Lead sourcing is probably one of the most daunting activity for salespeople. We are used to the action. We want to call people and convince them to work with us. We are active, fast and hungry. Sitting in front of a computer for hours sourcing new sales leads is the most boring thing we can think of.
However, either you have been in sales for years or just getting your feet into it, lead sourcing is going to be part of your life. One thing salespeople sometimes forget (although very obvious) is that the better the leads they find, the better the deals they will close.
As a salesperson, the sales pipeline is the lifeblood of success. If your pipeline is weak is your fault, because you haven’t been good enough to source those winning leads.
Depending on the company you work in, you might have someone doing the “boring job” for you, or you need to do it yourself.
Regardless of the situation, when salespeople aren’t able to close deals they tend to find excuses. It’s either the lead gen person sourcing the wrong leads or there aren’t enough leads available. I have managed a sales team and heard these complaints often. If you haven’t managed a team, think about that time you complained (perhaps silently) about those leads you are approaching.
Who’s fault it is if you don’t have good leads? Who’s really responsible for your pipeline?
There are different ways to create a strong and healthy pipeline.
1. Use Referrals For Your New Sales Leads
Who is better than a satisfied client to introduce you to another lead? Warm leads are salespeople’s dream. Those are the easiest to get in contact with and most likely to close.
When looking for referrals, make sure you have a good connection with the person you are asking for the favor. Remember, that even though is a simple introduction, they are putting themselves on the line by referring you and your business.
What’s the best way to get a warm introduction? ASK!
Most people love to help, especially if you have some level of confidence with them. You hardly will find someone that tell you to go away. Worst case scenario, they will tell you that they are not so close with the person you are trying to reach.
Too bad. But at least you tried.
I have seen some salespeople making the most out of referrals and closing more than half of their deals thanks to this approach.
TIP: Today, most of the people in business are on LinkedIn. You can easily find out who is connected with whom. Use that and don’t be afraid to ask.
2. Revisit Lost Opportunities In Pipeline
If you work in an industry where things change fast due to technological improvements, revisiting some of your old opportunities lost in the past could be a great idea (and a perfect way to find new sales leads).
Technology, in many industries, plays a very important role in product development. It could be that what was true 12 or even 6 months ago, today is not true anymore because your company has developed a new solution or improved on an old one.
TIP: When approaching an old lead that you might have lost, try to find a good argument to reinitiate contact. Don’t just jump in saying “Hey look at this”. Reconnect the dots between past and present. Remember why your prospect said no and tell him why today it should be a yes!
3. Reactivate Old Clients
Depending on the industry you are in, the client lifespan can vary greatly. Regardless, however, of how long on average a client sticks with your company, there might be some that in the past months or years have dropped out. There are several reasons why clients stop working with you, it can be price, competition, delivery, support and so on.
In some industries, clients loyalty can also be very volatile as (for point 2) technology keeps changing and requirements keep increasing.
No matter what, a client dropped. No need to be desperate. Hopefully, your company in the past months have been improving on some product features and now you can go back and talk with them again.
TIP: Reactivating an old client can be harder, than approaching new ones. The trust could be lost in your company’s ability to deliver on their needs. Similarly to when approaching again lost opportunities, make sure to clearly address how your company has improved on the issue that led to the dropout.
4. Attend Industry Events Or Networking Meetups
This is an obvious one. If you want to meet new people, get out there. Industry events are probably the best way to reach new leads. Some events can be less effective than others and sometimes you end up with a pile of business cards, where more than 50% are useless. Nevertheless, being out there is helpful as it will allow meeting new leads in a more “casual” environment where not necessarily you need to speak about work.
TIP: Connecting with people face-to-face is very important and can help you create a relationship that it’s more than just a mere contract (remember point 1: referrals). Be natural and engage the other party with a good variety of topics to create a relationship.
5. Write Relevant Content
Writing blog posts about your industry or your activity focus is a way to get you recognized in the field you are working in. Not everyone feels comfortable in writing a blog post and most of us don’t really know how to choose a topic.
I had the same problem at the beginning until I just tried. I chose something that I knew about and wanted to be recognized by others as an expert.
TIP: This takes time and effort, and it’s not for everyone. Try it out and see how it goes. Don’t be too generic in your posts. Pick one topic and write about it in the best way you can.
6. Join LinkedIn Groups
LinkedIn is certainly the go-to-place for most professionals. There might be some local platform similar to it, but LinkedIn, without any doubts, has a global coverage that very few other platforms have.
LinkedIn groups are focused around certain topics that appeal to buyers in your industry. It’s relatively easy to find groups and to join them. Once you are in a group, make sure to:
a) Be relevant to the topic if you post any question or link
b) Use the connection of the group when approaching a lead (it creates context)
TIP: You should think about Linkedin Groups as a forum. Avoid posting content that screams “SELL”. Create relevant content, share some tips or ask for advice.
The above-mentioned ways to source new sales leads are all dependent on the salesperson. It makes sense for us to focus on what we can achieve and control, rather than depending on others. Having said that, you should not forget that you can get help from other departments as well, for example, the Marketing team. They can support your company sales effort with targeted Ad Campaigns or by designing the website in a way that allows leads to easily get in contact with the sales team.
Do you know any other way to successfully source new sales leads? Are you using any of these in your everyday activities? Which one do you think works the best?