What is a lead? Well, it is not a telephone phone book or an industry association membership list. A lead is the detailed contact information of someone who has expressed specific interest in the products and services you sell.
They visited your booth at a trade show or called and spoke to a customer service person about dealing with your company. They responded to a direct mail piece or emailed asking for your free white paper on industry issues. Maybe they have subscribed to your company newsletter.
However the person’s contact information was collected, they have made the first move toward building a relationship. They are interested in what you make or in what you do. This is a lead!
Leads represent powerful potential for salespeople. A good salesperson can convert a serious lead into a customer quickly. Converting quality leads into customers is truly the best use of a powerful salesperson.
How to Buy Business Leads
It is not an easy thing to convert even a highly motivated prospect into a customer. It is a skill that only an experienced salesperson knows how to manage.
Ask yourself how many times you have been ready to buy something but have ended up walking away empty handed, because the person you were dealing with simply did not understand how to sell.
If you owned a seafood business, wouldn’t you prefer to send your boats into waters filled with fish? Of course you would! Then why do so many companies refuse to invest in quality lead generation? I have asked many sales managers and company owners this question and the answer is usually some version of “it’s the salespeople’s job to find new business”.
Lead generation is NOT the job of salespeople. Lead generation is a marketing role NOT a sales role. The role of salespeople is to close leads.
Now, in reality, lead generation is done by many salespeople simply because they are likely to find qualified prospects in the course of their day. The important thing to know is that if your salespeople are finding their own leads then they are wasting their time and skills. Lead generation can be done by inside marketing staff using a variety of lead generation techniques. Another problem with salespeople generating their own leads is that many will get bogged down in this part of the process instead of focusing on pitching prospective clients.
Sophistication is achieved through specialization. Think about a one-man-band compared to a symphony orchestra.
Salespeople are closers! Don’t waste their time and credibility and your investment by having them do jobs that could be done by someone else.
The most successful companies do not ask their salespeople to generate leads. They ask them to close them. If you want to increase the sales of your business then invest in lead generation and hand the results to your closers.
Lead generation can be achieved through a wide variety of actions but the key is to hand off leads to salespeople quickly. Hot leads can get cold very fast.
There are many ways to generate sales leads. Not complete but here are some of my favorites:
Email Newsletters – Providers such as www.icontact.com allow users to easily create HTML newsletters, upload email lists and monitor success rates. These programs will let you know who opens your emails and how often, what links they click on and provide a contact history over time. The cost can be as low as ten dollars per month.
Social Media – Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and more provide a great opportunity to connect with prospects and customers and to raise your public profile.
Your Website – Pay attention to your website and track the number of visitors (this information is available in your control panel). Websites provide a wonderful opportunity for a business to tell its story and explain its focus and goals. Be certain to have at least one place on your website where visitors can register to receive your newsletter. Make sure that people outside your company can easily understand your business and how to contact you or get more information.
Community – Business people have always used the contacts gained through business associations to help build their business. Charities offer a great opportunity to network. Donating your time to a charity provides the opportunity to rub shoulders with some very high profile business leaders. The fact is that people like to do business with people who share their values.
Trade Shows – A classic lead-building opportunity, trade shows are a great opportunity to network and generate leads. Shows can be expensive, however, and success is not guaranteed.
White Papers / Technical Sheets / Books / Articles / Blogs – A great way to generate leads is to give away valuable information in the form of white papers or technical sheets. Make these available on your website in exchange for complete contact information and the right to contact them and send them your newsletter. Publishing this information can establish your business as a top authority in your field and can drive the leads to contact you.
There are numerous ways to generate leads. The best lead generation programs require some level of action on the part of the prospect and should drive people to your website and ultimately to your customer service department. Ideally, your business will be using a number of lead generation programs consistently to build awareness and develop a constant stream of motivated leads that can be quickly explored and closed by your salespeople.
YouTube – www.youtube.com has had a powerful impact on society and on business. This technology allows anyone to post videos on the Internet. It streams product presentations, sales pitches, and creative product advertisements and more – the opportunity is only restricted by your imagination!
Six Degrees of Separation – The idea behind six degrees of separation is that everyone on the planet is connected by no more than six connections. The idea is a powerful one and promotes the concept that our present contacts, properly leveraged, are probably all the contacts that we will ever need. This concept is the basis behind business connection websites such as www.linkedin.com. It is well worth joining this site as it’s a powerful tool for networking because we can see who our contacts are connected to, and can request introductions. A fun game that illustrates the six degrees of separation theory extremely well is the Kevin Bacon game. Give it a shot! www.thekevinbacongame.com
Get your profile out into the world! Nothing is to be gained by being low key! If you are shy join www.toastmasters.org and develop your public speaking and confidence.