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5 Steps To Find Leads For Your Business

5 Steps To Find Leads For Your Business

Every book on sales management will teach you what is called the ‘sales funnel’. This is basically the list of stages a prospect is made to go through before they trust your business and show interest in your product or service. A typical sales funnel would broadly involve Lead generation → Introducing your business to the prospect → Make your prospect interested in your product → Convert the prospect into a customer. Of course, this is pretty simplified, but you should get the drift.

The problem a number of marketing managers grapple with is not the sales cycle – which is handled by the sales team – but in getting started on lead generation. How does one go about finding new leads for your business? Here is a step-by-step process to finding leads for your business.

Step 1 : Decide What Pain Your Business Solves

A lot of sales managers make the mistake of confusing pain point with product utility. If your business sells office furniture, the pain point you are trying to solve is not providing a good sitting equipment for office goers. Instead, you need to go deeper into the reasons why your past customers have purchased from you instead of the other shop at the other end of the street.

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Do you offer customized cushioning for customers in the central business district? Are your prices lower? Do you offer free maintenance? You might in fact be offering all these points above – but what was the point that sealed the deal for your past customers? Identify these points – these are the real pain-points that your previous customers were facing. It is this that you must solve.

Step 2 : Figure Out Where Prospects Who Face The Pain Seek Solution

So an IT company in the CBD is looking to purchase new desks for their workers. Who in the company is given the responsibility for making the purchase? What is the first thing they do to get started? Do they search on Google? Is there a trade magazine they look to for contacts? Do they outsource the job to a third party agency? The answer to these questions will tell you who to target – the purchasing manager, their boss, or the agency. If it is an agency, go through the above steps again to identify who in the agency you should be reaching out to.

Step 3 : Prepare A List Of Marketing Channels

Just because the target prospect uses a trade magazine to find furniture suppliers does not mean that it is the only channel to reach out to them. Popular marketing channels are often expensive to get through as well. So, if a particular trade magazine is the most popular advertising platform among furniture suppliers in your area, that is also the most expensive. It is, then, a good idea to prepare a list of other marketing channels. To do this, study the target prospect and map out their behavior.

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A purchasing manager at an IT firm is also likely to be talking to computer suppliers in your neighborhood. Would a cross-promotion deal with the popular computer suppliers work? Such purchasing managers are also likely to attend local industry meetups, so would attending such meetups yourself help? Understanding the behavioral patterns of your prospect is likely to give you a number of marketing channels to target.

Step 4 : Calculate Cost Benefit Analysis

Now that you have a list of marketing channels, you will need to know the return on investment in each of them. Do not forget to put a cost to the time spent as well. For instance, attending an industry meetup would cost you two hours – that’s two hours that could have been spent on any other marketing activity. Also, remember to take into account the recurrent income, if any.

In the case of a partnership with a local computer supplier, you may often be required to share a percent of your income with the supplier as commission. That’s potentially lost income, but you can well make up for this through repeat business that such a supplier would provide. Keeping all these different factors in mind, determine the cost of customer acquisition from these different marketing channels.

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Step 5 : Prioritize The Channels

Now that you have the marketing channels sorted by customer acquisition cost, do not get started immediately. Like your Economics professor always said, money in hand today is more valuable than money you may get tomorrow. Some channels are capable of bringing immediate business – a Google Adwords campaign for instance. Others, while seemingly profitable, may not yield immediate returns.

Industry meetups are a good example for such a marketing channel. So how do you tackle this? Pick the top 20% of your marketing channels sorted in increasing order of acquisition cost. Once you have them, sort them in descending order of immediacy of prospect acquisition.

There you have it – a list of strategies to acquire prospects along with the order in which you should deploy these strategies.

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Featured photo credit: http://www.corecapitalgroupdc.com/convert-online-real-estate-leads/ via corecapitalgroupdc.com

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Anand Srinivasan

Marketing Consultant

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

How to Mind Map to Visualize Your Thoughts (With Mind Map Examples)

How to Mind Map to Visualize Your Thoughts (With Mind Map Examples)

Traditionally, when you have a lot of ideas in your mind, you would create a text document, or take a sheet of paper and start writing in a linear fashion like this:

  • Intro to Visual Facilitation
    • Problem, Consequences, Solution, Benefits, Examples, Call to action
  • Structure
    • Why, What, How to, What If
  • Do It Myself?
    • Audio, Images, time-consuming, less expensive
  • Specialize Offering?
    • Built to Sell (Standard Product Offering), Options (Solving problems, Online calls, Dev projects)

This type of document quickly becomes overwhelming. It obviously lacks in clarity. It also makes it hard for you to get a full picture at a glance and see what is missing.

You always have too much information to look at, and most often you only get a partial view of the information. It’s hard to zoom out, figuratively, and to see the whole hierarchy and how everything is connected.

To see a fuller picture, create a mind map.

What Is a Mind Map?

A mind map is a simple hierarchical radial diagram. In other words, you organize your thoughts around a central idea. This technique is especially useful whenever you need to “dump your brain”, or develop an idea, a project (for example, a new product or service), a problem, a solution, etc. By capturing what you have in your head, you make space for other thoughts.

In this article, we are focusing on the basics: mind mapping using pen and paper.

The objective of a mind map is to clearly visualize all your thoughts and ideas before your eyes. Don’t complicate a mind map with too many colors or distractions. Use different colors only when they serve a purpose. Always keep a mind map simple and easy to follow.

    Image Credit: English Central

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    By following the three next steps below, you will be able to create such mind maps easily and quickly.

    3 Simple Steps to Create a Mind Map

    The three steps are:

    1. Set a central topic
    2. Add branches of related ideas
    3. Add sub-branches for more relevant ideas

    Let’s take a look at an example Verbal To Visual illustrates on the benefits of mind mapping.[1]

    Step 1 : Set a Central Topic

    Take a blank sheet of paper, write down the topic you’ve been thinking about: a problem, a decision to make, an idea to develop, or a project to clarify.

    Word it in a clear and concise manner.

      What is the first idea that comes to mind when you think of the subject for your mind map? Draw a line (straight or curved) from the central topic, and write down that idea.

        Step 3 : Add Sub-Branches for More Relevant Ideas

        Then, what does that idea make you think of? What is related to it? List it out next to it in the same way, using your pen.

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          You can always add more to it later, but that’s good for now.

          In our example, we could detail the sub-branch “Benefits” by listing those benefits in sub-branches of the branch “Benefits”. Unfortunately, we already reached the side of the sheet, so we’re out of space to do so. You could always draw a line to a white space on the page and list them there, but it’s awkward.

          Since we created this mind map on a regular letter-format sheet of paper, the quantity of information that fits in there is very limited. That is one of the main reasons why I recommend that you use software rather than pen and paper for most of the mind mapping that you do.

          Repeat Step 2 and Step 3

          Repeat steps 2 and 3 as many times as you need to flush out all of your ideas around the topic that you chose.

            I added first-level (main) branches around the central topic mostly in a clockwise fashion, from top-right to top-left. That is how, by convention, a mind map is read.

            In the next section, we are covering the three strategies to building your maps.  

            Mind Map Examples to Illustrate Mind Mapping

            You can go about creating a mind map in various ways:

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            • Branch by Branch: Adding whole branches (with all of their sub-branches), one by one.
            • Level by Level: Adding elements to the map, one level at a time. That means that firstly, you add elements around the central topic (main branches). Then, you add sub-branches to those main branches. And so on.
            • Free-Flow: Adding elements to your mind map as they come to you, in no particular order.

            Branch by Branch

            Start with the central topic, add a first branch. Focus on that branch and detail it as much as you can by adding all the sub-branches that you can think of.

              Then develop ideas branch by branch.

                A branch after another, and the mind map is complete.

                  Level by Level

                  In this “Level by Level” strategy, you first add all the elements that you can think of around the central topic, one level deep only. So here you add elements on level 1:

                    Then, go over each branch and add the immediate sub-branches (one level only). This is level 2:

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                      Idem for the next level. This is level 3. You can have as many levels as you want in a mind map. In our example, we only have 3 levels. Now the map is complete:

                        Free-Flow

                        Basically, a free flow strategy of mind mapping is to add main branches and sub-topics freely. No rules to restrict how ideas should flow in the mind map. The only thing to pay attention to is that you need to be careful about the level of the ideas you’re adding to the mind map — is it a main topic, or is it a subtopic?

                          I recommend using a combination of the “Branch by Branch” and the “Free-Flow” strategies.

                          What I normally do is I add one branch at a time, and later on review the mind map and add elements in various places to finish it. I also sometimes build level 1 (the main branches) first, then use a “Branch by Branch” approach, and later finish the map in a “Free-Flow” manner.

                          Try each strategy and combinations of strategies, and see what works best for you.

                          The Bottom Line

                          When you’re feeling stuck or when you’re just starting to think about a particular idea or project, take out a paper and start to brain dump your ideas and create a mind map. Mind mapping has the magic to clear your head and have your thoughts organized.

                          If you can’t always have access to a paper and pen, don’t worry! Creating a mind map with software is very effective and you get none of the drawbacks of pen and paper. You can also apply the above steps and strategies just the same when using a mind mapping tool on the phone and computer.

                          More Tools to Help You Organize Thoughts

                          Featured photo credit: Alvaro Reyes via unsplash.com

                          Reference

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