How to avoid lemons when you acquire fleet lead data
Fast-growing companies that sell products and services to fleets must depend on many fleet lead data sources for demand generation. These data sources have differing results, costs, and ROI.
Some sources might have great results but can be expensive, so you have to keep an eye on ROI. Or worse, you can spend a lot of money on leads, and have little to show for it. In order to improve your odds, you need to understand the different lead data sources, know the pros and cons, and know what you can do to improve results. Try the different sources of leads to learn what works best for your business.
Key fleet lead data sources
Organic sources like referrals are most cost-effective because they have few direct costs. The leads are targeted and relevant, often in the same industry, geographic area, and professional networks where your company operates.
Leads are obtained during industry events like conferences and exhibits, and from partners, professional associations, and trade media. A growing trend is leads from industry-related digital sources.
Leads from inbound efforts such as SEO have proven to reduce selling cycles because they are closer to marketing-ready or sales-ready when they arrive. Demand generation websites, media, and content syndication can be powerful inbound sources. These channels do need a significant investment of time and money to achieve stellar results in a highly competitive market like telematics.
An approach that’s overlooked but is often a mainstay of fast-growing sales organizations is outbound demand generation. Why? Because you can proactively reach a large part of the market, build brand awareness, and gain market share faster. You can also build a scalable, robust lead generation database infrastructure for the long run.
While all these lead generation approaches are important, in this article we will focus on outbound demand generation, key sources of outbound lead data, and unique needs when you are targeting the fleet market. We will discuss the pros and cons of various fleet lead sources, and tips to get maximum value out of these sources.
The following tips will help you navigate to better ROI.
Create a flag to denote that the record was acquired from multiple sources. Prospects from multiple lists are often more likely to respond and thus more valuable.
Basic company demographic lists
This is the simplest source of fleet lead data to start with. A popular formula to select leads is “SIC & SIZE.”
The industry or SIC Code can be loosely grouped like Oil & Gas, Couriers, Landscapers. Select the top industries where you have traction. (For advice on finding your top industries, see “Step 2: Identify strengths of your fleet owner customer base.”)
Then, pick the size of company that’s your “sweet spot” for conversion. This may yield a large pool of unqualified prospects, so you can then apply further selects like geography to narrow down the list.
- Readily available from many providers
- Easy to understand and apply based on your historical sales experience
- You may get a large volume of records, often more than you’ll need
- You may have some of the data already, so you’re paying twice (or more!)
- There may be no fleet-specific data or other important data such as decision maker contact info for what you’re offering. For example if you’re selling telematics solutions, you need to reach fleet operations managers. If you are selling leasing, then you’ll need to speak to the CFO, controller, or the head of accounting.
- Generic industry values may not be consistent across multiple data providers. So instead, target based on SIC, which is a more structured classification. SIC has 2, 4 and 8 digit hierarchy, and each is progressively more detailed. Map the SICs to your best customers more accurately, so you can scale faster (for help on this, scroll down to Step 2 at our article “Fleet owner prospect lists: How to lower the high hidden costs”).
- If you don’t know fleet size, you can estimate. Use a multiplier of 0.8 of employee size for a company with less than 100 employees. Use a multiplier of 0.6 for employee size between 100 and 250. Above 250, a general multiplier is not recommended because it may be unreliable.
- Ask for the list of top industries with fleet from your data provider. And, build a “do not target” suppress list. Because a company has a fleet does not mean it needs your product or services.
When you acquire data from many lists and sources, don’t put it all in CRM immediately. Build a “clearinghouse” or staging area first. Dedupe and clean data in this staging area.
Fleet lead data is available from within the fleet industry network, like associations and magazines. You can procure this data through brokers who specialize in these lists, and by joining the associations you’re interested in. You can get a one-time purchase of thousands of subscribers to fleet industry magazines for a fixed fee.
- These are your own industry sources so they are likely to be highly relevant
- You can get as much or as little data as you want, and you can acquire more data over time
- Much of the crucial data like fleet size is self-reported and may not be reliable, or obsolete depending on when the data was reported
- Contact and company data might be incomplete or inaccurate; data may also be duplicated across multiple sources
- When you acquire data from many lists and sources, don’t put it all in CRM immediately. Build a “clearinghouse” or staging area first. Dedupe and clean data in this staging area. This way, you avoid importing duplicate records into CRM.
- Create a flag to denote that the record was acquired from multiple sources. Prospects from multiple lists are often more likely to respond and thus more valuable.
- Supplement the acquired data with contact info, like email and phone, and demographics like company size, SIC/industry.
Purchase new data in gradual increments. You can test different data elements and segments to find your optimal mix, before acquiring more data.
Fleet registration databases
Consider this data as “official” sources of vehicle fleet ownership. DOT, FMCSA and DMV are sources where the formal registration has been filed by the vehicle owner. This can yield very rich information including VIN-level detail for the vehicle, registration patterns, age of fleet, financing and ownership status.
- Very authentic and reliable source of rich fleet lead data
- It’s very timely data if refreshed periodically
- Suitable for sub-verticals like finance & leasing, warranty, telematics, and driver-related sales opportunities like driver safety training
- Due to the richness of the data, it can get expensive. Especially when compared to sources like association and magazine subscription lists.
- You would have to merge/consolidate with other sources to create comprehensive contact data. For example, the person registering the fleet may not be the contact you would want to target. So you will need to obtain contact information elsewhere.
- There may be restrictions on data usage due to government and privacy requirements. Make sure you clarify the rules when you acquire the data.
- There may be nuances you should be aware of. For example, fleet size that’s registered across multiple locations, local vs. national fleet, and fleet mix/GVWR classes. These details can be valuable to targeting with your sales and marketing messages.
- Once you have identified the high value prospect segments, invest in additional data elements like vehicle acquisition date, financing status, and type of vehicles for more precise targeting. This can have a significant payoff.
- Purchase new data in gradual increments. You can test different data elements and segments to find your optimal mix, before acquiring more data.
- Invest in recurring updates of the data you already acquired. For example, it is invaluable to know when a prospect or customer adds new vehicles, as these bring unique opportunities for you to have new conversations and upsell.
Invest in recurring updates of the data you already acquired. For example, it is invaluable to know when a prospect or customer adds new vehicles, as these bring unique opportunities for you to have new conversations and upsell.
Digital lead generation services
This is an emerging trend for the commercial fleet market. These are industry-specific publications, events and demand gen companies that advertise or promote content on your behalf on their digital properties.
There are a variety of ways you can participate. One is, you pay for leads from prospects that express buyer intent in certain services and products when they take actions online. Actions could be commenting in a discussion, filling out a form, reading a product review, downloading content. You can create customized content such as a whitepapers, webinars or research. Prospects that respond to this content are your exclusive leads. However, if the content is not an exclusive piece from you, your competitors that participate in the same program may also receive the same prospects!
- Prospects are more qualified to engage in a sales conversation, as they are actively looking for a solution now.
- You can tailor content to speak to decision makers and build consensus among stakeholders.
- This is a great opportunity for brand awareness and thought leadership.
- This can be one of most expensive sources of leads, so you have to manage budgets and conversion stats carefully.
- The same lead may go to multiple competitors – you must act quickly!
- Content can be reused across multiple avenues for your marketing. Tailor the message so the audience “self-selects” when responding to your message.
- Build a cohesive demand generation strategy before you start investing in this medium. Have clarity on how the leads will be converted by your marketing and sales teams as quickly as possible.
- Focus more on customized content and exclusive leads (to you) than generic hand raisers, unless you are perceived as one of the stronger brands.
Don’t place all your bets on one source of leads and hope for the best!
Each of the above approaches for demand generation has pros and cons. But the trend from all the tips is that you are still very much in the driver’s seat! Because there are steps you can take to improve the results, like:
- Set up a central repository or staging to prepare and cleanse the data
- Work with multiple lead providers – not just one or two – to combine the best of various data sources and build a more well-rounded lead dataset
- Invest in content management and sales & marketing best practices for the long term
Use the various methods of outbound demand generation to build out a robust prospect database. Institutionalize your learnings and best practices by building them into your processes. Unless you have had good luck with the lottery, don’t place all your bets on one source of leads and hope for the best!
In future posts, we will discuss how you can further improve the results of outbound demand generation with advanced analytics. So that prospecting to fleet owners can get more accurate with more successful results.
If you sell to fleet owners, visit Valgen’s ProsperFleet lead data and marketing intelligence services.
President & CEO at Valgen
Rainmaker extraordinaire for our clients. Turns databases into gold. Analytics executive and entrepreneur with a track record of producing significant and sustained revenue gains for sales teams in fleet, transportation, high tech & financial services.