What are Leads?
Sales leads are the contacts sought by a seller that are considered the first step in the sales process. These can be either individuals or businesses who have shown interest in your product or services.
Hopefully for your business, these leads will conclude in a pitch, a sale, the closing of a deal or an agreement. Leads are not the same as prospects; however, leads will require further qualification to determine the extent of their intent and interest in your product. Generation of leads is typically done by the marketing department and they can be obtained in several ways, including trade shows, by word-of-mouth, internet research or by purchase of lead databases.
How do I track them?
To start successfully tracking sales leads, you should start by reviewing your lead management process. Your sales pipeline and performance depend on good lead management.
Firstly, define exactly who your leads are. A significant proportion of leads are lost because the lead isn’t at the right point in the sales process. Targeting those who are, means the sales team can concentrate on them and prevent leads from being lost.
For optimal sales effectiveness, provide your sales team with an effective customer relationship management (CRM) tool that captures interactions with leads.
Prospective clients will hear about you through adverts, word of mouth, referrals, or specific campaigns. Make sure you track the source by asking them what prompted them to contact you.
Depending on your product or service, leads may not be ready to purchase from you after one interaction. So, you need to nurture them over time using campaigns with multiple channels and touchpoints. This will allow you to track them through the sales process.
Lastly, hold regular meetings with your sales team to review the quality of leads, sales records, loss records and tracking on CRM systems.
How do I consistently generate new, high quality sales leads?
In recent years, there’s increasingly become two separate answers to the question of how to generate new sales leads – offline and online. Both still require the key attributes of attention to detail, hard work and persistence.
Considering offline first, this is achieved through the use of the traditional tactics and actions that have served companies and organisations of all sizes well throughout many years. Let’s start with word-of-mouth, a direct result of the service offered and reputation built. Make sure that the people working in your company know the key messages to present to customers, as well as how to deal with them both courteously and professionally.
Other activities concern the use of advertising through direct mail, local and national print media, radio and, for some, television. These actions are added to with trade shows, exhibitions, and networking at other local or industry events. Like the online actions discussed later, effective preparation is key. This involves understanding the specific audience you’re talking to in any campaign – and these may vary for the different products or services you provide.
Talk to the audience at their level of understanding, not that of the experts who are employed within the business. Deliver the messages they wish to hear, and give them the information they need to know to take the action you want them to. Make sure such messages are presented in the most effective media and at the right time. It’s also vital that all members of your business involved with the public know the detail of all such promotional activities, and have the skills to follow-up effectively when enquiries are made.
A final, traditional, way of generating leads is to ask current customers for recommendations to others. This is both a powerful sales tool, and a way of warming up the traditional cold call.
Much of the work already mentioned is equally important when generating sales leads through online activities, however, there are other considerations to be added. The main entrance point for many will be your website. This could be through a general interest, and a visit to your homepage. Often, the lead is generated from a specific search, and should bring visitors to a landing page relating to that particular product or service. Remember too that your website is a place to move people through until they complete the end result, be it to purchase, request more information, or contact you; whichever is the action you wish them to take.
Your website must be welcoming and well-presented, making as powerful an impression as you’d want visitors to your physical premises to receive. The content should be created for powerful SEO (search engine optimisation) to be achieved. This will then drive traffic to your site, but this content must also be presented in a reader-friendly way.
Social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, are also powerful lead generation tools. The former can allow you to provide news, tell stories, and build an inclusive feel for your company. The latter can be more precise, offering links to specific products, information and the like. The key to both is to ensure clear links are included, to drive the leads to your website, or to physically contact your business.
In summary, there is no single way that is best for lead generation. You will undertake a range of activities, specific to your business, that blend together to identity key lead areas and then reach them as economically and effectively, and as often, as possible