Breathe Life into Lead Generation
Always the hot topic, questions on lead generation sizzle on LinkedIn daily. How do you define a lead? How do you create leads? What’s the best content? What’s most cost-effective? How do you improve conversion rates? Do I buy an off-the-shelf solution or do it organically? Do I outsource to a third party?
The beating heart of business depends on flows of fresh prospects to oxygenate relationships and revenues. Businesses without a strong lead generation program, which rely primarily on referrals, face sluggish, anemic growth.
In our lifelong study of best practices in financial and professional sales, the basis of my book MERGE, simplified marketing and communication strategies fuel lead generation in two direct ways.
First, when you coordinate marketing and communication strategy and aim it at a vetted target, then surround the target with actions of tactical value, everything works in concert to drive success. Secondly, you must marinate your entire firm in this vet-communicate-surround mindset to create meaningful impact in your market.
The process begins with a beam of light—your own laser-like focus on a particular business target or industry segment. Master what you see, hear, and learn. Don’t move onto to the next segment until you are confident that your deep knowledge of your targeted market qualifies you as an expert in the eyes of others in the segment.
Don’t Waste Time
Remember prospects only want useful information on issues affecting their business; they aren’t looking for your product yet. So, it’s imperative to do your research to gain an understanding of their issues and develop a strategy that leads them to your product rather than you leading with your product— a major distinction between the best and the average, and the basis for a successful lead generation strategy.
Content developed from your research should be relevant, fresh, and on point with issues facing your targeted market. Bake your message (not selling your product) into white papers, webcasts, speaking engagements, podcast, e-books and research reports allows you to build awareness, and your prospect to self-discover you as the expert.
Learn to recognize the landscape of possibilities, then choose the best tactics that work for you. Also determine your prospect’s buying cycle and understand his positioning in it. I don’t mean pecking order only. I do mean what stage his mind is in the decision making process.
No Commodities Here
If you’re late to the party, and he’s already at product solution, and shopping price: Your solution now looks like a commodity. Nip it in the bud quickly with well-timed, well-placed content that changes minds.
In RainToday’s 2009 Benchmark Report on How Clients Buy, 79% of professional service firms reported referrals from colleagues as the best way they build business; 75% do so with referrals from other service providers. The third method, and the only method to score greater than 70%, was “personal recognition or awareness of the provider.”
The key to leads: Build sound marketing and communication strategy. Know your prospect inside out and where he resides physically and mentally in the buying cycle. Use quality content to build awareness and subtly drive favorable decisions. As Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “Plans are nothing; planning is everything.”
Good Read: Referral of a Life Time, Tim Templeton