There are only three ways to grow a business:
1. Increase the number of customers
2. Increase the average transaction value per customer
3. Increase the number of transactions per customer
…and you cannot do any of them unless you have a constant supply of quality enquiries that convert into the right type of customer or services.
Because nothing happens in business ‘unless someone sells something to someone’ and that does not start until you have a pipeline full of quality enquiries or leads.
What is Lead Generation?
Lead generation describes the marketing process of stimulating and capturing interest in a product or service for the purpose of developing a sales pipeline. Lead generation should use multiple channels so as not to rely on a small number of sources or ‘marketing pillars’ delivering at full blast all the time as this is sure fire way to missed targets.
I call this ‘de-risking’ the sales funnel or simply put, making sure that you have enough quality enquiries coming in at any one time.
(Note: You need to understand what your conversion rate of enquiry to sale and how long that takes – sales cycle – to be completely informed, but more on that another time)
Online has transformed the lead generation landscape in recent years. In particular, the abundance of information readily available online has led to the rise of the “self-directed buyer” and the emergence of new techniques to develop and qualify potential leads before passing them for sales closure. That’s not to say ‘offline’ methods such as direct mail are not highly valid when executed well, but there is no doubt the rules have changed and businesses that have not adapted will fail. Simple as that.
It’s also important to understand that in many small businesses the person responsible for generating the enquires will also shoulder the burden of converting them into paying customers. There are only so many hours in the day and that’s where sales automation comes in!
Why is Lead Generation Important?
The buying process has changed, and marketers need to find new ways to reach buyers and get heard through the noise. Instead of finding customers with mass advertising and email blasts, businesses must now focus on being found and learn to build continuous relationships with prospects. Prospects need to get to KNOW, LIKE and TRUST what you do, who you are and what you stand for.
The New Buying Process
In the old world, the concept of “generating enquiries” meant marketing that found the names of prospects and passed them to sales. Prospects expected that they would have to talk to sales and sales expected to speak to uneducated early stage buyers that may not yet be qualified. This has all changed. Today, prospects can do their own research online and can find a variety of educational resources through search engines, social media, and other online channels. Today’s prospect can learn a great deal about a product or service before ever having to even speak to a sales person. So businesses must make sure that they build their digital presence. (Research indicates that prospects might be anywhere from two-thirds to 90% of the way through their buying journey before they even reach the provider.)
Creating a solid enquiry generation strategy is critical if you are to build trust and capture the interest of your prospect before they are even ready to contact sales. Additionally, you don’t want your valuable sales resource spending time going down a list and cold calling. If you can generate qualified leads for sales, the process is easier and you will see more of your leads being turned into revenue – faster.
How do you build your own attention?
The answer is to become a trusted advisor to your prospects by publishing and creating valuable content assets and thought leadership. That is the key to being successful with your lead generation efforts in today’s complex buying landscape.
With the new prospect it is important to note that your marketing efforts don’t end once a new lead comes into your system. Many companies do a good job at generating enquires, but the problem is that most new leads are not ready to buy yet. And if a sales person does engage and the lead isn’t ready to talk with them, it reinforces the notion (internally) that marketing sourced leads are not great. As a result leads get lost, ignored, or snatched up by your competitors. Even worse, they stop doing the marketing that was generating the enquiries in the first place.
TOTAL SELF DESTRUCTION!
To prevent this from happening, super succesful businesses will invest in lead nurturing to build relationships and trust—earning the lead’s business once he or she is finally ready to buy. Engage these leads through relevant content and make sure that you get your timing right.
There is no one single approach to developing sales leads and every industry will require a slightly different approach, but smart businesses understand that this is something that they need to be doing constantly. You cannot simply make a big push for developing new sales enquiries and then give up on the process once you feel you have expanded your customer base enough. Consistently trying new tactics is the best way to ensure the continued growth of your enquiries, sales and ultimately, your profits.
What happens in your business?