The world of small business lead generation is evolving faster than ever before, and the same strategies that worked a few years ago might not help you get the best results today. If you want to stay ahead of your competition, you need to adapt your strategies, try new things, and above all: obey the New Rules.
Not all small business lead generation services are the same. You want to make sure they know their stuff and will keep their promises. Go beyond checking references and ask to see specific knowledge of your industry, and ask for case studies that show how they have helped companies like yours. And don’t assume that the cheapest lead gen firm is the best; sometimes a company that gives you a lower-priced budget quote will ultimately “cost” you more than they’re worth, in terms of lower-quality leads and wasted time.
The best lead generation firms will give you straight advice, they won’t pressure you or promise you the moon, they will give you a clear and established process for how they work and how you can collaborate with them so it’s a good fit for everyone, and they will give you guidance on how to move forward with closing the deal on your sales leads.
Don’t be afraid to try new lead generation ideas for small businesses. For example, have you tried getting some free publicity for your business with a fun PR stunt? Can you host a local event at your business to invite people from the community to come visit, have an open house, and maybe get some new business leads that way? Can you get some speaking gigs as an expert guest speaker for business networking events or lunch-and-learns? Sometimes putting yourself out there in the public eye can be uncomfortable, but it’s often the best way to get some new interest in your business and build your reputation as a credible voice in your field.
There are so many great platforms out there now for CRM and social media marketing management. Don’t assume that you need a big budget to get access to the best tools; small businesses now can benefit from the same enterprise-grade technologies as big corporations, but at a price point that suits your budget.
For example, there are tools and platforms that can help you post on social media, schedule your posts, manage your website traffic, automatically schedule emails to go out, track the results of each email you send, analyze the data and performance of your various online marketing campaigns, track responses from customers, keep track of customer conversations and make notes about each sales call, and so much more! Depending on what you need to accomplish in your business, there are easy, affordable lead generation tools for small businesses that can help make it faster and more seamless than ever before.
When you’re trying to come up with new ways for how to generate leads for small business, keep in mind that some of the best “new” ideas might actually be “old.” Go back to basics! Everyone is on social media, but have you tried cold calling and direct mail? Sometimes it’s easier to get people to answer the phone or open a letter than to see your post on Twitter. We tell people this all the time in our business, but it’s true: sometimes the most underrated tool for making sales is one of the oldest: the telephone! There’s something about that human element of just picking up the phone and starting a conversation that can be more effective than all the emails and social media posts in the world.
Some of the most important elements of small business lead generation happen before you ever pick up the phone or get in front of a prospect: it’s all the upfront legwork of networking and research. Getting better at networking and research will help you save time and make more money, by identifying the right companies to sell to, and finding the right decision-makers who can help you close the deal.
Expand your pool of networking opportunities. Try a new trade show or conference that you’ve never been to before, try joining some new Groups on LinkedIn, or maybe just join some community organizations or volunteer for nonprofits that aren’t even directly related to your business – anything that you can do to meet new people and get out into different social contexts will help you to revitalize your business networking.
As for the research component, this is more important than ever: use LinkedIn to “reverse engineer” your way into each sale. Figure out who you know at your prospect’s company, even if they’re not in the right area for what you sell. Figure out how many steps up the ladder at the company you need to meet people to get the right stakeholders and decision-makers in the room. If you can map out all of this ahead of time, you will be better informed to start making those cold calls and building momentum toward a sale.
Small business lead generation is not rocket science, but it requires creativity and agility and a willingness to re-evaluate your processes. If a strategy is not working for you, drop it and try something new. If you’re getting good results and momentum from a certain strategy, keep doing more of that. Over time, you will achieve better results and close bigger sales!