In the old days, a share of mind was easier to secure. There were only so many routes to market. Advertising could be the option you selected. You might have undertaken a cold calling campaign unimpeded by opt-outs, voicemail, and gatekeepers. A piece of creative direct mail could have been the best approach. You attended events. Maybe you even considered using door drops. Life was simple.
And there were of course several other lead generation options that we haven’t mentioned. However, today life is different. We have the advent of the Internet and social media and greater sophistication and expectations. Our business and personal lives are cluttered with competing messages all vying for our attention. We all receive tons of emails every day. Our Twitter feeds are crammed with messages. LinkedIn and Facebook serve us updates on everything and everyone. To cut through is therefore a significant challenge that should occupy the mind of every sales and marketing manager.
So, what’s the answer? Well, there isn’t really a simple solution and we shouldn’t ignore traditional business development methods altogether. In certain cases, they still work. However, there are some basic principles that apply and that help us to understand why old lead generation techniques are broken and that we need to adapt our thinking and approach.
- It’s rare that you can rely on one method of marketing to target your prospects. Of course, there are some marketplaces where buyers congregate at exhibitions or in associations. Equally, if you can very clearly identify the job role your buyer fulfills, it is easier to isolate where to focus your efforts. But that’s not always the case and, more often than not, you need a balanced lead gen strategy that includes offline and online and a number of marketing approaches.
- Nowadays, attention is fragmented. Whilst a phone call or face-to-face discussion at an event means deeper rapport-building opportunities, it isn’t always easy to achieve. Buyer attention is hard to secure. Increasingly, therefore, sellers also need to consider a balanced approach. This means both outbound lead generation and inbound marketing in order to attract potential purchasers and encourage them to come to you.
- Basic sales approaches are flawed. For too long, sellers have provided insufficient tools for lead generation. A basic cold call touting services with no differentiation and an unclear audience will mostly fall on deaf ears. A ‘pitch’ coming from a LinkedIn inmail or direct email will do likewise. Today, buyers seek credibility and value from their suppliers. They want to know that you know what you’re doing, that you genuinely understand their needs, that you are experts, and that you won’t show them up if they hire you. They also want you to add value by providing insight and tips and by thinking outside the box. What can you do to add value to your approach? How can you make sure your prospects see that info? And what kind of ‘blended approach’ is necessary?
This blended approach may be a combination of:
- identification of a target prospect database using external list brokers and LinkedIn
- development of a strategy that includes providing useful insight e.g. Tips, research, an invitation to breakfast, webinars, and so on
- dissemination of interesting content on your website and social pages
- following influencers on LinkedIn and Twitter
- contact via inmail or connection requests on LinkedIn but providing value in that request (e.g. Actually offering something worthwhile to encourage that engagement)
- follow up on LinkedIn with some more useful information pertaining to their marketplace
- phone calls to reach out and suggest a face to face meeting as appropriate
- direct emails with more useful information
- an invitation to meet at an event that you’re attending or where you’re exhibiting
- a strong landing page on your website that includes information tailored for the potential buyer. This might again include an article, tips, video, podcast, or some other stimulus/call to action
Once again, the above isn’t exhaustive by any means. I haven’t mentioned the use of Facebook and Facebook boost and posting articles on LinkedIn profiles as well as LinkedIn advertising or even the more targeted use of video.
What it highlights though is that, subject to budget, a blended approach may be needed rather than overreliance on one solution. Lead generation has changed and your focus needs to change with it. If you’re relying on one form of lead generation, that technique may still work but for how long? And when those prospects take a look at your website and social pages to check you out, will they like what they see?
If you’d like to know how GSA Business Development can help generate growth for your business using a blended approach or book one of our new business development and marketing strategy workshops, contact us now on 0845 658 8192 or use the form on this site.