From today’s mailbag: “I’m at my wits’ end trying to get in front of more customers. I get some leads from my company but for the rest, I’m on my own. What are some good methods of lead generation?”
Carson: The best way to view the multiple ways of generating leads is that there are numerous oil wells for which you have established drilling mechanisms. You do not want to discriminate against any of the possible fields and there is no telling which one will strike and how lucrative it will be. This is why we have to continue to pursue success in each individual potential lead source.
(1) Consider your industry. Who are your target customers? Where are they located geographically? What industries are they in? What do your competitors do to market and who is currently picking them? What can you do to metaphorically place a billboard between your potential customers and the competition? This can help you start to formulate different potential leads and sources.
(2) Consider the mediums open to you. Do you get leads from your company? Have you worked with current and past customers to obtain referrals? (Setting up a mutually beneficial referral program with them can be quite helpful.) Are there industry specific or noteworthy networking events and Chambers and meet-up groups that you know of or have researched? Are you engaged in social media? Just on LinkedIn alone, you have the capability of geo-targeting customers in any industry you like, seeing their title and reaching out to them. There are websites like Hoover’s which will allow you to find companies in the size and territory you sell into. With the resources available to you, the networking groups and events, marketing methods and the ways you can conduct outreach (even picking up the phone and calling from an online search in a pinch), there is no shortage of ways to research and reach out.
(3) Lead with value. So many sellers fail to pinpoint exactly what they want to lead off with or promote. Many of them try to cram way too much into a call or e-mail and it gets ignored. When you sound like every other marketer out there, that’s when you are treated like every other one with the hang-up or delete bin. What is in it for the customer to talk to you? And what do you have to offer that actually provides them the most return on investment or value without too much risk? If you are selling an appointment, focus on selling the appointment; don’t skip steps in the sales process. You can’t try to sell the end result before you get the buy-in or appointment.
(4) Sell an appointment. Whether you meet a potential lead at a grocery store or Chamber meeting or you get their number from an online search, your primary goal should be to set the face to face. Social media and the multitude of outreach methods available to you are fantastic as connecting devices. From there, you should use these awesome tools to set up the irreplaceable face-to-face meeting. Nothing will ever trump the handshake and the physical meeting – putting faces with names and discussing your roles and how you can develop mutual synergies. What doors can you open for them? Continue to focus on the value you can bring – and you may not establish all of the ways you can partner up front. In fact, sometimes these meetings will feel like duds. Then, 6 months later, something pops up and one of you will be top of mind with the other because you…
(5) Follow up strategically. Find ways to get multiple, quality touches of that account whether it is reaching out within a few days with the answers to questions you committed to obtain to adding them to your newsletter so they see your name often or sending them articles via social media that would be of interest. Following up isn’t just about calling and leaving a voice mail or sending an e-mail asking if they are ready to buy yet. It’s about staying top of mind by continuing to connect, attempting to add value or being a resource.
The sales circle of life will continue; as you build a book of business, as you continue to connect with others and obtain referrals from them, as you reach out with a newsletter or articles or other means of contact. Start to prioritize your lead generation methods by what gleans results but do not neglect other methods that can yield; you never know when a well will run dry or another might start to gush.
Getting in front of customers is also about ensuring you are selling the next step – not two steps ahead. Focus on the immediate attempt at an appointment, always lead with value and try to find ways to collaborate and partner that are mutually beneficial. Finally, take great care of your customers, communicate effectively and diligently in a timely fashion when they ask anything of you, build your reputation and you will really start to grow your network based on a strong personal brand.
Carson V. Heady posts for “Consult Carson” serving as the “Dear Abby” of sales and sales leadership. You may post any question that puzzles you regarding sales and sales leadership careers: interviewing, the sales process, advancing and achieving. You will also be directly contributing to his third book, “A Salesman Forever.”
Question submissions can be made via LinkedIn to Carson V. Heady, this Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Carson-V-Heady/125078150858064?ref=hl , Twitter via @cvheady007 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or you may post an anonymous comment as a reply to my WordPress blog at the bottom of this page: https://carsonvheady.wordpress.com/the-home-of-birth-of-a-salesman-2010-published-by-world-audience-inc-and-the-salesman-against-the-world-2014/
Carson V. Heady has written a book entitled “Birth of a Salesman” that has a unique spin that shows you proven sales principles designed to birth in you the top producer you were born to be.
If you would like to strengthen your sales skills, go to http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ICRVMI2/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_yGXKtb0G28TWF