I can’t tell you how many times I hear “everything would be better if I just had more sales” from business owners. Business is slower than they would like, and it brings them to the lead generation side of things.

If you want to narrow down the problem in your lead generation process, it is much easier to work on improving it to ultimately get more sales overall. So here are the top five lead generation issues that a small business owner could face and some tips on how to overcome them.

1. You don’t have enough leads to sell to.

You may be lacking leads altogether or your lead generation is erratic and you don’t have a consistent lead stream you can count on. When I ask most business owners what their main issue is, this is the default answer. There aren’t enough leads. This could be true, and if that is the case you would want to improve your search engine optimization (SEO), digital marketing, offline advertising and on-page conversion work.

2. You don’t have a system to organize and manage your leads. 

As a result, you don’t consistently follow up with leads in a timely way and many of your sales opportunities slip between the cracks. For this issue, you want to have a good hard look at where your leads are going in your funnel.

Is there even a funnel? Is there a follow-up process? If so, how soon do you reach out to potential clients? More leads into your funnel won’t solve this issue if you don’t have a good system to process the leads once they come in.

3. You don’t have a structured lead scoring system. 

You waste your sales efforts by squandering your best sales resources on variable leads rather than being able to quickly and easily sort your lead pool to separate out your highest-quality leads for follow-up first.

This issue is one that can cost you a lot of money over time. Some businesses will spend a significant portion of their marketing spend on pay-per-click (PPC) advertising for instance, with no real idea of how good or bad the leads that are generated are.

4. You don’t systematically track your lead generation efforts. 

Without hard data, you have no way of determining which of your lead-generation tactics are producing and which aren’t. Raw intuition or anecdotal observations are not enough. When someone tells me that they need more leads, I often follow up by asking a few questions.

What are you spending to get each lead? How much are you spending on customer acquisition? And what have you done to improve both of those key performance indicators (KPI’s)? If you can’t answer those questions, this might be an area to focus on. 

5. Your marketing is too reliant on you, and as such you start and stop it as other demands in the business pull you away.

As a result, you regularly go through cycles of feast or famine. You may alternate between focusing on producing your product or service offering with no time to market, and likely no real capacity to take on more work, followed by periods of panic where you see your funnel running low and you scramble to start up your marketing again to quickly bring in more business.

Not only does this constant cycling back and forth between the two exhaust you, but you never seem to build enough momentum to break out of this trap. Acknowledging the cycle is half the battle here. Hiring someone in-house or hiring a firm to do your marketing is almost always a better idea than trying to do it yourself while running your business.

For some of you, you may struggle with a few of these issues. Start by picking the one pain point that the lack of a concrete solution costs your business the most and focus on that one first. 

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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