3. Getting Out There#1 – Lead Generation
So far in this series we have talked about understanding your business development process and establishing a clear business proposition which demonstrates real benefit you can deliver to your target market. The next step is to actually get out there and do some lead generation. The best business proposition in the world is virtually worthless if you don’t tell anybody, but these days you really need to do more than just hire a sales rep and send them on the road. In part 1 of this series we set out the difference between Selling and Looking for people to sell to. Now is the time we need to recognise this difference and do the right thing….. …..Sales staff should NOT cold call face to face Sales staff are expensive. They should be following up on qualified leads. If you want one person to both sell and look for people to sell to, the division between these two tasks should be clearly defined.
Lead Generation – The essence of SME Marketing?
In this article I review the process of Lead Generation, often seen as the core objective of SME business marketing. Most business owner feel they can sell their products and services if only they can find the people to sell to – the leads! Actually, lead generation is just one (albeit important) part of the business development process, but having an effective approach to finding new business opportunities can form the foundation of a strong business.
So how can we find some leads?
The internet has opened up opportunities to SME businesses but don’t forget that in the world dominated by the web, offline and more traditional communication still has a role to play – and can sometimes have an edge. I’m not going to go into any detail here, but just to give you an idea of the scope of options available to you for getting your message out, let’s look at some tools you can use to find qualified leads for your sales team to follow up.
Media Advertising (Magazine/Press/TV/Radio/Web)
The important thing with advertising is to take a medium to long term view. Don’t just place an advert and expect the leads to come flooding. You need to establish a presence in your chosen media over time.
Exhibitions are expensive. In terms of both time and money they are demanding but the right event can really deliver. The main thing is don’t just think about designing your stand. Think about how you are going to actively use your time at eth exhibition to drive your message and engage with visitors. Also, how are you going to develop all the contacts you make at an exhibition over time once you get back to the office? having a joined-up, sustained process is the key to effective exhibiting.
- Direct mail
- Email marketing
- Social media
Probably the most controllable and quickest way of generating new business opportunities, this is where you effectively go and ‘knock on people’s doors’. A strong and attractive proposition can make direct marketing particularly effective, but don’t get too focussed on immediate results. Every contact you make can be a potential customer even if now is not the right time. Use direct marketing to grow your database and build relationships and engagement over the longer term. Joined-up, sustained communication can create a powerful lead generation pipeline
Lead generation through networking can work well for many businesses but it take up a good deal of time and some of the commercial networking groups can get expensive. I will be looking at networking in more detail in a future article but for now, here are 3 top tips:
- Be committed – networking takes time. Once you find a group that meets your needs, you need to commit to a group for at least 6 months and preferably longer
- Not all networking groups are the same – be ready to move away if you don’t like the style of a particular group
- Be selfish (at least a bit!) – you will meet some great people while networking but don’t forget your goal is lead generation. If the profile of people in a particular group don’t match your target market, move on – no matter how friendly they are!
- Search Engine Optimisation
- Pay Per Click
Just because someone can find your website on Google doesn’t mean they will do business with you. Your website needs to clearly communicate your business proposition and the way you do business, your customer-facing staff, the way you deliver your products/services and the way you work with customers over time are all important. Done properly, these all combine to deliver a very powerful and sustainable business.
Joined-up is good
Don’t see the above in isolation, and don’t feel you need them all. By all means trial different options but ultimately build your preferred tools into a coherent, effective and joined-up lead generation machine. Search or site for more detailed information on all of the above, give us a call Next time we will look at taking our leads an converting them – the Sales Process.