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Generate leads like a management guru

Peter F. Drucker is seen in this recent but undated photo made available by Claremont Graduate University, Friday, Nov. 11, 2005. CBS

One of the authors who is always on my Kindle is the late management guru, Peter Drucker, who I think is a role model for lead generation.

Drucker once said, "There is only one valid definition of business purpose: to create a customer." To do this, a sales person must answer three classic questions Drucker posed in his 1954 book, "The Practice of Management": What is our business? Who is our customer? What does our customer consider valuable?

It would be a better business world if all sales people had good answers to Drucker's three questions. If they did, they would be on the road to landing more customers. Here are five lead generation strategies right out of Drucker's guru playbook:

1. To attract new customers, the best approach is to do what Drucker did for five decades. Demonstrate your expertise by giving away valuable information through writing and speaking. Companies can fill a pipeline with qualified leads by offering advice on how to overcome their prospect's most pressing problems.

2. Understanding the psychology of customers also provides critical evidence of the validity of the speak-up-and-get-published approach. If you sell a service or a big-ticket item, these are what economists sometimes call "credence" goods, in that purchasers must place great faith in those who sell these services and expensive products. How can potential customers trust you if they never hear what you have to say?

3. The good news is there is a body of knowledge that will help you generate leads like a guru. Management consulting firms like McKinsey & Co. pioneered the approach and have it down to a science. Speaking and writing to generate leads is a growing trend. According to FGI Research, 94 percent of the biggest law firms regularly hold seminars to generate leads. Lawyers at the top 1,000 firms ranked seminars as the most effective tool for cross-selling and gaining new clients. Free blogging platforms like WordPress and Blogger have created explosive growth in Internet publishing.

4. How do you get started as a guru? First, understand that generating new customers is an investment and should be measured like any other investment. Next, quit wasting money on less effective means like brochures and sponsorships. Rather than creating a brochure, start by writing how-to articles. Those articles turn into speeches and seminars. The best marketing investment you can make is to get help creating informative websites, hosting persuasive seminars, booking speaking engagements, and getting published as a blog columnist and eventually a book author.

5. Please know this: the universe rewards activity. Start by being curious and asking customers about their FUD: fear, uncertainty and doubt. Gather information on how to solve those worries and concerns. Be the expert who educates prospects on how they compare to their peers and the best ways to overcome their obstacles. The more prospects you inform how to solve their problems in general, the more will hire you for the specifics. Of course, Drucker said it best. In the words of the man whose work influenced Winston Churchill, Bill Gates, Jack Welch and the Japanese business establishment: "My greatest strength as a consultant is to be ignorant and ask a few questions."

The world needs more business gurus. Unfortunately, many sales people who learn this truth find the idea of writing and speaking too daunting, and even mysterious. Most feel this is only for a select few mega-minds like Drucker, but that is a miscalculated view. You don't need to write more than three-dozen books and have them translated into 30 languages like the father of modern management did. Just becoming a local guru can work wonders for your lead generation.

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