Lead generation is the Rodney Dangerfield of the corporate world.  It gets no respect.

One of the least desirable jobs in any organization, few people actually want to make outbound prospecting calls.

Yet, it provides the first impression that many prospective clients have of the company, and can provide a wealth of information to the company that can impact sales, as well as product development, marketing and service. When approached the right way, lead generation actually is an organization’s most valuable resource.

So how can organizations get the most out of their sales prospecting teams?

1. Invest in good data.

Before the first lead generation call is made, behind the scenes work must take place to make sure callers are given high-quality, clean, industry-specific contacts.  This should be the job of researchers who develop lists and validate accurate contact information so there are no wasted touches when the campaign begins.

Giving an unconfirmed or outdated list to the lead generation team slows down the campaign and skews conversion data.  If 30 percent of a list is irrelevant or inaccurate, the correct way to calculate conversion is on the 70 percent of the list that contains accurate data.

2. Plan a workflow that incorporates a realistic call volume.

Develop a campaign structure that combines at least two channels, such as email and phone contact, with phone follow up over a realistic length of time.  Plan for when touches should occur and their frequency so lead generation can be professionally persistent over time.  Plan call volumes so your team can follow up in a relevant time period.  If you send 1,000 emails, it may take 10 business days to call the list of recipients.  This will not allow representatives to make a second call in an acceptable time period, and results will suffer.

3. Make messaging about peers.

People don’t like to be told what to do or how to feel.  So messaging that is “You-based” backfires. Instead, talk about peers and their experiences.  What are their challenges. How have you been able to resolve those challenges.  People are curious about what their peers are doing so leverage that curiosity.

4. Develop an accurate reporting mechanism.

It’s important to have insight about how your campaign is working so you can adjust your program to get better results.  Make sure you can see important metrics such as what day and time of day is best for calling, which lead source was most successful, which targets were most receptive (by revenue range, employee size, etc.), which message resonated the best, which team members are having the most success, what campaign cadence or frequency of calls yields the best results.

5. Get value out of every call.

An outcall should generate appointments and more. Every prospect conversation has value even if the response is a “no.”  Make sure you have a process in place so representatives can gain valuable knowledge that will help future campaigns or give insight about product needs.  For example, if you are selling a solution that complements a CRM technology, ask which CRM technology the customer uses.  In several months when the company launches a module just for that technology, a database of vetted users is available.

With these best practices, companies should be able to come away with leads and appointments as well as visibility into how to adjust the outcall to exponentially increase the output, leading to more sales leads, more appointments and more revenue.

Jenny Vance is president of LeadJen, a B2B lead generation company that uses unparalleled data and insight to drive prospect interactions that convert to sales.  She can be reached at jenny@leadjen.com.