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10 Lead Generation (Prospecting) Tips
Sales people often lack the support of a dedicated marketing team that is able to execute lead generation programs on their behalf.
This is particularity true in small companies.
Still, those sales people succeed in spite of it all. They must, in one way or another, generate their own leads to meet their revenue and sales targets that's independent of corporate marketing programs.
In fact, they may be obligated as a part of their role to develop and execute localized lead generation programs. And instead of calling it lead generation, sales people will probably call it prospecting.
All of which means investment of time and proficiencies frequently beyond their realm, and sooner or later, one way or another, there must be a shift from prospecting back to selling.
In lead generation, the job of the marketing department is to develop leads to match the buyer's readiness to buy and the seller's expectations of selling. Marketing to sales: "We get the leads, you get the sales."
Nevertheless, there are some organizations that for various reasons still place the responsibility of lead creation with the sales sector. While I disagree that this is the most effective way to generate leads, it's important to note that the tenets offered in this post can be just as valuable to sales people doing their own personal lead generation as it to a dedicated marketing team.
Here are a few tips that I often share with sales people who are doing their own lead generation.
1. Build an ideal customer profile - Focus your energy on leads that best fit your ideal customer profile. Both the companies and the individuals you covet as customers. What separates your best and worst customers? What are their attributes and demographics? What organizations/associations do they belong to?
2. Talk to your best customers - How much do you really know about your customers? A simple phone call can generate plenty of useful information. Ask your customers why they chose to work with you? Is that the same reason they keep doing business with you? How has working with you helped their business? Would they refer you to other people? Use this information to refine your message to identify more leads just like your best customers. Once you understand why clients chose your products or service you can tailor your message around the needs you solve.
3. Build your personal prospecting engine - Leverage these activities by communicating with your prospects, customers, networks and alliance partners in a consistent manner by using traditional direct marketing methods such as direct mail, phone calls, personal publicity, and email campaigns.
4. Develop a lead generation calendar - Map out your activities for each month and then really follow it! And don't just make irrelevant pitches more often! Create a plan to add value every time you touch your future customers with relevant ideas, content and resources.
5. Act like a good financial manager - Your lead generation efforts should include a portfolio of tactics that you apply consistently over time. You're not in it for the big hit. You're investing in planting seeds that will eventually grow into relationships.
6. Define your goals for lead generation - Be clear on what you want. Do you want 200 more leads in your database? Do you want to generate $600K in new business in revenue this year? Do you want to add 26 new customers this quarter?
7. Rigorously qualify - Every sales opportunity to make sure they fit your ideal client/customer profile before you starts to develop a proposal or agree to do work.
8. Be consistent - Remember the fable about the tortoise and the hare? Dig your well before you're thirsty. No matter how busy you are, be sure to make time to do personal lead generation activities especially, if you don't have a marketing team supporting you.
9. Develop a lead nurturing plan - While you may generate leads from your initial campaign, you will generate more by following up with additional touches just be sure that are meaningful and relevant to your audience.
10. Develop and maintain your own database - Even the best lists are not 100% accurate. During the planning phase you should make sure your list fits your ideal customer profile. Also, don't create the biggest database possible. Instead, seek to create the most relevant database possible which contains the right companies and contacts that influence the buying decision. In the beginning, you won't have all the data you need. Be patient and you'll build the opportunity profile over time.
Brian Carroll is the CEO of InTouch Inc. InTouch is a 50-person company focused on delivering effective lead generation solutions for "the complex sale."
Brian authors the very interesting B2B Lead Generation Blog which focuses on B2B lead generation, sales leads, and marketing for the complex sale.