Although you will find this in every industry, there seem to be many companies in the tech & software arenas that have a “mouth” problem.
The vast majority of the tech/software companies that have enlisted my help over the past few years all say basically the same thing…
“We built the company by word of mouth, and that has dried up.”
I know it can be terrifying when you realize that the lead source that built your 5 year old, $7MM company has gone bye-bye.
Suddenly the office space, your employees and your new BMW become albatrosses around your neck.
So how did you get here?
The answer is simple. You said “Thank you” instead of asking “How else?”
You were grateful for the business and set to work fulfilling the orders instead of looking for different and dynamic ways to bring in even more prospects.
In other words, you put all your eggs in one basket.
But no worries. You are here now. And everything will be okay (breath deep and relax).
Let me tell you the 5 steps back to steady lead flow that I give to my clients. These are the basics you must go through before you can start your first formal lead generation process.
#1 - Identify who your clients really are
When you have built your business through WOM you were basically being handed business, so you say YES to everyone. After all, when money shows up we let it in.
But once you have to pursue prospects, or set up systems to get prospects to pursue you, things have to change. You no longer have time to go after everyone.
So you have to make some choices about your prospects, like their industry, their size, their location, etc. This allows you to narrow your search.
If you want a really deep-dive process for finding your Ultimate Qualified Lead, I have a program you can grab for free here: http://bit.ly/uql2015 (enjoy!)
#2 - Identify what problem you really eliminate for them
When I first start working with clients I will ask them “what problem do you solve for your clients?”
They will always answer in generalities like “we increase sales” or “we speed up their number of transactions per hour” or “we save them money.”
And on the surface these answers are correct but they are shallow and basically meaningless.
It’s like marriage. If you just needed a male or female companion for life, you’d marry the first person you ever dated. Obviously, there are many deeper aspects that must be taken into account for you to choose a spouse.
The same is true for choosing a solution. Your prospects have many deeper issues that cause their surface level “problem.”
So you have to go deeper too.
There is not enough space in this article to fully train you in how to extract deeper level issues from prospects, but here is a simple trick you can use to begin the process. Ask: “what causes that?”
Example: If a client were to say to me, “Our problem is that we need more sales.” I’d ask “What is causing you to not have more sales?”
This simple tweak opens up their minds and forces them to go deeper down for more meaningful answers which, in turn, can be used by you in your lead generation messages.
Meaningful messages get your prospect’s attention!
#3 - Identify where they really hang out
Robert Kiyosaki, author of ‘Rich Dad. Poor Dad,’ tells a powerful story about his real (poor) father.
After retiring from his career, Kiyosaki’s father realized he was not going to have enough money to live as he had. So he chose to open an ice cream parlor to start making money.
When it came time to choose a location for the ice cream parlor, Kiyosaki’s father chose a location on a side street with very little foot traffic. The reason? It was cheaper than renting a store on the main street.
The ice cream parlor failed to attract business and had to close, costing Kiyosaki’s father even more money.
Put yourself where the traffic is.
The same goes for your prospects. Put your messages where they really are and not where you hope they are or where it is easier for you to put them.
For example: You may want more clients for your Cost Containment Consulting practice, but spending lots of time starting discussions in a Linkedin group for Cost Containment Consultants is easy and also a waste of time. That is where your competitors hang out – not your prospects!
Go where the prospects are, even if it takes a little longer and costs a little more. It is worth it!
#4 - Identify when they really are impressed
To a prospect, what you say about yourself is nothing. What they believe about you is everything.
One of the biggest mistakes I see in lead generation/marketing messages is pointless self-praise.
“We are the #1 XYZ in America” – “We have 75 years of experience” – “We have won the ABC award 6 years in a row”
There is a process and steps a prospect must go through internally to decide that they are impressed by you and only then will they move forward in your pipeline.
So your job is not to tell them what they should believe. Your job is to facilitate them reaching their own conclusion (which is that you are awesome).
Since every prospect is unique, it would be difficult and very costly to design a process for every single prospect. So we have to create a process that has a high likelihood of converting the most prospects.
I spend weeks or months creating these processes for my clients, so I can’t train you in how to do it here in an article. But let me at least give you a basic idea:
- You want to figure what the prospect needs to know internally to move forward.
- Then you want to figure out how much they can absorb at once.
- Then you want to figure out how few steps you can break the process into so you can reach maximum absorption without creating overload.
Example: If you have to sell to technical folks, instead of just mailing them a big (overwhelming) white paper, you may want to take your information and put part of it into an introductory report (a small amount of info), that drives them to a video (that has some more info), that drives them to an interactive webinar (that has some more info), that drives them to a call (for the sale).
In other words, expecting your prospect to jump from the bottom to the top of the stairs is foolish. Guiding them up the stairs is masterful.
#5 - Identify how they really want to connect
When you want a prospect to connect with you make it as easy as possible.
One of the biggest mistakes I see in getting prospects to connect is what I call “medium switch resistance.”
Example: You have been communicating with your prospect through the internet – email to video to webinar to follow up email – and they have been going right along with you. Then, in your follow up email, you tell them to CALL you.
In order to call you the prospect has to physically disengage from the medium they are using (a computer) and switch to another form of communication (a phone). And then THEY have to initiate the call.
Simply by correcting this mistake, and setting up an online form for prospects to complete requesting a call (initiated by the seller) I have seen my clients create double digit increases in response rates.
It was exactly the same outcome (a call) but how it was asked for (and what medium was used) made all the difference.
In closing, I appreciate that losing the WOM gravy train can be an unnerving experience, but it also means that you’re company is now free to reach out to a much bigger pool of prospects and enjoy all the new clients that will come from it.