8 ways to generate leads quickly
Why many SMEs struggle to generate leads
Finding clients is the single biggest challenge that most entrepreneurs face, especially when they’re starting out.
The problem is that what works for some companies may not always work for others. Sometimes entrepreneurs end up being stuck in a rut, where the old methods of lead generation cease to be effective. The great news is that there are many ways to get started again and it doesn’t necessarily have to take a long time.
In this blog, I will discuss some of the main ways to get clients quickly.
The great thing about freelance websites is that your target audience is already actively looking for the service you offer.
The best websites will usually be industry-specific. For example, if you are an IT developer, your best bet is websites such as Elevate, which cater specifically to that industry. There are also many other reputable freelance websites such as LinkedIn Profinder or Fiverr that are also good. I almost hesitated to include Fiverr, because as its name suggests, there are many entrepreneurs that are willing to do a lot of work for, well, $5.
However, what many entrepreneurs are now doing is offering a small taster of their service (such as doing a marketing review) for $5 and charging higher prices for more specialist services. Many entrepreneurs simply use Fiverr as a way of promoting their businesses and redirecting customers to their company pages.
This means that it is now possible for individuals to make a name for themselves and get high paying clients by offering introductory services, whereas, in the past, most of the specialist jobs would be priced at $5 or lower. You can also bid for jobs using Fiverr.
However, if you are using freelance sites, try to avoid freelance farms such as PeoplePerHour or Upwork, as you will be competing against people from all over the world who are willing to do a lot of work for as little as $1 an hour and there aren’t too many opportunities to go beyond those lower priced jobs.
Social media advertising is a great way to generate sales and leads very quickly because, within a matter of days, you can literally get your products and services in front of thousands of people. The principles of social media advertising can be summarised as adding value and demonstrating your skills before trying to make a sale. The key to success is offering something that people want without expecting anything in return. This may sound counterintuitive if the whole point of advertising is to get people to buy your product.
But you’re looking at it all wrong.
The purpose of making that initial contact over social media is to engage people and pique their interest. And there’s nothing more engaging than a freebie! We call these freebies lead magnets in the sales industry. These lead magnets should provide genuine value and be based upon your own research of what people want from businesses such as yours. For this, you’ll need to do your homework.
For example, if you sell software, then one of your lead magnets could be a free trial or a video demonstration on how to get the most out of that software.
A common mistake that businesses make with social media is they try to advertise on several different platforms. But as the old saying goes, a jack of all trades is a master of none. As a rule of thumb, you want to focus on just 1 or 2 social media networks to begin with, so that you can start seeing results from those. Then once you start to become more successful, you can then turn your attention to other relevant social media platforms. Once you have successfully engaged people on social media, then you build up trust and rapport, which will eventually result in increased sales.
Going to networking meetings is ideal for generating leads because they are often packed full of people that are keen to get in touch with other businesses and form profitable partnerships.
Of course many people go to networking meetings to try and make sales, but there are others whose main aim is to get to know like-minded entrepreneurs. Once you meet these individuals in person and they get to know you well, then they are much more likely to buy from you or make referrals. After all, people do business with people they know, like and trust. But to build up that trust and create those meaningful connections, it is important to learn the art of communication. Here’s the secret to mastering the art of communication: listening. This is often overlooked when it comes to networking.
So start by asking questions about their business, challenges and objectives. Once you have shown a genuine interest in their business and you understand their current situation, you’ll find it much easier to build rapport. Subsequently, when you suggest meeting for an informal coffee or a free consultation, they’re more likely to listen.
The other thing you want to consider is identifying the right type of people to talk to. If you have done your homework on your target market and the industries you want to tap into, then, of course, you should keep these in mind when attending networking meetings.
Having said that, it is also important to keep an open mind. Perhaps the person you really want to speak to is the CEO of an IT company you are trying to connect with. But if the person who turns up to the meeting happens to be a secretary that works within that company, then he or she may just be the key that opens up the door you are trying to walk through. They may be the person who eventually introduces you to the CEO or managing director. This is another reason why it is so important to be clear on which companies you want to target before you turn up to the meeting.
Organisations such as the Chambers of Commerce and BNI run networking meetings all over the country.
One way that I have managed to gain clients in the past is by posting adverts on Gumtree or Craigslist. Both websites have a section where you can post ads for your particular industry.
Again, if you can demonstrate knowledge and value before trying to make that sale, you are much more likely to succeed. Therefore you want to include a benefit-driven company profile which really serves to demonstrate your expertise. If you are serious about standing out from the crowd, perhaps include a little discount or a free trial to pique their interest. You might also want to consider paying for your ad to be featured at the top of the listings to get more views.
Previous clients (upsell)
The people that have previously bought from you and were satisfied with their purchase are the best people to approach with special offers, upgrades and similar products. This is known as upselling.
A note of caution applies, however. Bombarding previous customers with constant requests for more purchases is likely to work against you. However, if special offers and discounts are balanced with the occasional free gift, voucher or coupon, then this is likely to make your customer feel valued and encourage them to be more loyal towards your brand in the future.
Your professional network includes former bosses, colleagues from past jobs, clients, tutors, friends and mentors, that you have worked with in the past. Never dismiss anyone in your professional network, because they may now be in a position to assist you or make referrals that are going to benefit your business.
Consider sending them a friendly email, asking about how they are, what they have been up to in their career and let them know about your business.
The key here is not to be too pushy or salesy. At this point, your main aim should be to catch up with them, start a dialogue and be as helpful as you can. After all, if you are able to help them in any way, then they are much more likely to need and to use your services.
Family and friends
Your family and friends are what we call ‘warm leads’ in the sales industry. This means that in most cases, you have already built up the trust and connection with them, so they are more likely to respond to you in a favorable manner. When approaching family and friends about your offering, you really want to be as educational as possible. While they may be aware of your business, they may not necessarily understand it fully in terms of knowing who to refer or indeed, to make a purchase themselves. Encourage them to visit your Facebook business page or website and explain how you have managed to help people solve their problems in the past.
Be sure to include some helpful tips or information as well because this will further help to set you apart as an expert that they can feel comfortable promoting. Remember to include a call to action such as passing on your information to anyone else they may know or signing up to a newsletter.
This may seem somewhat out of place in a blog about lead generation. But the truth is we all need a little help. Sometimes you can get stuck in a rut and find that your ability to generate leads, or the resources you had for doing so, have dwindled somewhat.
This is where crowdsourcing can be particularly helpful. Simply put, crowdsourcing is the practice of enlisting a group of people to participate and help in a common goal.
It can also be used to help collect ideas to improve a product or service. Therefore, if you are struggling to obtain leads or you want to know the best way to tap into your target market, then crowdsourcing is one way to find the solutions you are looking for very quickly. But once again, you will need a compelling and motivational summary of the skills you are searching for and you will also need to have a clear idea of the type of people or businesses you are targeting.
Find out more
If you would like to get more in-depth information on how to generate leads and promote your products and services, you can get in touch with me by clicking here.
By Janine Griffiths
The Jelly Effect: How to make your communication stick by Andy Bounds