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Home Benefits How It Works Our Difference FAQ Register Blog
Sales and Marketing Applications of The Lead Generator
What ISN'T A Sales Lead?
What IS a Sales Lead?
Prioritizing Your Work
What Makes A Sales Lead Pre-Qualified?
How To Get Great Sales Leads Out Of The Lead Generator Once You Get a "Hit," What Do You Do: Making Contact
Browsing Leads
Generating Leads
Running Ads to Generate Leads
Promoting Your Business
Inferring a Need
Conducting Market Research to Find Leads
Increasing Your Chances of Success Summary

Introduction

Increasing your company's sales is the primary application of The Lead Generator. And it accomplishes this goal by providing you with a reliable and inexpensive way to generate lots of great, pre-qualified sales leads.

In order to get the most out of the system as a sales or marketing professional, though, it first helps to understand what we mean - and don't mean - by a sales lead. This is because, probably like you, we've been in sales and marketing for more than a few years, and we've seen people spend a lot of money on what they thought were sales leads, but really weren't.

What ISN'T a Sales Lead?

The best story we can tell in order to answer the question (and illustrate a point we need to make,) happened when we were doing the market research to determine if there was any market for a system like The Lead Generator, which hadn't yet been built.

It seems that a certain business owner refused to see us. He believed that we couldn't help him with his sales problem, claiming that he already had "more leads than he knew what to do with." When we finally got in to see him, though, (after all, we are in sales,) we discovered that the leads he was talking about was a nearly four-foot tall stack of names that - he was right - he could never possibly get through. What he thought were sales leads was really just a very expensive mailing list that he had bought (on paper, no less!) And there wasn't a qualified lead in the stack.

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So What IS a Sales Lead?

To the experienced salesperson a sales lead is simply a piece of information, specifically that somebody needs something. Hopefully it's something you're selling, and the person is willing to pay money to satisfy the need. But a lead is often nothing more than a piece of information.

But a lead can also be a buying signal in the form of a problem statement, or an acknowledgment by a potential customer that there's an opportunity to do business. And since most salespeople are on some form of commission, it's also an indication that there's opportunity to make money.

By the way, a lead can also be a person - particularly a person who can help you by providing information, contacts or guidance.

A lead, therefore, is something that's worth spending time on. As a salesperson, by the way, that's my definition of a lead.

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Prioritizing Your Work

Experienced salespeople also know that whenever you're talking about sales leads, you're also talking about the fact that some leads are better than others. And most salespeople will prioritize their work according to what is going to make them the most money, the fastest. This is reflected in the training literature, and in the guidance of sales managers, when they say that "A" prospects are better than "C" prospects, and that "explicit" needs are better than "implicit" needs.

The fact is that some leads are better than others. And most salespeople would rather spend their time working on good leads than bad ones.

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What Makes a Sales Lead "Qualified"?

Besides the quality of the lead, we also often think in terms of a lead being "qualified," or characterized by the amount of information you have on the opportunity. Qualified leads are better than unqualified leads, generally because someone has already found some information that suggests that it's worth pursuing.

For example, with leads that aren't qualified:

  • You don't know who the decision maker is
  • You're not talking to the decision maker
  • The prospect doesn't know he or she has a need for your product
  • You have to infer that there's a need
  • They have other, higher priorities
  • And they probably don't have any money to spend

On the other hand, with qualified leads:

  • You know who the decision maker is
  • You're talking to the decision maker
  • He or she has expressed a clear need for your product or service
  • He or she may be pre-disposed to buy your product or service
  • And he or she is prepared to take action in your favor

A lead being "pre-qualified" simply means that you have some of that information before you start wearing out shoe leather. And that's the whole idea: Work less and sell more.

The Lead Generator Can Give You Lots of Great, Pre-Qualified Sales Leads

The concept of a great, pre-qualified sales lead means that the lead is worth spending time on, and that you have some basic information on the opportunity from the outset. It means that the prospect is interested in what you have to offer and, if you can make a fit, you're going to do business together.

That's what The Lead Generator is designed to do: Provide lots of great, pre-qualified sales leads.

Other parts of the documentation discuss the mechanics of using The Lead Generator, so we won't go into that here. But do be sure that you become fairly proficient in using the different functions of the system if you expect to get lots of sales leads out of it.

The rest of this document, however, will discuss the basic applications of The Lead Generator, and how to accomplish them.

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How To Get Great Sales Leads Out Of The Lead Generator

If you haven't already recognized it, The Lead Generator is basically than online networking event where the price of admission is a declaration of your company's Needs, and a commitment to participate in the process.

As a result, one of the most powerful applications of The Lead Generator is online networking to find leads. But before we tackle the networking application, it pays to start with some of the simpler applications.

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Finding Prospects Based on an Explicit Need (SIC Method)

Application:

Finding prospects based on their explicit need for a specific product or service.

Strategy:

Search Needs using SIC Codes

Explanation:

All users must post their companies' needs by entering the SIC Codes of the products and services that they buy, or intend to buy, in the Needs portion of the data base.

Thus, if you're looking for companies that buy "3546 - Power-driven handtools," for example, then all you need to do is query the data base for all users who have entered "3546" as a Need.

The easiest way to do this is in the Needs Menu, select "Search Needs (by SIC Code.)" From there, you can either enter the SIC Code of the product or service, or scan through the list to find the ones you want. "Hits" will be those companies that buy the product or service that you specify.

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Finding Prospects Based on an Explicit Need (Keyword Method)

Application:

Finding prospects based on their explicit need for a specific product or service.

Strategy:

Search Needs By Using a Keyword Search

Explanation:

Like browsing for Needs by using SIC Codes, browsing by using a Keyword Search queries the data base for companies that explicitly buy specific products and services, i.e. those companies who have posted what they buy, or intend to buy, using SIC Codes in the Needs portion of the data base.

In the case of browsing using a Keyword Search, however, you query the database using a "text string" that matches a portion of the description field that goes along with the SIC Code, instead of using the SIC Code itself.

Thus, for example, if you were looking for companies that buy "3546 - Power-driven handtools," you could enter "Power-driven handtools" as your search string. Note that you can use any substring as your keyword, such as "handtools", "tools", or even "ower-dr", as long as it matches a portion of the description exactly. If you're not sure how it's spelled, try several alternative spellings and constructions.

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Finding Prospects Based on an Implied Need

Application:

Making Inferences about Needs

Strategy:

Browse Needs Based on an Implied Need

Explanation:

Sometimes you may not find prospects who need your exact product or service, or you might simply want to expand your prospect list. Using a little imagination, you conclude that anyone who buys some other product "X," would also be a good prospect for your product.

For example, you might assume that anyone who uses the "4311 - U.S. Postal Service" might be a good candidate for your company's Express Mail service, even though someone might not have entered the SIC Code for Express Mail.

Simply query the data base for people who buy the "4311" using either a direct SIC Code search or a keyword search, and you've identified prospects based on an implied need for Express Mail service.

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Finding Prospects Who Need Your Products and Services

Application:

Finding Prospects Who Need Exactly What You Make and/or Sell

Strategy:

Browse Needs Using a Match on Your Company's Products & Services

Explanation:

If you've accurately posted what it is that your company makes and/or sells (in the Products & Services section,) then all you have to do in order to find companies that Need what you make is to run a Match query from the Needs Menu.

The computer will automatically identify all companies that have Needs (based on the SIC Codes that they entered in the Needs section of the data base,) that match the Products & Services SIC Codes that you entered.

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Once You Get a "Hit," What Do You Do?

Application:

Making Contact

Strategy:

Send a Message

Explanation:

Anytime you get a "hit" on the system, The Lead Generator gives you the ability make contact with the prospect via The Lead Generator's Messaging sub-system. Just select that you want to "send a message" to the prospect, and you'll be given a screen where you can enter a text message with your solicitation or introduction.

You'll need to remember two things, though. While the Messaging sub-system is pretty bare-bones, you can remain anonymous while you're qualifying your lead, and still have a very meaningful dialog if you observe the Rules of Netiquette.

Also, remember that the Messaging sub-system is closed. You can only use it to contact other Lead Generator Users. The system will alert you when you have a Message on the system by sending you a regular e-mail notice.

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Browsing Leads

Application:

Browsing for Leads

Strategy:

Querying the Leads Portion of the Data Base for Sales Leads

Explanation:

One of the main reasons that people use The Lead Generator is to be able to access the sales leads in the Leads portion of the data base. Browsing these Leads, which were entered by other users, is one of the most popular applications of the system.

To query Leads, go to the Leads Menu from the Main Menu, and simply enter a text-string to use as a keyword in the provided. Click search, and the system will search for the string in the text of the Leads file.

You can also constrain your search geographically, or by affiliation. You'll "pull" any Leads that contains the keyword.

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Generating Leads

Application:

Generating Leads

Strategy:

Post Leads in Order to Network Yourself

Explanation:

One of the most powerful features of The Lead Generator is its ability to actually "generate" leads for you. The question is: How do you do it?

Once you understand the logic, it's really quite simple. All you need to do is recognize two things.

The first is that when you engage other people in a networking dialog, they will share information with you that can lead to the stimulation of new ideas that can be of benefit to both of you. In essence, they reciprocate.

The other is that you probably know a lot more about opportunities for other businesses than you think. All you have to do is leverage the information you have by posting it to Leads. If you figure that the other users know about many of the same types of opportunities, making it the currency of your dialog is a great way to build your business.

Like any networking event, though, if you park yourself in a corner and "milk your drink," you won't get anything out of it. But if you participate in the dialog, especially by posting Leads, you'll be amazed at how much attention - and new opportunities -- you'll attract.

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Running Ads

Application:

Advertising

Strategy:

Post An Advertisement for Your Products in Ads

Explanation:

The Lead Generator provides you with a simple text form that you can use to post an Ad. And while it isn't the prettiest format in the world (although links to your Web site will soon be possible,) you don't need it to be pretty in order for it to generate Leads.

The key is to understand how people will find your Ad which will be, in general, by matching a keyword in a query. Knowing this, you'll recognize that you want to include as many keywords as you can somewhere in your ad (probably at the bottom.)

The best structure is to input a brief "Benefit Statement," similar to what you might include in a cover letter to get a prospect's attention. Then, provide a list of product names, brand names, applications, and other jargon related to your product. Be sure to use alternative spellings if it will increase the likelihood of a "hit," too.

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Promoting Your Business

Application:

Promoting Your Business with a Promotional Statement

Strategy:

Write and Post a Strong Promotional Statement

Explanation:

Everyone must post a standard Company Description in the data base for their company, but what makes it work is not fancy, image-oriented phrases. What works is a realistic "Benefit Statement," (just like a good ad or sales pitch,) and lots of keywords on which other users can match.

You should also change your Company Description occasionally, since you want to keep making a fresh impression.

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Inferring A Need

Application:

Identifying Prospects Based on What They Make and/or Sell

Strategy:

Browse Products & Services for Prospects

Explanation:

While browsing Needs and Leads for leads is both obvious and straightforward, you can also infer that someone might need your product or service based on the products and services that they make and/or buy.

Simply browse the Products & Services portion of the data base, either by entering SIC Codes or keywords. Your solicitation would then sound something like, "I see that your company makes 'X.' We have many satisfied customers in your industry, and would like to talk to you about how our products can save you money..."

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Market Research

Application:

Identifying Demand and Market Needs

Strategy:

Use Messaging To Assess Demand and Market Needs

Explanation:

If you accept that market research and selling are just different points along a spectrum of marketing activities then you'll see how easily you can conduct simple market research on The Lead Generator.

Use any of the browse techniques to select your sample. Then use the Messaging sub-system to distribute your questionnaire.

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Increasing Your Chances of Success

Application:

Unseating Your Competition

Strategy:

Tell Your Competitors' Customers About The Lead Generator

Explanation:

Whether there are a lot of new leads for you on the system at any given time or not, you can increase your chances of finding leads and getting a hit, and unseat your competition, by telling your prospects (in particular, your competitors' customers,) about The Lead Generator.

If you have a direct mail program (or any sales or promotional program, for that matter,) one way to refresh it and provide a service to your prospects at the same time, is to include information on The Lead Generator. They'll appreciate it because it shows that you care about their business; and they'll be online and receptive to your company's solicitations.

Once they're online, where do you think their purchasing department is going to look when they need a supplier?

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Persistence

Application:

Generating Leads Through Multiple Contacts

Strategy:

Use Repeat Solicitations To Catch Prospects When They're Ready

Explanation:

As you can probably tell, we don't think that impersonal, mass mail is very effective (even if it's cheap on the Internet.) But we do believe in the value of a high quality communication and persistence.

When you've identified someone as a prospect on The Lead Generator, note their User-ID. Build a profile of them by finding their Company Description, and understanding their Products & Services and Needs. Develop an e-mail that is personalized and benefit-oriented so that it will get the person's attention by appealing to his needs.

Most importantly, if you're going to write to them, give some thought to the sequenced content of your letters. For example, introduce yourself and your product in the first letter. Discuss a successful customer application in a second letter. Write about the benefits of your products in a third letter. After all, you wouldn't publish the same newsletter 12 time a year, would you? And if you were on the receiving end, wouldn't you want the offers with which you were presented to be relevant?

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Don't Advertise In Leads

Application:

Don't Use A Hammer To Drive In A Screw

Strategy:

Advertise in the Ads Area, Not in the Leads Area

Explanation:

Although we mentioned this before, one of the easiest ways to turn people off is to attempt to disguise an advertisement as a Lead. Since Leads are free-text, it's easy to do; but it really makes you look unprofessional. Save your advertisements for Ads, and reserve Leads for Leads.

How do you know which is which? It's easy. If you're going to sell something to the respondent as a result of the posting, it's an ad!

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There's More Than One Way To Skin A Cat

Application:

Going In The Front Door

Strategy:

Reply To Ads

Explanation:

You know that sometimes you can't get an appointment with the decision maker and that, sometimes, you have to leverage other contacts in order to get in.

If you can't make contact with the buyer by sending solicitations on The Lead Generator (for whatever reason,) you may find that one of ans company's salespeople will be willing to help. Use the Company Description to identify the company, and ask the salesperson (perhaps even as a response to an ad,) if he would you get in to see the buyer.

Just be sure to return the favor.

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Summary

There are many ways to generate sales leads on The Lead Generator. This section just introduced some of the most basic. But there are many more. The key to success is that how clever, active and professional you are in using the system will determine what you get out of it.

Remember also that using the system once a month is not going to work, by the way, because there is a direct relationship between activity and results (and someone else can get the Lead before you.) Since it doesn't cost any more to use it every day than it does to just check it once in a while, it should become a regular part of your weekly, if not daily, activity.

Finally, if you have any suggestions about how we can make the system better, be sure to let us know. We're here to help you grow your business!

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