Successful businesses do their best to explore their own shortcomings so that they might optimize operations and grow revenue. Regrettably, some oversights are so common that they become nearly invisible. One such example is when business-to-business (B2B) organizations assign inordinate value to the first qualified leads from a new account while failing to recognize the value of additional leads from the same account.
This is known as second-lead syndrome and it radically impairs effective demand generation for B2Bs by ignoring potential opportunities.
Below, we will discuss second-lead syndrome, as well as share tips to overcome this common affliction.
Buying Group Blindness
One of the reasons second-lead syndrome exists is that B2Bs often ignore or fail to recognize buying groups. Buying group blindness, as covered in a previous Conversica blog post, is a failure to recognize that buying decisions are made by groups within companies rather than individuals. Unfortunately, the way most businesses score and qualify leads do not account for multiple leads coming from within the same company.
This seemingly simple oversight exacerbates the aforementioned second-lead problem by falsely elevating new incoming leads and downplaying multiple requests from the same lead or multiple leads from the same company. In other words, B2Bs are ignoring the leads most likely to be Sales-ready in favor of shiny, new one-off leads.
Fortunately, implementing demand management processes that leverage demand units (e.g. “buying group that has been organized to address a need the organization is challenged with.”) can eliminate second-lead syndrome and maximize the value of each account.
Implementing Demand Units & Process Changes
It’s not easy to overcome blind spots and biases because it requires fundamental changes to company culture, as well as changes to processes and systems that may have been in place for a long time. Nevertheless, the following adjustments are worth making if you want to overcome second-lead syndrome:
- Match Leads to Accounts. Automated lead qualification systems tend to qualify each lead as an individual, especially early in the customer journey. Sales reps might manually associate individual leads with accounts, but this generally happens late in the Sales cycle if it happens at all. By matching leads to accounts, organizations can achieve a better understanding of where their leads are coming from and how they should be qualified.
- Leverage Demand Units. Demand units are all about context. By placing individual leads into buying groups, B2B organizations benefit from more insight into the companies inspecting their products and services. By tracking the roles, goals, demographics and pain points of an individual lead within a buying group, B2Bs can build and analyze demand units to determine which groups are most likely to buy.
- Don’t Disqualify, Associate. Automated lead qualification isn’t perfect. In many cases, multiple leads coming from the same business are falsely marked duplicates. Rather than lose these leads, do your best to associate them with buying groups.
- Inform and Verify. By embedding leads into buying groups and demand units, Marketers provide more valuable context and insights to their Sales team. Salespeople can verify this information during outreach leading to a positive synergy between the two teams and improving the likelihood of closing deals.
By transitioning your company culture and processes to match the above tips, you can mitigate common oversights. However, there is one method to overcoming second-lead syndrome that is not included in this list — leveraging AI Assistants.
Overcoming Second-Lead Syndrome With AI Assistants
According to SiriusDecisions, a B2B research and advisory group, “In an organization with second-lead syndrome, four of five generated [automation qualified leads] are disqualified on the basis of the false assumption that these leads are duplicates with minimal value.”
Yet, the research group is also quick to point out that “every interaction with every lead can yield value – by providing engagement insights on buying group members within identified opportunities or helping uncover additional new opportunities in an account.”
One practical reason that many leads are overlooked or ignored is that Sales teams simply don’t have the capacity to follow up with every lead. It is only natural that Salespeople and Sales Development Reps (SDRs) cherry-pick leads, or worse, that processes have been implemented that result in second-lead syndrome. Either way, potential opportunities are being left on the table.
Intelligent Virtual Assistants powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) offer a remedy to second-lead syndrome. By augmenting your team with AI Assistants who follow up with every Automation Qualified Lead (AQL), B2B organizations can better identify the lead’s role within a company and the buying groups within the account before handing over Sales-ready leads to your SDR or Sales team.
Since the group of “conversation ready” (i.e. truly interested) AQLs is much smaller than the total number of incoming leads, your SDR or Sales team will be able to give every single one of these Sales-ready leads the attention they deserve; all without having to increase the size of your teams or having to put extra work in their queue.
Curious to learn more? Download the SiriusDecisions research brief “Identifying and Resolving Second-Lead Syndrome in Demand Management.”