So much has been written about finding new sales leads and lead generation in general that I often wonder if people are missing the boat and not seeing the answers that are often right in front of them---your existing customers. Here are three tried and true methods for lead generation that will help you find new sales leads.
1. 'Getting' Your Existing Customers
Sitting down with your accumulated data and figuring out what makes your existing customer base tick goes further in developing new leads than any amount of trend chasing. While 3-D printed customized trinkets at your next big trade show might work wonders, it’s not a lasting strategy for developing new leads. Want to make your existing customers work for you? Consider these game-changing moves:
Recognizing Commonalities. Whatever you think you know about people who buy your product or service, set it aside. Done? Now look closely at your actual customer base—what traits do they truly share? Maybe the answers are exactly what you expected. Maybe they’re surprising. Whatever the results, you have two moves once you have a grasp of this data (ambitious companies will do both): Perfect your marketing to the groups that already want your product or expand your marketing to grab customers from an entirely new mold.
Segmentation. The habits that make customers different matter just as much as those that make them the same. With a critical eye, you’ll spot segments which respond to different marketing, different sales, and different products in very different ways. Why should you try to sell everything to every group the exact same way? Match your approach to each customer group--optimize for segments, not the masses, and you'll see returns that clumsier companies can't match.
Customer Satisfaction. The customer isn't always right, but companies that make a point to keep their regulars happy will reap the benefits: repeat customers, word-of-mouth advertising, and loyalty that lasts through the inevitable rough patches. Researching and finding out what makes customers happy and, conversely, what makes them write scathing reviews will give you better returns than almost any other effort. So work those follow-up surveys for all they're worth.
2. Understanding Your Own Marketing
When you consider how to find new sales leads, consider your marketing thus far. Marketing meshes the art and the science of human interactions, but if you focus too hard on one side or the other, your efforts will go nowhere. You have tools available to you that make it increasingly easy to take your long-utilized strategies and tactics and put them under the microscope.
Sketch It Out. Get paper and a pencil, or open up your favorite note-taking software, and draw a chart that details how you find, develop, and generate leads. What steps turn a normal member of the population into a paying customer? How do you currently funnel individuals and businesses into your ‘qualified lead’ pile? Think about this from the customer’s perspective, not your own—you don’t want to miss a thing.
Track Vital Metrics. You know by now what numbers matter, so keep tabs on them. Utilizing modern software solutions, it’s trivially easy to see how prospects flow into your environment and move through it, where you’re losing people, where you’re increasing their excitement, what approaches bring in poor leads, and which ones generate superior leads. And once you have these numbers at hand, you can start making changes—and see, without any doubt, what impact each change has.
Set Goals That Matter. With the data at hand, you can set goals that mean something, and track your success in reaching those goals more successfully than any generation before. Too many companies set pointless, aimless, feel-good goals with their marketing without thinking for a moment whether reaching those goals will help their business. Dodge that trap and set a target worth aiming for.
3. Lead Generation Best Practices
Are you still playing from a decades-old best practices playbook? Lead generation has changed in the modern era, and companies that can't keep up will quickly go extinct. Social vetting alone changes how to find new sales leads to an astounding degree.
Early Engagement Matters. The lead generation process starts far earlier in 2015 than it did in 1995. Tweets, webinars, Facebook pages, YouTube videos, free articles--you're reaching prospects in a thousand different ways before you become truly aware of them. Make these early points of contact work as part of a long game.
Score Your Leads. All leads are not created equally, and wasting effort on low-value prospects means wasting money (unless you have infinite manpower and a perpetual motion machine at hand). Figure out the value of your leads, and approach them accordingly.
Sometimes the easiest answers are right in front of you.