What you need to know about lead Generation

Lead generation doesn’t matter for every business. Before you invest in lead generation, read on to find out if it is right for your company.

If you’re selling candy at the local convenience store, then you can aim for an immediate sale. Likewise if you sell other low price products like a $2 pen, your customers are ready to make a purchase right when they walk into your store.

If your business sells complex and high price products, it doesn’t make sense to ask for a sale right away. Instead, lead generation is the better way to go.

Let’s quickly define the term lead generation:

Lead generation is a method of “warming up” potential clients to your business and moving them on the path to eventually buying.

Contrast lead generation to retail sales at a store in your city. For most stores, you probably walk in and buy a magazine or chocolate bar and continue with your day. There’s not much of a “warm up” process in that case.

If you sell to businesses or offer high price services, lead generation becomes much more important. Why? Only a few prospects you encounter are ready to make a purchase right away.

What about all the other prospects that have a “passing interest” in your business? Perhaps they visit your website today on a quiet Friday afternoon, read about some of your products and then disappear. That “drive by” visitors could translate into a sale in a matter of weeks or months if you had a lead generation process in place.

Avoid these common Lead Generation mistakes.

No Lead Generation
If you have high prices products to sell, you can’t expect that many customers will be ready to make a purchase when they first meet you. Without lead generation, only “I need it right now!” prospects will convert to sales.

For everybody else? You’ll just have to pray that they remember you when they eventually decide to make a purchase.

No Lead Nurture Process
Let’s say that you are starting to generate leads. That’s an improvement. It’s not enough. Here’s a common scenario: a prospect receives a white paper from you as a gift for joining your email newsletter list.

What happens next? All too often, it’s radio silence… Until you decide to offer a sale or some other promotion. The missing step is a “nurture process” – a series of messages that build a connection between you and the prospect. Example: Prospect receives a white paper explaining the latest challenges in iPhone cyber-security problems.

The nurture process in this case could be a series of five pre-written emails that provide additional examples of cyber-security failures and explain how difficult these challenges are to solve.

The final message in the sequence would incite the prospect to your monthly cyber-security webinar (or to a sales call). By nurturing the lead over time with valuable communications, the lead will become more open to buying from you.

No Lead Generation Experimentation
In business, it’s easy to get stuck using the same method over and over again. If the method is generating sales, there’s some wisdom to using the tried and true. However, the marketplace doesn’t stand still.

Years ago, FAX marketing produced results until the authorities clamped down on that practice. Regulations and competitors are making different moves every day. That’s why you need to include experimentation in your lead generation.

For example, consider using A/B testing on your website to generate leads – test headline A (“Get A Free White Paper On…”) vs headline B (“CIOs – Read This Whitepaper to keep your iPhones secure…”).

Use the 80/20 rule for experimentation – 80% of the time, focus on proven strategies. For the remaining 20% of your time, experiment with different lead generation techniques. Resource: For an in-depth explanation of A/B Testing and how it can be used to increase sales, check out Nick Disabato’s book “The A/B Testing Manual.”

Build A Lead Generation Strategy.

Lead generation is a tested way to increase sales but only if you do it strategically. To create a lead generation strategy, you need to understand a few key facts about your business:

Customer Lifetime Value
Over a two year period, how much revenue does an average customer generate for your business? For example, if a typical customer makes three $10,000 purchases over that period, then they are worth $10,000. Resource: For additional guidance on understanding this importance metric, read How To Calculate Lifetime Value.

Cost Per Lead
How much money (or staff time which can be translated to money) is required to generate a qualified prospect? If it takes a week of full time sales effort to generate a lead for your consulting business, then your cost per lead may be well over $1,000.

Document Typical Sales Objections
Nearly every sales conversation involves objections. Your prospects express a doubt or concern about the product and it is your responsibility to address that. For example if you sell accounting software, a typical customer objection may be that the software may not meet the customer’s cyber-security requirements.

Document Your Sales Process
Using three recent sales as a reference, write a one page summary of the steps you go through with each sale. How many phone calls does it generally take? In the case of B2B sales, also take note of how many different people you have to meet during the sales process.

Questions to ask.

What lead generation processes does my business have in place?
At one end of the spectrum, you have a basic process like handing out a business card at a conference and “hoping” the prospect calls you. At the other end of the spectrum, you have content marketing assets like white papers and a fine-tuned nurture process.

Do I have a reliable process to communicate with prospects?
A reliable process means that you know approximately how long it takes to guide a lead from walking in the door to making a purchase. Remember that larger purchases typically take more time to build trust. In the airplane business, the sales process typically takes over a year from beginning to end.

If your sales staff are currently manually nurturing leads (e.g. calling them once a month), it is still important to have a systematic process in place. Ask your sales staff to track their engagement with prospects and report to you on a monthly basis on the success of their activities.

How can I earn permission to stay in touch with prospects over time?
Permission to stay in touch is important. Otherwise, your prospects may mark your messages as SPAM.

The best way to earn permission to stay in touch with prospects is to use a double opt-in email marketing system. Email marketing providers like ConvertKit, Aweber and MailChimp make this easy.