Wouldn’t we all love to know how to generate sales leads? But, the reality is that it’s likely to be different for every business. The basic ‘must do’s’ are the broadly the same but the route to market may differ based on:
- how developed your business is in its marketplace
- the credentials and testimonials you have
- the quality of your proposition
- how differentiated you are
- the amount of effort you put in both in terms of manpower and investment
Clearly, if you do a good job for clients, more of them are likely to recommend you. And referrals are the greatest source of new business since they come at generally the lowest cost of acquisition and, probably, the quickest to convert. Equally, actually asking for referrals can be a good avenue to take, when you’ve completed a successful project.
What are your Routes to Market?
There are so many routes you could take to generate new sales leads. The array of choice is dizzying. However, the first thing you need to consider is your target audience. It all starts there. If you can work out where your customers go and, be visible when they are there, it’s a winning formula. Simply put, having prospective leads come to you is better than having to go looking for them. “Inbound marketing” is all the rage, especially social media and content marketing.
Inbound Lead Generation
At GSA, inbound lead generation been very effective for us. Companies, large and small, have either called us or emailed us via our website asking for more information about our telemarketing and lead generation services. That has come as a direct consequence of the work we have put in over the past 3-4 years. It doesn’t happen overnight. Unless you put in significant time investment (it doesn’t always have to be about money), it’s unlikely that you’ll generate enough traction and visibility to reach enough potential customers who might then make an enquiry.
An illustration of the kind of thing you need to do is this blog. We’ve also loaded a significant number of videos and podcasts on our site and, distributed these on social media. I also have extended my connections on LinkedIn, where I post the content we create, so that this is another audience for our content that bolsters our credibility and that encourages relevant business contacts to share. The point here is that it takes time and effort not necessarily money. There are tools to help you distribute content such as Hootsuite or Sprout Social. You can do it manually, but it will take more time.
Inbound marketing may be the only answer if you’re in a specialised field where you lead the way and where customers are looking for just the solution you offer. But, sadly, that’s not generally the case. We live in a commoditised world full of similar providers. It’s hard for potential customers to differentiate. So, it may be that you won’t be able to rely on this route, especially if you’re only just starting out. We have 300+ blogs, videos, podcasts and infographics the site.
How Attractive are you to Potential Clients?
We also live in a digital world alongside the commoditised environment. That means that, at the click of a mouse, prospective customers can find suppliers and check them out. With that in mind, how fit for purpose is your website? Does it need a refresh? And, how attractive is your proposition to potential customers? Nowadays, you also need to consider your social presence. Millennials now account for over 50% of the workforce and they will increasingly check you out on social channels alongside your website. So, you need to be credible. Check out our presentation for more explanation on that subject.
The above are the basics. They are the aspects of lead generation that are increasingly expected. And you have to position your business above your competitors. But, for most businesses, some form of outbound sales lead generation is needed. Where to turn? This isn’t perhaps the blog to discuss the merits of PR, despite the fact that we are advocates. However, PR is not a direct tool for lead generation. In many ways, like content marketing, it takes time whilst you can target specific journalists and publications. Equally, if you have a good story, trade publications love interesting news for their readers. That’s both online and offline. So, we wouldn’t discount PR.
What are your Direct Channels?
But, here, we’re more concerned with direct channels. What are the options? Once again, there are too many to cover here. The main point is to do the work on your target market and proposition. The more clearly defined both are, the easier it will be to focus the activity. Costs will vary. Advertising is, traditionally, a more expensive route to market but you can reach more people more quickly. But, is trade advertising effective? There are so many options again from banners to native advertising to classic ads and so on. Costs will vary dependent upon the readership amongst other things. It’s very much a case of looking at the various options.
Nowadays, though, we have Adwords, PPC, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and other social media advertising. The ability to focus ads has increased. Some can be expensive, though. For example, costs per click for PPC vary dramatically dependent on how competitive the keyword is. And, it doesn’t stop there. There’s no sense in doing a great PPC campaign that leads prospects to a poorly designed website or to your homepage where there is no call to action. The ad needs to drive visitors to somewhere where they can find the specific information for which they’re looking. And, ideally, there should be some kind of offer or other encouragement for them to pick up the phone or email an enquiry. If not, you’ve invested the advertising money for nothing.
You can use social media like Facebook but you need to consider your audience once again. Are you likely to be able to reach them via this route? If you want to add the CEO of Hilton Hotels, it’s likely this won’t be the best route. So, you, once again, need to do the groundwork before you embark on any advertising campaign.
Other direct means include direct mail, email, telemarketing, and events. They all have the pros and cons. With events, there is the up-front cost. You could always attend events without exhibiting but, exhibitors are usually there to sell not to buy so that’s unlikely to drive significant sales leads unless you exhibit yourself. And, you have to both pick the right event and follow-up properly.
Email can be effective but you need numbers and accurate data. The best practice approach is to use opted-in emails gathered directly from your website where potential customers have ‘signed up’ to receive some ‘reward’. At GSA, we offer a top tips download on our home page and this also pops up on the site. Outside of subscribers to newsletters, email marketing typically results in very low click-through rates unless the offer is very strong. Given these low response rates, you need high numbers and data may not be cheap. However, if the ROI works, it may well be worth considering.
Direct mail may be a choice that feels like a bit of a throwback to past marketing techniques. However, with the online clutter that attacks our inboxes and social platforms these days, a nice mail piece has the chance to stand out. Like other forms of marketing, data accuracy is paramount. But here, if you’ve gone out of your way to spend hard-earned money on a creative and expensive mailer, yo really need it to reach the desk of your target decision maker. Hence, data building and validation in advance of sending the item out is crucial or your investment will be wasted.
Telemarketing is a popular route to market where, typically for b2b, the value of the sale is moderate to high. Telemarketing is a person to person, one to one communication, so it will cost proportionately more than some cheaper forms of marketing. However, where it plays out well is where the purchase is a considered decision and where a face to face meeting is required. If the return on investment is significant, it’s certainly worth considering.
For most businesses, networking is a worthwhile exercise. There are many networking organisations and groups that cater to industry sectors and job functions. These may be worth attending. If you can find a group that caters to your buyers or those that are likely to take you to your buyers (resellers. partners), it’s worth doing some homework to identify the right places to mingle. Some networking can be expensive and some are relatively low cost. The key is to find the ones that deliver the right audience. And, you need to beware time erosion. Don’t neglect the day job and spend all your time networking as it can sap time if you get locked into the wrong groups.
This blog could never be exhaustive in terms of the best places to go for sales lead generation. It’s impossible to cover all angles for every type of business. However, we’ve produced around 300 blogs on all manner of subjects pertaining to lead generation on this site. Please check these out. if you’d like more information.
GSA helps businesses become more effective in their marketing and business development. We run outbound telemarketing campaigns into the UK, Europe and further afield. Also, with our experience, we provide telemarketing training to help sales teams improve their results. If you’d like to know more, give us a call.