There is no one method that will serve as panacea for your lead-prospecting troubles. In marketing, as in life in general, everything is case-to-case basis. What we have, however, are ideas that are worth trying as suggested by experts and backed by empirical data.
According to a survey by the Chief Marketing Officer Council, most valued source of leads is from customer referrals. Amazing, right? While the criteria ‘most valued source of lead’ is somehow vague, one can logically infer that the reason marketers value a certain source more than they do others is because it produces concrete better positive results.
Here’s the top five sources of B2B leads:
- 54% Customer Referrals
- 14% E-Mail or Direct Marketing
- 8% Internet
- 7% Events
- 8% Other
Interesting, right? Read on.
Customer Referrals/Existing Customers
It’s overwhelming how big a portion of the pie goes to Customer Referrals/Existing Customers. But who are we to argue with numbers? So stop what you are doing right now and imagine how referrals from satisfied customers could generate valuable leads and grow your business. No, don’t just imaging it. Internalize it. See, customer referrals are a means of providing immediate credibility. With the increasing ability for consumers to share personal expression on the Internet, Blogs, E-mail, and word of mouth, the ability to communicate has enhanced the voice of the customer. In business-to-business transactions, a customer referral is more likely to lead to an appropriate contact with a relevant message, which is far more powerful and likely to result in success than a cold call from a third party.
So tap into that seemingly infinite wealth of existing customers and convert them into living testimonies. Never waste an opportunity to treat your customers as partners. Make them feel like they are a part of the company and your goals and chances are, they won’t hesitate to mouth a praise or two about you to friend.
Email or Direct Marketing
Though a fraction only as effective as customer referrals according to the research by CMOC, emailing or direct marketing packs a punch, too. Admittedly, email can sometimes feel like an old tool – obsolete, even — in the marketing mix, but put yourself back into a customer’s shoes. It’s still every marketer’s bread-and-butter for prospect questions, service and support, and loyalty checks.
Advanced email solutions can make email marketing specific, personalized and efficient. Remember, it’s easy for people to forget about your company or lose track of what you’re offering if they haven’t visited your website in a while. Previous customers can be brought back as “fresh” leads, so use this to your advantage by creating solid email marketing campaigns specifically for those you know. Create a list of all your past customers, and then categorize that list down further if possible to create a few very personalized email marketing messages.
Get accurate and reliable information of your prospects with database profiling services.
As more consumers go to social media for customer service or to poll friends and family for advice on upcoming purchases, it’s no surprise the channel becomes an increasingly important source for marketers to track. What’s a little surprising is that it placed just number three on the list, but that’s beside the point.
First, make sure you have a website that’s user-friendly, catchy, and comprehensive. Your website houses valuable persona-focused content, contact information, product and solution information, and more. It’s also likely the hub that social, advertising, event, email and other tactics drive traffic to. Condition leads to go to your website for solutions and relevant information, and make sure your website is set up to collect valuable lead insights.
Second, take full advantage of your blogs. Blogging efforts optimize your website for new visitors and is an effective way in nurturing existing leads. Ask your social community a question or poll them to see what they think about a particular subject. Find common problems people may have related to your industry and show that you have the solution on your blog. This will help you improve your credibility and hopefully get people interested enough to take the next step and talk with you about what you can do for them.
You can use social media as a way to promote as well, and create lead generation forms to include on your social accounts.
It’s one thing to be present on the internet and active in social media. It’s another thing to be physically present during big events and present your brand or product as something tangible and relatable to prospects. Events are an investment for brands at all stages of the marketing funnel—from awareness with new prospects, through the loyalty and retention of existing customers and clients. Events are perfect opportunities to merge the online and offline experience. Generate meetings and hype event excitement with an online campaign to start measuring lead activity. Hey, if you can get your loyal customers to testify during the event, so much the better.
This has always been an enigma and a cause of speculation in any kind of survey result because no one can pinpoint it’s exact components. For some, it’s an excuse to be subjective – you can include your personal favorites there. Like these two I included below.
I have a bias on companies that take advantage of strategic alliances with parallel companies. Think about a wedding dress couturier partnering with a flower shop; or a sports equipment shop teaming-up with a chain of fitness clubs. It’s always a win-win situation whichever way you look. So look for a company that you can benefit from (make sure it can get something from you, too, or else it wouldn’t work) and start talking about the possibilities of expanding your prospects base. If you’re lucky, you can even share some industry secrets.
I hate to admit it, but even in this era where social media is threatening to takeover, good old cold calling still carries some weight. It is no secret that the basics of cold calling are very sound. You get to know the actual potential of the customer when you visit his office, and sometimes, depending upon your company’s product and brand, the customer might even convert immediately. This is when you literally grab the bull by the horns. Sounds tough, but if you are out of ideas for sources of prospects, then you better review your script and start with cold calling. Trust me, you will find prospective customers which cannot be found by way of other methods.