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Starving for Leads By Kendra Lee

sales expert Kendra LeeEd emailed me this week in lead generation desperation. His company is starving for leads and new clients. While they’ve been in business for five years, they haven’t built a significant database they can rely on for prospecting. Funds are tight and they need leads now, but he isn’t sure where to start to generate a pipeline of high quality leads.

This dilemma is one I hear frequently from our clients and friends. You get so busy closing business and servicing your customers that sales prospecting procrastination strikes. Somehow you forget to prospect. There’s always something else to do – until the pipeline dries up and panic strikes.

So what do you do if your pipeline is a little thin?

Consider how dry your pipeline is and then choose one of these three ways to generate leads:

1. Nurturing campaigns where you nurture your prospects through multiple activities, like email, events and social media until they are ready to engage. Marketing teams most typically run these campaigns.

2. Lead generation campaigns where you use short bursts of campaigns with compelling offers like articles and videos combined with email and warm calling to uncover potential prospects. Sales people, a marketing coordinator, or a business owner will often run these types of campaigns.

3. Prospecting where you use cold calling and prospecting emails to schedule appointments with potential prospects. This is the sales person’s domain.

Nurturing campaigns are ideal when your pipeline is healthy and you want to keep it that way. These types of campaigns can take three, six, twelve months or longer to develop leads, depending on how you set them up. This process educates prospects, guiding them from recognizing a business issue your solutions can solve through fully understanding it and demanding to address it.

When nurtured prospects reach you, they are very qualified and ready to work with you. The sales cycle is generally shorter with nurtured prospects because they are so educated and qualified. But you have to be sure you already have leads in your pipeline or you could starve while you’re doing the nurturing!
Many of the clients that come to us are already starving for leads like Ed, so they aren’t able to take advantage of nurturing campaigns just yet.

Lead generation campaigns are great when your pipeline has some opportunities but isn’t as healthy as you’d like to see it. You can use short email or direct mail campaigns or an event over a 6 – 8 week campaign. Your objective is to uncover prospects who are interested in addressing business issues your solutions can solve, but haven’t quite figured out how to do it yet. You catch them as they’re considering the business issue and evaluating if they want to solve it. Your sales people jump in and educate prospects about the issue as part of the sales process.

Our clients love lead generation campaigns because they’re quick to execute. The pipeline fills up with prospects much faster than a nurturing campaign so it feels satisfying if you’re starving for leads.

However, you must have enough leads to sustain you through the 6 – 8 weeks your lead generation campaign is running.

When your pipeline is like Ed’s with nothing in it, you don’t want to rely on long–term nurturing or short–term lead generation campaigns to fill it. Ed’s a business owner and he can’t wait weeks or months for leads.

The problem is now. What Ed needs is a prospecting strategy to ferret out prospects who are interested today, those who need help quickly.

With prospecting, you’re spending time every day to uncover prospects. You use prospecting activities that will put you in touch with groups of prospects immediately. You’re still diligent about who you choose to target, but you aren’t going to use drawn out campaigns to approach prospects or wait for them to respond.

To choose the best strategy for you to get more customers, consider the health of your pipeline. If you’re starving for leads like Ed, you can’t wait. Prospecting is your answer!
Kendra Lee is author of “Selling Against the Goal” and president of KLA Group. Ms. Lee is a frequent speaker at national sales meetings and association events. To find out more about the author, as well as subscribe to her newsletter visit www.klagroup.com or call +1 303.773.1285.