Lead generation is a phrase we’re all familiar with – but do you really know what it means?
There’s a million and one buzzwords in business and marketing, and sometimes knowing what things actually mean is easier said than done.
So, What Do You Need To Know About Lead Generation?
Lead generation is often the first step in the journey.
After all, you can’t sell without having customers.
But without having an effective system in place to manage the leads that you generate, you can run aground pretty quickly.
I often refer to my Sales Circuit, and in it we discuss building a lead bank. But it’s important to remember that the Sales Circuit never ends – it repeats and your customer’s journey doesn’t simply end with a sale.
Now, if you’ll indulge me for a moment… it’s my birthday this month.
And that brings me back to a moment that changed my perspective on my 54th birthday – because I decided I was only halfway through my life.
And if you’ve done the maths, you’ll realise that I’m planning on living until I’m 108. I know what you’re thinking, but let me explain…
Because it was this realisation that has helped me define my Sales Circuit and my plan for my life.
The average life expectancy in the UK rises by 3-4 years every 20 years – today, it’s at 81. But by the time I reach 108, it’ll be somewhere around 92.
But remember, average accounts for everyone that dies younger than that age, and given the rapid rate of advancements in medical technology and the fact that I’m still in good health, it’s not an unfeasible estimate.
Whether you think I’m talking complete nonsense or you can understand the logic, there is a point – creating a plan for your life and following it is a CRUCIAL step in your Sales Circuit.
And because the Sales Circuit in your business begins by generating leads, it’s difficult to maximise the potential success if you don’t know where you want to end up.
Lead Generation And The Power Of Referrals
Nothing really starts until you’ve got that first click.
Everything else is simply groundwork – even if it’s extensive and well-researched, it’s not real until it’s out there in the world and generating results.
And the reality is that you need leads to persuade someone to click.
That might come from referrals after a customer has had a positive experience and recommended you to someone else, which is a fantastic way to secure repeat custom from your current customer AND generate new leads.
So, first things first – have you got incentives and reminders in place to encourage your customers to refer people to you?
Incentives that will work include things such as:
- A 50% off voucher for every referral that becomes a customer
- A free service for every 3 referrals
- An upgrade to a premium service for 12 months after your friend joins on the basic package
- A copy of your new book after each referral’s first order
There are plenty of companies who do this will – just think about Sky, Virgin, HelloFresh, and pretty much every subscription-based company out there.
There are two stands to it because by referring you to other customers, they’re more likely to stay with you for longer.
BUT to build a steady stream of referrals, you MUST have a product or service that’s worth referring people to. The biggest resistance anyone has to recommending goods and services to people they know is being afraid of denting their reputation.
Think about it – have you ever recommended a TV show or new band to someone? As soon as you do it, you’re hoping they like it as much as you did, otherwise, you’re going to be hesitant about recommending anything again.
Referred leads are like gold dust – people who knock on your door because someone they know, like and trust has recommended you to buy. They need barely any convincing to get them over the line, making them the perfect lead, and yet most businesses never even try to access them.
And all you need to do to find more of them is create an effective referral generating system. All the best ones are made up of three foundation stones:
- Provide a top-notch service
- Provide incentives for sharing
- And don’t forget to capture the referrals
The sales cycle can start ANYWHERE and success depends on whether you keep the processes moving – if you’ve got your sales machine ticking over nicely, then you can move on to the next stage.
BUT before then, you need to get things going.
Everything starts somewhere, and whether it’s through referrals, building a list, or developing relationships, you’ve got to turn on the tap to generate leads.
That relationship only develops as you make them feel welcome, nurturing them and making them a sales offer.
Step five of the Sales Circuit talks about leaks and regularly checking to make sure the system is capturing and actioning data properly.
If you’ve got a process in place that handles this, then you can devote your time SOLELY to the job of increasing the number of leads – amplifying.
FOR EXAMPLE – If you’d invented a machine that could turn a £5 note into a £20 note, what would you be doing all day?
Hint, it’s not to find as many five-pound notes as you can – as easy as that may seem. Nope, here’s what I’d do:
- I’d hire someone to borrow £5 notes on the premise that the lender will be paid £6 in return, and then pay the collector £2 per collection
- I’d then pay someone £1 per go to fill the machine and hire a third employee the same amount to collect the £20 notes and deliver them to my ‘next project’ account
If you’re wondering what on earth I’m on about, bear with me…
Because the point is that once you’ve set up your fully automated Sales Circuit, your job is simply to find a way to fill it with as many leads as possible.
The idea is simple – get the process right and then scale it up.
Of course, you still need to monitor the system to make sure that if there’s any glitches, errors, or meltdowns, you can get everything back online again.
You might even realise there’s a MUCH better way of doing things if you tweak a few bits and pieces, but you’ll never know until things are up and running.
As you look to grow, the biggest factor is always going to be growing sustainably. That probably means how fast can you grow without overwhelming your team, overstretching your resources, and diminishing the quality of your service.
And you should never sacrifice any of those – after all, you’ve got until you’re 108 to get things right.
So, How Do I Find Leads?
It’s the million-dollar, question, right?
Getting customers is step one but getting customers and keeping them is the heart of all successful businesses.
Finding a constant stream of leads would be like striking gold, wouldn’t it?
Well, not necessarily. I don’t mean because it’s not GREAT – I mean because it’s not too good to be true, and it’s not down to chance, luck, or anything like that.
Let’s start with a few key things you can do to get things going…
When you begin your journey to identify your best customers and the ones that’ll benefit the most, there is A LOT of guesswork involved.
As you build your client base, the picture becomes clearer, and you know who a good customer is and who might be a bit of a burden. Then you’ll eventually have enough data to actually profile who your best customers are.
Take a look at your top 20% of clients and amalgamate all of their characteristics, and you should have a pretty good profile already.
Referrals and Testimonials
The best source of new leads comes from the people that already love what you do.
Yep, that’s your current customers! Nothing is stronger for winning new business than referrals.
Everything is online today. If your friend Linda eats a sandwich, you’ll probably know about it. Whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, or anything else, we all know it’s out there.
And that means advertising, communication, and feedback are all highly social and shareable. Quite simply, if you put yourself out there more, then more people will find you.
Of course, it has to be of good quality AND relevant. Remember, everything you put on social media reflects your brand, so it needs to be strategically planned with a central message. The key here is quality first, volume second.
Getting out there and meeting people should ALWAYS be on your mind. In most areas in the UK there are strong business networking communities, from the Federation of Small Businesses to local Chambers of Commerce, and independent networking groups, there are plenty out there.
It might not work for everyone, but it’s always worth a try.
The goal is to create a strategic and process-driven Sales Circuit that functions well, generates sales, and can be automated. It’s a journey to get there, but once it’s set up, it’s down to tweaking, getting it running, and optimising the entire system.
Once you’ve built that, and you’re generating leads, it’s time to think about what happens next.