Significance of sales lead generation in business | Page 2 | Sunday Observer

Significance of sales lead generation in business

10 May, 2020

When I started my career in sales, over three decades ago as a sales representative, I was compelled to go through an agonising and tedious process to locate customers.  During the pre-internet period we did prospecting, as we called it at the time, by going through piles of newspaper advertisements, an endless number of printed lists and directories, speaking with acquaintances or by doing cold canvassing. However, for the modern salesman, all sorts of directories, lists and websites are available at their fingertips to hit upon a possible buyer. 

An important criteria to keep in mind is that there is a difference between a lead and a prospect. Any prospect is a lead but not every lead is a prospect. A lead is an uncertain possibility and only after a qualifying process does a lead become a prospect. Once qualified, the lead becomes a prospect, belongs to your target group, able to make the buying decision and possesses funds to make a purchase. 

Lead generation is an important act which involves the methods used to attract possible buyers into the sales pipeline and turn them into paying customers in the end. Modern marketing organisations use a range of practices and maneuvers to generate sales inquiries by way of television and press advertising, social media presence, networking and by using sophisticated software processes and more.  

In my days as a salesman, we used ‘MAN’ or Money, Authority and Need, as a guideline to qualify a lead which will be turned into a prospect later. We were taught to save time by not pursuing any lead without these factors and that was an extremely effective parameter. Currently, companies use the BANT (Budget, Authority, Need and Timing) method which is an extension to previous techniques.  

The first step of the BANT process is to investigate the financial means or budget of the lead to assess the capability of spending. Following the analysis of financial capability, the salesman needs to determine whether the contact person has the authority to make the buying decision. If you feel that the first contact does not have such authority, you must push your way through to the person who does. This way the salesman can save valuable time and energy by trying to convince the right person. Also, identifying the authority is the dominant part of the method.   

Qualifying leads is one of the most important practices which should be done at the very beginning as a sales team can waste valuable time chasing an unconvertible lead. Salesmen are often known to bulldoze their way to complete a sale. However, at times, because of the eagerness and perseverance, they neglect to identify whether the lead has a genuine need to purchase. Therefore, the salesman chases a lead that may not be a prospect, wasting time and energy.  Finally, you have to evaluate the level of urgency the lead has to actually buy the product or service. If the buying need is long way over, you can plan to revisit the prospect in the nick of time

Let us look at some of the methods used by companies to generate leads: For a business entity, setting up a vigorous social media presence through facebook, instagram or linkedIn  is an ideal, cost saving but very effective mode of communicating to likely future buyers.

Engaging potential buyers with success stories and authentic customer comments about the company or the brand are strong contents. You can also introduce ‘buttons’ with a message such as ‘buy now’ or ‘call for free advice’ will make it easier for the prospects to reach you instantly.  

Participating in networking events relevant to the industry is another healthy way of lead generation. It is a mode of practically engaging prospects naturally and can also foster word-of-mouth referrals and recommendations.

Usually, people trust good words from people who they already know. Even if you do not attract direct leads, by participating in events, chances are that you will come across people who would benefit later from your products or services. Offering free trials, free professional advisory services, samples and money back promises would be forceful tools at these events.    

As professionals, you and your team are already connected to many others who may provide excellent leads. All of us talk with people in community gatherings, networking events, sporting events and children’s activities. Encouraging and compensating your whole staff to strike up conversations whenever an opportunity arises is a good method to generate new leads. In this context, sharing e-mail addresses and inviting them to introduce you to a potential lead that can grant access to a large group is another way of leveraging your personal network. 

Always treat your outfit as professional and offer free consultation through social media. There is no risk for the prospects if you are providing a service without asking for a fee. ‘Free offers’ are welcome everywhere in the world irrespective of the financial standing of individuals, in rich and poor countries. Create a post and constantly ask for a ‘call to action’ and you may find an amazing response by possible leads. Also offer most convenient means such as e-mal, personal call or personal visits to obtain more leads.    

Your clientele is a great source for generating new leads. Therefore, a customer referral programme would be tremendously beneficial. Create a system in which you can cultivate your existing customers to tell their friends, relatives, colleagues and their own customers about your business.  A good idea is to compensate these customers, who invariably trust you, by offering discounts in future purchases, gift cards or offering benefits to the prospects they introduce.  

Lead generation is an integral part of the revenue making process of every commercial entity whether it is, large, medium or small to draw in new leads. Businesses cannot expect new customers to use their products just by searching the internet or simply walk into the store.

Hence, the entrepreneurs have to cultivate systems actively for results to fill their sales funnels with prospects. 

You can’t expect new customers to come to you simply by searching the internet or walking by your storefront. You need to cultivate leads online and in-person actively for the best results so that you can fill your sales funnel with the right prospects.

The ultimate goal of any commercial operation is to work for the success and the growth at the shortest possible period. Quantity and quality of the prospects in the sales pipeline is the key to this achievement.