COVID or not, looking to adapt and to keep our businesses growing is the sole mission of any entrepreneur who finds themselves at the helm of their own business.
Rather than retrospectively moaning about what has gone wrong, we’ve put two questions forward to our Leading Sales and Marketing Experts to give you this concise resource with tips to enable your business to thrive in an economic recession.
- What is your top tip to any business looking to generate new leads in a cost-effective way?
- What should they avoid doing when they look to follow up on new leads created? What are your big sales no no’s!
James White – Sales Mentor, Trainer and Founder of The Sales Success Academy
Become something to someone and not everything to everyone. If you want to generate leads cost-effectively, know your audience and the persona of the ideal customer that you are perfect for. Many business owners think it’s good to appeal to a wide audience, but this is a misconception and it can mean you waste a lot of money. Own your own space and become known for helping a certain group or industry to solve a problem or achieve something. Share these success stories in a humble way and show yourself to be a person of value to your chosen marketplace and opportunities open up!
Don’t try and sell straight away. You would not try and marry someone on the first date (would you?) and so don’t use the first conversation with a new lead to try and sell to them. Be human, build rapport and make the other person think ‘I really like them, they are interesting’. You can’t and won’t generally win business on the first meeting or call but you can certainly lose it! Be interested in the other person, ask great questions and listen with intent. Do this and your chances of a 2nd meeting and actual business increase significantly.
Sam Kandiyali – Director,Target
Do your research first. Why do your current customers / clients buy what you do? Ask them. What are their critical success factors – those key things that they value most about your organisation / team / service over and above some of your competitors? As well as unearthing some valuable feedback, and highlighting points for differentiation in future lead gen, this exercise helps build your existing client relationships with the opportunity for organic growth too.
Use your gut instinct. Nine times out of ten you know when something feels right or not. Don’t waste time on new leads that, as you get to know them, you find aren’t the right fit for your organisation. Have the courage to say no (but thank you) and move on.
Sarah Wyatt – Co-Founder & Director, Juicy Designs
Get the basics right before you create any customer communications. Make sure you:
- know what you stand for as a business: if you haven’t defined your values, and therefore aren’t conveying these visually and verbally, your customers will have to fill in the gaps themselves and may be left with the wrong lasting impression of you.
- know your target audience: you can’t, and wouldn’t want to, market to everyone so being really specific about who you want to attract is key to creating tailored, relevant communications your prospects will actually want to engage with.
- know what you’re trying to achieve: having a clear purpose to your communications will make it easier and quicker to know when you’ve hit the mark with them – and will also give you a benchmark by which to measure their success.
Don’t tell the customer why you’re so great, tell them the benefits they’ll get as a result of working with you. Too many businesses focus on explaining, usually at great length, why they think they’re so brilliant when in actual fact, customers don’t really care! It sounds harsh but on the whole, customers are only interested in what’s in it for them so always put yourself in their shoes and think about what they need to hear next to help build trust with you.
Kate Stinchcombe-Gillies – Managing Director, Coconut PR Fresh Thinking Comms
If you’re uncomfortable with the idea of selling yourself, sell your success stories instead. Invest in lead generation for the long-term. Build a reputation for your experience, expertise, successes, and the value you generate for your target audience by showcasing the successes you achieve for your clients and the tips & tricks that work in your world, time and again.
Avoid the hard sell. A lead isn’t necessarily ready to invest right now. Get to know your lead, what are their challenges, talk about how you can relate to these and point them to proof of resolution. Keep the conversation going, envelope them in your communications or community – they’ll join in or buy when they’re ready or convinced you can help them.
Natasha Ellard – Managing Director, Urban Element
Google Ads can be set up and turned on in a cost-effective way and for immediate results. The great thing about Google Ads, is not only that you can turn them on and off as and when you need more leads, but leads are typically some way down the sales funnel relative to other forms of PPC (for example Paid Social Media Marketing). If time is not of the essence, then we would always recommend investing in your organic SEO as the most cost-effective way to generate leads. Keyword research and an SEO Sitemap can have huge long-term benefits and will most certainly be cost-effective. However, it’s important to be aware the results from organic SEO can take anything from 12 – 18 months before you start to reap the rewards and start generating leads.
Where possible, always pick up the phone. It sounds like an obvious one, but the amount of times we encounter clients or salespeople that will email instead of call a new lead. And a major no-no is acting like a typical salesperson, everything we’ve come to know about the stereotypical salesperson, being pushy, aggressive and ‘salesy’. Sales should be a win-win, mutually beneficial relationship forged through understanding, building rapport and trust.
Emma Easton – Founder & Chief Bolloxoxologist, Business Bollox
Don’t underestimate the power of your network. I have literally built my business from scratch, with no budget, to a full-time thriving concern in 8 weeks, by keeping in touch with my network. And before you ask, no I don’t have 10,000 connections! No spammy nonsense, just keeping an eye open and offering to help where I can. I firmly believe that the ‘old’ way of doing business has had its day. Our world has changed. I’ve seen so many people responding favourably to offers of help, support, ideas and in time, connections. Gone are the protectionist days “it’s all mine mine mwahh hahah” (do I get an Oscar?!). And it’s not just me either. A number of my clients are having great success with this approach too, and there’s the added benefit that being helpful and focused on others boosts your wellbeing.
Don’t let it slide. I’ve heard so many ‘so-called’ business development people say “well I messaged them and they didn’t have the courtesy to reply” – if you’re a busy person, then the other person probably is too. Your email, phone call or LinkedIn message is not the focus of their day, so even if your offering is amazing – they’re probably juggling a crazy action list, like we all are. The key thing is to be kind and respectful when you follow up, and find a good balance of being persistent, but not a stalker. I’ve found a polite “this is my last time to try to reach you” message on the third attempt has a good success rate as it galvanises those who are interested and keep forgetting!
Frank Nigriello – Director, Corporate Affairs, Unipart Group
For B2B companies, generating leads often comes from providing valuable, credible information that potential customers find useful and that builds trust. Regardless of the format (webinar, article, presentation), demonstrating a deep understanding and expertise in a topic, then targeting that properly structured information towards defined audiences using tools like LinkedIn, can lead to the first step in generating leads: the opening conversation.
While LinkedIn is a great tool for identifying leads, one of the biggest turnoffs is the cold call connection. This occurs when someone sends a connection request and then immediately upon receiving acceptance follows up with an offer of product or service. This demonstrates a low level of understanding of the sales process, particularly when selling services. When the last line of a LinkedIn mail is “So, when’s a good time to jump on a call to discuss how we can help you?” The answer is generally “never”. If you haven’t taken the time to at least establish a conversation and build a rapport and a little trust, it is unlikely I want to do business with you.
Alex Sayers – Director, XIST2
We see far too many businesses missing the most basic ‘online visibility’ opportunities that literally have no cost other than your time! If you don’t already have a Google My Business account, get one! Fill as much of the info in as you can, this is a great starting point. To take this a step further, if you’re at the start of your online lead gen journey, you really should do some keyword research. Try to understand what your target customer is searching and then gear your content on your website around this. There are countless resources available to support you through this, its just requires some leg work on your part.
Time is of the essence. Don’t wait 24 or 26 hours before following up on an inbound lead. The longer you leave it the further on your lead will have continued in their journey. Follow up quickly whilst you’re still on the tip of their tongue or in their mind and focus on delivering a fantastic
Emma Wyatt – Linkedin Strategist & Coach, Emma Wyatt
Use LinkedIn. It’s a great platform for meeting business professionals from a wide range of industries/professions. Spend time building and growing your business relationships. Hashtags are a great way for finding new conversations to join.
Don’t send a sales pitch when first connecting. No one likes to be sold too on the first connection. It’s worth spending the time, to work out and find your best message approach.
Nick Hughes – Sales Coach & Mentor, Dynamic Coach
Know specifically who your target customer or client is. Obvious I know, but how many businesses don’t create/write down who their ideal client or avatar is, and share it with the wider business. Why? Ever get to a point in the sales process and then find out that the client can’t afford your product or service, or that you aren’t taking away a pain point for them. Sunken costs are a hidden killer in most businesses, really know and understand who your customer is before you start lead generation, it’s quicker and much cheaper in the long run.
Selling too early, don’t do it! you and your client are unlikely to be on the same buying and selling journey just yet, this will lead to mistakes. Mistakes that can lose you, your valuable margin, through misunderstanding and eagerness. Understand your potential clients pain points through a list of pre prepared questions, with follow-up probing questions that help establish if the answer provided is really genuine. Slow down to sell faster.
Jackie Jarvis – The Walking Business Coach, Natural Selling Expert and Founder of Natural Netwalking
Natural Authentic Relationship Building through Proactive Networking. Building natural relationships through networking is always how I have found my best opportunities. It is important to choose the right kind of networking, the type of Network you enjoy, that will enable you to engage with people that could potentially become good referral partners, or who ultimately could be ideal clients.
Develop an opportunity radar. We all know that good networking is about getting to know people better and becoming part of a business community within which you will be able to uncover opportunities over time. But to make the most of your Networking you will need to develop a good ‘Opportunity Radar’ and be proactive. Opportunities for leads exist but you will need to be aware and active to uncover them. You also need to be able to have natural conversations with people that show you are both interested and interesting. Can you help each other in any way?
Taking the next step with you. You will most certainly need to invest in one to one follow ups to engage further with those you think could be interesting to connect with further. You need to have clear ways of engaging with a potential client or business contact you wish to get to know better. This might be a complimentary first step that could give someone a way of experiencing your service. This way you will be able to engage initially through networking, and then afterwards further gain engagement with you and your service.
Being too slow is a BIG NO NO! When following up on leads, do not leave things too long. If someone is potentially interested in being helped by you, they will want to see that you are proactive. If you are slow in getting back to them, what does that say about the service, you may give.
If you have done the hard work of generating an opportunity, quickly and efficiently get that person booked in for a conversation, initial consultation or whatever your first step in your sales process is. Let them know that you are looking forward to talking to them. Be genuine, natural, and super quick!
A client I am working with said the other day that they are following up every opportunity, as quickly as they can, they likened themselves to hungry dogs who are really grateful for every bone right now! With an attitude like that that they won’t be hungry for long.
Speed when it comes to follow up stuns, I was once told!
There you have it. 20 concise tips from our Leading Sales and Marketing Experts to help you navigate your business through these COVID waters.
What will you be implementing in your business first? Follow us on Facebook and tag an Expert to let them know if you implemented their suggestion and how it worked out for you.
Join us for a webinar on this topic on 7th December – Click here to register.
Find out more about James White’s sales training here.