Why do we struggle with generating and controlling leads on a consistent basis when the idea is seemingly so simple?I have something.You need what I have.Let’s talk.At times, generating leads can feel like using a faucet without having any control of the water flow.
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The reason for the challenge may not be so much about the process, but the implementation. Despite all the conversation about generating leads, the attention is often focused on the end goal and not the steps required at the start. As the saying goes, the devil is clearly in the details.
A quick search on any business forum, like Quora, reveals a host of questions on generating leads. Unfortunately, most also reveal common misconceptions that pull attention away from your real goal: connecting with the right person to sell your products and services. If you aren’t generating quality leads, the process to the final sale is jeopardized from the start. Following are 8 common myths and what you can do to combat stagnated thinking.
Myth #1: Generating leads is a task you can activate on an as needed basis.
At any point in time you feel your company has plenty of leads, you might be tempted to dial down your lead generation efforts and wait for your pipeline to ease up before engaging with prospects again. Unfortunately, this kind of tactic will put you on a road to nowhere. Attracting business, and therefore, leads is an ongoing process that requires consistent attention to developing interest from customers and encouraging your target audience to engage. No big surprises here. How committed would you expect any relationship to be if you were communicating one day and then completely dark the next? While communicating with your target market shouldn’t be a barrage of information, taking a feast or famine approach is equally ineffective. When you go extended periods of time in stealth mode, your ideal customer hears your competition in surround sound.
Consistently connecting in a real way with your target audience is critical to keeping your pipeline at an even flow and thus avoid large gaps in supply and demand. Compare a healthy business pipeline to a large locomotive. From a slowed or stopped position, it can take miles to get it moving at a steady, productive pace. Unfortunately, that's where the comparison ends. A business pipeline can and will dry up quickly when regular attention slows or stops altogether. Lead generation is least effective with a start and stop plan of attack. Develop a plan of who you want to target and follow it consistently.
Myth #2: Generating leads is an art, not a science.
While there are multiple methods and theories for generating leads, some are obviously more effective than others. Using a standardized approach for every business is unrealistic, but taking an entirely free spirit approach with little organizational direction and design is unproductive. Your methods of lead generation should be customized and tailored to your organization. Start with investigating who and what. Who is your target persona? What problems and questions do your customers have that you solve? What is the message you want to send them? Define your target customer and what they need to know about you.
After the who and what are established, focus on the how. How will you communicate your message to your desired audience? Some companies use a push strategy of outbound marketing where information is pushed out to contacts. This method is useful to broadcast information widely and garner name recognition. However, it is also less personal or targeted as you may or may not have the right information at the right time your contacts are looking for it.
Another approach is a pull strategy of inbound marketing. Information is made available for every stage of the buyer’s journey. Each piece of content provides something of value that invites them into your company to investigate further. Your message with an inbound strategy is highly targeted matching the right information with the right persona at the right time. Generating leads successfully is a science of knowing who your customer is, what questions they are trying to solve, and how you can connect with them.
Myth #3: Lead generation is strictly a numbers game, just cast a very broad net.
The desire in generating leads is naturally toward quantity. After all, more is always better, right? Gather as many contacts as possible from any source and filter them out as contacts move along the sales process. However, as Myth #2 pointed out, a broad marketing approach is arbitrary and impersonal which can set a you vs. them dichotomy when “them” are the leads you want to convert! If your goal in nurturing leads is to develop a relationship of trust, that you have something of value to offer, then starting from a position of random selection is counterproductive.
Instead, focus on quality. Plan your marketing efforts around providing information that will answer, resolve and supply. By having an educational focus to your marketing, you position yourself as a reliable source of information. As your contacts delve further into what you have to share, that anonymous contact becomes a lead and (with the right nurturing and a little time) a raving customer. Lead generation isn’t so much about numbers as it is about connecting.
Myth #4: You don’t have to pay for quality leads.
Remember the sage wisdom that nothing in life ever comes for free? The same is true here. As a matter of clarification, though, this is not about purchasing lead lists. This discussion is about generating your own leads and the value they have for your business. If quality trumps quantity, then you should expect some level of investment into attracting, converting, closing, and delighting a customer so that they become a raving fan of yours.
Not all costs of lead generation are monetary; some will be intrinsic costs such as time and effort. However, developing a relationship with a targeted contact that builds trust so that they seek you out for particular products, services and information will be worth it in the long run. Think of generating quality leads as an investment in building trust instead of payment toward an impersonal tactic. What are your best customers worth you? Consider the energy and resources you have invested in the existing relationships you have. Those connections weren’t free and didn’t just happen, and chances are they were worth every bit too. Spend your resources, whether time or money, on actions that will provide quality first.
Myth #5: If you a have a website, leads will just automatically appear.
Your website is not some “Field of Dreams” moment. Just because you build a website does not mean visitors and leads will automatically come. You need a compelling reason for visitors to be there. Offer something of value. Take the time to understand who your ideal customer is and what issue they are looking to solve. Develop targeted marketing efforts that will engage and invite contacts into a mutually beneficial relationship. Then make sure your website continues along this same path.
A good site should be active and evolving with content relevant to your target customers. Follow a focused plan for generating leads. Your website is a primary place of lead generation with multiple opportunities to exchange contact information for valuable pieces of content through landing pages. Visitors should easily understand what is available and how to get it. Spend time to create a memorable experience that engages the reader, inviting them to interact with you. Then spend the time to optimize your site to improve your search ratings and visibility.
Myth #6: Employing shortcuts can attract quality leads faster.
If generating quality leads isn’t a free-for-all event (see Myth #4), then by extension, taking a shortcut in the process is equally unproductive. The internet is full of shortcuts, tips, and “hacks” for fast-tracking processes and many times the advice is helpful. However, there is a vast difference between cleaning your windows more efficiently and growing a business. If quality is critical, then short changing your mechanism for lead generation doesn’t fit, and why would you want to?
Developing quality leads that mature into a natural source of promotion through loyal customers takes time. You need to prove yourself in product performance and industry knowledge as an enterprise worthy of your customer’s loyalty. Trust isn’t built overnight, and neither are quality leads. Don’t rush the process.
Myth #7: Lead generation is a set it and forget it process.
Lead generation could be considered a full contact sport. Paying attention to all aspects of who, what, where, when, and how are constant. Just as acquiring and developing leads is an ongoing task, reviewing your methodology is too. Avenues to engage with your audience and target personas are constantly adapting. Where and how your customers get their information changes, and so do their expectations of you.
Full attention does not mean that parts of your lead generation process cannot be automated. Being able to release social posts on a predetermined schedule is very helpful. Developing a path to send follow-up emails based on actions your leads take is good lead management. However, use those automation tools as a way to manage your time effectively, not completely take over, putting your marketing on autopilot. As your marketplace evolves, your message, tone, consistency and format should transition as well. Create a system that allows you to be proactive, not reactive; and highly engaged with your contacts to nurture leads into customers along your entire sales pipeline from production to final sale. Plan, review and adapt your lead generation process on a very regular basis.
Myth #8: Lead generation has a one-way communication flow.
Information input (feedback from your customers) and output (information you provide) should be a 1:1 relationship. Companies that attract the most qualified leads are those that provide the most information to educate their target personas. Businesses that are most proficient at nurturing their leads are those that listen the most to the feedback their target marketing is giving them. How is this done? Analysis.
What pages of your site get the most traffic? What blog posts had the most shares? How many click-throughs did your call to action receive? What is the download rate of your latest eBook? Your potential customers may not tell you what they want or need in specific words, but their actions scream volumes. Your marketing platform should have a strong analytic process for your marketing content which is vital to hearing what your leads are saying.
ConclusionGenerating leads is a critical component of your organization that requires vigilant attention. However, with some planning and a little focus on details, your lead generation process can be a linchpin element to your business potential.
- Develop a specific plan focused on your target personas.
- Provide information and an experience that invites your ideal customer in.
- Quality matters in generating leads, so invest into your contacts with valuable information that educates and solves problems.
- Implement programs to help streamline your marketing efforts, but don’t shortchange the process.
- Nurturing leads takes time. Be intentional with your efforts.
- Lead generation, while a clearly defined process, must continually adapt and evolve based on what your target personas are telling you. Listen to them.