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Qualify Leads for Increased Sales Success

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For many SmallCos, the hardest part of launching their innovations to the world is not product development—it’s sales!  A healthy, constant supply of qualified leads is the lifeblood for any startup. There are far too many SmallCos with excellent solutions that ultimately fail because they didn’t connect with the right decision maker, at the right time.

There are plenty of obvious avenues to generate leads. Crack open any book about sales to learn the traditional methods. The problem isn’t getting leads, it’s meeting qualified leads—prospects who actually have something to gain from your solution, have resources (budget) to spend, and are "ready" to consume your product or service.

It's important to understand that it is just as important to manage your prospecting list just like you manage your entire deal funnel.  Realize that an individual who is an advocate for your company but doesn't have decision making authority today, may get promoted and call you back in 6 months to engage.  For a sale to occur, a solution must meet a problem and the person who wants to solve that problem must have the influence and resources to bring the solution to the table.  This formula will help you get the most from your marketing and sales efforts.

We’ve written this short post to “get your juices flowing” and give you some new ideas to accelerate your SmallCo’s sales.

The Basics

Let’s get the simple, traditional methods out of the way.  Yes, you can absolutely meet qualified leads at networking events, trade shows, and the old-fashioned way, cold calls.  As you spend your time on these sales channels, just make sure you do it the right way.

Do your homework!  Before you call someone or attend an event, learn more about your audience.  Check for news articles about their company, look what the company’s leaders are posting on Twitter and LinkedIn… use these clues to connect your product to the company’s trends and priorities.  This will help you stand out from the dozens of other vendors trying to sell their solutions.

Content Marketing

It works! You’re reading right now, aren’t you? ;-) But really—content marketing is a way to give value and establish credibility with your prospects before they ever even speak to you.

Content marketing also enables your leads to self-qualify.  If you’re writing about relevant problems your potential customers are facing, readers are likely interested in learning more about your solution.  An email address submitted to your website is possibly worth more than your haul of 50 business cards from the latest networking event.

“Free” Stuff

Depending on your SmallCo’s solution, there’s probably a way to allow prospects to “try before they buy”.  Many SaaS/PaaS solutions score many of their subscribers (and even enterprise customers) from Open Source versions, and time boxed Proof of Concept (POC) trials.  Give away just enough to get them interested, then go for the sale when they already have a positive impression of what you have to offer.

Pro-Tip! Be sure to reach out on a regular basis once someone has registered or downloaded your product.  Offer them assistance in set-up and getting the most out of your product. You are building a relationship, and showing you care about their success.

Can you think of a more qualified lead than someone already using your product?

Advisors and Investors

Your SmallCo probably has a team of advisors and investors helping to drive your business forward.  These folks likely have substantial networks themselves. Keep them actively engaged and they will be more likely to get your solution in front of qualified leads.

Don’t forget to seek this proactively, either. Perhaps when you release an exciting new product or feature, ask your advisors and investors if any of their connections might want to learn more.

The “Backdoor” - Peers and Agencies

This advanced channel is worth its weight in gold.  Some SmallCos make the mistake of only networking with potential BigCo customers.  Unfortunately for them, they’re missing out on the extended connections that can come from other SmallCos, “MediumCos”, and agencies.

Maintain an active network of connections with your peers and relevant agencies.  Contacts will often be easier to meet, and once you have a strong rapport, the SmallCo community can be pretty generous about sharing their network with you.  And you can promote the overall ecosystem by helping them out too!

Conclusion

Cast a wide net, but focus your energy…  Categorize your prospects into buckets that you can manage effectively.  

Most of your contacts will be in the "Inform & Nurture" bucket.  Everyone should get a copy of your product newsletter, encourage them to follow your company on social media, and monitor for signs of engagement.  

"Advocates" are your cheerleaders that want to see your product succeed in the market.  They may not yet have the ability to purchase, but make great sounding boards about potential features, and beta testers of pending releases.  Build these folks up and they will be the ones who help overcome the naysayers inside the companies you are selling in to, and purchasers of your product in the future.

"Decision Makers", many times may not be the the top CXO of your business vertical, but a sub-CXO or Digital Transformation leader.  Focus your time and efforts on the right prospect, and you can get to the initial "Yes".

If you’re crafty, you can build an “engine” where qualified leads come right to you from your website or introductions from your network. You need to spend your time perfecting your solution and getting it in front of leads who actually want it… not showing off your demo again to a company with no apparent use for your solution.

Sell smart! Feel free to get in touch with us here at BigCo. SmallCo. if you’d like more specific sales help tailored to your SmallCo.

Thomas Martin