I know not every business has a lead generation process, where they have a tried and tested process in place. For those of you who have this, my congratulations and I’m sure you can budget with great accuracy, as well as sleep at night. For those who haven’t, this may assist you to improve sales in your business and help you breathe a sigh of relief.
During my lifetime I have met many business owners who were ‘flat out’ for a while, only to find a little later, that that they had lost a major client or customer, or the contract had come to an end, or there was a change in the economy, and they were desperate trying to find a new client. A situation like this causes major stress, and depending on the lead time, can take several weeks, sometimes much longer.
Finding new clients is especially difficult, because most advertising is aimed at ‘now buyer’ – these are the customers who are ready to buy now – and these have spent considerable time and effort doing research. These clients only account for around 1% of any market, so it would make sense to begin to nurture the other 99% of clients until they are ready to buy. This is known as the buyers journey, and it helps if you know and understand your buyers journey – know the questions they ask, the needs you are supplying in the marketplace, and answer these on your website and in your communications with your prospective buyers.
There are various strategies to building a lead generation process, and we will only mention a few simple strategies today to prevent information overload. Much of what is written here is about assisting people to find solutions to their problems – approach everyone in a spirit of giving first, and keep hard selling to a minimum!
1. Existing Customers. If you are giving your best to your existing customers, then they should be your best source of referrals. However, some customers / clients may be hesitant to refer their contacts to you for various reasons. If you suspect that maybe the case then use these strategies:
a. Send a message to market you want referrals – at the end of your voicemail message – “if you have been referred, please let me know so I can properly thank them”
b. Email signatures – “…..if you are happy with our service, please don’t keep it a secret”
c. Explain process – I contact all referrals within 24 hours, I make an appointment for a free initial consultation, if I can assist I will put forward a proposal, and I will let the referrer know any progress as it happens
2. Use your Website. Almost all businesses have a website today, and where possible this should be about your target market, what you can do for prospective customers, not yourself – no one is interested! Provided you have a well designed website, you need to attract people to give you’re their email addresses so you can keep in contact until they are ready to buy your product or service. You must make an offer on your website in order to encourage people to give you their email address, and make it as simple as you can. Once you have email addresses, send them timely newsletters and information, but don’t sell – it turns people off.
3. Social Media. Social media companies are in business to make them money, not you, so remember that! Some businesses do quite well from Social Media campaigns, others do not. Remember the old adage – ‘people buy from people they know and like.’ Help your audience to know you and keep selling to a minimum. Try different strategies and see how they work, but don’t spend countless hours on these sites – they are only a tool!
4. Referrals. Research says almost everyone knows at least 250 people – these include family, friends, people you went to school with, people in groups you belong to, including church, past work colleagues, and acquaintances. Reach out to these contacts and let them know what you do and how they can refer potential clients / customers to you. You need to be as precise as you can to describe your target market – age, gender, education, employment, industry, and in terms of what you can do for this market. As an example, “I can assist males, between 25 – 40, with a graduate degree, who are in middle management in the agricultural industry by assisting them with the latest technology.”
5. Networking. This both formal and informal networking. Formal networking involves attending advertised networking events. Some of these cost and others are free. Many will allow you 1 – 3 free visits, before they ask you to join and pay – take advantage of these opportunities. Informal networking is telling everyone you know and meet about you and your product / service in a non sales way, and starting conversations.
6. Your own efforts. Most small businesses expect customers to come to them, just because they started the business and they know it intimately. Don’t make that mistake and wait for customers / clients to come to you – in the majority of cases it just won’t happen! If you can speak in public, get speaking engagements, run workshops, or seminars – you can charge, but free is best at the beginning! If you are good on the phone, try some cold calling, many prospects will ask you to send information, which gives you an opportunity, but of that happen you must follow up within a couple of days. Attend Expos that pertain to your customers / clients and speak with everyone you meet – it’s often someone they know.
7. Advertising. I would suggest keeping paid advertising to a minimum, unless you have a large marketing budget. If you do opt for paid advertising make absolutely sure you are advertising to your target market. Use trade and industry journal, or magazines, and avoid newspapers.
Remember these strategies attract customers / clients, but you have to convert these leads into paying customers / clients