By Sylvia Wower and Chris Scafario, DVIRC
Lead Generation requires planning, an understanding of your strengths and unique capabilities, sharp messaging, and a strategic approach to identifying prospects. With these elements in place, successfully implementing a Lead Generation effort is only a matter of diligence and determination.
New prospects are out there. There are businesses in your service area that need your support but may not know of you or what you offer, just as there are bound to be potential prospects you are unaware of. An effective Lead Generation process will put your name, capabilities, and unique value proposition in front of a significant number of potential new clients.
As with any strategic business development effort, a great deal needs to happen before you make that first phone call, schedule that first meeting, or close that first new sale.
One of the hidden benefits of Lead Generation can be the opportunity to gather the individuals who—though they are not directly involved in the sales process—bring a unique point of view to the table. Before the outreach gets underway, begin by gathering your Lead Generation Team. These are the stakeholders who will have direct sales management responsibilities, but also others who understand your products/services, the industries you serve, the competitive landscape, and any other functions you think will be important in your specific situation.
Establishing the parameters of your Lead Generation effort is the first step. At a minimum, the team should discuss and decide what success looks like. The old maxim that “you can’t hit a target you can’t see” is especially applicable in this case. The first time you gather your Lead Generation Team, it is important to agree on exactly what you hope to achieve. This should include things like:
How many leads do we hope to identify?
“As many as we can get” is the most common response, but in truth, the ideal number of prospects has some real boundaries. Timely follow up is the first step in showing a prospect you are worth consideration as a new supplier. How many leads can your sales team effectively take on? Remember, research shows that it can take eight cold call attempts to reach the average prospect. You might start by having an honest discussion with your internal sales team to evaluate your current calling abilities and understand how many leads you generate in a given time period. This way, you will have an idea how many leads can be added to the pipeline before follow-up suffers. When you do land new clients, they will occupy a portion of your available bandwidth in your shop; what are the honest limitations of your supply chain and production capabilities?
What products/services will be part of the effort?
We will take an in-depth look at the question of new versus established offerings in a later article, but up front, tit is important for you and your team to discuss which products and/or services will be rolled out in the Lead Generation campaign.
Where are we focusing our outreach?
This question encompasses both geography and industries. In terms of geography, what is your total service area, and will you be approaching the entire footprint or a subsection of it? Are your products large enough that shipping costs are a key part of the purchase decision? Do your services require a significant amount of on-site consultation during the sales process? If you answered yes to either of these, it may be wise to discuss a phased approach, starting close to home to gain traction with those prospects who will see a local supplier as an attractive option, As for industries, in a future article we will take a close look at how to use market research to determine which have the best short- and long-term potential. We will also discuss the merits (and challenges) of entering new versus existing industries, and a few other key considerations.
What resources do we already have available?
Leveraging existing Lead Generation materials will help you move up the execution curve that much faster. Maybe you have a list of dormant customers who could benefit from renewed engagement, or some materials—brochures, capability statements, facility lists, letters—that could be ready for use with a little updating. If nothing else, reviewing and refreshing these existing resources will help you prepare to train your outreach team.
Side Note: NWIRC will host a webinar on Thursday, July 15 featuring Sylvia Wower and Chris Scafario on Proven Ways to Generate New Leads During an Economic Downturn.