The lead generation part of the sales cycle is important when trying to drive and maintain new business. Using the telephone and cold calling is still a key vehicle for generating leads and below are some ways to improve results in that area.
Focus on the Right Goal
As sales people, it is natural for us to always try to sell our products and services and to always try to work on 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 only have between two to five minutes to work with. The call may last longer than that if we execute well and if it is a qualified prospect, 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 so limited, we really do not have enough time to sell our products and services. And if we only focus on trying to do that during the lead generation process, we may have limited success. Another way to go 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.
There are many different steps to the sales cycle including 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 between working on these different areas or in some ways work at them at the same time.
To improve results generating leads, we can benefit from turning away from all of the other tasks and responsibilities and focusing solely on generating leads for a portion of the week. The 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.
Outsource When Needed
Lead generation is part of the sales cycle that is fairly easy to outsource 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 decrease cost and also improve productivity.
From a cost perspective, working a cold list of contacts can be very time consuming. When you factor 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 working a full week balancing tasks between working with prospects between the different areas of the sales cycle. By outsourcing, you can take the area of lead generation off of the plate for the sales staff enabling them to be more productive in the more strategic areas.