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What challenges are you facing doing business in our brave new world?

08 Jun 2012 | Posted Under Sales

Lead Generation in a Brave New World!

By Kathy Rodshaw

Lead generation may be one of your primary business goals in today’s tough economy, but before you launch into your next big marketing campaign it’s important to understand how your business gets new customers. The Internet, search, and social media have dramatically changed how buyers make decisions. Research and recommendations, even from virtual strangers on social media, are the keys to today’s purchase decisions, and your programs for lead generation must be based on this new reality.

In addition, Dean Akers, a successful Tampa Bay businessman, said that knowing your demographic and market is the key to success. In order to do the best job with your lead generation campaigns, you must know your marketplace and be able to identify a likely prospect for your specific business. What needs, or desires, does a good prospect have which would lead him to choose your offering? Who might influence his buying decisions? In what age range is he most likely to be? What income bracket? This information will help you create a marketing campaign with exceptional return on investment (ROI).

You should also know what your customer’s average order value is, what his “lifetime” value could be and, my personal favorite, what your customer’s buying cycle is. The bottom line is that the more you know about your customers, the more leads you’ll generate.

The next step is ensuring you have a sales cycle in place to match your customer’s buying cycle. We know that, on average, 62% of inquiries are NOT going to be ready to buy immediately when they begin their research. Today’s buyer is more savvy, and perhaps more wary. You must be prepared to build a relationship with your leads so that when they finally reach the “BUY” position of their buying cycle, you are their obvious choice.

Sales training is, of course, the key here. The most successful salespeople I know are those who care about the prospects, demonstrate this by asking questions about them and their businesses (and/or personal goals), and then LISTEN! The number one reason that people buy is that the salesperson cared about them! It may not matter whether the buyer can easily afford your product or service, or even if it is the best. The buying decision is almost always about how the buyer feels. To turn those leads into sales … make them feel cared about!

Here are some of the most important things you should be doing in order to generate more leads, and convert those leads to sales:

-Put systems in place to gather information (metrics) about buyers, and potential buyers
-Understand your typical client as completely as possible
-Create and maintain a powerful website with a blog
-Create marketing campaigns that leverage what you know about your ideal clients, for greater ROI
-Make your leads feel important and cared about by responding quickly, asking questions, and LISTENING
-Improve your odds by staying in touch with leads while they work through their buying cycle
-Build long term relationships with buyers to leverage repeat sales and new referrals
-Offer a “Thank You” of some sort after the sale, to make the buyer feel valued
-Use an appropriate CRM (or CEM) system to stay organized and stay in touch (even after the sale)
-Provide your sales team with the proper training to understand the entire process, and how to work it
-Do follow-up assessments and follow-up training as necessary
-Track EVERYTHING, and use what you learn to improve your process

So, the process of generating leads in today’s rapidly changing marketing environment, controlled by brave innovators like Mark Zuckerberg, is somewhat more involved, and may require a qualified consultant. But once a system has been designed and implemented, it can provide much higher returns than traditional forms of marketing, like newspaper and magazine ads.

We also need to be able to handle those leads in a wider variety of communication channels. While for many businesses the telephone still plays a critical role in lead generation and lead nurturing, today we also need to be prepared to use email, texts, and even Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and more to initiate those leads and to begin building relationships. Being well versed and comfortable communicating in a wide variety of ways has become very important to success in today’s new world.

Marketing, lead generation and sales have never changed more rapidly than they have in the last ten years, and it becomes more and more difficult for the typical business owner to keep abreast of all the changes and to remain effective. There may never have been a time when it was more important to consult with an expert than right now.

If you feel that your lead generation and sales are not where you want them to be, the very best advice I can offer you is to do what your potential customers are doing. Use the Internet to do some research, and then reach out to those who you feel are a good fit, and begin your own buying cycle.

An expert can guide you toward a process which will put you into a position to reap the rewards of a world in which we can now reach out to millions, and even billions, of people connecting to other people and businesses in exciting and innovative ways. It’s a new day and, with the proper guidance, you can experience greater success than you ever dreamed possible!

About the Author
Kathy moved to England from her native New York with a plan for a two year stay. She wound up living in the UK for over twenty-three years. During that time she established herself as a pioneer in helping businesses reduce the cost of getting new customers while managing their sales process. She achieved her marketing credentials at the prestigious British Chartered Institute of Marketing, and her background in direct marketing provided the insight for how essential it is to remain in active conversations with customers to genuinely ascertain their needs and increase sales. Kathy continued to consult throughout Europe and was a frequent speaker at international conferences. She also held workshops for clients like American Express, IBM UK and the Helpdesk User Group. Her client base has ranged from Europe’s largest to the more modest in size; but every company seeks Kathy for her direct style and realistic approach to their issues and the results that they do achieve.

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