business, we are selling the active part of that purchasing cycle. Does it then mean that we have to have some downtime in our operations? And, as we know, a company can’t afford to have a downtime in its cash flow, otherwise it would impact the whole wellbeing of the business and of its employees. Is there a solution?
Am I really going to start incorporating theoretical physics into business generation? Well, businesses are made of humans and matter, and so… Okay, I hear you, I’ll stop there. But the concept of energy is actually very relevant in our case.
When considering employees, energy is a finite resource. Even when a company has managed to solve the toughest of issues, namely to prevent burnout and reduced productivity at all times —if you have actually solved this, please call me—, there is still an end to the work day. This means we are faced with a need for continued output with intermittent effort, which leads to the realisation that trying to relate effort and output by a 1:1 ratio will inevitably fail.
Then, if the amounts of effort and output aren’t directly transferable from one to the other, how do we plan our efforts? Do we go hard on the outreach when the adoption cycle peaks, and even harder when it abates? Even though it is the natural instinct to double down on work when the results start dipping, that might not always be the ideal strategy.
Indeed, if the outcome slows down due to the natural process of ebb and flow that has been outlined previously, expending more resources into the same way that proves fruitful when the cycle accelerates likely won’t lead to better results; worse, it could even be perceived as a waste of energy and lead to a lowering of the morale, thus further depleting the energy levels.
What we do in the hollows
Instead of pushing harder during the quieter times, I have found that the solution which oftentimes proves the most effective in the long run is to slow down on the outreach efforts —whilst maintaining an active presence across all channels— and to utilise the time to dig deeper into the product knowledge.
The feeling of learning enhances the feeling of success, especially when there are varied goals that define said success —you can read my previous article for further thoughts on goals—, and thus the energy level is maintained throughout the slower times. Moreover, when the cycle picks up again, the team’s capabilities are highly enhanced, and the conversion sees a dramatic increase.
That is also only one of the possibilities of where to redirect the energy; slower times can indeed become incredible times for feedback, innovation, team connection, which all leave the employees empowered and ready to tackle the next phase of rapid adoption.
So ultimately, what to do when your lead pipeline slows down? Well, sometimes, you might want to slow down too.
But then again, it depends…
Strategic Operations Manager