Business management

Lead generation: five strategies to secure sales

Whether your business is a start-up or a blue chip, its capacity to sell is make or break. Market experts reveal their tried-and-tested tactics on how to notch up more sales and engage better leads.

1. Use events to get face-to-face with leads

Though digital-only B2B relationships are increasingly common, as many as 85% of digital marketers still feel a face-to-face approach works best. The question is: how to secure that contact time, when digital messages typically offer a more convenient option for the lead?

Karla Reffold, MD and founder of recruiter BeecherMadden, says she secures opportunities to meet leads in person by appealing to their culinary and intellectual appetites. “We organise breakfast seminars to add value to our customers and to encourage them to spend time with us,” she says.

“They are relatively inexpensive to put on and tend to attract a more diverse crowd than some evening events. Every breakfast seminar we’ve done has generated new business, positive feedback and brand recognition.”

According to Reffold, inviting leads to attend or speak at an event can help forge relationships that lead to sales further down the line. “Using it as an opportunity to call or email someone with an invite has also helped us with sales,” she says. “If they can come, great. If they can’t, you’ve started a new conversation with a potential customer.”

2. Content is key to social selling

Social media has emerged as a vital channel for sales – so much so that we use the term ‘social selling’ to describe the process of selling through LinkedIn, Twitter or any other social media platforms.

Daniel Rowles, CEO of digital marketing training company Target Internet, says content is key to social selling. “You don’t just identify prospects and then go in for the hard sell,” he says.

It’s all about building a network, posting genuinely useful content, looking at who engages with that content, and then building a conversation

Daniel Rowles
CEO, Target Internet

“It’s all about building a network, posting genuinely useful content, looking at who engages with that content and then building a conversation. Someone you’ve interacted with repeatedly is far more likely to respond to a soft sales message, especially one that’s customised to what you’ve learned about them.”

Rowles suggests using the articles feature on LinkedIn to create a good content marketing experience, and advises including video where possible.

3. Use technology to support lead prospecting and outreach

The likelier a lead is to convert, and the higher their potential value in terms of direct sales and reputation-boosting potential, the better. This is a key sales concept and digital tools can be used to keep it at the core of lead prospecting and outreach.

“Our first step is to search on LinkedIn and the wider web for people who are a good match commercially and in terms of relevance,” says Mario Arabov, co-founder and chief operating officer of LAMA, an ask-me-anything app for entrepreneurs.

“We then have to find out their email, which we do using tools like the [email finder] Hunter Chrome extension,” he adds, when explaining LAMA’s process for lead prospecting and outreach.

By the end of a day’s prospecting, Arabov will have a list of around 40 email leads compiled in an Excel spreadsheet.

“Once I have a large target group ready to contact, I use Excel’s mail merge tool to do the outreach,” he says. “This allows us to send out batches of emails that can be personalised for their respective recipients – with their company name, first name, surname and so on.”

Arabov says his technologically aided lead generation approach has helped attract hundreds of users to the LAMA app, as well as bringing about several business opportunities.

4. ‘Snog, marry, avoid’ your way to network marketing success

Some of us take to networking like fish to water; others find it daunting. Either way, we would all do well to think more carefully about how we spend the limited networking time we have at our disposal. To that end, sales trainer Alison Edgar has a novel suggestion.

“A lot of people really fear networking or they’re just not particularly great at it. So, to try to make it a little bit more fun, what we do is we play a game of ‘snog, marry, avoid’,” says Edgar.

“Whenever you get a list of attendees in advance of an event, look for who could be your ideal potential client. We put these people on the ‘marry’ list, so you know who you really want to speak to first when you walk into the room.”

Having identified your high-value marry targets, Edgar suggests you make an ‘avoid’ list of people you know already, competitors or people who seem unlikely to be relevant. Once you’ve worked your way through your marry list at the event, you can ‘snog’ other attendees – figuratively speaking – to identify potential clients or collaborators.

5. Use value from one part of your business to support sales in another

For businesses with a diverse portfolio of assets or services, borrowing an incentive from one part of the business can help clinch a sale for another. “We design websites and run social media channels for our clients – and we also publish YorkMix, the leading news and entertainment website for the city of York,” says Chris Titley, director at media agency YorkMix.

“We not only offer to update client websites with company news, but also to share that news on YorkMix with its 110,000 unique monthly readers. It’s a great, cost-effective way for a client to raise its profile – and an excellent upsell for us.”

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