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Turning leads into buyers

Let's jump into the five foundational concepts that will turbo-charge your lead generation.

Brad Lloyd, Staff Staff -- Casual Living, May 1, 2010

Let's jump into the five foundational concepts that will turbo-charge your lead generation.

1. Think like a marketer

This is a new way of thinking for many entrepreneurs. Most of us started out thinking we needed to learn how to become salespeople. However, the salesperson finds decent success up until when there are lean months and the dreaded lack of shoppers.

Sales-oriented entrepreneurs are hunters, not harvesters. They live conquest to conquest. They are successful up to a certain extent, but their underlying thinking does not reflect the belief that today's leads are tomorrow's customers. Consequently, they don't assign great value to leads; they don't build a database for future harvesting. They are hunters, pure and simple. And unless they are exceptional hunters, they will struggle at times. More important, even if they are exceptionally effective hunters, their business will never reach its full potential.

Like dating, winning customers requires a long-term, sustained effort. Marketers get this. Sales folks say they get it, but their actions suggest otherwise.

Actually, the shift to become a marketer happens in two steps: First, you must recognize you are a marketer, not a widget maker. Next, you must recognize you are a marketer, not of widgets, but of information about the problems solved by your widgets.

Read that again. And again. And again. When you are a marketer of information about problems solved by your widgets, you attract your prospects. You get in their head and you identify yourself or your company as a resource to help your prospects get what they want.

It's the company with the better marketing that wins. To summarize the foundation concept of thinking like a marketer, you need to convert from an outbound hunter to an inbound harvester.

2. Package your expertise

Lead gen becomes much easier when your prospects clearly perceive your expertise. As discussed earlier, your prospects should be able to visit your Web site and know what you are all about in seven seconds or less. They should also be able to come away with the sense that you are the expert, or at least an expert, in your field.

Expertise focuses on the information you're going to give them that solves their problems, eases their pains and proves beyond doubt you're the expert who can and will be able to help them.

The key is to give your prospect confidence in her buying decision. The opportunity to do this lies in your creation of Lead Gen Magnets. You are not talking about the virtues and features of your product. You are building credibility by showing: a) You know what's going on in your prospect's head; and b) You know what she needs to know to make a wise decision. Remember to avoid the temptation to talk directly about your product while packaging your expertise.

3. Understand the future value of your leads

This goes back to the proverbial principle of marketing that says, "People buy when they're ready to buy, not when you're ready to sell." When you understand that, you realize acquiring new customers is all about timing. And just because a lead is not ready to buy from you today does not mean that person will not buy from you in the future.

Today's leads are tomorrow's (or next week's or next month's) buyers.

4. Get your database in gear

Given that leads convert to customers over time, it only makes sense that we need a place to store all the leads. If you don't have a database, you probably don't have a follow up program either.

When that happens, you usually end up with that nagging voice in the back of your mind that keeps telling you, "Why should you do more lead generation? You haven't done squat with the majority of the leads you generated from your last marketing push." That evil voice must be silenced if you want to grow your business. The way to silence it is to get your database in gear and get your follow up program started.

The value of your business will slip through the cracks left and right until you put a prospect database in place.

A good database will enable you to store all the important information about your prospects. The goal is to organize your prospect information in a way that enables you to slice and dice your list so you can send appropriate communications to these people.

5. Give value to get value

This one is straightforward. You need to provide value in your marketing.

When you give your prospects the valuable information they want, what do you get? You get valuable information in return. What's the value you get? Not only do you get the prospect's contact information, you also find out what interests them. And most important, you get their permission to communicate over time.

These three things (contact information, interest and permission) are golden to you as a marketer. You should be willing to give valuable time, information and resources to entice your prospects to provide you with this information.

One side note about giving value to get value: It's an equation. You have to give high value to get high value. You can't cheat the math.

Remember this: The more you ask for, the more you have to give. The best marketers give more value than they ask for in return ... and they start by asking for a small amount of information, gradually requesting more information as they provide the prospect more value.

When you base all of your lead generation techniques on these five foundational concepts, your results will increase dramatically.

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