How to get more sales leads
A healthy sales pipeline is vital to business growth. What methods can be used to find sales leads and how can you maximise their effectiveness? Drew Patel explains.
Before I talk about the various ways to get more sales leads, we need to be clear what we’re talking about, namely: what is a sales lead? There are many definitions, but this is the one that works for me:
“A meaningful connection with a business or individual who is a potential customer”
The words ‘meaningful connection’ is important here. Many businesses make the mistake of saying “everyone and anyone could be my customer.” Yes, anyone who potentially needs your product or service could become a customer. However, it is the point where you make a meaningful connection that the individual becomes a lead. And the point where the connection becomes meaningful is when they express an interest.
I work with many businesses who make the mistake of assuming that because a person might buy, they are a lead. The danger of this assumption is they leap straight into a sales process and this is off-putting. No one likes a hard sell and this is why it is important to make the distinction.
When does a contact become a sales lead?
So how can you be sure someone has expressed an interest? The obvious signs are a request for a price or more details. But there are ‘lighter’ ways people express interest. They may sign up for your mailing list. Follow you on social media. Visit your website several times.
This kind of ‘passive’ interest is harder to track than a direct approach, but it is significant because many people prefer to sit back, observe and form an opinion quietly in the background before stating their interest in a direct way at a later date.
I’m shocked by the number of businesses who say they don’t have enough leads, but then fail to follow up efficiently when people express an interest.
It’s important to respect an individual’s preference. If they instigate a ‘light’ connection, don’t bombard them with literature and requests for a meeting. Allow them to observe while occasionally reminding them of the options if they decide to progress an enquiry.
Similarly, if people request a quote or a meeting, act quickly and give them what they want. I’m shocked by the number of businesses who say they don’t have enough leads, but then fail to follow up efficiently when people express an interest.
Methods to get more sales leads
Social media can be a very effective way to get sales leads, but very few people get it right. The problem is most businesses think social media is free advertising - a way to get their message in front of a captive audience. However, this rarely works. None of us wants to follow accounts that spam adverts. The social media platforms have tried to stop this practice by filtering content, e.g. sharing what it thinks you’ll be interested in rather than showing a linear stream of posts. This means that accounts which ‘broadcast’ content/adverts are increasingly being ignored or simply left off our timelines.
It is however still possible to get sales leads from social media - you just have to be smarter. Those who succeed in finding leads on social media spend time engaging with other accounts and individuals. They use taking an interest in others as an icebreaker. Once they’ve established a rapport, they can then advance the conversation and introduce their own products. In other words, they use social media to make the ‘meaningful connection’ which I explained was the basis of a sales lead.
Accounts which ‘broadcast’ content/adverts are increasingly being ignored or simply left off our timelines.
This approach requires patience and strong communication skills. And you must show a genuine interest, otherwise, it feels contrived. However, get it right, and it means that social media can deliver a steady stream of sales leads.
Business networking is a divisive topic. Those who have mastered it tell you it’s an incredibly effective way to get sales leads. Others will tell you they tried it a few times and didn’t get any business from the people in the room, therefore it is a waste of time.
The key to getting sales leads from business networking is similar to social media. Take the time to build relationships with the people you meet. Don’t start with the hard sell. Take an interest in the person and their business and allow trust to build. We buy from people we like and trust and this doesn’t happen overnight.
Once you’ve reached this point with the people in a networking group, then the real benefits start to reveal themselves. Think about it: every person who you meet at networking has hundreds of connections. If they like and trust you, they might recommend you to their personal networks. At this point, you’re not networking with 20/30 people. You’re networking with thousands of people who may become a sales lead.
All websites get traffic. But very few convert this traffic into sales leads. Most website and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) work tends to focus on getting more traffic onto the website. What’s the point of getting more website visits if you don’t convert some of this traffic into sales lead? Our advice is to check your website messaging and website calls to action. Does your website clearly explain your proposition and the benefits of working with you? Does it invite people to connect - perhaps newsletter signup, a contact form, clear contact details or a chat function?
What’s the point of getting more website visits if you don’t convert some of this traffic into sales lead?
If the answer to either of these questions is no, you need to fix that first. If you convert some of that website traffic into sales leads by either capturing their data or encouraging them to talk to you, then you can focus on increasing the traffic and improving the SEO to get more sales leads.
People regularly ask for recommendations for products and services. They might do this in person, informally with friends or at business networking events. They may ask on social media platforms. Be mindful of the power of these recommendations. Ask customers for online reviews (Facebook and Google are particularly valuable) and monitor your online reputation. And remember to recommend your connections to others - people are grateful to get recommendations and are more likely to give you sales leads in future if you have helped them first.
Traditional advertising, such as magazines, billboard, TV and radio are having a resurgence. Having lost some of its power in the internet age, traditional advertising is becoming valued again. Why? Because marketing is about standing out and it’s becoming harder to make yourself heard in the ‘noisy’ online space.
Marketing theory says that customers need an average of seven ‘touches’ with a business before they decide to engage and traditional advertising can account for one of these 'touches' in a very memorable way.
The problem with this type of advertising is that you can’t track the number of sales leads it creates. One solution is to ask how people found you - it can often be the case that the traditional advert is the one they remember.
Marketing is about standing out and it’s becoming harder to make yourself heard in the ‘noisy’ online space.
Online advertising can also be very powerful. Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter all offer ways to target messages at specific people in specific locations. You can track the success of these activities, which means you can link a sales lead to the cost of each advert.
The downside is that setting up successful campaigns is a skill in itself and it’s easy to spend a lot of money very quickly without getting much return. Either take the time to learn how to run online advertising campaigns correctly or work with a third party to ensure you get a return on investment.
Like business networking, telesales has many detractors. However, it is similarly effective at gaining sales leads if handled skillfully.
There are two types of telesales approaches. One is the cold call. Most people have an opinion of the cold call and while it is true that it’s not always the most welcome approach, it is the most direct way to establish a meaningful connection with potential customers. Cold calling is not for the faint-hearted, but the rewards for those equipped to handle it are great.
The second telesales approach is more tactical and it involves pre-selecting prospects. This can be done by profiling ideal clients and finding them on platforms such as LinkedIn, or buying lists of suitable contacts. This approach yields a much greater volume of sales leads than cold calling. It does, however, mean you need a precise understanding of the profile of the person you are targeting and an intelligent approach that presents the proposition correctly.
Like SEO and online advertising, telemarketing is the method for gaining sales lead that most businesses will need help with. It must be dealt with sensitively and strategically. It does, however, deliver powerful results for those who get it right.
Having shown you the most popular ways to get sales leads, and the right ways to approach them, I suggest you take a look at your own business to see how you currently use each channel. There are bountiful sales leads out there - you just need to learn how to find them.
If you want to learn more about any of the points I’ve discussed, please get in touch. And I wish you all the best finding more sales leads!