Having trouble finding potential customers? Here are six proven, easy ways to make your lead generation and qualification process more effective:
READERS: You'll find plenty of similar tips and techniques in my new book How to Say It: Business to Business Selling now available for pre-sale here:
- TWEAK #1: Obtain sales leads in order of effectiveness: 1) referrals (friends, colleagues, existing customers and business contacts), 2) networking (meeting people at industry events and other occasions), 3) sales partnerships (working with other sales professionals in other companies that sell complimentary products.) 4) web visitors (potential customers who have visited your corporate website and examined products and only then turn to 5) cold-calling (contacting potential customers based upon the information about them and their companies on the Web).
- TWEAK #2: Reframe "lead qualification" as "bad lead elimination." Almost every lead generation program operates under the assumption "the more leads, the better." Hey, want a lot of leads? Buy a booth at a trade show and run a raffle for a new iPhone. You'll have business cards coming out your ears. But your cost of sales will go through the roof because the sales reps will be chasing geese. Effective lead generation only results in as many leads as the sales team can close, and only leads that are likely to close.
- TWEAK #3: Measure conversions to customer not opportunity. A lead that gets into the pipeline but then peters out only adds to the cost of sales while not creating any revenue. Every second that a sales professional spends trying to develop a lead that doesn't convert is money down the toilet. Therefore, the important metric is whether the lead converts into a paying customer, NOT whether the lead converts into an active prospect. Build this concept into your entire program and (especially) your compensation scheme.
- TWEAK #4: Agree upon a definition of a qualified lead. Most of the fingerpointing arguments between sales and marketing are about whether a lead is qualified or not. Marketing blames sales for not being able to close; sales blames marketing for giving them lame leads. End the controversy by defining a qualified lead as one that can be closed by the current sales team, rather than some theoretical concept of what they SHOULD be able to close.
- TWEAK #5: Create a quantifiable profile of a good lead. Find out exactly what type of prospect is likely to buy by gathering accurate quantitative data. Supplement that knowledge by interviewing sales reps who've sold the product (or something similar), customers who've bought the product (or something similar) and (most importantly) customers who didn't buy. Once you've created that profile, prioritize it according to profitability. For example, leads that have a long sales cycle may be more profitable, overall, than those that close quickly.
- TWEAK #6: Measure, remeasure and adjust the profile. As the sales team continues to sell, track which leads actually closed, and continuously adjust the profile to so that it more accurately identifies those small number of profitable leads. According to scientific research from CSO Insights, only 23 percent of the leads that the typical sales groups gets from the marketing are worth following up. That's what happens when you don't measure and correct course.
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