Leads are the life-blood of every business; if you have them—and they’re qualified—and you can convert them, the money flows like a faucet.
If your leads aren’t qualified, or if you have leads but they’re just not converting you’re out of business inside of the time it takes to write the checks.
It’s even worse than you think.
Most people don’t just have a lead problem, they have a follow-up problem as well, and a conversion problem.
No leads. No follow-up. No conversion.
You need leads that are identifiable, quantifiable, and reachable.
If that sounds familiar, we’re going to help fix your lead problem for good, so let’s dive in.
The only way to generate more revenue and scale your business is by getting new customers and making more sales.
The only efficient way to do this is through developing a list of high-quality prospects.
The process for generating these new, consistent leads for your business, month-after-month, can be broken down into 3 steps, starting with identifying the qualities of your perfect prospect.
Who are you selling to in an ideal world?
The very first thing you have to figure out when building a list of perfect leads, is identifying who you want to attract, and who you want to sell to.
It all starts by clearly identifying your ICP or Ideal Customer Profile.
In this step, you map out your perfect prospect, dig deep into their world, know the pains and frustrations they face as it relates to your solution, and identify what separates your ideal buyer from the rest of the world.
Skip this step at your own peril. Without it you might as well be selling out of the back of a Honda Accord on a street corner.
Garbage in, garbage out. If you don’t clearly identify your ideal customer, their demographics, interests, compelling desires, pains, frustrations, goals, etc., how do you expect to target them and build a list of any sort of quality?
At best, if you try and build a lead list without first identifying who these people need to be, you end up with something useless.
At worst, building a lead list that’s only somewhat targeted would be an exhaustive waste of time, effort, and capital.
It doesn’t matter how good your offer is if you are trying to sell to the wrong person.
That’s why taking the time to complete a very detailed and accurate ICP is the first step you must take in order to generate a high-quality list of prospects.
There is no point in building a list of leads if the leads you manage to acquire aren’t interested in your offer.
Some take it even further and build a Customer Avatar -- a fictitious person that represents the characteristics of a perfect lead, from their interests and buying patterns, all the way down to what their family-life is like.
Creating an ICP is also a great way to make sure all parts of your company are on the same page, namely, the marketing and sales departments.
An ICP synthesizes all the components of your team to come together as an absolute force of sales.
This might seem like an obvious step, but a lot of people just stop with the basics; like where they work, how much money their company makes, and where they are located
If you truly want to succeed in building a large and profitable lead list, you’re going to have to do things other businesses aren’t.
You have to dig deeper.
You need to write down everything about your perfect lead.
There’s a lot of different types of data you can account for when filling out your ICP, some of these include:
What attributes do your current customers share with what your current perceptions are? You should take notes on everything you can, and compare what you filled out on your ICP with who your customers actually are.
Ask them what they think about your company, how they heard about you, how your business has impacted them.
Any questions you can think of that will help you fill out more information.
If you’re noticing a lot of discrepancies between what your shadow figures are and what your customers are telling you, you might need to revisit the first step.
Don’t be afraid to ask them to take a survey. Ask them questions directly.
Remember, the more you know, the better.
Odds are, if they are already using your product/service, they will be more than happy to help you out by answering a few questions.
This is a win-win for both you and your customers, as it will allow them to feel like their feedback matters, and their information can be a very valuable resource for generating more revenue and building a larger list of potential leads for your business.
After all of that, you should have a pretty clear picture of who your ideal customer is.
That was relatively easy, right?
Now, you have to figure out whether these leads are good or bad.
If they’re good, then you have to figure out how to get in contact with them.
The process of gathering information on your leads is what we like to call “Prospect Identification.”
The next step is figuring out how exactly to acquire a list of these people in advance, so you can identify them by name, and build a list that can be properly worked on by your sales team.
This is known as prospect identification.
There are many different ways to go about searching for leads.
Some are better than others, but they all have their pros and cons.
Your first instinct might be to manually search for leads through platforms like LinkedIn.
The problem with this process is the amount of information LinkedIn (and other similar platforms) actually provide -- it’s very limited.
Manually searching through hundreds -- or thousands, of individual profiles -- one after the other, takes too much time and is demoralizing and searching based on specifics such as technographic data (or, dare we way, intent or interest) is basically impossible.
Even if you were to somehow build a decent list from doing this, you can’t be very sure that these prospects even align properly with your ICP, which leads to a high negative response rate.
That’s a lot of wasted time and money.
Alternatively, you could pay a monthly subscription for services that offer access to databases full of already prospected leads.
Companies like these usually get their information through algorithms and machine learning software, so it’s very efficient and tends to be up-to-date.
The problem is that although they are generally accurate, they tend to have a high price tag.
They provide you with a list of potential leads based on specific filters and criteria, the list tends to be relatively small, and is extremely hard to scale.
So it seems like no matter what you do, you’re left wanting more.
You're still basing your entire business on shadows thrown on a cave wall.
Because the process of identifying potential leads and curating a list of them is so time consuming and expensive, it’s often best to outsource this process to someone who specializes in it.
That’s right, use the professionals. Hired guns with a specialty in slaying dragons.
You pay a company to search for a list of leads for you based on your ICP. The initial cost might be more expensive, but you’ll be saving a lot of money (and time) in the long run.
Once you get this list, all that’s left to do is figure out whether or not the leads are reachable, meaning, can you find a direct dial number or an email (or even a LinkedIn URL)?
Close but no cigar.
Only knowing where they work and how much money they’re making isn’t good enough.
You need some way to contact them, an email or a phone number.
There are ways to get this information, though it’s usually quite difficult.
Once you do, however, you’ll be well on your way to closing more deals with more ideal customers than you might have thought was possible.
This process of researching prospects and gathering information on them is known as lead enrichment.
The point of this step is to narrow down your list of prospects and flesh out their profiles with relevant information.
At the very least, you’re going to need to know the basics; an email, a phone number, their LinkedIn URL, anything to help you either get in touch with them, or something that will help you learn more about them.
There are a few ways to go about getting this information, you could manually search for it through social media and other platforms.
Or, you could pay for services that deliver enriched information for you.
Neither of these methods is very favorable, as they either require a lot of time, or a lot of money.
Ideally, you could find a company that does this process for you, so that you can leave your sales team to do what they do best.
Regardless of how you get this information, you want to make sure that you aren’t tempted to just pursue anybody you can get your hands on, you only want to chase leads that fit your ICP.
More often than not, chasing leads that don’t fit your ICP is just a huge waste of time.
We also want to stress the importance of making sure your information is correct and up-to-date, so you want to make sure whoever you hire has a good track record, or the information you get yourself is tested for accuracy before being passed along to the sales team.
Having incorrect information is not only a waste of time, but can have serious negative results on your future prospecting.
For example, you want to make sure any emails you obtain are valid, meaning they exist and are still being used.
You can use online services that check the validity of emails for you such as NeverBounce.
The reason you’d want to do this, other than the fact that reaching out to an invalid email address is a waste of time, is because the more your emails bounce (don’t arrive at a proper address) the lower your sender score becomes.
Your Sender Score is a number between 1 and 100, and it determines how likely your emails are to be sent to the spam folder.
Bounced and unopened emails are the most common cause for a low sender score.
It’s for this reason that you want to keep your list of emails checked and up-to-date, and that spam sending 1,000 copy-and-paste emails a day is a bad idea (not to mention illegal).
That being said, it’s best to stay away from cheap online services that deliver “enriched” information, such as Hunter.io.
You need to check, double check, and triple check your information to ensure it’s accurate, as not doing so could cost a lot of potential revenue in missed sales.
After you make sure the email is valid, you want to gather any other information you can find, such as their phone number, LinkedIn URL, and anything that might help you get an idea of who this person is, and how to get in touch with them.
Remember, the point of this step is to get a clear picture of who you are trying to sell to, that way you can customize your sales process for each lead, and have the highest chance of closing the sale.
Once you have this information, you’ll finally have a high-quality list of leads that your sales team can start working on.
At this point, you’re almost ready to start reaching out to your leads and making sales.
Just following these steps puts you miles ahead of your competition, and puts you in the driver’s seat of success for your business, but you’re not done yet.
Now that you have all this information, you have to come up with a system to store it and organize it.
You also need to know where your leads are currently at in the sales process.
The last thing you want is an email from a lead asking why you haven’t followed up (because you lost their information).
Now that you’ve got complete profiles for your prospects, you need a place to store this information so you can easily control, measure, and monitor it during the sales process.
The point of this step is to find a process and system that works for you so you can keep track of all of your leads and their information, in an organized and accessible way.
Everything from their basic information to the date you made initial contact with them should be accounted for and organized within your system.
It’s best to keep this simple, so keeping all your information in an Excel or Google spreadsheet is usually a good idea.
The next progression would be to get your prospects into a System of Record, more commonly known as a CRM or Customer Relationship Management platform. This allows you to keep track of the stages in a prospect’s journey.
When you made contact, whether or not they responded (negatively or positively), and if they are ready to be reached out to.
Keeping track of all of this information is the only way to make the whole sales process battle-ready, and staying up-to-date with your leads is the only way to build solid relationships with them.
Once you decide on a system or process that works for you, you’re going to have to figure out how to assign certain leads to certain reps.
For organizations running outbound for several reps, territory management and overlap become very important.
Territory Management is defining specific groups of prospects, based on any number of different factors, and assigning them to a specific sales rep.
Only 36% of companies use territory management in an effective way (64% of companies are either somewhat effective or completely ineffective).
Without proper territory management, two sales reps might find themselves trying to sell to the same prospect.
Proper database management plays a big role here in establishing the owner of each prospect.
Depending on how many potential leads are in your market and how many sales reps you have, you’re going to have to do the math to figure out how many leads each sales rep is going to be assigned to each month. This varies from company to company and sales rep to sales rep.
Figuring out this number early is a great way to see if you need to hire more sales reps, or start giving certain reps more work than others.
The easiest way to figure out this number is to work backwards, starting with your addressable market and lead list size.
Then, determine how many prospects one rep can handle per month.
Let’s say you have a potential of 10,000 leads per month, and you know each rep can handle 2,000 leads, this means you’ll need 5 reps working for you so that you don’t miss out on any potential sales.
How you separate these leads is typically up to preference (or based on your business needs), but a few ways you could categorize them; products they sell, industries they work in, or services they offer.
Once upon a time, sales reps were mostly confined to working with leads based on geographic location. The territory.
Thanks to the advent of the internet, the ability to easily connect and sell to people all over the world is now commonplace, so most businesses are niching down, even separating leads based on trends such as purchase history or referral sources.
Just being aware of your territory management and following our tips puts you miles ahead of the game (as tends to be the case with all of our tips), but you don’t want to stop there.
You’ll also want to keep track of your progress, and make changes where necessary.
How well are your sales reps are doing, how many leads are you missing out on each month.
These are the type of questions you’re going to need to ask yourself to make sure you stay on top of your game, and can adapt to ensure the success of your business.
If this process is done perfectly, you’ll always know who’s in line to be reached, who’s engaged in the campaign and replied to your outreach, who’s responded positively,whether or not they’ve gotten on the calendar or agreed to meet, and what the next steps they need to take are in order to become a paying customer.
What this means for you is that every part of your sales process works together like a well-oiled machine.
Everybody knows who they need to reach out to, how to go about reaching out to them, and where to keep track of the whole process so that everybody is on the same page.
If you’ve been following the CLOSER System, you should now have:
Now that you have that information, it’s time for you to adopt the proper mindset required for outbound sales.
You need to know which platforms to use for your outreach, how to utilize every department in your business to achieve optimal results, and how you’re going to grow and scale in the long-term.
The light begins to creep in and you can almost read the numbers on the currency. You’re nearly out of the cave but it’s been so long since you’ve seen sunlight, you have to squint.