In order to grow your business you need new customers or clients coming in, and that means you need a pipeline full of leads that you can target and convert. However, it’s never quite that simple. Here we’ll take a look at some key lead generation strategies to help you identify the most relevant new business opportunities and take a lot of the stress, strain and time out of lead generation.
As a process lead generation is notoriously difficult, but it’s also incredibly important. Regardless of whether you have a national reputation or you’re a startup working out of a shared office space and just starting to find our feet, lead generation can make or break a business.
You always need to have a good stream of opportunities flowing your way if you’re going to grow and reach the next level. By developing your own strategy you can approach lead generation in a considered, measured way which is more likely to prove effective and efficient.
Always approach lead generation with a strategy
Too many businesses persist with a gung-ho approach and target everyone they can think of without building a qualified prospect list or thinking about who they should be looking to speak to within the organisation in order to pitch the product or service and get a (positive) decision from them.
As with most areas of business you need a solid strategy in place in relation to lead generation that will enable you to assign tasks and realistic objectives.
A scattergun approach isn’t going to work in the long-term, so while it might have had an impact for you at some stage, reaching out to random businesses with the hope of bringing in some new business and just happening to stumble upon an opportunity, it isn’t going to work every time.
Going into lead generation with a solid, well thought out strategy makes sure that everyone knows what is expected of them, who they are to speak to and whether or not the strategy has worked so you know what to do and what to improve next time around.
By targeting specific sectors or business in certain regions you can take a strategic and more personalised approach to lead generation. You enable yourself to build up a certain area of expertise whether it’s in sales or marketing, based on specific sectors, and you can build a relationship with businesses based on certain areas of the country.
For instance, you might be based in London and have a good reputation in the capital, but by starting to look to work with companies across the North West of England in cities like Manchester and Liverpool you can look to build on that reputation and slowly but surely build a name for yourself nationally rather than racking up a list of clients around the country without really establishing yourself anywhere specifically.
When you target a specific sector with your lead generation and prospecting strategies you have the ability to develop your brand into something of a specialist. If you’re an agency offering a wealth of marketing services, for example, you might be looking to utilise the skills and expertise of your team into one particular area like fashion or e-commerce. In this instance you might start narrowing down your prospecting to focus on one of those sectors, allowing you to pull case studies based on your performance in those markets.
Focus on different types of leads
What many businesses don’t realise is that there are a number of different types of leads that they can pursue. When you don’t have an experienced, in-house new business team and you’re going it alone it’s easy to focus solely on interesting contracts that are publicly available.
In actual fact there are four main types of opportunities that you can be looking at, and we can provide you with them all as part of a Meet Hugo subscription.
- Request for proposals (RFP) or tenders.
This is what many are already aware of and is a contract that is publicly - or privately - available, and the company is requesting that interested parties get in touch to declare an interest in pitching for the project.
With these leads the seller will put out detailed information about the project including the services they are looking for, who to speak to and the deadline for applications so that everyone has equal opportunity to apply.
- Intelligence-based leads.
These are where the company may not be actively advertising a contract, but they are testing the water somewhat to see what services are available to them and what different vendors might be able to offer them for their budget. From the perspective of the vendor this is certainly a longer-term, slower-burning opportunity and one that will require plenty of patience and hard graft in the background developing a relationship and holding conversations, discussing the needs of the company and how your services can meet those needs and solve a problem.
- Buying signals.
These leads are definitely worth watching like a Hawk. These signals range from recent investments into the company to new office openings and represent an opportunity for you to reach out to them and introduce yourselves, building a relationship with them and establishing whether or not there might be an opportunity for you to work together.
If they’ve seen recent investment into the business it might be that they have a budget to work with on new campaigns, or if they’ve just moved into a new location they might be looking to work with someone local, so if you’re in the vicinity it might be a great chance to arrange a meeting.
- Job moves and new hires.
A lot of companies will make formal announcements regarding new appointments, especially if they are in high-flying or decision-making positions such as marketing managers, CEOs or directors. A message of congratulations and good luck on the new role through social media platforms like LinkedIn, or via email, can open a door for you to hold a conversation and put yourself at the forefront of their minds.
When new appointments are made it’s quite often the case that those people are looking to put their own stamp on the business and that may mean a review of current contracts and vendors, so if they then choose to put a service out to tender you could be in pole position to earn a chance to pitch.
Start conversations with decision makers
When you get your prospecting list together, where possible, always try to ensure that you’re speaking to a decision maker within the business.
One of the biggest challenges with lead generation is getting through to the most relevant person to speak to. That’s because gatekeepers often block your path or you can’t find contact information for the decision maker because the company website only gives out generic contact information.
If and when you do get through to a decision maker it’s important to strike up a relaxed conversation and to build a relationship with them so that you can have an open discussion about their business needs and objectives, as well as any problems with processes that you might be able to solve with your product or service.
By speaking to a decision maker about this you increase your chance of getting buy-in or a meeting from the one round of conversations, instead of going around the department delivering the same pitch or demonstration only to see the lead go cold or to learn that the budget is not available. Not only does this save your sales team time, it enables you to hold detailed conversations with people who have the power and ability to invest or the final say on new contracts, subscriptions and vendors.
Once you iron out any issues with your lead generation strategy and find a more efficient way of conversing with your prospects you’ll soon find that your results start to change for the better.
By getting in touch with relevant people about relevant opportunities and building a strong professional relationship you increase your chances of not only moving them down through the purchase funnel, but establishing a long-term working partnership as a fully paid-up subscriber or a valued, repeat customer.