The world of lead generation or finding new customers has changed dramatically over the years. We have a greater ability than ever to identify prospects who we know need our services, find out everything about them, contact them in 12 different ways, and incentivize them to become lifelong clients. The amount of tools at our disposal make this process so much simpler than it used to be but it can also be overwhelming. Just as technology has made the world smaller because you have greater access to your immediate sphere of influence, it has also made it much bigger because you have greater access to the entire world. A patent lawyer in Utah can work for a client in Beijing while the person in the cubicle next to him may be doing graphic design for someone in Brazil. Navigating this sea of opportunity and floating to the top are a constant challenge, but we can get by with a little help from technology.
The Less Doing framework of productivity works by a simple process. Take any problem or task you might have, then figure out how to optimize it, trim the fat, and get to the essential issue. Next automate as much as possible using protocols, software, and services. Finally, whatever is left, outsource it to individuals around you or across the globe. In the end you are left with the ultra premium triple distilled spirit that is your core business opportunity, ready for you to conquer it with one shot.
There are essentially two kinds of potential clients, those that you’ve identified and those that you haven’t. For the ones that you haven’t, we’re talking about the person you meet at a social event or a business conference, someone you don’t know and probably have mere seconds to evaluate as a potential customer depending on your business. People always talk about the “elevator pitch” the 30 seconds you have to tell someone what you do and why they need you. Fortunately, with the right tools you can extend your impression beyond that. When I meet someone new, whether it’s for business or not, I like to use Evernote Hello to trade contact information. The app gets the basics as well as a picture and some context to where you met them. It’s a lot more powerful to mention a context when reaching out to a prospect later. If someone does use business cards (how passe) then I like CardMunch to scan the card, transcribe all the details and automatically send a follow up and LinkedIn request.
You never want someone to contact you for information that should have already been provided. If someone has to call you to ask your website, you’re off to a bad start. Use WiseStamp to create a dynamic email signature with all your pertinent info including social networks, blogs, Tungle (a calendar app that allows people to schedule meetings with you at their convenience) and even your latest tweet (hopefully about something relevant to your business like you’re latest triumphant court case, or discounted special).
If social media is appropriate to your business, then it’s worth investing in someone who knows what they are doing to manage it for you. SLA eConsulting is one of the best in the business for social media management and they will build your following like wild fire. Once you get those new prospects coming to your site, capture those inbound leads with a proper contact form from 123ContactForm.
For the prospects you’ve already identified, like the owner of that big building downtown that obviously needs your window washing skills, or the president of the dog food company that you just know would love to hear your thoughts on social media marketing, there’s JigSaw. JigSaw is a massive database of people in all sorts of positions at all sorts of companies. Usually the listing includes their direct phone line and even a private email address. Laser target the right person who can make a decision quickly instead of wasting your time working your way up the chain. It’s like the barber in “Coming to America” said, “If you want to get in good with an American girl, you gotta get in good with her father.”
In terms of truly automated lead generation there are literally hundreds of sites that offer referrals but a lot of them are completely bogus. I have two favorites and they are BusinessLeads and OpenChime. Both sites let you create a profile for your business and then create a sort of ambassador/referral network for you to feed leads to your business with little to no effort. The key with these services is writing a great profile.
When it comes to following up with prospects and clients, my favorite productivity tool is FollowUp.cc. Whenever you send an email, you simply CC email@example.com so for instance, firstname.lastname@example.org, 1 email@example.com, 9PM@followup.cc and when the time comes, if the person has not responded to you, the email will be sent to them again as a reminder and to you as well. If you put the followup in the BCC field, only you will get the reminder. Once you get it you can snooze it for any amount of time you want or act on it if the person hasn’t gotten back to you. This is the best way to never forget to make good on it when you say “I’ll get in touch with you next month to get things started.”
Finally we get to outsourcing. Using a virtual assistant can make your life ten times easier while freeing up your time and your mind to do what you do best, close deals. There are two kinds of assistants, dedicated and non-dedicated. Non-dedicated means every time you make a request it will go to a pool of assistants who don’t know you or your information, but they are great for one off tasks like researching a prospect or generating a list of prospects from JigSaw, given the right instructions. For non-dedicated assistants definitely go with FancyHands, it’s cheap and the quality of work is unparalleled. For a dedicated assistant who gets to know your ways and can perform repetitive tasks, the best is Outsource Everything. These assistants can do followups, market research, sales presentations, and even call prospective clients for you.
- Evernote Hello
- SLA eConsulting
- Outsource Everything