For jackpot-winning businesses in hot sectors, high-quality leads just flow in naturally. However, for the majority of organizations, lead generation is a little more complicated than simply whispering you’re open for business.
In today’s digital age, there is a lot of emphasis on generating leads through blogs, emails, social media, Google AdWords, etc. All well and good, but you should also take a step back and focus on the most valuable lead generation weapon of them all – your networks.
These five surprising sources of high-quality leads will help supercharge your integrated lead generation strategy.
1. Re-evaluate last year’s lost pitches.
Unfortunately, rejection is a normal part of the sales process. Naturally, given the blood, sweat and tears that go into a pitch, losing out to a competitor is a bitter pill to swallow.
But don’t throw in the towel just yet. You likely spent days, weeks, or even months thoroughly researching the prospect in question and crafting a pitch that perfectly suits their needs. You’ve gotten to know them and, more crucially, they come to know you. Don’t waste this vital relationship.
So much can happen in a year. Business objectives change, solutions under-deliver, and new decision makers are brought on board and want something well, new. The bottom line: The pitches you lost last year could be this year’s most promising leads.
2. Tap into your social networks.
To put it simply, if your organization isn’t already using social media for lead generation purposes, you’re missing out. According to one recent report, revenue increased for 24% of businesses when they utilized social media for lead generation (source).
However, as any seasoned marketer can tell you that while rewarding, social media lead generation isn’t an exact science. High-quality leads won’t always find their way to you. Sometimes, you need to find them yourself.
For many, the solution here is to implement social listening, or the process of listening to the online conversations of your customers and potential buyers. This practice allows your organization to track conversations relevant to your business or industry. When executed effectively, you can uncover new, prospects that your team can then nurture into leads through meaningful conversations and interactions.
3. Contact people you used to work with.
This refers to any ex-colleagues from both your current and past places of employment, but can also include any individuals from your clientele list that may have moved on to other positions.
These people all know how you work, what you’re capable of and – as long as you parted on good terms – can act as your champion. They’ll recognize your case studies and content, respond to your emails and are more likely than the standard prospect to demonstrate interest in what you have to offer.
4. Utilize personal networks.
While this strategy may seem a little out of the ordinary, the truth is, your personal networks are a prime source of high-quality leads.
Family & friends: Feel a bit skeptical? We get it, leveraging your friends and family for business purposes is unnatural to many – but hear us out!
If like you, your friends and family members are part of the corporate world, they’re probably pretty well-connected within their respective industries. In other words, they know a lot of people – people who could potentially be in the market for a solution like the one your company offers!
Next time you’re catching up with a pal, or enjoying Sunday dinner with the family, consider asking if they can think of anyone worth introducing. Not quite ready to be so bold? Instead, encourage them to help share your organization’s content through their personal social media profiles.
This strategy can expand the reach of your content and potentially put your brand in front of a new, relevant audience.
Old classmates: Reconnect with old classmates online or within alumni groups. Who knows, maybe they’re in the market for a new product or service.
Parenting circles: Next time you drop off or collect your kids from school, get your business cards out and chat with some fellow parents. A lot of networking-savvy mothers and fathers make business connections while fulfilling their parental duties. Try it out.
5. Form strategic partnerships
Another outside-the-box strategy to try is to form strategic partnerships with individuals from other, non-competing organizations.
Unsurprisingly, your organization’s target audience is probably pretty similar to a lot of other B2B organizations. As such, there are a ton of other marketers in search of the same types of leads as you. Instead of continuing your efforts individually, consider joining forces to tackle your objectives.
While counterintuitive at first, strategic alliances like this can prove to be immensely beneficial to your organization in a variety of different ways. For one, you’ll be able to introduce each other to new prospects. Additionally, if you’ve partnered with an organization as renowned as yours, you’ll both be able to leverage each other’s credibility to help move a lead along in the funnel. It’s a win-win.
The Bottom Line
Lead generation is a vital component to B2B marketing success. If your current strategies aren’t panning out as well as you hoped for, consider a more unconventional approach. High-quality leads could be hiding right under your nose. A little creative thinking and an open mind are your keys to finding them.
Heather Baker is the CEO and founder of TopLine Comms, an integrated digital marketing agency with offices in Cape Town and London. She’s a real business brain – and her networking skills are pretty good too.