If you have a steady stream of great leads coming in from your existing customers or Marketing activity, stop reading this and get on with following them up! This is a blog for Sales People who need more leads, or better leads, or both.
One thing that won’t get you more Leads
Passing the buck. Blaming someone else for a lack of leads is a waste of time and energy. If your Marketing people knew how to get more leads they would do it. If they aren’t getting you what you need it’s time to do it yourself.
3 things that will get you more Leads
These are the steps you need to take. They are simpler to say than do, but I will go into detail: -
Find the right companies
Find the right people
Find a reason to meet
Selecting the right companies
First focus on the companies that are most attractive to you based on size, industry, location or the criteria that are most important to you. Complete your Target Customer Profile by defining the challenges a customer must face for your product or service to be interesting. A Infoteam target customer, for example has a compelling need to improve the way they sell.
Identifying the right people
Next you have to find the right person. That’s the person who has the pain and if possible the power to make a buying decision on the things you sell. This is a challenge but researching the company site and leveraging business networking sites like LinkedIn can be useful in finding someone who could give you an introduction to the right person.
Finding a reason to motivate the target person to want to meet you
This is the most challenging part of the process. Sceptics of Systematic Targeting (often the same people who blame marketing for not generating enough leads) rely just on product and company strengths to obtain appointments and are quickly frustrated by their lack of success. Think about what it’s like for the people you are targeting; customers get calls from salespeople all the time.
But there are effective tools and techniques you can use if you are willing to invest an hour or so in understanding your target customer. For example, a customer Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis. This is an ‘Outside-In’ view of the target company. Below is an example of one we did on an international ICT service provider.
You can get most of the information you need by looking at the company web site, competitor’s sites and company publications. Bear in mind that the Opportunities and Threats are always external and require a good understanding of the trends in the customer’s industry.
Once you have developed a Customer SWOT you can identify where your offering can provide value to the prospect. These Value Areas are what you leverage when you approach the potential customer.
One of our customers (a management consulting firm) took this approach when targeting a global manufacturing company. The Partner read an interview in the press with the CEO of the target company, went on to do the SWOT analysis and used it to obtain a meeting. This is part of the letter he wrote, which got him that vital first meeting.
Dear Mr. Berger, I can imagine that not all of the points mentioned above are correct or represent your view of the company’s position. But I would appreciate being granted a meeting to validate our perception and discuss whether and how we can add value to your business.
You can go on to use the SWOT analysis in the first meeting, though you will want to be careful with wording, so you may refer to ‘potential challenges’ rather than ‘weaknesses’ for instance.
What if you want to target a whole industry?
The approach I have described works very well when you are targeting individual companies, but it is time consuming. You can use the same approach to target multiple companies in the same industry sector. They are all likely to be open to the same or similar opportunities and threats.
The 6 things to do next
If you don’t have enough leads then take responsibility for your own success and find those leads yourself. Here’s what to do:
Identify companies that fulfil your Target Customer Profile
Identify the person you need to target
Do the outside-in SWOT analysis by company or sector and identify the areas where you can deliver value
Contact the person with a Value Based Proposition
Make sure all the communication between you and the customer is focussed on the potential Value Areas you have identified
When you get the meeting use the SWOT to create a create a Meeting Outline
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