Most small business owners and salespeople that I work with are pretty good at closing the deal once they get in front of the right people. What they struggle with is getting in front of enough of the “right people”.
In marketingspeak, we refer to the process of attracting the right people as lead generation. When most people think of lead generation (or leads), they naturally picture a sales funnel – that diagram that seems to show how if you just pour more people into the top of the funnel, more customers will trickle out of the bottom. This viewing of marketing as just a numbers game leads to a lot of frustration and wasted marketing budgets.
People Not Leads
It is important to remember that we don’t want leads. What we really want are customers, people who buy from us regularly. And we don’t want just any customers; we want profitable customers. Profitable customers who refer us to other profitable customers like them.
Borrowing from Stephen Covey, we need to start with our Ideal Customer in Mind. We need to take the time to understand which customers we are best able to serve. Who are the customers who appreciate the value we bring to the table? Which types of projects are your most profitable? Which ones suck the life out of you and your staff? If you are having trouble defining your ideal customer, start with this question – who do you not want to work with?
Understand Their Buying Process
Once you can identify what your ideal customers look like, you can begin to research their buying process – the stages they go through when making a purchasing decision and the information they need to move from one stage in their process to the next.
Once you understand how your ideal customer makes purchasing decisions you can begin to examine your existing marketing content to make sure that you have content that educates and builds trust for each stage in their buying process. By having relevant content in each stage, you increase your chances of attracting ideal customers no matter which stage they are in. You also increase your chances that they will stay with you as they continue along the process until they are ready to make their purchase.
Fewer Leads, More Conversions, Bigger Deals
Armed with a narrowly defined target audience and a thorough understanding of that audiences buying process, you are now ready to build effective lead generation campaigns. When you do, you will probably notice that the “marketing math” of the sales funnel gets turned on it’s head. It is very common for business with effective lead generation campaigns to see a decrease in the number of leads they receive. However, these leads are typically much more qualified leading to higher conversion rates and higher sales figures.
The next time you work on your lead generation system, remind yourself that leads are people and work to attract the type of people with whom you want to have a long term working relationship.
Bill Brelsford Small Business Marketing Consultant