Sales people are under more pressure than ever and always facing the “what can you do for me now” message from management. Inside and outside sales people have little time for sales prospecting and nurturing; however, everyone knows these are fundamental building blocks of every pipeline. Unless the sales funnel is flowing at unusually high levels, causing businesses to struggle keeping up, sales prospecting is the very first step in any sales cycle.
According to the B-to-B Lead Generation Handbook from Marketing Sherpa, when a sale occurred 80% of all decision makers found the vendor while 20% of all decision makers say the vendor found them. The point is prospects don’t look for the vendor when you have a new solution or product, they look when they are ready. The window of opportunity is always open but organizations don’t have the visibility they need to find these pockets of opportunity. By employing business to business lead generation tactics organizations will find more leads and ensure prospects keep your solution at the forefront of their mind when they’re ready to buy.
Read through our 101 tips and ideas below. With 96 good ideas and 5 bad ones, our goal is to stimulate ideas to help improve your business to business lead generation strategies.
96 good ideas and tips for business to business lead generation
Network at the Next Level
1. Build partnerships at the sales level. Sales people should understand there is a whole bunch of other sales people just like them looking for leads. Map out your industry ecosystem to identify key players in your market. If you’re in sales, invite sales people working at non-competitive companies in your industry and territory to have lunch with you. Remember quid pro quo, approach the lunch with an open mind and focus on them, not you, during the discussion. Understand their objectives, goals, and motivations and see how you can help them with leads, introductions, partnerships, and more. Give and you will get.
2. Join industry forums. Research the industry forums in your marketplace and get involved where you can.
3. Ask for feedback when calling people. Have you ever heard that sales people talk more than they listen? Some say that God gave us two ears and one mouth to make sure we listen more than we talk. When prospecting or taking sales calls, approach the discussions with a “consultative attitude”. Think of yourself like a doctor. Try to understand the other persons (company’s) problem(s) first. After all, we don’t want to write any bad prescriptions.
4. Send gifts and cards during holiday seasons. Have a system to keep track of holiday gifts. Spreadsheets work well for this. If you have some good prospects in the funnel make sure to get them a box of cookies or chocolates (a step above a holiday card). They’ll have something to remember you by. Your prospects are human beings, creatures of habit, and doing something nice for them will soften them up. They’ll feel obligated to return the favor; hopefully, in the form of an inquiry, evaluation or purchase.
5. Hire industry consultants with executive level relationships. Sometimes, it’s not what you know but who you know. If you don’t know anyone then you’re not driving your networking in the pole position. Leverage industry experts. Find a consultant in your business, an ex-executive at a competing company or someone who has great relationships in your market. Work out a compensation plan to incent them to help with introductions, referrals or reselling to prospective clients.
6. Join a Chamber of Commerce. This is an old school tactic that every company should do.
Do some Business Development
7. Build partnerships for complementary partner referrals. Take time to map out the companies complementary to your business. If your company is selling a product perhaps there are service companies calling on the same clients as you. They may have the relationships you need and could help with introductions. When you approach the partner make sure to have a plan. Think through what is in it for them and include that in your pitch.
8. Build a referral program and offer a finder’s fee. Everyone likes to make a little money where they can.
9. Cross-promote with other businesses. Buyers like integrated solutions. If your company can partner with a company providing a product or solution to fill a void you add value for your customer and create a win-win with your partner.
10. Start a resellers (joint venture) program. Reseller programs create additional sources of bookings and revenue for companies. Find businesses in your market that are not a threat to your business and create a plan for the reseller by drafting up a Reseller’s Agreement.
Prospect like a Professional
11. Use Hoovers to generate target lists. Hoovers is owned by Dun and Bradstreet. They keep their records up to date with very large business databases on file. They have tools to generate lists of companies in regions, by industry, by revenue, and more. The best way to start is by sitting down and making a list of the industries you want to sell to. To find a list look at the industry your current customers are in. If you don’t have any customers look at your competitor’s customers. Have an intern or marketing assistant pull these lists for you and segment them appropriately. Learn more about Hoovers here.
12. Build up your LinkedIn network and use it. LinkedIn is one of the best prospecting tools around. It’s a hidden gem. The problem is that most people don’t think of LinkedIn as a fundamental prospecting tool. They think about it as an online resume database. That could be good and bad. Bad in the sense that most people don’t think to use it for prospecting. However, good when you call people and say “I found you since we’re in the same LinkedIn network, you’re my 3rd degree connection”. This is a good reference since it doesn’t feel like a sales call to your prospect. Your prospect will feel like there’s a warm connection between the two of you, increasing the chance of them staying on the line. LinkedIn works in a tiered fashion with three tiers. When you connect with someone you are a 1st degree connection and their 1st degree connections become your 2nd degree connections and so on. Don’t be super selective about who you pick to be connected with. You don’t have to be friends with them; this is a network building tool and a great one for prospecting. Look for plug-ins to Microsoft Outlook to connect with people you email directly within Microsoft Outlook.
13. Setup news feeds. Setup a RSS feed with Google Reader. Google desktop allows you to stream your RSS feeds to stay on top of what’s going on.
14. Use tools like Netprospex, Jigsaw or Lead Liaison to find contacts. Many of these tools are crowd-sourced. Crowd-sourced means people contribute contacts in exchange for other contacts and the database is maintained by the users themselves. Most of these systems charge for contacts and have a refund policy in place if you get bad contacts. Some systems have a way to help you qualify the contact’s information. Higher quality contacts have phone numbers, emails, and more. Some of these tools can show you the name of the individuals, but not their contact information, which is still useful for selective prospecting one-by-one when you’re calling the general phone number of the company you’re prospecting too.
15. Attend tradeshows but only walk the floor. Most tradeshows cost thousands of dollars to attend. Shows often require a team to travel, setup equipment and more. Marketing may not have the time or the budget for tradeshows. Instead, send a sales person or a company executive to simply “walk the floor”. Map out a plan of the companies you want to visit while at the show. When you approach their booth make sure to first act very interested in what they’re offering and ask questions about their solution. The conversation will naturally shift over as your contact says “so what does your company do?” End the discussion by finding out who the best contact is to share your solution with. Walking the floor vs. setting up a booth is a simple, cost effective way to yield a positive ROI at tradeshows. Try it out and the opportunities will come, you’ll be surprised.
16. Use a company to do your cold calling. Let’s face it, cold calling is not everyone’s favorite thing to do and usually last on the list for sales people. There are firms out there that do nothing but business to business lead generation and/or demand generation for you. Some firms get paid only when they generate a “qualified” lead, others get paid when they generate a meeting and some get paid a fixed income based on a set of goals. The good news is that contracts with these companies are typically short term. Try it out, if it doesn’t work you can always walk away.
17. Hire an inside sales team. Inside sales people can be great for demand generation initiatives. The role of inside sales is usually high pressure and pays lower than outside sales with high turnover. Think through how you will incent inside sales to keep them on board for the long haul. Think about quality over quantity too. If you’re asking inside sales to make 100 calls every day you’ll burn them out after a few months. Hey, we’re tired just thinking about it…
18. Read job descriptions to determine what tools people use. Let’s use an example, suppose you’re a sales person in the semiconductor business and you have a new processor you’re trying to sell. Look at the hiring section of the prospective company and review qualifications. If the hiring company is looking for a hardware engineer with experience in ARM cores it’s a pretty good clue the company is using this type of processor architecture. Apply the same principal to different job descriptions and solutions.
19. Have all of your sales and marketing team members start every day with two cold calls. It’s good to have goals. Two per day is 520 (52 weeks x 5 business days x 2 calls) calls in a year. If you had a team of five sales and marketers that’s 2600 cold calls in a year. Let’s be ultra-conservative and estimate that 1% of those calls turn into something. That’s 26 new opportunities in one year. I bet that’s 26 more than you thought of before reading this article.
20. Use the phone and not email. We’re right smack in the middle of the information age and people suffer from information overload. Sales people should understand email is not as effective as it was ten years ago. When calling someone it’s much harder for the person to say no to you or ignore you. Moreover, there’s no tonality and feelings in email. Don’t give up if you don’t get the person the first time. As a rule of thumb, try calling at least three times, after that resort to sending an email. Another handy trick that works on most phone systems is to dial *67 first and then the phone number. It will block your phone number from people who screen their phone calls.
21. Look at your competitor’s customers. Most companies are proud of their successes and want to announce it. With most companies plastering loads of information about their business on their corporate website there’s a good chance you’ll find a customer testimonial section. Look through it and search for press releases on your competitors wins. Take note of these companies and contact them after some time. Wait until they’re out of the “honeymoon” stage with your competitor and ask them if they’d be interested in switching. Sometime the grass really is greener on the other side.
22. Hands out two business cards to people that don’t have a card. Most sales people make a huge mistake of not collecting business cards during meetings. When exchanging business cards at a meeting make sure to ask for the other persons card. If they don’t have one on them give them one of your cards, flip it over to the blank side and ask them to write their contact information on the back of it. Let them know that you’d like to make sure you know who you’re talking to during the meeting. They’ll never say no to this. Make sure to follow up with them after the meeting and send personalized messages to each person thanking them for their time. Make sure to put the contact in your lead generation database or CRM system.
23. Do brown bag lunches. Brown bag lunches are a concept wherein companies discuss a topic or solution over lunch on a periodic basis. Everyone has to eat so it’s a good way to sneak in some prospecting while grabbing a bite. Think about your top prospects and suggest a brown bag lunch. If your material sounds educational (not sales-ish) then your prospect will usually go for the idea and help you organize it. When there’s food there you’ll most likely have a bigger turnout and more people to hear your message.
24. Create an email signature file and include your phone number even on reply-to and reply-to-all emails. Time after time people forget to put their phone number on the reply email. Make it easy for someone to call you back. If it’s easy, you stand a better chance of them picking up the phone and calling you. Discussions are much more meaningful and effective than emails – so you want this.
25. Photo copy articles and send them to interested prospects with a hand written note and your business card. This might blow someone’s mind out in the age of the internet when it’s so easy for lazy people too shoot out an email with a hyperlink. Be different and grab someone’s attention with this old-school method.
Use a Marketing Automation Solution to…
26. Nurture interested prospects. Many sales people stop calling on a lead if they sense the lead’s interest is not immediate. The lead might slip through the cracks or be forgotten about over time. Companies can implement customized nurturing tracks in systematic way by adding lead nurturing techniques to their sales and marketing processes. Automated nurturing is a huge time saver and improves operational efficiency.
27. Align sales and marketing. How many times have you heard the battles between sales and marketing organizations? Sales claims marketing never provides them with enough leads and marketing claims sales never follows up on the many leads given to them. Organizations can align their sales and marketing teams by automatically qualifying and distributing leads to sales in real-time with marketing automation software.
28. Use new-age email marketing. Stop using traditional email marketing. Use closed loop email marketing. Traditional email marketing systems fall short as they require marketers to click through multiple levels before finding out who opened an email. To make matters worse, most email marketing systems don’t tell you what happened after an email was opened. Closed loop email marketing systems let you know what the prospect was interested by following the prospect’s click-path in real-time and signaling relevant behavior to sales people. Closed loop email marketing is part of marketing automation.
29. Implement lead scoring. Sales people are one of the highest paid resources in a company. Use their time wisely by having them focus on leads that matter. Lead scoring is an easy way to automatically qualify interested prospects. Look for marketing automation systems integrated into CRMs such as Salesforce.com to make reporting of qualified prospects a snap.
30. Track leads. Everyone could use more leads. Some marketing automation packages deliver more leads by offering real-time lead tracking. By tracking hidden website visitors and packaging up their online activity into meaningful information for sales and marketers it represents a new source of leads. Experts estimate that approximately 96% of all web traffic to your corporate website goes unnoticed. The other 4% fills out a web form. Find out who those 96% are and come up with a strategy for inside sales to call on them. A few marketing automation tools have integrated sales prospecting tools to make it easy to find professional contacts all within a single solution.
31. Create optimized landing pages. Landing pages are like entry points into your website and a gateway to valuable content. With today’s marketing automation solutions you can personalize the landing page to the visitor and include custom forms. Some marketing automation tools enable marketers to visually build the landing page like they would a PowerPoint slide. This means no involvement is necessary from webmasters or IT.
32. Keep your forms simple. Using too many fields in forms is suicide. Nobody likes to fill out ten fields to receive a data sheet. Use five or less fields on average. You can also use landing page optimization solutions built into most marketing automation software. Marketing automation software provides progressive profiling of forms. Progressive profiling interchanges completed fields with new fields every time the visitor looks for new information. It also pre-fills fields saving the prospect time, which improves business to business lead generation. For example, if a prospect filled out three fields for datasheet #1 then went to a second form for data sheet #2, they might only see two blank fields this time with new information and a third field that’s prefilled. The two fields might replace the data already retrieved to progressively build up the prospects profile and the third field might automatically fill in their email address since they submitted the information in form #1.
33. Establish sales follow up processes. Follow up with interested prospects is crucial. If follow up is not done systematically the lead could get lost. Advanced marketing automation software helps businesses schedule follow ups with interested prospects by logging future activities and reminders in a CRM system such as Salesforce.com.
34. Use quid pro quo. Entice prospects to leave their contact information by using web forms in exchange for the information you are providing to obtain more leads from your website. If your content adds value then it’s more than fair to ask for some information in exchange.
Web 2.0 Marketing
35. Set up a Squidoo lens. Squidoo is a website hosting thousands of hand built web pages, which they call “lenses”. Each lens is one person’s view of something online. Lenses are free to set up, take a few minutes to build, and get you credibility and traffic. Setup your Squidoo lens here.
36. Make Podcasts. Podcasts are everywhere now and accessible through Apple TV, the internet, iPhone’s, iPads and more. Podcasts are great for business travelers who download podcasts and listen to it while on the road. It’s sort of like a magazine subscription but in an audio format. When people subscribe they’ll get the latest podcasts to catch up on. Getting your solutions out through this channel is innovative and puts your message in more hands. Learn how to create a Podcast here.
37. Put on periodic webinars. Webinars have become very popular over the recent years. They’re easy to setup and cost effective. Change up the content every now and then and pitch academic content as opposed to product pitches all the time. Use tools like GoToWebinar, a sister product to GoToMeeting, to setup your webinars. Monthly or quarterly webinars are usually sufficient. Think about including industry experts or find a spokesperson from one of your customers to join you. By doing this, you can double your marketing ROI. The spokesperson or industry expert might use their marketing channels and resources to advocate the webinar, producing more exposure for you.
38. Periodic web training sessions. Setup a web training session using similar webinar tools mentioned above. For example, hold a 15-minute online demo of your product every Wednesday at 1PM Pacific. Attendance might be low in the beginning but once the word gets out attendance, interest and momentum will build.
39. Issue press releases monthly. Press releases are good for more than just getting news out to the public. They are an amazing source of search engine optimization to help you get your web site on Google’s first page of results. Come up with a strategy before you start your press release campaign. Make a list of all the keywords you want to be ranked for and come up with varying anchor text (the words you hyperlink to your website) to use. In the internet age, companies like PRWeb will help you get the most out of your search engine optimization goals. Run a press release once every month to let the media know you’re here to stay and you’ve got something to write about. If you’re struggling for content just ask the agency providing the press release service, they’ll be happy to give you a list of ideas.
40. Create a YouTube channel. It’s like your own TV station on the internet. Since YouTube is a Google product you can rest assured it’s not going anywhere for the time being. This is a great way to disseminate and organize your video content.
41. Start a Facebook corporate page. It’s not just about consumers anymore; businesses are creating Facebook pages too. Be careful though, Facebook communication is full-duplex. Messages can be pushed out to the public and the public can push back. Some institutions don’t have Facebook pages in fear of the public criticizing them or their solutions, which creates negativity and could tarnish a brand. There’s less control with this type of social media strategy, weigh the pros and cons carefully.
42. Start a LinkedIn corporate page. LinkedIn is constantly maturing their offering and they’ve created some real estate for companies to post information about their business.
43. Start tweeting. Do we need to say anymore? Come on, it’s only 140 characters!
44. Start a blog. Similar to press releases, blogging is not just about getting the news out to the public; it’s about search engine optimization too. Create a blog on your company domain, not at a 3rd party blogging site. You’ll get much better ranking results if you keep the content on your domain. There are a number of content management packages out there such as Word press to help structure and organize blogs without help from a webmaster or IT.
45. Start guest blogging. Guest blogging is a process of posting comments on other people’s or company’s blogs. Look for blogs with industry related information and post some comments. Your “neighbors” will get to know you and once you become part of the community more people will start to link to your blog and your following will grow. All of this helps raise awareness of your presence and your offering.
46. Run a survey. This is a good excuse to have a touch point with your prospects. Some marketing automation tools include the ability to send surveys out to your prospects. Make sure to follow up on those that respond.
47. Begin social bookmarking. Get a browser plug-in like the one from AddThis for Firefox to accomplish this. You can generate a fair amount of business to business leads using this strategy. When your content makes it to the front page of a major social bookmaking website such as Digg, Delicious, Reddit or StumbleUpon you will get lots of visitors in a matter of hours. Once you have an idea, article or solution worth talking about get it on the social bookmarks and watch momentum build.
48. Create an area on your website just for customers. This implies you have a community of customers and prospects. If you create a repository of information and broker relationships with your customers it will keep your customers happy, your solutions at the forefront of their minds and ultimately make it easier for you to up sell or refer you to another prospect.
49. Use video marketing. Some marketing automation providers offer video marketing services. Video marketing is similar to email marketing except that it uses videos, instead, of emails for the content. Video marketing should also couple business intelligence information and analytics around the videos to help businesses understand which companies and/or people are viewing their videos. Also, video marketing solutions should allow videos to be embedded into email marketing campaigns or 3rd party websites for broad distribution. Use professional actors/actresses or members of your team and shoot the video in a production studio for high quality.
Create Value Added Content
50. Create a kit around your subject matter. Don’t limit your content to just a white paper. Bundle various types of content such as a white paper, slide deck, and recorded webinar into a kit. This makes your content more valuable than your competitors and saves your prospects time in hunting for each of these types of content individually.
51. Write an eBook. The eBook will get you more search engine optimization and can easily be distributed electronically, both of which boost exposure.
52. Expand your existing content. If you have a whitepaper on a certain subject then make a video on it or produce a presentation and put it on slideshare. If you have a web page that focuses on a certain feature then write a whitepaper that goes into more details on the feature and only provide it in exchange for someone’s contact information.
53. Offer a free report. A free report is similar to a white paper, just a bit bigger. Typically, it holds more value than a white paper and is usually several pages longer. Free reports are great collateral to use as add-ons to purchases. Also, use them like white papers and offer them as free downloads when the user fills out a form.
54. Use direct mail. Email marketing has replaced direct mail strategies for many companies and it’s somewhat of a dying strategy. This could be an opportunity for you to do something that others don’t. However, direct mail can be expensive. Identify what other companies are already doing in your targeted area first. The key to direct mail is differentiation. Make your content standout and irritable to the recipient.
55. Write whitepapers. A whitepaper typically goes deeper into the subject matter than a product or data sheet. Whitepapers are more solution oriented and academic in nature. They are problem/solution oriented and serve as valuable content for companies. Provide your whitepapers when someone fills out a form for higher business to business lead generation results from your website. Studies have shown that white papers are highly viral; that is, they are passed around by 60% of technology professionals. According to a study by MarketingSherpa and KnowledgeStorm. White papers are considered to be credible resources for thought leadership and subject matter expertise.
56. Create a newsletter. Newsletters can be distributed using marketing automation software. Make sure to follow CAN-SPAM laws and provide opt-out options or you’ll quickly get marked as spam, which will hurt your email deliverability results.
57. Create a comparison guide. Create a guide that compares your solution to others in the industry. When a lead discovers your solution early on in the buying phase it might appear to them that your solution is the same as your competitors. A comparison guide will differentiate your solution and clarify any misperception.
58. Publish a book. Writing a book takes time but pays big dividends.
59. Create a five slide PowerPoint presentation. PowerPoint presentations are handy if used right. They make for a good piece of visual collateral during meetings. Use your favorite five PowerPoint slides to tell a story to your prospects. As a rule of thumb, plan to present for 2-3 minutes per slide. With five slides that’s 10 to 15 minutes of presentation time. Remember to save time in your meetings for debrief, questions and next steps.
60. Produce and distribute an educational CD-ROM or audio/video tape.
61. Create relevant and interesting content. MarketingSherpa did a study in 2008 that highlighted what end users vs. marketers felt was the most interesting content. In order or priority, they are
a. Case studies on how a company used a product to improve a business process,
b. New research on an aspect of your industry,
c. How-to-guide for using a product/service to gain advantage,
d. Top 10 list of ways to improve business,
e. Case study on how a company used a product to learn something new,
f. Interviews with top analysts on state of industry and
g. Interviews with top executives on state of industry
Get on the First Page of Google
62. Focus on organic SEO. Search engine optimization is a very time consuming task but pays big dividends. Organic SEO is when you try to rank for select keywords without paying for top position. Many tools and guidelines are available to help with organic SEO. Search engine optimization from SEOBOOK provides nice plug-ins and tips to get started.
63. Focus on link building. Link building is part of SEO and is also a time consuming task. When other sites link to your website it’s like getting a vote. The more votes you have the more popularity, or authority, the search engines believe you have. Link building is a core strategy to get listed on the front page of google. Focus on both quality and quantity of your links.
64. List your solution in web directories (DMOZ). DMOZ is an open directory of World Wide Web links. Being listed in DMOZ is important for SEO.
65. Start a pay per click program. Although expensive, pay per click programs can pay dividends. Make sure you budget appropriately and use keywords with low competition that are relevant to your business. While your competitors are paying 10X what you might per click you could be grabbing some low cost leads.
Optimize your Database and Market
66. Use a CRM system. CRM systems such as Salesforce.com are an effective way to organize your opportunities, contacts, leads, and accounts. Many people think of a CRM system as ‘a big contact database’. They may have been that ‘back in the day’. Now, they are flexible and powerful systems allowing a number of plug-ins and features to run your business.
67. Cleanup your database and tickle the leftovers. At the core of any lead generation strategy is a clean, updated database. Focus on removing invalid contacts from their databases. When companies clean out their database by removing contacts/leads with bounced emails they can more effectively use lead nurturing tools to “tickle” the valid contacts. Most companies have thousands of records and manually digging through those records for follow up would be challenging. With lead nurturing companies can brush off the dust from their old contacts, reach out to them and then nurture them further until interest is generated. All of this can be done automatically.
68. Do a win/loss analysis on your data. Understanding wins and losses helps companies take lessons learned and apply them tofuture business. Is there a reason your customers are buying? What features do they use most? Conversely, is there a reason your prospects are not buying? What weren’t you able to offer them? Think through questions like this to stimulate ideas that replicate your wins and reduce your losses.
69. Know your industries. Know where you’re successful and where you’re not. Spend your time selling and marketing to industries that need your software. Dominate an industry then conquer the next. Trying to do too much at once is a recipe for disaster. After all, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”
Re-think and Leverage Existing Products/Solutions
70. Offer a free version of your product/service for a period of time.
71. Create a fancier version of your product. Think of ways you can scale your product features up or down. Try to accommodate small to medium sized businesses and maximize your revenue opportunity for large businesses.
72. Offer a free consultation. Companies and people love to get things for free. As long as there’s no catch and adds value it could help gain traction. Think about providing a free consultation around analysis of the problem that you solve. Expose problems during your consultation and highlight why you have the solution to solve those problems.
73. Provide loss leaders. One of the most difficult parts of lead generation is finding the lead. The key is getting them in the door. A loss leader is like bait for a fish. Real in your leads by practically giving something away at cost or less than cost. Once you’ve got them on board, provide relevant content with lead nurturing to mature their interests and up sell/upgrade from there.
74. Create a solution not a product. Don’t try to make your client fit a product. Find a product to fit your client. Too many sales people have a favorite product due to its commission structure, bonus opportunity or crediting style. Then, they try to make each client fit into that product. Search out a product that most closely resembles what your prospect wants without sacrificing what you believe they need.
75. Create market vertical solutions and produce literature, business cards, and content for your target market. With a “visual wrapper” around your product you can turn it into a solution. Businesses love tailored solutions that directly relate to their business. For example, if you have general IT solution think how you can “package” it up and sell/market it to different verticals such as healthcare, finance or government.
Be an Industry Leader
76. Open a best practices series. Business to business lead generation is much easier if you’re the industry expert. Establish yourself as a trusted provider to your clients as the role model for an industry. Best practices series demonstrate leadership and builds your prospects confidence in your solutions.
77. Sponsor an award. Connect your name with an award to boost brand/name recognition. The award could be a “best in class”, “best of breed”, “most improved” or an “industry leader in…” award. Get creative, the key is to sponsor the award on a frequent basis so your prospects make a psychological connection between the award and your company. This keeps you top-of-mind with your prospects, crucial for effective lead generation.
78. Get executives to speak or hob-knob at industry related events. Executives, such as the CEO or CMO, carry a lot of weight with their title. Look to get a speaking or event schedule in place every year and take advantage of their status to greatly influence lead generation.
79. Create a contest. Contests are fun especially if there are prizes to win. The contest could be about anything. The idea is to create a touch point opportunity with your prospects, making sure they’re always thinking about you.
Raise awareness to get your company more visibility
80. Sponsor a charity event or local sports team.
81. Join a professional organization.
82. Create an annual award and publicize it.
83. Appear on a radio or TV talk show.
84. Create a user group.
85. Sponsor an Adopt-a-Road area in your community to keep roads litter-free. People that pass by the area will see your name on the sign announcing your sponsorship.
Incent your Employees
86. Give your sales team SPIFFs. Although there are many definitions of a “SPIFF”, it is commonly referred to as a “Sales Persons Incentive for Fun”. Essentially, SPIFFs are performance incentives to motivate sales teams. Sales people are usually “coin operated”. Sort of like a laundry machine at a laundry mat. They don’t run unless you put money in them and if they’re not kept active and running they break down over time. Take lead generation to the next level and motivate your sales people by creating financial incentives that help accomplish your end goal. For example, a bonus for hitting five new customers at the end of a quarter, bonus for closing a strategic deal or a bonus for reaching sales quota during a certain period.
87. Celebrate success. Much like motivating your kids, encouragement is the best reward. Instead of criticizing your sales teams try to find successful events or outcomes to applaud and celebrate both individually and publically. Everyone likes a pat on the back over a slap in the face.
Leverage Relationships with Existing Clients
88. Talk to your clients. If you’re closing deals then moving on its time to rethink your strategy. Closing a deal is the start, not the end, of a relationship between sales and your customer. Take every opportunity to call them, see how they’re doing, get their feedback and, most importantly, talk to them. Don’t take the easy route and shoot them a “how’s it going” email. Invest time into the relationship which will lead to up sell opportunities and more lead generation.
89. Talk to companies you’ve sold to in the past. Many sales people tend to “think in the moment”. Stretch out your thinking by making a list of companies you’ve sold to in the past. Give them a call, tell them what you’re doing and explore. Your call could lead to some opportunities.
90. Customer’s competitors. Use sales prospecting tools or solutions like Hoovers to identify your customer’s competitors. If your customer found value in your solution their competitors probably will too.
91. Ask your clients what trade shows they go to. No one knows your target market better than your customers do. As a business, you may have four, five, six or more industries you’re selling too. Alternatively, your customers live and breathe one industry all the time. Ask them what industry shows they attend, which ones are the best to go to and which ones they’d recommend your company go to. If you end up going, make sure to meet your customer at the show for coffee!
92. Hold quarterly updates with big companies. Big companies, such as Fortune 500 firms, are difficult to navigate. Stay focused, someone will take an interest in your solution – you just have to find them. As a possible strategy, hold quarterly meetings to provide corporate or technology updates. Quarterly meetings help your clients keep you in mind and during the meeting they might pull in new contacts you’ve never met before.
93. Make customer testimonial videos. Testimonials are not usually the first thing people think of. They take time and money to make. Develop a process to capture testimonials and make it part of your culture. Testimonials are invaluable when it comes to generating new leads or getting leads over the hump to buy your solution.
94. Gather and use written testimonials. Make it part of your sales process to ask for a written testimonial after every sale.
95. Go out to lunch with your customers. Everyone has to eat. Take your customers, and even prospects, out to lunch as much as you can (assuming it fits within your budget). They’ll feel relaxed and open up to you. Ask them if they know other companies that could use your solution, ask what the best way is to find additional opportunity within their company…explore and eat!
96. Publicize your nth client of the year. Make a news splash about this information by issuing a press release. It could be your first client, 10th, 100th, or one millionth client, the number doesn’t matter, the exposure does.
5 bad ideas and tips for business to business lead generation
97. Buy email lists. Email lists work for some companies but list buying is usually not a strong long term strategy. When buying a list you’re buying contact information of people your business has never had any communications with. After blasting out an email to these people they are much more likely to mark your email as spam since they don’t know who you are. This will hurt your email deliverability. Use your existing database and build it by creating relationships in the marketplace. Attend tradeshows, seminars and use information from your web forms to add contacts to your system. Foster the relationships by using marketing automation software to nurture leads through your sales pipeline. As a rule of thumb, it’s better to have quality over quantity when it comes to building your contact database.
98. Ice cold calling. Calling random contacts out of the blue is ineffective and will wear down your lead generation teams. Use sales prospecting software, networking tools like LinkedIn or industry news to find contacts to call. Using solutions like this help you wrap a ‘story’ around your call. If you’re able to explain why you’re calling them you’ll have better success. For example, “I read a press release where you spoke about…” or “you’re my 3rd degree connection on LinkedIn and I was wondering…” To quoteJoanne S. Black, author of “No More Cold Calling”:
“It’s a total waste of time. Your time. The prospect’s time. Research shows it takes 9-12 touches to reach a prospect with a cold call campaign, and you get voicemail 80 percent of the time. In addition, you convert less than 10 percent into clients. Why bother?”
In summary, if you’re not providing a valid reason for your call your phone might be making outgoing calls only. Turn your ice cold calls into cold calls by doing some research up front.
99. Have a really poor looking website. A poor looking website will scare your website visitors away. Make your website look professional and polished. Content management software, or CMS, was only used for blogging purposes in the past. CMS has evolved into a viable solution for creating professional looking websites with themes readily available out of the box. Use lead tracking software to identify which businesses are coming to your site and gage your conversion rates.
100. Don’t bore someone with a presentation. Don’t put your prospects to sleep by making the communications one way. “Death by PowerPoint” is a sure way to kill your lead generation efforts.
101. Don’t be a copy cat. Create original content that is relevant and valuable. Copying competitor or industry content and publishing it on your website may get you caught by Google’s duplicate content filter and get your website banned from search results.