Welcome to a short series of opinion pieces, highlighting what I believe are effective commercial drivers for start-up and fast growth creative, marketing and tech businesses.
With over 10 years’ experience in B2B sales & marketing, I am passionate about developing others and fostering a collaborative working environment focused both on individual and collective success. I am now a Partner with leading growth advisory and M&A firm, Waypoint Partners, working with shareholders and leadership teams in the creative, marketing and technology sectors, to grow and realise value.
In the first article, I touched on the importance of segment targeting and developing a Lead Qualification Scorecard to avoid chasing unsuitable business. In this second piece, I focus on effective ways to secure suitable business and discuss the idea of a multi-layered approach.
ARTICLE 2: Planning success. A three-pronged approach to lead generation
You’ve spent time researching your potential new business targets, identified your segment ‘sweet spots’ and got a list of your ‘golden clients’. What’s required now, is a comprehensive plan that will get your business, thought-leading approach and, better still, a charismatic team in front of those fame and fortune delivering clients…
The key things to remember are:
- Be systematic in your planning and approach. Not employing a systematic approach to your sales targeting is potentially one of the most limiting factors to growth.
- Do not overcomplicate your sales and marketing plans, keep them simple and focused. Generating business leads is, unavoidably, a time-intensive process. Make sure all energy expended, delivers a return.
- A lack of budget is no excuse for not developing a comprehensive new business strategy. An effective plan can deliver business leads at a relatively little cost to an agency.
So, what does a systematic, smart plan look like? Very simply you can split this down into three sections:
Referrals: clients, team network, partners and investors
Statistics show that the conversion rate from a referred piece of business is 50% (and depending on who you talk to, this number rises to as much as 75%). It is, therefore, potentially, the area of focus with the lowest hanging fruit.
Consider all previous clients, ex-colleagues, friends (and indeed friends of friends). More importantly, ensure that the entire organisation does the same. Your biggest advocates and most vocal ambassadors are your team members. Identify the ‘hunters’, the ones motivated by referral bonuses and who are natural salespeople. They could be lurking at any level and in any department. Experience has shown me that business development can be a lonely role in an organisation. Rally the wider support of the team and spread the pressure.
Whilst you might already be in regular contact with previous clients (and using free tools such as LinkedIn to track and follow those you may have lost touch with), have you considered asking your current clients for a referral? If you’ve done a good job, get them to shout about it, both internally and as a referee when approaching new organisations. There is nothing more affirming for a potential client with a big decision to make about partnering with your business, than a respected testimonial.
Marketing: owned and earned channels
Businesses in the creative, marketing and tech spheres, have naturally adopted social media establishing a presence on LinkedIn, Medium, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook etc. These channels often referred to as ‘owned channels’, can be incredibly powerful and provide exposure to a much greater audience than other methods. But at the same time, without proper forethought, they can be pitifully ineffectual.
You should ask yourself the very same questions you would ask when approaching a client’s channel:
- Which social/ online channels will engage our target audience (key ‘sweet spot’ decision makers)?
- What role should every channel play and therefore what content should go on each?
- With what frequency should these channels be updated and how is this to be managed internally?
- Do the different channels compliment one another and drive the SEO of your organisation’s website (often referred to as the ‘shop window’)?
Monitor engagement as you experiment with content, and adapt accordingly. Today’s social landscape gives access to free tools that can assist in honing the efficacy of your owned marketing channels. Conversely, there is the option to support your content with small amounts of PPC spend that might be just what’s needed, to get you in front of the right decision makers.
Finally, start a dialogue, engage those who engage in your content. Simply using your owned channels as a one-way broadcasting tool, limits their potential return.
In addition to marketing through owned channels, consider communication through ‘earned’ opportunities too. This might include: organising members of your leadership team to speak at key industry events; contributing editorially (or even advertorially) to debates covered in the industry press relevant to your target clients; or taking part in speed dating events, which bring your management team face to face with a concentrated number of new business prospects.
The above suggestions, by no means, represent an exhaustive list of opportunities.
Proactive prospecting: phone, email, social, external assistance
The third section of a systematic and effective new lead generation plan is perhaps the one that takes the greatest focus.
Looking in detail at your list of target clients, decide what is going to be most successful in terms of gaining their attention. Ask yourself: What is their greatest business challenge? And then consider ways in which to show those stakeholders that you are the right business to offer solutions. This might be through:
- Insight reports
- Roundtable events
- You may even want to consider working with a new business/prospecting agency to assist with this part of your plan
Ultimately, for sales and marketing to be firing on all cylinders, it’s key that all three parts of your strategy work together seamlessly. It will ensure you engage the right stakeholders across multiple touch points, on an ongoing basis. Perhaps most importantly, you will secure and maintain a position in the front of their minds at that key ‘buying time’…Because you have to be in the race, so to speak, to be in with a chance of winning.
The next, and third, article in this series will look at converting leads and continuing to fill the new business pipeline. And, if you would like to go back and read the first article, ‘How to avoid poor decision making under the pressure of an empty pipeline?’ click HERE
To speak to me directly on the subject of lead generation or how Waypoint partners could work with your business to unlock future potential and drive growth, please contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org
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