Lead generation is essential to a healthy sales pipeline and is a key tactic in a good marketing plan. Like an old coal-burning engine, your pipeline requires constant feeding.  This means your organization needs to be good at producing quality leads.   But lead generation is not for the faint of heart.  It requires commitment, persistence and patience.

There is a sequential nature to it.  Here is some food for thought about how to approach this important business development initiative.  Every industry varies so this is a template that can be adapted to your situation.

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  1. Establish a Goal– You’ll use your leads for getting orders or customer appointments.  Whatever it is you’d like to use the leads for, the first step in your lead generation campaign is coming up with a measurable, achievable goal.  Otherwise, how will you know if you were successful or not?
  2. Identify Your Target Market & Create Their Profile– The shot gun approach won’t work.  Identify the specific market your customer is inand how your product solves their problem.

It’s referred to by many labels, but I use the term “Call Point”.  Regardless of what you call it, you have to know the title or the function that describes your target customer.  Are they a Director of Sourcing, Buyer, Project Engineer, General Manager? These are the final decision-makers.  Think of your lead generation as going after more of the type of customers that love doing business with you.

The call point, industry, geography and size of company will help round out your customer profile. This profile will drive the creative elements of your lead generation as well as the list selection.

  1. Call To Action / Your Offer– what behavior do you expect from your prospect? Do you want them to call you?  What do you have of value to offer them?
  2. Implement– Lead generation can be done by web site, email, catalog, trade show, post card or events.  Your database is the engine that drives your lead generation campaign if you do it via email, catalog, post card or events. The customer contact information in your database has a shelf life.  If it hasn’t been updated recently, your results will fall short of expectations.

I like Constant Contact for email marketing because it’s easy to use, inexpensive, has great customer support and offers clear metrics.  There are other platforms, some even offer free trials.  You can check out Mail Chimp, Campaign Monitor and AWeber.

  1. Follow Up– Don’t expect the first shot to bring the rain.  “Rinse and repeat” are key to effective lead generation.  The average number of touches to close a sale is seven for some industries.  Assign follow up phone calls.  Integrating follow up phone calls will improve effectiveness of the campaign.  The first touch isn’t going to be enough to close the deal!

Conclusion

The lifeblood of every business is new customers.  Over time your current customer base will erode.  Customers leave to competitors, go out of business, no longer need your product, etc.

Keep in mind initiatives such as these are often outsourced.  At the very least, seek advice.  There are some very good agencies that specialize in web marketing and lead generation.  If your organization isn’t equipped to deploy the process, find a trustworthy specialist to help.