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Getting it Right - The Big Trick to Lead Generation

I want to make sure I'm getting this right. The big trick to lead generation is using the right medium to get the right message in front of the right people at the right time. Is that it? Was there something more? - by Thomas
If only it were so easy.

My experience and the experience of the mega-producers I've worked with and interviewed says it isn't that easy--it isn't easy at all.

In order to begin a really successful lead generation program you have to start by identifying your ideal prospect (or prospects--it is certainly possible to have more than one ideal prospect). The more specifically you can identify that ideal prospect, the better you can isolate and "attack" them.

As obvious as it sounds, many forget a couple of the primary factors that contribute to being an ideal prospect--that they either need or want your product or service (this doesn't mean that they know they need or want it, part of our job as salespeople is educating prospects to show a need or want, of course some try to take that too far and they try to falsely create a need or want), and they must have the means to be able to acquire your product or service. These two factors must help determine your ideal prospect.

But unfortunately, once you've identified your ideal prospect, you still have to reach them. Of course, this is where it begins to get a little more complicated. Again, the obvious--not all people are alike--even people who have the characteristics of our ideal prospect in common aren't all alike. Different people respond to different marketing media. To maximize effectiveness, you need to use a variety of marketing methods. But as individual salespeople we have limited time and resources and most of us can only effectively use three to five marketing methods at once. So, you have to experiment and determine through trial and error (if you've been in your business for a year or more, you should be able to analyze past results of various methods to determine which are most effective for you) which marketing methods produce the best return on investment for you.

But even then you're not done. Different people respond to different messages. So, like the various marketing methods, you have to use a variety of messages--again through trial and error or through historical analysis.

Done? Not yet. Then the really hard part comes into play--you have to aggressively implement those methods and messages--on a massive scale. "Massive" being defined in realistic terms for your industry. For instance, if you cold call, you should be doing several hundred dials a day. If you're networking through events, you should be hitting four to five events a week (if you live in a fairly major city it should be easy to find four or five events a week to attend). If you're canvasing by walking, you should be hitting businesses non-stop 6 to 7 hours per day. If you're marketing by referral, you should be learning how to get 5 or 6 quality referrals from every customer (if you make three sales per week, you should be getting 15 to 20 high quality referrals a week).

Unfortunately, the average salesperson does just a small fraction of those things. They make a few dials per hour; they hit two or three networking opportunities a month; they spend one or two hours a day walking from business to business (with a few breaks in between); they get the occasional name and phone number from a client (not a high quality referral) and think they're getting referrals.

The payoff of all this is a strong spurt of business growth in as short a period as just two or three months and if continued, a solid, high production business. The advantage of doing this is not just that your business booms, but the reality is that even most salespeople who know to do this won't because they don't want to invest the necessary energy and work. They prefer the hit or miss process they've been using because it's easier; or they start to implement it and after a week it hasn't transformed their business so they decide it doesn't work; or they begin to implement it and just revert to old habits without even realizing it.

Knowing what to do is easy--doing it isn't. - by pmccord
Thanks for helping. ;sm

What is the reason for having to implement the methods and messages on a massive scale? Is it because of timing? - by Thomas
Partly timing--some of your target prospects won't be ready to buy; partly timing--some of your prospects will have already bought, so may no longer be prospects (depending on your product or service); partly timing--since people react to different messages and different media, you have to give them as many opportunities to see and hear your message as possible; partly timing--studies have shown that most people need to see or hear a message 7 or more times before they are ready to commit to a purchase (you may have to present all 7 messages--or you may come in in the middle and your first message to them is number 4--say they're looking seriously at Toyotas and they've already done some research or looking and you come in in the middle--or even the end--of that process); but mostly because you want to ramp up sales, so want to get in front of as many quality prospects as you can--on a consistent and on-going basis.

And remember, "massive" depends on what your product or service is. Speaking with 5 quality prospects in a month may be massive for one industry, while for another, massive may be speaking to 5 quality prospects a day. - by pmccord
Paul - interesting reply. I am new to the area of sales, and this is very helpful! - by skristoff
And remember, "massive" depends on what your product or service is. Speaking with 5 quality prospects in a month may be massive for one industry, while for another, massive may be speaking to 5 quality prospects a day.
How do salespeople know what massive is for their industry?

My first post about "using the right medium to get the right message in front of the right people at the right time" was very generic and your posts added a lot of clarity. Besides the medium, message, people, and timing is there anything else or is that a good outline? - by Thomas
It's a good outline--but that's all it is, an outline. Figuring out who the ideal prospect is, where they tend to be, hot to get to them, what to communicate to them and then doing it is the hard part with tons of detail.

As far as what massive means, that is dependent on 1) how many sales must you have in a month to reach your goals?, 2) historically, what is your close ratio with qualified prospects?, and, 3) how many prospects must you see to find a qualified prospect?

By carefully defining your ideal prospect, isolating them and then attacking them in the appropriate way with the appropriate message, your close ratio will go up. You will see more qualified prospects. But you cannot assume that at the outset. So, at the beginning of creating a comprehensive, target lead generation plan, you must assume your historical numbers are the basis for your future sales. You adjust as your numbers actually change, not on the assumption that they will change.

If you currently have to make 20 sales in a month to reach your earnings goal, and you have to see 8 prospects to find four qualified prospects, and you sell one out of the four, then you must see 160 prospects a month to get 80 qualified prospects to get 20 sales. Or, if you must make 6 sales a month to hit your goal, and you must talk to 14 qualified prospects to sell 6, and you have to see 60 prospects to find 14 qualified prospects, then those are the numbers you carry over.

Once your targeted program is in place and you have new numbers to work with, you many find that instead of needing 160 prospects to find 80 to sell 20, you only need 70 to find 50 qualified to get your 20--or better yet, you maintain the same pace, find 160 to get 114 qualified to make 46 sales.

If you have to contact 160 prospects a month to get 20 sales, then you have to contact 8 per day. A massive number would well above that 12, 14, 16--or turning those 8 into more highly qualified prospects. Or, ideally, both. - by pmccord
It's a good outline--but that's all it is, an outline. Figuring out who the ideal prospect is, where they tend to be, hot to get to them, what to communicate to them and then doing it is the hard part with tons of detail.
I understand. ;sm

As far as what massive means, that is dependent on 1) how many sales must you have in a month to reach your goals?, 2) historically, what is your close ratio with qualified prospects?, and, 3) how many prospects must you see to find a qualified prospect?
I understand. ;sm

By carefully defining your ideal prospect, isolating them and then attacking them in the appropriate way with the appropriate message, your close ratio will go up.
Working smarter not harder right?

You will see more qualified prospects. But you cannot assume that at the outset. So, at the beginning of creating a comprehensive, target lead generation plan, you must assume your historical numbers are the basis for your future sales. You adjust as your numbers actually change, not on the assumption that they will change.
Hadn't heard that before. Good thinking.

If you currently have to make 20 sales in a month to reach your earnings goal, and you have to see 8 prospects to find four qualified prospects, and you sell one out of the four, then you must see 160 prospects a month to get 80 qualified prospects to get 20 sales. Or, if you must make 6 sales a month to hit your goal, and you must talk to 14 qualified prospects to sell 6, and you have to see 60 prospects to find 14 qualified prospects, then those are the numbers you carry over.
Sales is a numbers game right?

If you have to contact 160 prospects a month to get 20 sales, then you have to contact 8 per day. A massive number would well above that 12, 14, 16--or turning those 8 into more highly qualified prospects. Or, ideally, both.
I understand. ;sm - by Thomas
Yes, sales is a numbers game--but not in the way that phrase is typically used. As typically used, it simply means if you see enough people, you'll sell something. Well, that's true. Incredibly inefficient, hardly cost effective, and not too bright.

I see sales as a numbers game in the sense that you have to know exactly what your numbers are and use them as a basis point for making strategic, well-though-out moves to improve your business.

Your numbers--your close ratio; how many qualified and non-qualified prospects you've seen from lead generation method 1, and lead generation method 2, etc; how many "prospects" you have to see in order to get to a qualified prospect; etc. are the baseline numbers you must know and use to evaluate other aspects of and changes to the lead generation portion of your business.

But lead generation is hardly the only part of a salesperson's life. Once you've found a qualified prospect, you have to be able to work with them--and that's a whole other aspect of selling.

Finding and getting in front of qualified prospects is one of the most important aspects of your career, but hardly the only important aspect.

Despite what many non-salespeople believe, selling is a highly intellectual pursuit. It's a complicated and difficult endeavor because we're intimately involved with human nature and nothing is more complicated than that. People have been studying sales for hundreds of years--and will continue for many, many more.

But once you have a basis for your production numbers--several months, a year is better--you can make decisions and choices based on real information, not on just guessing. And you can evaluate those choices based on your past history.

Almost every mega-producer I know knows exactly what they have to produce each month, each week, each day, each hour to hit their goals. And they know exactly what they have to do to hit those numbers. They know how many prospects, how many qualified prospects and how many sales. They know how many they'll get from each of their prospecting methods and what they must do to generate those numbers. They know, because they keep track of themselves. Their real secret isn't that they know these things, but that they know how to do it and are committed to doing it. However, everyone one of them keeps studying and spends a great deal of time and money on training, keeps working to get better, to get their marketing better, to get their numbers better, and to get their operations better. They're never satisfied or rest on the status quo. - by pmccord
Yes, sales is a numbers game--but not in the way that phrase is typically used. As typically used, it simply means if you see enough people, you'll sell something. Well, that's true. Incredibly inefficient, hardly cost effective, and not too bright.

I see sales as a numbers game in the sense that you have to know exactly what your numbers are and use them as a basis point for making strategic, well-though-out moves to improve your business.
That is really working smarter not harder. ;sm

But lead generation is hardly the only part of a salesperson's life. Once you've found a qualified prospect, you have to be able to work with them--and that's a whole other aspect of selling.
Does being able to work with them mean they have to be willing to work with you and you have to be willing to work with them?

Almost every mega-producer I know knows exactly what they have to produce each month, each week, each day, each hour to hit their goals. And they know exactly what they have to do to hit those numbers.
I need to do better with that. :bl - by Thomas
Scale is certainly relative. In my business I currently have 2 steady customers. My goal for the next 6 months is to double that to 4. It doesn't sound like much, but what I do is specific to a certain industry, and I shoot for having only about 16 hours of billable work per week. (I work from home, while taking care of my kids, so this is the level of work that I want right now, and scale up as they grow). - by skristoff
I hate to use the term "working smarter and not harder" simply because some want to interpret it as meaning "easy." In many instances, working smarter is harder--it just happens to be much more productive.

The prospect doesn't have to be willing to work with you, nor you with the prospect. But why would you or the prospect want to interact in a purchase/sale with someone you or they refuse to work with? Your job should be enjoyable. You should be having fun. One of the great benefits of learning to significantly increase your production is that it gives you the freedom to walk away from a prospect that you just can't work with.

Many salespeople feel they have no choice but to work with anyone who has a pulse because they desperately need the sale. So they take abuse, they have prospects and clients they absolutely hate to call, and they dread their work. It doesn't have to be that way.

When I take on a new coaching client, we go through an hour evaluation--I evaluate them and they evaluate me. We do this not only to make sure that I can truly be of service, but so that we can each determine if the other is someone we can work with. I don't want to be stuck in a month, or quarter, or, God forbid, a year long coaching contract with someone I can't work with. Same thing when I accept a consulting contract. I have to know that I can actually meet their needs and that this company's personnel are people I can really work closely with. Life is too short--for both them and myself. - by pmccord
I hate to use the term "working smarter and not harder" simply because some want to interpret it as meaning "easy." In many instances, working smarter is harder--it just happens to be much more productive.
I'll remember that next time. ;sm

The prospect doesn't have to be willing to work with you, nor you with the prospect. But why would you or the prospect want to interact in a purchase/sale with someone you or they refuse to work with? Your job should be enjoyable. You should be having fun. One of the great benefits of learning to significantly increase your production is that it gives you the freedom to walk away from a prospect that you just can't work with.

Many salespeople feel they have no choice but to work with anyone who has a pulse because they desperately need the sale. So they take abuse, they have prospects and clients they absolutely hate to call, and they dread their work. It doesn't have to be that way.
This is music to my ears. ;sm

I have to know that I can actually meet their needs and that this company's personnel are people I can really work closely with. Life is too short--for both them and myself.
This is what you meant by "you have to be able to work with them"? - by Thomas

This is what you meant by "you have to be able to work with them"?
Yes. I have to be able to effectively deal with them and they with me. If they have unrealistic expectations and I can't get them to a rational position, or if our personalities clash, or they refuse to take the coaching seriously, or some other aspect that just won't make the relationship work, it just isn't worth it to me or to them.

That's not to say that I don't have challenging coaching and consulting clients--I do. But they are people that I can work with and we can come to mutual agreements and resolve issues. Life isn't all roses, of course, but I won't go into a relationship if I can spot big trouble at the outset. Doesn't do me or the other party any good--particularly since my selling relationships tend to be long-term. - by pmccord
Yes. I have to be able to effectively deal with them and they with me. If they have unrealistic expectations and I can't get them to a rational position, or if our personalities clash, or they refuse to take the coaching seriously, or some other aspect that just won't make the relationship work, it just isn't worth it to me or to them.

That's not to say that I don't have challenging coaching and consulting clients--I do. But they are people that I can work with and we can come to mutual agreements and resolve issues. Life isn't all roses, of course, but I won't go into a relationship if I can spot big trouble at the outset. Doesn't do me or the other party any good--particularly since my selling relationships tend to be long-term.
This is a pearl of wisdom to me. Thank you. ntwty; - by Thomas
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