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Four Ways to Improve the Lead Generation Results

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

For many businesses, success is dependent on the ability to consistently generate leads.  With that being the case, there are some very basic things that can implemented to improve the lead generation results.

1. Improving Focus in the Area of Cold Calling

If cold calling plays a role in a business’ sales strategy, it can help to improve the level of focus that sales resources spend on creating leads.  One of the reasons that increasing the level focus with lead generation is important is that in many cases cold calling will not be one of the tasks that sales resources enjoy doing.  We can often either procrastinate or find something else to work on when it comes time to get on the phone to generate leads.

For some businesses, creating focus can be accomplished by creating an organization of resources that have the sole job of cold calling prospects to try to generate leads.  There are many benefits to having a dedicated group of individuals making calls as there are many tactics and skills that can be employed in this area and by having a group solely dedicated to the lead generation process, they can become specialized and experts in that particular area.

If there are not sales resources or funding available to create a lead generation group or team, a business has a couple of other options to create focus and improve results.  First, they can create an environment where the existing sales resources block out part of their calendar during the week to put shut everything else down and focus solely on cold calling to create leads.  The other option is fairly easy and cost effective and that is to simply outsource cold calling to an external company and this can ensure that resources will be clearly focused on the lead generation process.

2. Having the Right Incentives

Another key to improving the lead generation results is to focus on having the right incentives in place to motivate the behavior needed to increase the level of leads being produced.  Sales people can often be coin operated and typically invest time, energy, and interest in the areas that will provide the best return.  If a business wants to increase the level of leads being produced, a first place to start is to ensure that the right incentives are in place to reward the desired behavior and results.

3. Improve Search Engine Optimization

If a company is not aware of or actively incorporating search engine optimization (SEO) concepts into its sales strategy, it could be missing out on one of the most powerful lead generation channels available.  This should be a key component of any lead generation strategy.

4. Increase the Level of Networking

If there is not a satisfactory level of leads being produced, we should look at the level of networking that is taking place as the power of networking can be amazing in terms of finding leads and increasing sales.  Networking can mean different things to different people, but in this context we are talking about professional business networking that is done at events and in person.  Although, now with all of the new forms of social media, there is tremendous amount of work that we can do and virtually through social networks that are on line.

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The Importance of Cold Call Training

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

When it comes to cold calling, just about every sales organization performs it in some way or another. And most organizations incorporate some sort of training for their sales staff. This sales training may include content on products and services that are being sold, possibly some information on the company systems and processes, and likely to include a focus on general sales methodology. What is sometimes missing in typical training curriculum is some form of very focused information around cold call training.

It could be debated that the reason there is often not training provided at the cold calling level is attributed to the three myths of predicting a successful cold caller:

Sales Experience: The first myth is that people assume that if someone has sales experience already, they will be able to successfully make cold calls. Sales experience is definitely a great thing for a person to bring to a position, but there are many different types of sales positions and someone could have years of experience but actually has very little knowledge about how to successfully pick up the phone and generate leads. Even if they have experience making cold calls, if they have never had formal cold call training and sales coaching, their experience might not add anything to their position for success.

Outgoing Personality: The second myth is that there is a common belief or perception that if a person has a very outgoing personality, they will likely be a good cold caller. This is an understandable assumption to make as both being outgoing and cold calling are similar in that they require a person to be fairly talkative. Unfortunately, that is where the similarities end and that alone is not enough to make a strong prediction that an outgoing person will be successful at cold calling. It definitely helps, but without proper cold call training, outgoingness alone will not automatically lead to success.

Activity Equals Results: The third myth for predicting a successful cold caller is that if they have high activity levels and work hard, they will be successful. Unfortunately, in sales effort alone does not directly lead to results. Especially in the area of cold calling, if we make 100 calls everyday, but we do not know what we are doing, that effort will not automatically produce lead generation. And on the other side of the spectrum, if we know exactly what we are doing and are highly effective, we can drive a high level of results from a below average level of effort.

By looking at these three myths, we can see why a very busy business operating on a thin budget might skip the activity of delivering cold call training. Instead of making the investment of time and money, they invest in outgoing sales people that have sales experience. Management then puts them on the phone with a set of goals and pushes for high activity levels. And while this approach could lead to unsatisfactory sales performance, sales staff turnover, and missed sales opportunities.

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Incorporate a Bidirectional Lead Gen Strategy

Sunday, June 26th, 2011

It is can be common for a business to only have one main channel in place for lead gen. For example, they may be focused primarily on cold calling, on search engine optimization, or on direct mail. While it is good to be at least doing one activity to generate leads, it can be advantageous to incorporate a bidirectional strategy when focused on improving results.

A bidirectional lead generation strategy focuses on using methods to produce leads that from come in from both outbound and inbound activities. In this context, outbound refers to activities that proactively reach out to prospects to generate leads and inbound refers to activities that create an environment where prospects are drawn in to and end up contacting you.

Outbound Lead Generation

There are many different ways to proactively reach out to prospects to attempt to trigger interest and create leads:

Cold calling: This is one of the most common forms of lead generation activities and involves having sales resources call a cold list of target prospects with a process of working along a script and trying to schedule a meeting or appointment.

Cold walking: Cold walking is similar to cold calling with the except that it takes place in person. This would involve stopping by an office and trying to contact the prospect in person. This is one of the more underutilized lead gen techniques.

Email marketing: Email marketing is the strategy to utilize email to blast prospects to both stay in contact and generate leads. This method is being used more and more every year as it is a very cost and easy form of outbound lead generation, but it can have a fairly low response rate.

Direct mail: Direct mail is the traditional form of email marketing where physical items are sent to prospects through the mail system. This is more costly than email marketing and the response rate is not much different.

Inbound Lead Generation

Inbound lead gen activities are where you are putting systems and information in place so that prospects come to you. There are two key methods to generate inbound leads:

Search engine optimization (SEO): SEO is the method of improving a company’s website so that search engines know that that the site and business are out there and as a result, they send traffic regularly to the website. By investing time and money into getting the search engines to be aware of you, you can create an environment where prospects find you and this can establish an inbound channel of for lead generation. Successful execution in the area of search engine optimization can generate tremendous results and returns in the area of generating leads and business.

Social Media: Social media refers to all of the different web-based and mobile applications that enable networking and communications between individuals and businesses. And while these tools can be used for outbound lead gen activities, they can also create inbound traffic as they provide great platforms for connecting and sharing information with potential prospect.

By creating a bidirectional a process, we can diversify our lead generation efforts to improve overall results and decrease risk.

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Diversifying the Lead Generation Effort to Drive Sales Results

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

Almost every business has an interest in generating leads in order to drive growth and profitability. With that being the case, it can be helpful to diversify the lead generation process as this can help improve overall results and decrease risk. Diversifying lead gen can involve using different resources and methods to trigger leads and new business.

Improving Overall Results

By having a diversified approach to generating leads, we can increase our results by improving three key areas:

Improving coverage: By using multiple methods to try to generate leads, we will increase the total number of prospects that we are reaching and this will improve our coverage and exposure across our target market. If our business model is solid and our messaging is strong, then there should be a correlation between the number of prospects that we reach and the number of leads we produce driving an improvement in overall results.

Connecting in the right way: Each prospect communicates and operates differently. For example, some prospects answer the phone and some never do. Some prospects will read and respond to email and some get so much email that your emails will practically go straight to a trash can. By having a diversified approach to the lead generation activities, we can improve our odds of communicating the way that fits and connects best with the prospect and this can improve our odds of getting into the account and creating a lead.

Getting attention through repetition: Another benefit to having a diversified approach for lead gen is that we will likely have our messaging exposed to the same prospect’s on multiple occasions. By hitting the prospect on more than one occasion, we can improve our probability of getting their attention and getting in.

Decreasing Risk

Since the lead generation process is likely critical to the health of the business, there is business risk associated with the possibility that the process doesn’t produce results. In other words, if the sales organization is not able to create leads, there will be a negative impact on new business revenue and this could have an impact on the health and future of the business.

With so much riding on generating leads, we can decrease this risk by diversifying the methods that we use to producing leads. It is as simple as not putting your eggs in one basket. By investing time and money in different lead gen methods for producing results, we can create and environment where results come in from different sources and this will decrease our dependence and reliance on just one lead gen method.

In addition to lead gen methods varying in terms of results, they also can vary in terms of the amount of time to see results. For example, the direct interaction of cold calling may drive quicker results and responses than email marketing or search engine optimization. By have a diversified approach, we can balance out the variance in timing of leads produced, which will help to decrease risk in the area of lead gen.

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Launch Pad Solutions provides lead generation services helping businesses to improve sales results.





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Ways to Improve the Lead Generation Process

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

The lead generation portion of the sales cycle is key when trying to find new clients. And using the telephone for prospecting and cold calling is still a key vehicle for generating leads and below are some ways to improve results in that area.

Stay Focused on the Right Goal

It is natural for us to always try to sell our products and services and to work toward closing the sale. Although, trying to do this when trying to generate leads can sometimes be counterproductive as there can be a better goal to focus on.

When making cold calls, we really have between two to five minutes to work with. The call could last longer if we execute well and the prospect turns out to be qualified, but even if we go beyond five minutes, we have actually moved on past the cold call and moved more to the first meeting.

With time being limited, we really do not have the amount of time needed to sell our products and services. If we only focus on trying to do that during the lead generation process, we may have limited success. Another option is to focus on selling the opportunity to discuss in more detail at some time. Again, that may be right there while on the phone or it may be at another time and move from the phone to a face-to-face meeting.

Create Focus

There are many different steps to the sales cycle – the lead generation step, meeting with prospects, managing active opportunities, and working to close transactions. As a sales person, we typically bounce back and forth and multitask between working on these different areas.

To improve results generating leads, we can benefit from blocking out distractions from other tasks and responsibilities and focusing solely on generating leads for a portion of the week. One reason that this is important is that, while lead generation is one of the key steps of the sales cycle, it is typically not the most fun and we can always find something else to work on. If we don’t create focus, we may never get to creating leads.

Outsource When Needed

The lead generation stage of the sales cycle is one that is commonly outsourced as there are many companies that provide lead generation services where they will put someone on the phone to work to generate leads. Two reasons that it can be advantageous to outsource lead generation are that it can help to improve productivity and decrease cost.

From cost perspective, working a cold contact list can be very time consuming and expensive. Factoring in the cost that full-time sales staff bring with them, it can be less costly to have a lower skilled resource that works for another company perform those tactical tasks.

From a productivity standpoint, it may be likely that existing sales staff are operating at capacity in terms of workload. By outsourcing, you can take the lead generation task off of the plate for the sales staff enabling them to be more productive in the more strategic areas.

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Launch Pad Solutions provides lead generation services helping businesses to improve sales results.





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Improving Your Mind to Improve Cold Calling Results

Saturday, June 11th, 2011

There really are many different things that we can do to improve cold calling results.  We can work on what we say and the questions we ask by using a cold call script.  But we can also working on what we are thinking internally by working on our mind and drive positive sales results.

Believe

When making cold calls, it is important to have confidence.  This will not only help to defuse any cold calling anxiety, but it will also help in how you present yourself with what you say and how you sound over the phone.

One way to improve your level of confidence is to truly believe in what you are selling in terms of the value that you have to offer you prospects and clients.  There is likely some way that your company helps the businesses that purchase from you and it can help to fully understand and believe in this value proposition.   And when you focus on not losing sight of that while on the phone, you can begin to realize you are cold calling to offer help to the people you are calling.

By having this mindset, you will shift from a frame where you are calling trying to get prospects to help you by buying from you and this can have an immediate impact on cold calling results.

Create Focus

Life as a sales person can be very hectic so we can usually always find something else to do before cold calling.  We might know that we need to make some prospecting calls but we if don’t want to, we may clean out some emails, work on some existing prospects, take care of some admin work, etc.  This can be called being “productively unproductive”.

One way to make sure that a good amount of cold calling gets accomplished is to establish focus where we prepare our schedule and our mind for cold calling.  To accomplish this, it can help drive cold calling results by creating time where you can completely focus on cold calling and tune out all of the other distractions and responsibilities.


Understand the Prospect

It can be easy for us to get upset at prospects when they are do not take our call and this can result in us feeling frustrated with our job or doubt what we have to sell.  But if we stop to understand the prospect in terms of where their mind is at, we can start to realize that they the reason the do not take our call might be because they are busy, they get a lot of sales calls, or maybe they are simple not the right fit for what we are calling about.  By having a good understanding of the prospect, we can have a clearly mind and this can help to improve cold calling results.

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Ten Useful Cold Calling Tips (Part I)

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

When making cold calls, working hard and making a lot of calls does not automatically equal success. There are clear things that we can do to improve the chances of success and those are outlined below in the following cold call tips.

1. Confirm Availability

We should always confirm that the prospect is available for our call. This one could probably go without saying but it is very common for us to flow through a cold call and skip this step. Just about everybody we call will be busy when they answer the phone. We need to be sure to identify if they are “normal busy” or if they are “crazy busy”. If they are crazy busy, we do not want to try to proceed with the cold call.

2. Use a Cold Call Script

It is easy for us to think that we don’t need a script when cold calling as we have been doing this for years, but using some sort of cold call script can greatly improve results. This does not need to be a detailed script that we read word for word, but at least some sort of outline or guide for what we want to say, ask, and accomplish during the call will greatly improve our performance.

3. Have a Value Statement

One of the most important cold call tips is to have a very clear and powerful value statement for what you do and sell. A value statement is a one to two sentence statement that clearly communicates the how you help the businesses or individuals that purchase from you. This can be used at the beginning of the cold call, as well as throughout as a response to different objections.

4. Name Drop

When someone answers a cold call, they are instantly trying to determine if the caller is a “friend” or a “foe”. A friend would be someone that is either on the inside of the organization and a foe would be someone who is on the outside trying to get in. By using one of the cold call tips of name dropping, we can sometimes present ourselves more as a friend to the person on the other end of the phone.

5. Give Pain to Get Pain

One of the most important things to accomplish during the cold call is to uncover some pain. The reason this is so important is that if there is no pain, there ultimately is no reason to change.

Finding pain is one of those cold call tips that may be easier said than done. But one way to improve the ability to uncover pain is by sharing pain that you have observed in the past to the prospect and use that as a lead to see if they have experienced anything similar.

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Trial Close During Presentations for Sales Effectiveness

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

You can deliver the most effective sales presentation, but if you do not trial close during sales presentations, your sales effectiveness might not be at an optimum level.  Trial closing is like a test close where you ask the prospect questions to check in to see what their thoughts are so far and confirm the direction forward.

Trial closing can be an effective and important sales tactic for the following reasons:

1.    Gathering important information: When you ask trial closing questions, you will have the opportunity to get valuable information from the prospect.  And if you don’t ever check in and ask questions, you will be operating without important information from the prospect’s side.

2.    Confirm current direction: Trial closing will allow you to check in with a prospect to confirm that they are still following your presentation and that you all are currently on the same page.

3.    Map out future direction: While you are trial closing, you can ask questions to confirm and map out the future direction that the prospect wants to go instead of blindly guessing or hoping that you are moving toward a close.

Below are some examples of questions to use to trial close during a sales presentation:

What do you think of what we have discussed so far?
Check the temperature of the prospect during a presentation to see what their thoughts are in terms of what you have shown them.  You can assume but if you do not ask you will really have no idea what they are thinking.

Is this something that you could see being used?

The prospect may love your product, but is it something they could see being used and adopted by their organization?  If they love it but there is no way for it to get implemented, they may not be a qualified sales opportunity.

How would this solution benefit your organization?

You will know all of the business value that a customer will receive from buying from you.  But does the prospect?  Ask this question and the prospect will share their understanding of the value and benefits in their own words and this will help you to measure how on board the prospect is.

Is the value delivered in line with the investment required?
This is a good way to test if the price level is right without asking that directly.  By asking about the value they will receive instead of the price they will pay, you can get close to knowing if you are in the right ballpark without creating an opportunity for them to ask for a lower price.

What direction do you want to go from here?

You will likely to want to move forward and close the sale as soon as possible.  But what direction does the prospect want to go?  Getting them to explain and share in their own words can provide some valuable information on their buying process.

What is your decision making process?
It is key to know if the person you are dealing with has power in the organization.  This question gets you to the answer of that question without directly asking and offending anyone and can help you to identify if you need executive sponsorship.

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