Most people know they shouldn’t attempt to take on a mortgage without having some way to pay for it. Yet small business owners do something quite similar every day. How do they do this? Some small business owners focus on running the business before focusing on generating the leads that fund the business. Sure, every business needs money to stay open, but without building a strategy to funnel the revenue into the business, the foundation is shaky at best.
Just like some new homeowners take on more mortgage than they can afford, eventually it catches up to them. They are then forced to find more money or a smaller home. After a few years, the initial rush of the business wears off leaving a gaping hole where lead generation would have been. Small business owners may have quick sales in the beginning but without a long-term lead generation plan, they will go bankrupt. The cash flow a business needs requires a sales funnel. So how do you create that funnel? Below are a few tips to make lead generation a priority in your business without taking away from your other activities.
- Create a list: Encourage people to opt in to your newsletter/free report or to a webinar/telesemiar. Developing a list of people who have opted in to your communications is quite possibly one of the best lead generation tactics you can implement. No, you shouldn’t buy lists or dump your contacts into your email newsletter program. People need to sign up by themselves. So incite them to do so. Host a free webinar or offer a free special report. Just offer them something. Taking action is better than perfecting the freebie.
- Devote a set amount of time each week to lead generation. Customer needs change. Industries change. Consumer expectations change. Client budgets for your products and services may dwindle. So you need an ongoing plan for lead generation. Set aside time each week purely for lead generation activities. This could be list building activities social media marketing, warm calling, in-person networking, and many other activities. It’s easy to get caught up in your current client work, setting time aside for lead generation helps you bridge the gap between hunting for new business while producing the work you already have.
- Build leads offline. Network, network, network. Have I mentioned networking? It’s a great way to build leads. Attend luncheons and business breakfasts to meet new people and expand your circle. Since your network of contacts will be in a constant state of flux, it’s important to keep adding to it. Some people will filter out, so replenishing is critical. Remember to tie your offline activities to your online activities, meaning connect to them on LinkedIn. Mention your e-report or other freebie on your business card. Direct people to a squeeze page on your website where they can sign up for your webinar.
- Accepts “nos.” Getting a “no” is better than being stuck with a “maybe.” With a “no” you can move on to the next lead. Getting stuck with false hope maybes will, “bankrupt your business.” Building in registration deadlines for webinars and teleseminars encourages action. Promoting your reports and newsletters with some mystery encourages people to sign up to find out the punch-line. Demonstrating scarcity, a limited number of copies of a book to hand out, for example, encourages people to take action now. These tactics also weed out anyone who simply isn’t interested.
- Make lead generation a priority. It’s easy to stop spending time each week on sales activities. But remember, quick cash creates a false sense of security. Quick cash burns out fast too (if you don’t first!). Build your business the right way even if it means saying no to work that doesn’t fit your business model. There are no shortcuts to success.
Lead generation is one of the most important things you can do to build and sustain your business. Focusing on working in your business instead of on your business will keep you from achieving the profit and longevity you seek. Focusing create quality content that will attract your target customer. Building quality leads into your sales funnel is what will make your business stand out and help you avoid sleepless nights.
Do you have any more ideas to share about lead generation and building a sales funnel?
For more tips on how start or grow your small business subscribe to Melinda Emerson’s blog http://www.succeedasyourownboss.com.
By day Morgan Leu Parkhurst helps individuals put the pieces of their marketing puzzles together. By night she teaches
marketing communications to aspiring entrepreneurs. Reach her atwww.sharpmindmarketing.com or on Twitter at @Morgan_LP.