Inbound marketing has proven to be an effective tool over the last decade, helping marketers to find sales leads and convert them into paying customers. Of course, not everyone has the marketing teams available to leverage traditional inbound marketing. In this situation, how can you find sales leads for your business without resorting to cold-calling and email spam?
One of the first things to understand is exactly what inbound marketing and sales is, besides the obvious. With inbound sales and marketing, you’re building relationships before your prospect is ready to buy – you’re selling a solution, not a product. By letting your prospects set the pace of the buying process, and offering advice and education, you’re building confidence and trust in your company. This, in turn, makes it easy and safe for prospects to buy from you.
So how do you leverage these techniques in your own business?
How to Find Sales Leads
1. Optimize your Social Media Profiles
While most businesses will have a Twitter profile or Facebook page, when is the last time you updated them? One of the easiest ways to bring in more leads is to keep your social media profiles fresh and up-to-date.
LinkedIn especially is a good platform for finding sales leads. Make sure your profile stands out, and shows up in more search queries, by following basic optimisation principles. Include a conversion-optimised headline, and a descriptive summary which tells visitors exactly what you do and which markets you serve.
Twitter is also a good platform for sales people to connect with their leads. Some good optimisation tips to follow include:
- Make sure you have a professional profile photo
- Tag your company account
- Include a link to your Twitter on your LinkedIn profile
- Include hashtags which are relevant to your buyers
2. Identify Prospects on Social Media That You Can Help
While most salespeople have a presence on LinkedIn, they probably aren’t using it effectively to generate top-of-the-funnel activity. Social media is a great way to connect with interested prospects in a low-effort, high-value way.
Some recommendations for leveraging your social presence to find sales leads includes:
- Connect with as many people as you can. The more people you connect with, the greater your reach will be
- Don’t feel the need to be best friends with the people you connect with. Even tangential connections can be good for finding potential prospects
- Get recommendations from your current clients
3. Post a Blog with an Offer for a 15-minute Consultation
Writing articles and blogs is one the main pillars of inbound and content marketing. Unfortunately, it’s a topic which tends to make most marketer’s eyes glaze over. People tend to think of blogs as very particular things – like a college essay – and most people find writing them about as enjoyable as speaking in public.
Really though, blogging is just a conversation. Your blog topics can be as simple as answering some basic questions about your business, industry or product. Even things as simple as “Beginner’s Guide to [Common Challenge]” can be an engaging topic.
Once you’ve got a good blog post, share a link on your LinkedIn page and other profiles, along with an offer for a 15-minute consultation to get people engaged with your content and your business.
4. Ask Your Current Clients for Referrals
Everyone knows that referrals can be effective for generating new business. Unfortunately, not many businesses know how to effectively implement them. When last did you reach out to your current clients, to thank them for the business and enquire about referrals?
If you’re just getting started with referrals, the following steps can help you get started:
- Check with the account manager involved to ensure that the client is happy. If they’re not happy, you should reach out anyway to see if there’s any way to improve things.
- Give the client a call, or reach out the them by email and find out if they have the time for a 10-minute conversation
- During your conversation, thank them for their business and explain that you value the relationship. Let them know that you’re interested in adding value for them
- Ask them if there are any other companies or contacts they can think of that would be interested in your service
- Get the details of the company or contact – name, phone number and email address – and ask why your client thinks they would be a good fit
- Ask the client if they would mind setting you up with a quick introduction email
Afterwards, you can even send them a note or small item like a t-shirt or flash-drive, thanking them for the referral.
5. Identify Potential Leads Within Your Personal Network
Many salespeople overlook their personal network when looking for ways to find sales leads. Of course, your personal network is a good place to start when looking for prospects, as there is often a sense of trust already. Some people you meet in a personal context can be incredibly valuable for generating leads, even if you don’t think of them that way.
Your neighbours, yoga friends or book club could all have connections that could be potentially useful. If you’re at a point in your relationship with them that you can easily talk business, let them know you’re looking for prospects. Tell them what kind of company you’re looking for – the size, industry and location etc – and find out if they know anyone who fits that description. You can even send them an email to forward to make the connection.
Obviously, mixing your professional and personal lives needs to be done in a respectful manner, but when done right it is an effective tool for broadening your reach.
6. Engage with New Leads at Networking Events
It should go without saying that attending networking events should be part of your lead generation routine. They are an excellent way to grow your reach and potentially drum up new business.
There are four basic principles to remember when you get started with networking:
Networking events are all about mingling and being human. Remember not to take things too seriously, and have some fun
Make sure to bring business cards to hand out to your new acquaintances, but don’t be that guy who hands one out to everyone they speak to
Clarifying your “consistently be helping” theory up close and personal is normally a really enormous differentiator
While you’re talking to someone new, offer to connect on LinkedIn from your phone.
7. Revisit Closed or Lost Opportunities
Your lost or closed opps are businesses who already know what your company does. They may have seen a demo or gone through a discovery call with you and decided that it just wasn’t the time to buy. You should make it a habit to touch base with these clients every six months or so. Find out how their priorities have changed, and whether their business and team goals have changed at all. Find out what their new challenges are and whether your company can help.
These leads are already more qualified than new warm leads, so you should invest in marketing to them. You can enroll them into appropriate nurturing drip campaigns, send them some relevant blog posts that may be interesting to them, and keep all your communication personalised.
While the first, second and third time you follow up with them may not be the right time, the fourth time may be the charm. Or the fifth. You never know when a prospect will finally have the budget, or the need for your solution. Perhaps your contact changes jobs. If you keep in contact, you may be the first vendor they contact when the need arises.
8. Implement an Email Sequence
Sam Blond, CRO of Rainforest QA recommended the following at SaaStr Annual 2018: “Define your strategy for outreach. Then get creative with the email copy — be clever”. He went on to explain that one of their most successful email sequences at Rainforest was addressed from their CTO. SDRs could send the mail to the CTO of the prospect’s company, framing the mail as though their CTO had asked them to reach out. “It’s creative, it grabs attention, and it allows us to cast a wide net over each prospect’s company,” Blond said.
Have a clear purpose for each of your email sequences if you want them to be successful. For example:
- Email 1: Address the prospects pain points
- Email 2: Explain your value proposition
- Email 3: Name drop a big client
- Email 4: Qualify your message
- Email 5: Include a product message
- Email 6: Reach out one last time
Put together a comprehensive, deliberate email sequence and see if it can work for you.
9. Contribute to Other Websites and Blogs
Blogs are the cornerstone of a good inbound marketing strategy, and if you aren’t writing them yet, you should be. Begin by writing about subjects you’re an expert in. Whether this is referral marketing, sales process optimisation or your own product or service, start writing. You can share your articles on your company’s blog, on LinkedIn and Facebook, on your own personal social media channels and to your customers in emails.
It’s important to be a visible expert in your field and to build authority. Not only does this put your expertise on display, it allows you to educate your prospects as well.
10. Embed a Meeting Scheduler on your Website
If you’re in charge of bringing in your own leads, you probably don’t have the time or resources to be back-and-forthing with prospects, coordinating schedules. It’s a waste of their time, and a waste of yours. Rather, embed an appointment scheduler on your homepage and within your email signature. There are many tools that you can use to do this, many of which will sync with your Office 365 and Google calendars. This way, prospects can always see your availability.
Even if there’s no dedicated sales rep, many scheduler’s can set up round-robin meeting links so that prospects are able to schedule meetings with the rep who’s availability matches their own.
Make it simple for prospects to get in touch with you.
12. Lead a Webinar or Virtual Workshop
Writing and sharing blog posts is a great way to share your knowledge, but nothing tops the opportunity to actually teach. Facilitating an online class or online workshop, sharing your skills on relevant topics, is an incredible method to find sales leads on the web. Sharing your knowledge in this way is a great way to build trust with your prospects, and generate potential leads.