A business lives and dies by its leads. The best salesforce in the world won’t make you a dime unless you have leads to feed them, and they don’t just fall out of the sky. Obtaining high-quality leads can be both expensive and time-consuming, and even when you pay big money for them, they’re not guaranteed to work. Sometimes, the people selling the leads to you lies about how they’re sourced and what their conversion rate looks like. At other times you find that the lead source is ‘overfished’ because you and several other companies have taken all you can from it. Lead acquisition is a constantly frustrating process, and yet it’s one we have to think about every day.
Many people go looking online every day for the ‘perfect’ lead source, and if you’re one of them, the first thing we want to tell you to do is stop. The perfect lead does not exist. A lead is just a chance at making money. It’s no more reliable as a means of doing so as a few dollars thrown at a game on an online slots website. If you’ve ever spent any time or money in such a place, you’ll know how those things work. There will be times when spending five dollars playing Starburst online slot wins you hundreds of dollars in return, and the world seems wonderful. There will also be times when the reverse happens, and the hundred dollars you spend at that same online slots website nets you nothing at all in winnings. On those days, the world seems very unfair. It’s all down to chance and luck. You can exercise a little more control over the outcome of a warm lead than the outcome of a spinning online slots reel if you have gifted salespeople, but there are still no guarantees.
Hopefully, we’ve pushed the idea of this mythical source of leads that convert at north of eighty percent out of your head, and we can talk about more realistic prospects. Most businesses don’t realize that some of their best prospective leads can come from sources that cost them little or even no money at all – and here they are!
It doesn’t matter what your advertising budget is or what age we’re living in, word of mouth is still the most effective marketing tool in the world. People are many times more likely to take a recommendation about a product or service from a friend than they are from an advert they’ve seen online, in a newspaper, or even on television. So long as you’ve had one customer, you can and should leverage that customer to pick up more customers. That might mean offering them a set fee per referral, or a percentage of the value of anything that anyone they refer to you buys from you. Perhaps there are other business-appropriate perks you could offer them, like discounts on their next order or free services? Whatever it takes, turn your client base into a referral network.
You can get leads from social media without paying to advertise on it. That’s because when people are looking for a product or a service, they’ll tell the world about it. If you sell car insurance, go on Twitter right now and search for “cheap car insurance” or “looking for car insurance.” You’ll probably be amazed by how many positive responses you get – and you can filter these responses to your local area and approach only those people who might buy from you. You might not get hundreds of these every day, or even every week, but they’re as good as people who walk straight up to your door and knock on it to give you their money. You’re missing a trick if you don’t do this already. Don’t miss out on it any longer.
Some of the ways of the old world of business still work. We’d never suggest knocking on doors trying to drum up sales anymore – you might even find that it’s illegal in the area you live or trade in – but networking in person is still an essential business tool. You should be going to at least two in-person networking events every month. Yes, you’ll occasionally walk away from one feeling like you’ve wasted your time, but you’re just as likely to have made an incredible connection. There might be someone there who accidentally generates dozens of the type of lead you’re looking for and doesn’t currently have an outlet for them. There might be someone who runs a company full of employees who would be perfect customers for your business. You’ll probably have to work out a profit or commission split with these new, friendly introducers – but you’ll still make money at the end of it!
People look past LinkedIn as a lead sourcing tool because they think it’s a recruitment tool. We understand that because, at its core, it is a recruitment tool. That doesn’t mean you can’t turn it to your advantage and use it to look for leads, though. No matter what it is you make or sell, you have an ‘ideal’ customer. You’ll base that ideal on the type of company they work for or the type of role they have. Luckily for you, people enter that information on LinkedIn when they set up a profile. You can approach them one at a time so long as you accept that you’ll firmly be told where to go occasionally, or you can approach whoever looks after marketing within their company to see if you can come in and make a pitch to management. There could be hundreds of would-be customers of yours sat in the same building right now, waiting to hear from you. Go and find them.
People Who Have Bought From You Before
Not everybody has ‘cancellations,’ by which we mean people who have bought a service or product from you and then ‘canceled’ it, leaving you with a clawback or a loss of profit. Everybody, however, has customers who have been silent for a long time. Why are they silent? What is it that’s stopped them from coming back to buy from you again? Have they simply forgotten you exist, and if so, would a simple telephone call or email be enough to prompt them to get in touch? You don’t know unless you try, and the best thing about approaching people who’ve bought from you before is that you already know they buy what you’re selling. Far too many businesses forget all about their customers after a sale is completed. Don’t become one of them – it’s a dumb move.