Focus on what works!
Target to some of your best clients as a reference and see if you can find a pattern to replicate that process.
What are Federal Markets, and what are they buying? Business Development is a process of building credible relationships and proven solutions with qualified leads, but until you know who your buyer is, we won't be able to point you in the right direction... Dave Cochran, Cochran Edwards Capital Partners, Seattle
Sastry, there has been a lot of great advice in the posts that have been provided so far. The only thing I would say is that when you communicate with your market group, talk to them in terms of what is valuable to them versus the mistake that many marketers do of trying to tell them about your product and why you think it is value to them. If they are in need of the value you talk about they will hunt you down.
The basic approach involves arriving at very precise and inclusive conclusions regarding the following research:
1. What do they buy?
3. How do they buy?
5. What are the discriminating factors regarding what, why, how, when, e.g., competitive pricing, options, timely delivery, uniqueness of offer, product, service, delivery?????
Hi Sastry. In Lean Leadership you trust the "gemba", meaning that you observe first hand how your products are built, used and what problems you have.
Sastry, I would suggest you consider engaging with the vendors most suited and helpful to your markets, and then producing some low-cost marketing events, such as webinars, to generate interest in a specific technology.
Emphasizing Technical Webinars gathers a larger interest group, as the webinar is pitched towards eng, not sales, but as I don't know your exact situation, there are many variables that I can't comment on. :)
Best of luck
Sastra, I do not think one can prescribe what you should do without additional information about what your company is selling. But I can tell you this: the Federal government has very structured processes for doing business and you have approximately zero percent chance of securing any business by cold-calling "qualified leads". You have to get into the process, preferably at the requirements-shaping end and if necessary at the "competitive" end. There are lots of sources of advice on how the process works, and most agency small business offices are pretty accessible - but they aren't the requirements sources. The only reason I would pay anyone for BD magic is if they open relevant (i.e. decision-maker) doors and minds for you. The rest is just paperwork that you can do for yourself or pay someone to do, but there is no magic in it.
I have seen great debate over lead generation when it comes to quantity versus quality. Without knowing the complexity of your sales cycle it is very difficult to give a specific answer, however understanding your customers challenges and ideal outcomes will certainly help you craft a more intelligent lead generation strategy. Think about the following questions, and hopefully the thought process will lead you to some better results.
1. What keeps your clients up at night?
2. Are you working with the decision makers?
3. Where do these decision makers go to seek advice, or find solutions to problems?
4. What is your competition doing, and can you do it better?
5. What is your client acquisition cost (this will dictate how much to spend on leads)?
If you can elaborate on your industry and product or service I may be able to elaborate.
First, the good news is there is a way and is a beaten and evolving path. We are never the first to recognize this path nor will we be the last.
In the traditional form of business development, we tend to "Push" as opposed to what is being done today is "Pull" as how we post a query and pat comes the reply, even on this forum.
These are the steps I would (have) used to generate leads for business development over the years, some of which I have been mentored and shown how to:
a - Establish a clear "Unique Selling Proposition" (USP) for your product/services.
b - When several other competing providers are available to customers, why would they need to come to me?
c - How do I take my multiple connections on a professional media and earn the reputation to have clients reach out and call me (in a polite way) as opposed to me reaching out to people unsolicited? Just as how door-to-door sales is not acceptable to most people, so is emailing and calling someone to engage in business, let alone addressing leads. Here is how one can manage that:
(1) Populate your profile with adequate recommendations and/or endorsements. Recommendations need to be digital at the very least (increasing order of preference - Digital < Audio < Video < Personal Telephone Call < Personal Physical Meeting).
(2) For every set of members one has, they should target at least a few recommendations. If one has 100 connections, say at least 5 recommendations bringing it to a ratio (MTR - Member to Recommendation) 20. I started with a MTR target of 10 and would like to bring it to 5 and then to 2 over the next few years.
(3) These recommendations can come in solicited or unsolicited with the former, giving you better control of succeeding in seeking it promptly.
(4) The quality, source, and reputation of the recommender is key as well as your MTR on how your credibility and reputation is perceived by your potential clients/leads.
(5) Most people understand the concepts of SEO (Search Engine Optimization), however, aren't able to come to grips with how it can be leveraged to building or growing their business. We know that the SEO knobs of LinkedIn get turned on as a direct result of our activity on LinkedIn (passive and Active). So what Can I do to influence at the SEO level?
(1) Use the right key words on your profile.
(2) Become a top contributor on at least two discussion groups.
(3) Publish and Post articles (technical and non-technical) on your LinkedIn homepage or wall on a regular basis.
(4) Provide recommendations to members (Unsolicited and Solicited) at a level similar to what you receive or find deserving of.
(5) From a customer point of view redesign your LinkedIn content to reflect what a resume would say in terms of your USP. Most folks write down what they did, but not what they accomplished for their employers and/or customers.
(6) if you have a decade of experience and/or 100 first level connections, having a one liner for description of your role is an insult to your business intelligence. For the 100 level connections if you have 5 recommendations, it says that one in 20 have something to say of you. If the number of members shows 5+, then it means there are at least 500 and if one still maintains 5 recommendations, it is telling us that the MTR is teetering miserably at 100 (pretty bad in terms of value brought to the customer).
(7) In reality you probably brought tremendous value to your employers and customers, but just kept it as a best-kept-secret to the world of leads, business contacts and contract approvers in many enterprises across the world. This is called "Shoveling the Snow and Burying Oneself" in the business world. By just having a high MTR value (low recommendation rate) we are unknowingly sending a message that either we don't professionally solicit our customers for recommendations or don't really think we provided value in the work we did - both of which may be false. Or maybe we didn't know how to solicit recommendations unless we dis and the recipient didn't bother to respond.
(8) More than the MTR, the latest and greatest of the recommendations also count as to when you did the work is also important to demonstrate the sustenance of your USP.
Having a website is critical and the content in it aligning with your professional profile on media is also critical. A testimonial on the website not appearing on the professional media is also raising a flag or missing dates as to when the work was performed. If one has a drop down menu or icon dedicated for a testimonials, customers or leads are looking for several. Testimonials without an URL for the person providing them are usually not treated with the same level of respect as the ones which do.
Project Complexity for each of the clients listed is also key, time involved, nature of deployment, success measures in terms of % improvement in sales, lead time, or customer delight etc are also key and critical.
The entire process takes about a 3-6 months to complete assuming over a decade work has been performed to deserve the credits expected today. However, as one populates their profile and website, leads will start appearing as this is a non linear or exponential process, especially when the SEO knobs are turning rapidly as we populate our profile, or professional media.
Good luck and stay in touch.
Be honest about your business and your competitive advantages, acknowledge your weaknesses, never exagerate, never lie, and they will come to you
If you are talking about the US Federal Government - identifying markets is a minor issue compared to getting access to buying entities and becoming qualified.
I'd suggest getting in touch with your Congress people, explain your area of expertise, your offer, and ask for guidance. You can also find companies that are already qualified and selling to the government and try contacting them as a potential "partner" if your products/services are complementary.
Honestly, if you're not sure how to identify and qualify leads for your own business, I'd suggest you outsource for a firm that can do this for you.