When launching a business, we eagerly network the people we already know: our family, personal friends, colleagues from prior career experience. That strategy is a great way to start and works for a long time, but if we wish to continue to grow, it’s not enough.
Generating leads is a necessity if we want to build our business footprint but focusing only on that without integrating your marketing strategy will limit growth. Let’s examine some ways to you cleanly align two crucial aspects of your business.
- Start with a plan. It’s hard to drive without a map. Figure out what sort of marketing content you want and how many leads you want to generate. There’s no ‘one size fits all’ plan for creating a cohesive marketing plan for lead generation and what works for your competitor may not be what you need.
- Provide ample material for educating customers. Don’t be stingy with information. You already know social media and blogs can be great tools for establishing your reputation as an expert. Expand that even more and create an online forum with questions and answers and invite customers to participate with their own solutions. Surveys are a great way to involve potential leads.
- Track your leads. You don’t need fancy software or a staff member with an Ivy League MBA to analyze the sales cycle from lead to closure. Get very familiar with Excel and you’ll find it can generate a wealth of information, including customer ramp-up time and length of the sales cycle from lead to closing. Tracking this helps you develop strategies for moving your leads to purchase and closure.
- Marketing, meet sales. In small offices, you are likely to be doing both the sales and the marketing, so this isn’t an issue, but in large offices, marketing and sales departments can be disconnected. Make sure your marketing team understands sales goals and that both teams have full visibility into the sales pipeline. Sales leaders need to take the time to educate their marketing staff, so they understand the process and what makes for a qualified lead. The better your marketing staff understands sales, the smoother your office will operate – and the more leads you’ll get.
- Create accountability. The boxer Mike Tyson used to say, “everyone has a plan till they get punched in the face.” Accountability at every step of the way keeps you from becoming the person who is punched in the face. Track every email you send. Check the open rate and monitor social media content to see what’s engaging viewers. Use the results to refine your strategy.
At this point, you may be thinking about why our discussion of lead generation hasn’t mentioned cold calls, but cold calls are just that, and not lead generation. Sure, cold calls may translate into customers, but for large-scale success, you’ll be better off creating an integrated sales and marketing strategy for keeping leads in the pipeline.