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Sales Insights Series with Hays
How to generate more qualified leads
May 16, 2017 | Antony McElwee lock
It’s not oversimplification to say that the ability to generate qualified leads is the difference between a successful salesperson and someone who isn’t hitting their targets. I’ve been working in sales for more than 10 years and I’ve seen a lot of sales people who are great at closing a deal, but who either aren’t thinking past this one contract, or who haven’t learned how to develop and recognize a qualified lead. It’s an area that Hays is increasingly focusing our training on because our consultants’ ability to maintain a business pipeline is critical to their own careers, and our plans for business growth.
As Director of Sales and Client Relations, generating qualified leads is a big part of my job, and I’ve also talked to my colleague Steve McVay, from our Ottawa office, to get his insights as well. Between us we have worked in sales for more than 20 years so even an experienced sales person should be able to learn from these key points.

1. Do your research

Qualifying a lead requires knowledge and information about the individual, company, and industry. I keep up with the latest news to see which target companies are increasing activity, who’s opening new offices, announcements about changes in leadership – all of these are potential conversation starters, and could be a sign that these organizations need our services. I also research specific companies, looking at their LinkedIn page, website, and other social media for increased activity and other changes that could be a reason to call. For companies I might have worked with in the past, I’m looking for news or developments since the last time I talked to them. 

Prospecting can be one way to qualify a lead – if you want to improve your approach to prospecting read last month’s blog on better ways to prospect. 

2. Develop relationships, not just business

Your personal brand and network are of supreme importance. Focus building a relationships. I’ve developed business through my rugby club, and while walking the Inca Trail, and in both cases it was because I listened to someone’s needs and was able to offer a solution that truly fit their situation.

My colleague Steve compares it to dating: “If you sit opposite someone who just talks about how great they are then you don’t want a second date. On the other hand, if the person you’re talking to is warm, genuine, and asks good questions, then you’re more likely to call them again.”
In my experience, good sales people end up in good relationships with their clients because it’s based on respect and genuine support. 

3. Think long-term

What do you do if your qualified lead won’t pay off for six months? Timing is everything in sales, so you need to make sure you’re staying in touch with the decision maker over that time in case their timeline changes.

At Hays, our marketing team makes sure our clients are getting consistent, high-quality content so we’re always top-of-mind, but there are things you should be doing as an individual as well. For example, no matter where someone is in the buying cycle, I’ll call to arrange a meeting to drop off the Hays Salary Guide. I know my clients want to get a hard copy, and it’s an easy way for me to keep up with any developments in their organization.
“If I know there’s a project starting in three or six months I’ll still get a face-to-face with that client to talk about the process and pipelining candidates,” Steve adds. “Too often sales people see themselves as a commodity, not a consultant. We’re the experts in our products, which means we can advise our clients on the best project plan. If you can be part of their planning process then you’ll be better positioned to help them find the best solution for their company.”

4. Leverage past/existing business

“I call it ‘mushrooming’ when you’re able to move through an organization from team to team or location to location,” Steve says. “It’s the simplest question and so many sales people miss it. When you’ve had a great interaction with one person, my question will always be ‘Is there anyone else that you think I should be talking to?’ A lot of sales people are blinkered and don’t past the current contract.”

Internal and external referrals are one of the strongest sources for qualified leads. If you do a good job for one person, they’ll pass you on to someone else. Getting referrals requires two things of a sales person. First, acting with integrity and giving good service, and second, asking for them. If you are consistent in both then you could quickly build a robust client list without ever having to cold call again.

Still making those calls? Learn to love cold calling with tips from one of our account executives, or get back to basics with 5 tips from one of our top producers.

About the author: Antony McElwee Antony McElwee started his career with Hays in Auckland, New Zealand, in 2006. After three years in Sydney, Antony helped expand the Calgary office in 2011. He has more than 10 years of experience recruiting for senior finance roles and now leads key client relationships and development across all divisions including Accounting & Finance, Construction & Property, Information Technology, Oil & Gas, Office Professionals, Resources & Mining and Human Resources Divisions across Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan & Manitoba on both a permanent and contract or temporary basis.

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