21st May, 2020

How to generate B2B leads after the lockdown

In the post-lockdown environment, full of uncertainty, one thing is certain: the ability to generate leads, and convert them, is tantamount to success.

The world has changed completely due to COVID-19, and the new economy we are now left with.

As a result, it’s quite likely that your existing business plan and your marketing and sales strategies have been turned completely upside down. It could be a sad and stark reality that many of your key clients are no longer trading or have stopped spending due to the pain their business has faced in the last few weeks.

So if you plan on being in business for the long haul, now’s the time to start planning a new sales machine.

Plan for the new normal in the business-to-business space

This means you’ll need to revisit your plans and start building a new pipeline of opportunities.

But how do you create those all-important leads in a crowded and ever more competitive B2B market, when increasingly additional expenditure is difficult?

In addition, you might be faced with tackling this without a marketing department/marketing resource. You may have little to no budget set aside for these activities. It’s quite likely that you’re struggling to know where to even begin.

Jump the hurdles

These hurdles can be overcome. Through implementing a few basic steps, you can create some new and good B2B leads.

Below, I’ll give you some advice which will help you generate B2B leads, whatever business you’re in.

Start with a solid foundation. Understand your ‘new’ target audience.

It’s likely, but not necessarily true in all cases, that COVID-19 has made you change who your target market is. In any case, with drastically different trading conditions ahead of us, every business owner or salesperson should look at it again. When doing so, the key word to remember here is ‘target’. Don’t try to be all things to all people; put simply, it doesn’t really work.

Less is more

Having a long list of targets decreases your chances of being successful. For many this means you’ll need to suppress your FOMO behaviour!

Trying to provide a service or expertise to all sectors is not credible. It creates confusion for those researching your company website or social media presence.

Be crystal clear on the industry sectors and organisations you want to talk to. Then know the job functions in these organisations and subsequently, the people you want to talk to.

Have a clear message

The simplest way of understanding this, is that you need to understand how what you do helps people. For example, your product or service might solve a problem they have, it may help drive their business growth or it might help mitigate their risks. If you don’t know what this is, then you can’t articulate it.

Update your online marketing channels

This means you have to look again at your website/social media presence. If you have a website but no social media pages, get online and create them, now — like, right now. They’re free and people look at them, particularly LinkedIn in the B2B space.

After all, if you need a new service or product, what do you do? Yes that’s right, you Google it.

Therefore, it’s essential your online presence reflects what you do.

Update your digital platforms to better appeal to your revised target audience. If you can, include some client quotes and testimonials on your website/social media pages too. This article from a few years back by Tim Nicholas provides some great tips on how to do this well.

Update your personal LinkedIn profile

I got a call this week, an incoming lead. They got my number off my website, but they’d also had a good look at my LinkedIn profile. This is the normal way people research each other in business these days.

Your personal brand is massively important. Make sure you have a good and professional personal profile on LinkedIn. If you need help on how to do this, this short article gives you the simple points you need.

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Build a business development or sales plan

It most likely won’t work for you if you sit there passively waiting for the phone to ring, or for the emails to come flooding in.

You’ll need to be brave and put in place a plan to start building new contacts. Without a plan, you will most likely put it off till tomorrow. In other words, you’ll avoid it.

Which brings me to the first part of the plan:

1. Book in time for your sales activities

Dedicate a time you will stick to. Hold yourself accountable and don’t ever move it. One of the most successful rainmakers I ever worked with had a regular Tuesday 10-10:30am sales focus, re-occurring appointment in their diary. This appointment never moved and so the momentum was never lost.

2. Be realistic with yourself

One or two calls when you talk to someone and learn about them is a good use of time. 20 calls in 30 minutes hasn’t really achieved anything. One well-crafted email that’s personalised to your target’s business is worth investing time in.

Don’t send out generic cut and paste intro emails. You don’t respond to the ones you receive, so don’t think your customers will have a different response. There’s a lot of material on how to make that initial approach, you may find this article I wrote for The Pulse back in 2016 helpful.

3. Network with a twist

It is unlikely that big networking events will suddenly spring up anytime soon. This means you will need to employ ‘social networking’ or ‘social-selling’. In short, you can network online. Join industry groups. Share articles of interest, not just yours or your own company’s. Participate in online group discussions in a meaningful and respectful way.

4. Track your progress

Simple lists on an excel spreadsheet can work well for a small business, certainly initially. As you grow or if you’re a more complex organisation, it pays to have a CRM system. You shouldn’t over-capitalise or get an over complicated system, but one that’s right for you. This excellent article by Kellie Byrnes gives you some tips on how to pick one. The key here, however you track it, is to record what you’ve done, where it has got you and most importantly what the next steps are.

Hopefully the above gives you some useful hints and tips to create and generate your own leads on shoestring. Like many things, it comes down to being disciplined, not giving up, and working hard at it.