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The hunt for leads can be both difficult and desperate in a saturated market. The commitments of existing customers to the entrenched service providers in your industry limit the pool of viable prospects. Here are some ways to boost your lead generation in order to grow your potential for new sales opportunities.
1. Network in new circles.
In farming, crop rotation is used to preserve the integrity and quality of soil. Otherwise, an overused piece of land will deteriorate in its yield.
Likewise, if you are confined to a pool of buyers that have been overly attended to (whether by yourself or your competitors), your opportunities will become stagnant. Instead, find new groups to make connections with. You may have to adapt your product or services to fit the needs of a new type of potential customer. If you can refit your application and story, then you have the opportunity to generate leads from an untapped demographic.
2. Make deals with lead source partners.
If you are looking to sell directly, it can be hard work to find the right prospects. However, it is likely that someone is already serving your potential customers in another type of business. For example, if you sell accounting software, then selling directly to small businesses is one channel of approaching the market. The other is to find accounting consultants who currently service small business owners and form a strategic partnership with them to promote your product.
The key question to ask yourself is, “Who already works with my ideal customers?” Then figure out what would be a compelling deal that would attract their attention and incentivize them to send leads your way while adding value to the service they provide their customers. As you receive referrals, don’t forget to send notes of gratitude. Over time, meet with your lead source partners and share the results to date and continue to refresh the relationship. You may need to tweak the incentive if you are not getting the action you anticipated. Use your imagination to create the correlation between referrals and compensation for your partners.
3. Offer a compelling referral reward to current customers.
Your current customers may be extremely happy, however, they are not thinking about referring you. They have relationships which they can share, but there is nothing that focuses their attention and motivation to refer their network to you.
As you connect with customers, provide a referral incentive offer that is simple and but compelling enough such that it remains top-of-mind for them as they network with their friends who have similar needs. Give them an easy way to send a referral, such as by submitting a form online, responding to an email, etc. Let them know that you will keep them updated when you do business with their referral. Be quick to compensate for the lead or conversion to help create ongoing momentum for further leads.
A compelling referral reward should go beyond anything your customer would normally do for themselves. Dinners to a fine steakhouse, a high dollar referral fee or even a chance to win a luxury vacation create top-of-mind awareness. Customize the offer based on what a customer is worth to you and what they will find extremely valuable.
4. Write for an established publication.
Your customers are likely looking at a few key information sources for industry and business news and tips. Create a list of these publications and subscribe to them. After you get a feel for how the articles are presented and written, create an article which you believe would help your customers. Use your knowledge of your value offerings to create the content. Remember that this type of article should be written from an informational perspective, not a marketing one.
If the article is written well and is valuable, readers will want more information. Give them an enticing next step and provide a way to contact you directly via email or phone number.
If your article is online, it will exist as a web asset. The content will be found by search engines over time and will persist as an ongoing archived resource. It becomes real estate that can produce leads over time.
5. Contribute to a user forum.
Your customers may be hanging out together collaborating on their problems or using technology specific to your industry. User forums are a great way for customers to exchange feedback and ask questions about their needs and challenges.
Find out which user forums your customers or ideal prospects are participating in and subscribe. After you observe the collaboration between users, find ways to offer advice or help solve problems by posting answers. As your name becomes trusted, offer subtle ways to get contacted for people looking for solutions they may not have considered. Monitoring the forum may take a few minutes each day, but there are opportunities to generate leads with people that are focused on their problems.
6. Tailor your resources and guides to the sales pipeline.
We all know that content is king when it comes to attracting and providing value to customers and prospects. We also know that this is only true when the content is relevant. So how do you ensure that you are providing content that is highly relevant to your prospects?
One way is to tailor your content for the different parts of the buying process. Create detailed guides or useful articles with information that specifically corresponds to where in the sales process a lead is. For instance, if a lead is just getting to know you company and products, perhaps the most relevant resources would be generic industry and background information such as tips and best practices. As your leads get further into the sales process, technical product resources might become more relevant and address product-specific concerns they may have.
Remember to also tailor the design of each resource depending on the content you are presenting. The goal should always be to make the content easy to digest and search through. Visual aids are always helpful, especially when discussing financial or ROI implications.
The key is to ensure that you develop enough resources to not only attract leads, but to keep them engaged within every step of the buying process and informed enough to reduce hesitancy and confusion as they get closer to making their buying decision.
Your prospective customers are likely self-organized and concentrated in relationships with other customers, virtual communities or with other service providers. If you are creative and compelling in creating a deal to incentivize partners and customers, then you can expand an otherwise difficult lead generation approach within a limited and saturated market.
Build your own tribe of potential buyers with these tactics. It takes some proactive and creative thinking, but the payoff over the long-term will fill your sales pipeline.
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