In Part 2 of this series, we began looking at lead generation. More specifically, that article outlined ways to set yourself apart as an established and trusted expert. This article wraps up the series and explores another aspect of lead generation – marketing. These are tactics you can execute yourself for your direct benefit, as well as tactics that your internal marketing team or a consultant can execute on your behalf for the wider benefits of others who are a part of your salesforce.
Traditional marketing methods are tried and true. They have been used for years, and they are still effective when done correctly. By blending traditional and newer methods of marketing to prospects, you will improve your chance of success as you approach prospects and generate leads.
The success of cold calling often depends on the attitude of the caller. A salesperson who does not believe in the effectiveness of cold calling is not going to project the confidence necessary for success. Maintaining a positive attitude will go further than you think. Cold calling has become increasingly difficult, but it is worth the reward. Do not expect to close a sale with a cold call. While it may happen, the purpose is to connect with the prospect.
Successful cold calling requires extensive preparation. You need to understand the prospect and how your product relates to the prospect’s needs. You need to focus on:
- Introducing yourself and your company
- Questioning the prospects about their needs
- Educating the prospect about how you can meet needs
- Maintaining contact with the prospect
Direct mail is a familiar marketing method that uses physical mail, making it simple and affordable. The effectiveness of direct mail requires choosing the mailing list carefully. You must create the list of prospects based on the niche that your company provides, your ideal customer. Once you have created your list, create the piece. Direct mail advertising is more effective when there is a call to action, such as a special offer. The direct mail piece should not be educational, make it playful or creative. You may test the direct mail on a sample of your mailing list before completing the direct mail campaign. This will help you make any adjustments you feel are necessary.
Many companies can benefit from trade shows. A trade show is a wonderful venue for meeting new prospects, but trade shows are typically crowded, which means that there is great competition. There are a few steps that you can take to ensure that you benefit from the experience:
- Plan in advance: this includes finding the booth space and choosing how to decorate it so there are no surprises. You also need to choose highly energetic people to handle your booth.
- Create goals: Do not simply show up. You need to create goals to keep on track. This could include the number of prospects you wish to meet.
- Advertise: Make sure that you advertise your presence and invite customers. You will enhance advertising if you are a speaker.
- Follow up: Take the time to connect with prospects after the trade show is over.
Networking is a frequently used buzzword. Networking, however, is one of the most effective methods of prospecting. Networking requires more than simply meeting people; it requires the time to build relationships. The process is slow and often begins at events. When going to a networking event, you need to actively work the room. Your focus should be to offer value and sell yourself. Network with different people. Once you meet new prospects, follow-up and connect with them. As you build relationships, your network will develop.
As technology changes, so do the marketing methods used. Some newer marketing methods, such as social networking, will be very familiar. Search engine marketing may be less so. When you combine the newer marketing methods with the traditional ones, you have the opportunity to make the most of your marketing strategies.
Social networking is commonplace in the modern world, and it is rapidly growing as a method of advertising. There are different methods of advertising in social media. First, you can advertise promotions directly to followers. Another method of advertising is placing ads on social media networks. Popular networks are Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Advertising on social networks does cost, so it needs to be considered in the advertising budget. For example, you can promote tweets for a price or place ads on Facebook that target specific demographics. LinkedIn also offers company promotions or pay-per-click ads. Paid per click ads are more expensive than promotions.
Search Engine Marketing
Search engine marketing (SEM) increases the visibility of your company online by advertising and optimizing the ranking in search engine results. SEM uses different services. Organic services are based on algorithms that assess different sites. Many people attempt to increase placement by padding the text with search terms. This can damage the quality of the writing and lower rankings. Search engine marketing also includes paid listing options to increase the placement ranking in search engines such as pay-per-click advertising.
When using search engine marketing, you must know your audience and choose keywords they are likely to search. Implement the keywords throughout the text, but make sure that the text is well-written and the website structured correctly. Next, it is important to get the site indexed by Google and other search engines. The final step is implementing a pay per click program and measuring ROI to determine if any adjustments are necessary.
Email marketing can be very effective at generating leads. In order to reap the rewards of email marketing, you need to do more than send out mass emails. You need to craft emails that will be seen and inspire a response. There are a few things to remember when creating an email campaign:
- Avoid typing in all caps and overusing buzzwords like FREE! These actions will increase the chance of the spam filter catching the email.
- Create a simple design someone is likely to read. Limit yourself to three fonts.
- Include an incentive and call to action with visible placement.
- Make the subject lines brief but compelling. There is no reason to make them over 30 words.
- Test the email, make sure the landing page link works and is closely tied to the email.
Display advertising is an alternative to basic text advertising. These ads implement the use of videos and images. Display advertising includes the familiar banner ads as well as rich media, which incorporates text, video, and images. You will probably need the aid of an expert to create display advertising. Once the advertisement has been created, they should target specific demographics. You can assess the effectiveness of your ads and make adjustments as necessary. Your cost will depend on the advertising method you choose.
- Cost per click: You pay when someone clicks the ad.
- Cost per thousand impressions: You pay with every appearance of the ad.
- Cost per acquisition: You only pay when there is a sale from the ad.
Like any other method of advertising, you must communicate a clear message to your customer. Useful tips for display advertising include: using a call to action, having ads that complement the website, and testing ad campaigns.
Part of developing the relationship with potential customers requires educating them about you and your company. Sharing knowledge and displaying expertise will develop trust with consumers and expand the customer base. Creating and sharing high-quality content is an important part of establishing yourself as an expert. In order for content to be effective, however, must be professional and informative. There are many different avenues of content creation, and you may develop it yourself or hire an expert. Types of content include:
- Case studies
- Blogs/ Vlogs (video blogs)
- Social media
Once you have created content, you need to do everything you can to share it. Apply the skills in marketing methods to help spread your knowledge.
Standing out from the competition relates back to branding. Remember that your brand is your public image. Your brand will help differentiate you from the competition. Once you understand your customers and how your brand relates to them, you need to establish your niche and take on roles specific to your company. For example, a company that offers delivery or free gift-wrap will stand out from competitors. Once you know how you stand out from the competition, you must advertise it to your prospects.
Fill Customer Needs
As we have already established, you will never develop prospects without establishing value for your customers. It is a good idea to gather data about what your prospects want and then find gaps in your competition that your business will be able to fill. For example, you should improve customer service if your prospects have a problem with the customer service of your competition. Once this is done, you must educate your prospects about the ways in which you will fill their needs.
ALWAYS Deliver on Promises
Part of educating consumers is showing that you always deliver on promises. Customers will share their experiences, and it will damage your chances with new prospects if you develop a reputation for not keeping your promises. The best way to deliver on your promises is to avoid overpromising. While you should go the extra mile for prospects and customers, never make promises that you know you can’t keep. If you develop a reputation for keeping your promises, you improve your standing with your prospects.
Mind the Pipeline
The pipeline should be a familiar term for anyone with sales experience. The sales pipeline has several basic steps: make contact and collect information, meet, make proposals, and close. You may alter the stages based on your company needs. Monitoring the pipeline allows you to monitor prospecting and lead generation.
The first stage of the pipeline is contact. You may contact a prospect through cold calling, but the prospect will often contact you in response to your marketing. Regardless of how the contact occurs, you must take the opportunity to learn about your prospect. Check the website history and look up your prospect online. Take the opportunity to ask questions if the contact comes through a call or meeting.
After making contact, companies typically compile information on prospects after making contact. Use websites, questionnaires, and conversations. Choose a method of storing information that works best for you, a database or even a spreadsheet. As you catalog information, organize them based on needs, interests, etc. This information will be used to connect with prospects.
After gathering information about the prospect, it is necessary to meet with the prospect. This does not need to be a face-to-face meeting; the meeting may be online or over the phone. Regardless of how the meeting occurs, it is important to be prepared. The meeting should allow you to develop your business relationship and explain ways that you can meet client needs. The first meeting is often too early to present a proposal, but the sequences of the pipeline are not static.
The sales proposal is based on communication with the prospect. The proposal will depend on your business. Some will be based on standard rates and prices, while others will require more research to develop. Once a proposal is submitted, it is important that you follow up with the prospect. Do not simply trust in fate, be available to answer questions or make adjustments. The proposal must include a timeline, and the details should be based on earlier discussions. You cannot consider the sale to be complete at this stage. The proposal stage leads to closing at a 1:3 rate. The proposal must be officially accepted before the sale is made.
The final stage is closing. The sale is not finished until it is closed. It may be necessary for you to negotiate with the customer to officially close. Closing occurs when the contract or order is signed and the sale implemented. It is important to carefully guide customers through the closing process; just because someone accepted a proposal does not mean the sale is firm. Additionally, it is important to close quickly. The more time that you give customers to consider their purchases, the more likely they are to think of reasons to avoid the purchase.
Without following up, a terrible thing can happen – nothing! You should not allow too much time to pass between making contact with your prospects and moving them towards customer status. Communication will help you better understand your leads and respond to their questions appropriately. Correct follow-up communication is essential to success.
Know your Leads
As we have already established, you need to understand your customer base to meet their needs. It is not enough to research a generic customer base; you need to get to know your individual leads. You need to gather information and then pay attention to it, and follow up communication is the perfect opportunity. Every time that you follow-up with a lead, take the opportunity to get better know him or her. There are steps that you can take to help you.
- Track what the leads look at on your website
- Make notes after contact
- Send online surveys
- Ask questions
- Use social media to understand what the lead likes
Whenever you follow up with leads, it is important that you move quickly. Do not allow time to lapse after making contact. If the customer makes first contact, respond as soon as possible. After the first discussion, you should follow up with the relevant information within 48 hours by phone, email, or social media. You want to stay present in the minds of your leads. Set up a meeting as soon as possible, and establish a date. Make contact with your leads regularly. This does not have to be a long, personal meeting. Maintaining contact is necessary because the probability of making a sale decreases substantially 72 hours after the first meeting. It is important to help the relationship progress without making the prospect feel rushed.
Know How to Respond
The success of a sale increases greatly when the initial response is made between five and 30 minutes of the initial communication. While it is important that you move quickly when responding to leads, you need to know what you are communicating. Some companies use autoresponders to make the response immediate, but personal communication is always more effective. If you do implement auto responses, find a system that allows you to personalize it.
When responding to a lead, you should rely on your understanding of that person’s needs. You need for your call back to be relevant to the prospect. Many people choose to base their response on scripts that they tailor for individuals. Regardless of the method you use, make sure that you have the information that your lead needs.
Set Future Meetings
Hopefully, a follow up will result in setting a meeting. A future meeting increases the chance of making a sale. There are a few things that you need to remember when setting appointments:
- Offer value: I know this is repetitive, but you need to offer a reason for the meeting, such as information, a free estimate, etc.
- Be accommodating: Agree to the time and venue that your lead prefers. The meeting does not have to be immediate or in person. The point is to set the time and date.
- Keep trying: If a lead refused to set a meeting, revisit the question when following up.
Prospecting and lead generation requires you to track activity. This may seem daunting at first, but there are many useful tools that can help you keep up with your prospects. Tracking and assessing results will help you determine how to alter your prospecting to convert more leads into sales.
Use Appropriate Tools
There are a number of tools that assist in tracking lead generation. Customer relationship management systems (CRMs) are very popular. They track marketing, emails, and customer interactions. The programming makes tracking easier because it collects information from multiple departments, simplifying the process of finding and tracking leads. Along with full CRM programs, there are apps available for small businesses. Of course, some companies attempt to handle the information on their own, using spreadsheets and other programs to track progress manually, which is very time-consuming. In the end, you must choose the best tool for your business.
Assess Your Advertising Sources
You should have multiple advertising sources in place to attract leads, but you need to assess how each source performs for you and make adjustments as needed. First, you need to determine what you want to assess. You can assess the increase in traffic, the number of leads generated, or conversion rates? Your assessment will depend on the goal of your advertising. Do you want to attract more leads at this point, or are you looking for higher conversion rates. For example, a campaign may attract prospects or social media likes, but this does not translate to conversions. You might need to target your demographic better to increase conversion rates. Once you determine what you want to assess, collect the data with the CRM tool, ROI, or other tools for each individual source.
Record Information About Leads
We have already addressed keeping a database of leads. This should be more than a list of names and company needs. The information recorded should be extensive, and more information should be recorded with every interaction.
- The source of the lead (referral, banner ad, etc.)
- Customer needs
- Competitor offers
- Objection to sales
- Demographic information
This is not a comprehensive list. Your business will dictate what you need to record. This information should be kept even if there is no conversion.
As with every other project that your company undertakes, you need to keep track of your return on investment (ROI). The basic ROI calculation is:
(Investment Gain – Cost of investment) / Cost of investment
Prospecting and lead generation are complex because there is not a single investment cost. Common costs include wages, ad posting, the cost of lead qualification, and conversion tracking, etc. The exact cost of your program will depend on the unique circumstances of your organization. Fortunately, there are different calculators and programs online to assist you with the assessment.
It is important that you do more than close sales. You should attempt to create a loyal customer base. Customers have relationships and feel connected to businesses. By showing interest, being professional, and being reliable, you will soon find that leads appreciate your business and become loyal clients and customers.
The customer relationship is like any other. The relationship requires time and energy to develop and maintain or it withers. Contact your customers regularly, and always address them by name. This does not need to be face to face. Send out emails or connect on social media. Additionally, it is a good idea to seek feedback from customers to create a dialogue. Customer rewards are another method of relationship development. Examples of rewards include:
- Rewards programs
- Birthday cards
- Friends and family promotions
Show Genuine Interest
Customer relationships turn sour when salespeople do not show genuine interest. People do not want to feel like they are viewed as walking debit cards. You will improve customer relationships by showing genuine interest in them.
- Be engaging: Ask customers personal details and remember them. Do not limit conversation to business.
- Anticipate: As you develop a relationship with your customer, you will learn how to anticipate and fulfill customer needs.
- Follow up: Thank you notes and phone calls help customers feel appreciated and show your interest.
While it is a good idea to be personable and inviting, you also need to remember to maintain your professionalism.
- Be courteous (say please and thank you.)
- Keep your private life to yourself.
- Dress appropriately for your position.
- Do not become too familiar (avoid off-color jokes and comments.)
Show Reliability and Integrity
Customers trust companies and individuals when they show reliability and integrity. Integrity displays morality and honesty. For example, a company that mislabels the price to the benefit of the customer will display integrity by honoring the price and taking the financial loss.
Reliability means that the customer can expect a consistent experience when the dealing with your company. Your prices will be consistent and any changes explained and announced. Employees will all be courteous and attentive, and the quality of the service and product will be uniform time and time again.
Effective prospecting and lead generation requires constant commitment if you want to reach your sales goals. It is work necessary to undertake for your business to succeed. Keep these words from the wise in mind during your journey.
- Ray Kroc: If you work just for money, you’ll never make it. But if you love what you are doing, and always put the customer first, success will be yours.
- Ashleigh Brilliant: Good ideas are common – what’s uncommon are people who will work hard enough to bring them about.
- Zig Ziglar: Every sale has five basic obstacles: no need, no money, no hurry, no desire, and no trust.
- Beverly Sills: There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.
By Christine R. Spray
Photo: © creativecommonsstockphotos – Dreamstime.com