What if you could send your company’s sales team prospective customers who were qualified and interested in your product or service? “Cold-calling” requires intense time and effort. Taking the “cold” out of cold-calling and providing prospects that are warm or even hot, changes everything. Lead generation is a process. Use the latest techniques to gather new customers who and ready to buy what you are selling. Here is your complete guide to lead generation.
An old-school business philosophy goes, “Sales makes money and marketing costs money.” A generation ago, that was probably the case. Marketing simply created awareness of your product. Marketers would work tirelessly telling the story of their company and educate their target audience. Coupons, paired with magazine ads would tell them how many buyers responded to their efforts.
John Wanamaker, the great American retailer whose efforts later became Macy’s, is famous for the following quote: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”
Today’s tools provide far more information. That means they better enable us to pursue specific customers strategically. Lead generation filters the general public so that you can target your product to the best prospects.
There is no single way to conduct lead generation. Therefore, your guide to lead generation will look different from someone else’s. There are numerous tools and guides available. We will walk through the components to help you determine a Lead Generation strategy that you can start using in your company. A “lead” is a person or company suited to your sales funnel. Capturing a lead can be as simple as getting a “like” on a Facebook post. You might capture them through more complicated tools like forms. You want to provide some content or interaction that gives the audience value and captures some of their information, identifying them as a lead.
Lead Capture Tools
Many tools make this possible. Some are built into social media platforms, like Facebook and Twitter, which have their own analytics tools. There are also platforms for CRM, or Customer Relationship Management, which allow you to develop a many-layered approach as you move a potential customer through your funnel.
A range of CRM platforms exist, some more suited to smaller or larger businesses. A lot of entrepreneurs get their start using a free or inexpensive email services like MailChimp, AWeber or Mad Mimi. Many of these allow you to create a form on your site. People who visit can identify themselves and you can begin marketing to them through an email.
Larger organizations may find their efforts need to go deeper, tracking customer behaviors and building custom tools to learn what they want. CRM tools that serve larger companies also cost more to use. A few of the big names are Salesforce.com, Marketo, Eloqua, and Microsoft Dynamics CRM. There are many more, and this article is not intended to advertise any of them. These high-end tools give marketing and sales teams the ability to automate the interactions with millions of quality potential customers.
Most, if not all, of these tools can connect to one another. Smart links and embedded codes can be built in one tool and used in another. You can set up a campaign in Marketo and lead prospects to it through an email newsletter or a Facebook ad. Plus you can track which path brought the best results for your effort!
In those pre-Internet examples, companies built a long-term relationship with their customers. A tractor manufacturer could be an authority in an industry. Their customers were likely to buy their products, even at a premium price, when they knew they could trust that brand. This practice holds true today, but the competition also has a greater ability to publish their quality content far and wide, leveling the playing field.
If you’re not well-known, you might offer some value to a new customer to begin earning this relationship. Often called a lead magnet, you provide some value offering to a visitor to entice them to fill out a form or to take some other step. A lead magnet can be a digital file, like a PDF of recipes, a subscription to a newsletter, or a free report. It can also be an offer to provide a sample of a physical product. Typically it is something that inexpensively delivers value and helps to convince those who sign up, that they like or get a problem reliably solved through your product or service.
Your Ideal Customers
This practice is not a “one and done” solution. When you find a great response, you pursue it but, using the data you gather, you can continue testing to find other great customers. There are strategies for working through those steps. One way is to ask your customers to share more about themselves. Whether it is a survey, a phone call or even by presenting other options to them, you can learn better ways to serve them and attract other kinds of customers who have a similar interest.
The practice of lead generation is really about refining your efforts to get the best results. You’ve heard of the 80/20 rule. Using these tools, you can ignore 80 to 99% of the audience. That portion is not ready to become your customers at this time. Lead generation helps you avoid wasting that large portion of advertising dollars.
These tools provide the virtual nets you will use to catch and identify potential new customers. Posting a form on the web doesn’t usually motivate people to give you information freely. Lead generation works when this inbound traffic is offered value by you. That is where quality content sweetens the deal.