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Lead generation is a 3-step process.
Not every sales lead becomes a client.
On the other hand, you don’t have a single client that didn’t start out as a sales lead.
Sales leads are the beginning of the buying-n-selling process. Generating a steady supply of them is critical to the success of your business.
But the lead generation process is NOT as simple as grabbing a few business cards at a conference. Getting those ‘names’ is just Step 1 in a 3-step process.
Step 1 – Data Capture
Let’s review some of the most common and effective best ways to capture names:
- Marketing. Start with a good overall marketing program and a solid website. Good marketing will drive people to your website. And a good website will compel some people to call, email or complete your online inquiry form. And those that do are sales leads. In fact, if they are reaching out to you – they are often very good leads!
- Networking/Exhibiting at events. An ample supply of business cards and a strong ‘elevator pitch’ are a good start.
- ‘Gated’ Content. Gated content are those high-value resources for which people are willing to give up their contact information. These include eBooks, webinars, white papers, interactive templates & worksheets, and so on.
- LinkedIn connections. Every one of your connections on LinkedIn is a potential sales lead. The key to taking advantage of all of those contacts is to be active on the platform – posting, publishing and engaging. Your activities will show up in their ‘feeds,’ helping you to build a high level of awareness (and awareness is the first step in lead generation).
- Subscribers. Two of the most common marketing tactics – blogging and email marketing – make it fairly easy to capture the names of those who want to regularly read or receive your content. It’s a simple form that can be integrated onto your blog page or linked-to from your emails. Anyone who completes the form is automatically subscribed… and automatically a new sales lead.
OK… that was Step 1 – effective ways to capture names. But that’s all you have so far… a pile of names. The next question is, “Do they have any interest in what you’re doing?”
Step 2 – Assessing Interest
For this, you need to see a little ‘proof’ that your leads have some level of interest. A single ‘touch point’ (e.g. downloading one eBook) is just an anomaly or maybe curiosity. But multiple touch points over a period of time prove they are more than casually interested in what you’re saying.
It works like this… Let’s say that someone attends a webinar you’re producing. Great start! Their attendance then triggers a series of emails over the next few weeks, each linking the recipient to an additional piece of content (related to the webinar topic).
If someone takes the time to attend your webinar, then opens and clicks-thru on two or three follow-up emails, they are proving themselves to be genuinely interested in this topic. These multiple touch-points put them in the category of “sales ready”… and we can then move on to Step 3.
Step 3 – Qualifying the Lead
A multi-touch sales lead – with the right title and working for the right kind of company – is a very strong start. But it’s not quite enough.
There are still two more questions to be answered:
- “Do they have the ability to buy from you?”
- “Are they ready to buy from you?”
To find the answers, you’ll need to “go old school”… and get on the phone with the sales lead. [After several touch-points, though, scheduling a call should not be too difficult.] During this call, your conversation will need to include a discussion to uncover their B-A-N-T:
B – Do they have the Budget to do what they want to do? Do they even know what it will cost?
A – Does this person have the Authority to make the buying decision… or will other, more senior-level colleagues, get pulled into the conversation?
N – Do they have a real Need for your services… or are they just doing some homework to learn a little about your capabilities? Or worse… using you to negotiate with their current supplier?
T – And if all of the above criteria are met, what’s the Timeframe for the work they want to do? That is, how strong is their sense of urgency?
Bottom line: A large percentage of your marketing & sales efforts should be focused on Lead Generation. But don’t stop short… remember that capturing the names of sales leads is just the beginning. To be really successful, align your processes and resources to follow-through on those leads to ensure that they’re interested and qualified. Then the selling can begin in earnest.