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When done effectively, lead generation does not resemble shouting repeatedly into a room full of people. Even if somebody was interested, you’d miss them in the crowd. It does not look like door-to-door sales. The next street along may be ready to buy but meet your competitor first. Instead, it resembles a conference. A targeted collective of like-minded, interested individuals.
Reaching for this is not simple and no two businesses or sectors can approach it in the same way. This post won’t tell you what lead generation is or provide a how to list, but discuss the techniques, methods and targeting that can be used to refine any lead generation.
Whether cold calling, emailing, networking or a combination of each, every aspect of lead generation can now be quantified, measured and improved on with the use of data. Harnessing the available information and using it to alter your course is crucial to maintaining an efficient process.
An initial goal should be to outline which lead generation channels you have the most success in, in terms of conversions rates. When you know how many leads your team generate and convert via each of your channels on average, you’ll know roughly how many people you need to contact to hit revenue targets. This makes identifying the quality of your sources, the rate at which they develop into tangible profits, a vital process.
Tailoring your targets from average conversion rates and focusing on the sources you perform best in makes perfect sense, but suffocating your team with an unrealistic volume of leads does not. Instead, focus on establishing a manageable amount and keeping the flow of leads at a constant level. Keep this in mind when choosing your channels. Know the difference between your Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) and Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) and never diminish quality in favour of higher numbers.
To extract the most value from your lead generation you need to actively analyse your performance and question your qualification process regularly. At every junction, ask which direction is likely to hold the most value for you. Identify what it takes to move leads down your sales funnel and how consistent you are at doing it, then move forward to locating new prospects.
Before wading in and contacting prospects, it’s important to find the right places to look. Details on the industry, location and inner workings of a target should be considered when looking for leads. If you don’t know what drives and defines your target, you cannot sell to them effectively.
When looking at businesses as unknown quantities, the first goal should be to categorise them. Answering simple questions about their turnover, staff numbers and industry specialisms can help you to classify them as a target or even a priority for your sales team. If they have the need for your services and the budget to spend, you need to know about this. Location can also be decisive, but it shouldn’t define where you do business or come in the way of a good deal. Look to identify and fill gaps in your coverage rather than avoid them.
When a prospect has been recognised, the next task is to find and approach a relevant authority. Decision makers usually come in three forms: users, buyers and principles. The people using the solution, the people who make buying decisions and the person in power who has final sign off. The complexity of the process and/or product will determine how much buy-in is needed with decision makers, but it’s wise to cover all three categories. This will help to clarify their buying process and ensure you build touch points at each level.
Press releases, articles and company websites disclose a lot of information, but of the tools that allow research into businesses and their decision makers, few outrank the power of social media. The widespread uptake of social profiles and their informal nature means these networks can be used to gain an insight and an inroad before making a full sales approach. If sales people aren’t using LinkedIn and Twitter to learn more about the influential people within businesses, they are surrendering a vital territory to their competitors.
To develop a lead, it’s essential to show their indisputable need for your business. The best way to do this is to know their business inside out. Taking the time to learn the fine details about the workings of your client, as well as your own process, can help to form the clear picture of a lead that is required to push on to the next level of selling — the cold call.
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