Effective Lead Generation for a Small Business to Make More Sales

Ask any small business owner what are the main problems they face, and they’ll almost always tell you one of the biggest headaches is generating more leads. After all, no leads, no sales. And no sales means no revenue and profits. The strange thing is that many business owners think generating leads is difficult, when actually it’s fairly easy, as long as you follow a simple process and put in a bit of effort. You also need to make sure that you actually are doing lead-generation and not just saying you are and then trying to make a sale immediately.

Small business lead generation and how to get it right

So the first thing you need to do is make sure you really do have a lead-generation system in place, and that means forgetting about trying to make a sale immediately. This process of concentrating on lead generation will set your business apart from others in the market, because most other companies will try to make a sale straight away, and the ones that don’t will have a big advantage. When you generate a lead, you should concentrate on simply getting the prospect’s contact details and then building a strong relationship over a period of months or even years.

Why does this work so well? Simply because when the average prospect enquires about a product or service, she isn’t ready to buy yet, and the last thing she wants is for some salesman to start persuading her to buy. She wants information, and when she gets that, she begins to see you as the expert in your field, and therefore more likely to buy something when she’s ready. On the other hand, if you try to make a sale she’ll most likely back off, and look at another supplier, which is exactly the opposite of what you want.

Give something to get something back

So what is the best way to generate leads for the long-term? The easiest way to do this is to give a free gift in order to gather the prospect’s contact details. The free gift should be related to what you want to sell eventually, and can even include information in the form of a free report or eBook. Then the process is simply one of making regular contact with your prospects so that when they’re really ready to buy, they’ll most likely think of you.

So the next time you think it’s difficult to get leads, first make sure you are actually trying to get leads, and not make an immediate sale. Then put a system in place which collects prospect contact details and then follows up regularly. It may take weeks or even months to make a sale, but most people aren’t really ready to buy when they first contact you anyway. And over the long term this strategy will lead to more sales and revenue, which is the reason you want those leads in the first place.

Small Business Lead Generation: Think Big

There are many enterprises that constantly strive to maximize their revenues via small business lead generation, but most of the time it does not work, and one of the mail reasons for the same is that the tactics being used are very old school. It’s a new age, and one needs to be in tune with the times. For B2C customers, the best proposition is to give freebies like a coffee mug or duffel bag with each purchase. Special discount vouchers can also be given away via email upon filling a form or making a purchase.

Also, inbound calling is often not given much importance, but the fact is that despite the widespread extent of emails, people still prefer talking on the phone. So, the small business lead generation efforts of an enterprise can really get a big boost if there is an inbound calling line. It’s even better if the line is toll-free. This is because it gives the customer an impression that the company is in the big league. One can also gain a significant edge by creating a referral system for existing customers, i.e., every time a customer refers a lead which is converted (or not, depending on the business model), a special privilege is extended like discounts, gift coupons, etc.

Small business lead generation can also be done through the company’s website. A small pop-up every now and then, telling people about the new products and services of the company goes a long way in getting more business. An interesting way to position it is in the ‘did you know’ format, so as to create curiosity among the target audience. And lastly, one can get a great deal of exposure by participating in industry events, particularly when it’s about the B2B domain, since a lot of potential customers and service providers mingle at such dos.

Another reason why small business lead generation is considerably different than a regular B2C product promotion is because one has to overcome a barrage of contact persons in the organization. Convincing each of these is necessary to reach the next level. More often than one would like, the person one gets in touch with in the initial stages of the deal is not the decision maker, and it’s important that one constantly follows up and highlights the merits of the offering in the right manner to ensure that the enthusiasm is maintained on the part of the client as well.

Small Business Lead Generation: How It Works?

The process of small business lead generation essentially operates on a cyclical basis, wherein new leads are generated, contacted and converted to sales. Some of these clients are retained for the upcoming period of time after their contract expires, while others leave. Hence, it’s important that the lead generation activities need to happen continuously, so that the leads keep coming in and these fluctuations don’t have much of a detrimental effect on business.

Essentially, it has been observed that effective small business lead generation has the potential to shorten the cycle and also lead to better quality of leads. The most important aspect of ensuring this is to understand that the first contact is not sufficient to ensure sales. Hence, one needs to continuously keep at it. However, this depends on whether the lead in question is hot or cold. Quite obviously, one needs to pursue hot leads more fervently, and filter out cold leads completely from the system. This can either be executed by experienced professionals, or by maintaining a log of the feedback received from the different kinds of prospects, which can then be monitored either by an experienced team leader, or by the team together.

One more aspect that organizations are particularly wary of in terms of small business lead generation is that getting quality leads is often an expensive proposition, whether one tries to procure the same from an external party or pushes the sales team to accomplish the objective. Compared to getting a cold or warm lead, finding a hot lead is a lot more time and resource-consuming. However, it’s absolutely worth the effort, when one sees it purely from the perspective of return on investment, since it shortens the span of time it takes from the initial contact to sale. Hence, one needs to ensure that all these points are taken care of in every lead generation campaign, for phenomenal results.

The next criterion is the place mix, which talks about the location at which the product is being introduced. This is equally important as the rest of the lot, since the place at which the product is introduced is of paramount importance. One can’t hope to sell raincoats in a desert, or half sleeved T-shirts in a snowy province! Lastly, the promotion mix in small business lead generation refers to the kind of promotional tactics are used to sell the product.

The appropriate combination of all these would virtually guarantee success for any product or service.

Small Business Lead Nurturing Success Case Study

If you’re an entrepreneur, part of a small marketing department, or a one-man marketing department, then you know it can be tough to get everything you need to get done accomplished.

Your experience, current thought, and even marketing experts will tell you that small companies, with limited budgets and resources, can be challenged to keep up. Prevalent thinking is that they can’t, and in fact shouldn’t even try. But keep reading – because we’re dispelling that myth once and for all!

If you’re interested in driving revenue, and using the internet to help, then you’re doubly challenged to figure out WHAT among all of the different tactics, are the RIGHT ones for you. Because if you don’t get it right, then you’re just going to waste your time, and still not get the results you’re after. And that supports what the “experts” are saying, and leading you to believe.

Meet Margaret Johnson, a one-woman marketing department for a $10 million dollar-a-year consulting company, and learn how she has solved the problem of keeping her company top-of-mind with customers and prospects, funneling sales-ready leads to her sales force. Learn how they landed one of the largest companies in her geography, and are delighting them and staying top-of-mind.

Here’s the part you’ll really love: She spends only ONE DAY A WEEK managing it all!

And you could too…

There were two critical things that were causing Margaret’s organization pain – not knowing whether her in-person events would have anyone attending them, and how to stay top-of-mind when prospects weren’t ready for a sales conversation when someone from Sales contacted them.

In today’s fast-paced world, it’s not good enough to meet with someone who’s not currently interested in what you’re selling, and putting a tickle in your system to contact them again in 6 months. Even if that’s what they tell you. It’s likely that their situation could change on a moments notice, and if you’re not in their thinking, you will not get the deal.

After being bombarded with media, emails, and news about how you’ve got to be present in social media, Margaret set up a Facebook Fan page and a Twitter account. She already had a blog, and the company website to also manage. She found herself trying to remember where she needed to post content and update things.

Margaret was quickly getting overwhelmed. How could she really implement effective marketing efforts that would generate leads, nurture them well, and contribute to the bottom line growth goals of her organization?

Margaret started to map out everything. She had a blog, and that had an RSS Feed. She found a way to update her Twitter account based on the RSS feed from her blog. She also hooked up that RSS feed to her Facebook Fan page. But now, how could she generate more leads, and stay top-of-mind? That only relieved her from figuring out how to manage two of the social media aspects of things.

She realized that she could segment her RSS feeds and publish them to her website, effectively adding content to her critical pages that needed to be refreshed on a regular basis. And people could subscribe to her RSS feeds and get updates via email. There were some tools, that provide this specific ability – but then the people who sign up through those vehicles are kept in that system, with the opt-out and bad email information, rather than in her lead database where she could see how they are responding to the emails and also trigger appropriate event invitations. So using a point-tool like that wasn’t a solution – it only added more work.

Margaret was using a marketing automation toolset, and she realized that she could use an RSS feed capability from her marketing automation system to define her blog feed, and then publish them to her website. She could also set up emails, within that same toolset that pulled from those RSS feeds, so she could send emails to the contacts that wanted email updates, if there was any new content available from the feeds. If there wasn’t, then no emails would be sent. She realized she could set up her emails one time, set them to go out every 14 days, and they’d automatically pull fresh content from the feeds she identified for each email.

Best of all, implementing her “system” in this way, ensured that ALL the leads, and their responses to her marketing, were all in one place – so she could score the leads as well as segment them even further based on how they responded, not only to the emails, but on what materials they have downloaded from her website, which pages they have viewed, and which events they’ve attended. She set up nurturing sequences (a set of timed emails) that trigger based on a lead’s response to any number of specific lead activities. She now has emails going out every 14 days to her leads, plus other nurturing sequences that can be triggered based upon a lead’s activity.

The value of keeping her leads in a single database, and tracking their activities — and then having the tools available that allowed her to automate her marketing efforts, has literally saved her from adding another full time marketing person to her staff to help implement and manage their marketing efforts.

How’s it going? She is getting positive feedback from customers and her sales folks – because her company is top-of-mind, and closing more business! She is able to quantify her contribution to her company’s growth.