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Spend Your Money On – “Perfect” Lead Building

Let’s face as small business owners, we have to spend a lot more time on the front end rather than the back end of the lead generation/customer building process. Larger companies can afford to “test” the market through third parties, expensive inbound campaigns, and software-enhanced prospect nurturing programs. In small business budgets are tight and the window of opportunity closes fast. For me, the best advice of where to spend your money – lead development.

Lead Versus Prospect

When does a lead become a prospect? By nature leads are generally interested in your specific product or service and are open to more education, monetary stimulation (sales/discoDeveloping Leads Is A Daily Processunts), and potential relationships. On the other hand, a prospect is identified by his conversion to – ready to buy. The true sales process begins when the matrix of [desire-product mix-budget] are matched effectively and competition is addressed. The only challenge becomes timing and delivery. It is very common to see old marketers focused on leads and not prospects because it is much easier to describe leads by demographics, buying styles, finances, personal interests, etc. than trying to define prospects. True prospects are generated AFTER conversion and can’t be counted before. This is why so many sales funnels are littered with “could-be prospects” with no real value as opposed to defined opportunity. How many times do you or your sales people extend the closing date until next week or month to show activity? In my experience, the closer the business owner is to the sales process the smaller the funnel and higher the closing percentage. Small businesses can’t waste the time on pipe dreams.

Business Development Or Product Evangelism

Understanding the difference between business development and product selling is one of the most important components of lead generation strategy. Is the small business building a product to fit a need or is the need an obvious fit Generate Interest In Your Companyto existing product? In many small businesses owners opt for the “field of dreams” philosophy – build it and they will come rather than go out, find them, and bring them to the game. Simply put, if no one knows about your company, then no one knows about your company. This is why lead generation is essential to growth and should be part of every strategy regardless of focus.

Best practice:  know that future customers are always built-TODAY.

Where To Begin Constructing Leads?

Now that you understand the difference between leads and prospects, sales funnel and pipe dreams, and the basic mechanism of search out rather than wait for, you are ready to generate leads. Leads come from a comparison of a company’s core competencies to market condition and buyer desire. With desire being defined as the value a customer will pay for your product or service and the potential of referring this to others in a target market. The best place to start is with your competition particularly those who market as the lions in your niche market. Big players in a target market have to give up specialization and speed to enable standardization of the product platform and messaging of value. Enter small business! ¬†Resplendent with low overhead, targeted skill sets, and local exposure, small business can capitalize on what the “big guys” can’t or don’t do for immediate profit. As in personal life unhappiness and disappointment will fuel desire for change. Many businesses are started because of inefficiencies found in large established firms. Take advantage of a bigger player’s struggling market share, unstable marketing message, and operational weaknesses to stimulate a fertile field of leads for your company.

Do your homework, compare offerings, and establish your target niche. Sharper vision and clear messaging will equate to higher possibility that specific buyers will have interest in you. For help with this process, drop me a line or contact through either facebook or this website.

Small Business Owners Are Generally Consistently Inconsistent In Lead Generation

Let’s face it small business owners are generally consistently inconsistent. Those who are consistent operate off a business plan. The difference boils down to action versus desire. I can desire change but never implement it. I can know that my business needs new leads but haven’t picked up the phone or sent an e-mail. In its truest form, lead generation builds on consistent messaging to interested or semi-interested parties about a product, process, or service that will change the status quo. Everything else adds fluff to the definition.

Take A Lesson From The Fair

Popcorn in one hand and arm entwined with your significant other strolling down the glittering lane of vendors at the local carnival. You spy a venue with huge stuffed animals as the prize.  All you have to is pop three colored balloons with darts. Each set of three is $1.00. At face value, easy, right? Maybe not. Unknown to you the flights have been trimmed, the tips are dull from use, and the goal is three balloons of the same color which are strategically placed and smaller. Regardless of the risk you step up and throw. $15.00 and 30 minutes later, you are frustrated and in disbelief.Lead Generation Take Practice

From the time you walked up to the booth until you left empty handed, you responded to a lifetime of messages about carnivals, games, and personal experience with darts. The game was rigged to distract you with a gratuitous prize for a little investment. Obviously location plays a huge role in this scenario but lead generation by the dart/balloon vendor is pretty straight forward. You wanted to change your situation with a huge animal, admiration from your partner, and an increase in self-esteem. The level of interest dictated the action and you paid for it. So ends the lesson.

Lead Nurturing In Business

The biggest fallacy in lead building is that purchasing back end/front end technology, “scrubbed” lists, links, or joining interest groups will create a fertile field of prospects. Networking, direct contact, trickle marketing, e-mail campaigning, trade shows, webinars, downloads, etc. are all examples of outbound strategy to develop inbound opportunity with the eventual goal of conversion. I have evaluated executed programs by small business owners who were mystified by low response and conversion rates. Universally, the reason is mis-targeting and unrealistic profiles. Better to pick up the telephone book and dial (if you still have one). You will probably have a higher rate of return. Opportunity develops by the exchange of ideas and knowledge that is pertinent to both the giver and the receiver. This can’t be purchased through a third party.

Mining Opportunity

The first step in building a successful program is to understand components in a typical process and identify/define them in detail:

  • Perfect Lead – profiled to match your product-service-core competencies
  • Best opportunity – maximizes “your answer” to their expectations (not only need)
  • Strongest relationship between opporunity and product mix – selected to create a potential relationship not “The Sale”
  • Cost of generation/conversion – understand how much perlead will be necessary to reach goals
  • Expectations after conversion – define both internal and external demands on the process (think abandoned shopping cart)
  • Onging management or nurturing for the future – if at first you don’t succeed, message again and again

Next, test your results on a small select group of existing partners, loyal customers, and a select target group who are incentivized to respond. Hopefully, the results will mirror your expectations and you are on your way. As your database of prospects builds take note of any trends and capitalize on the profitable ones and get rid of aberrations. The objective is creation of a “potential” sea of opportunity.

Opportunity Is Knocking

A fat database of leads is not a prospect-rich base regardless of what is told to you by marketeers. Just because I can sell you contact information for 5,000 dentists doesn’t mean that each of them will immediately convert to a real prospect. It merely means that generally your “dental appliance” could be fulfilled within the group, as an example. So many business owners buy into social media contacts, e-mail lists, mailing data bases, etc. and find that costs don’t translate into conversion. That being said, there is value in testing large groups for acceptance of your product or service and nurturing potential opportunity for the future. The only caveat is a larger target list nets a smaller percentage of conversions and costs more overall. If you have the cash go for it, if not, fine tune the target profile and attempt to create beta customers who refer new business to you.

Make The Whisper Into A Scream

Two things to remember about lead generation: its always going on and needs to take advantage of message inertia to create virality and market buzz. Stop looking for leads and they will never find you. It is pretty much a one-way street. Don’t rely on word of mouth, publicity, networking, or outbound marketing efforts by themselves. Figuratively, the only way to keep the phone ringing is keep dialing out and asking for a call back. Lead generation is completely action dependent. If you don’t believe me, contact ten companies and ask them about your business.

Oops! That might be considered part of lead generation.

Oh, well…

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