No matter your industry, the growth and success of your business depends on your ability to widen your sales funnel and close sales quickly. Through our Sales School series, we're offering tips to help you optimize your lead generation strategies, sales tactics and marketing processes. In Lesson 2, we covered the basics of developing a buyer profile based on the five W's. Lesson 3 focuses on expanding your reach to new, uncharted and unsaturated markets.
Lesson 3: Cast A Wider Net
For most business owners, it should come as no surprise that the two most burdensome challenges with B2B leads are "generating high-quality leads" and "converting leads into customers."
Many businesses are actually limiting their own ability to generate and convert high-quality leads by sticking with a narrow prospect pool. If your audience is too limited, you decrease the likelihood of finding someone who needs your service and wants to hear what you have to say. When you cast a larger net, you increase your chances of being seen by – and interacting with – new prospects.
When it comes to high-quality lead generation strategies, there are two schools of thought.
Quality Or Quantity?
One of the traps many businesses fall into is choosing between the quantity and quality of leads. Some experts are staunch advocates of focusing efforts on generating only high-quality leads, while others feel that quality comes as a result of aiming for quantity. As with most positions, the best solution lies somewhere in the middle.
The Quantity approach is basically a numbers game: Reach more people and you increase the chance that at least some of them are interested in what you have to say. The problem with this strategy is that the conversion rates are abysmal. You're wasting money talking to consumers who have no real interest in your business or what you're selling.
The Quality approach focuses on very specific target markets. The conversion rates are high, because every prospect you engage fits your ideal persona profile. The problem, of course, is that this strategy drastically limits your visibility.
Ultimately, it's not just about keeping your sales funnel full; it's about filling it with a lot of the right people.
Whether you support the argument for quantity or quality, one thing remains the same: You need to make each stage of your sales funnel appealing or enticing to someone.
Where your prospects are in the consumer decision-making process determines what they're looking for. Offer something valuable and exciting in each step of your pipeline to maximize your chances of generating leads, turning those leads into prospects, converting those prospects into customers and – if you're providing real value – transforming those customers into advocates.
So, how do you generate something that's enticing to your whole range of prospect profiles?
Content marketing expands your sales funnel by exposing more people to your business and making each stage of the funnel more interesting to those people.
Marketing solutions revolve around content because content is easily targeted to specific personas. You use your expertise, research and current events to create relevant, valuable information for all of your prospects, no matter how diverse their backgrounds, goals and needs are. In fact, the more diverse, the better – you always have fresh avenues to explore, so you never generate stale content!
One of the biggest benefits of content marketing is that it doesn't necessarily have a shelf life. Potential customers may find your site while looking for something unrelated, but if you provide them with entertaining and informative resources, they stick around. They don't buy right away, because they're not ready. But they continue to hear, see, feel and interact with your company and the messages you share. They don't pass right through your sales funnel and come out of the other side unfazed; they stay connected to you, which gives you a chance to earn their trust and their business. A well-founded relationship bears the fruit of profit for years to come.
High-quality leads come to those who work, and front-end efforts avoid back-end problems. If you don't put in the time to effectively research your customers and develop content that appeals to all of them, you're going to go down a lot of wrong paths, waste a lot of time and money, and miss out on a lot of opportunities to generate leads and convert them into customers.
Start Today Tip: Don't get sucked into too much big-picture planning. Markets and technologies are evolving so rapidly today that it's nearly impossible to predict the next "big thing." Once you've created your overarching goals, take baby steps – small actions executed with surgical precision. Each time you try something new, diligently record how it works, and at the end of your test period, look objectively at the results to determine if it's worth considering. By not investing large amounts of money in a long-term plan that might be obsolete in a few short months, you give yourself the flexibility to seize bigger, better opportunities as they emerge.
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