While the transition from initial product development to sales sounds easy enough, the shift is actually one of the biggest challenges for small business owners and stakeholders. After months of long, hard work developing your product, the actual launch feels like the roadmap to success. In fact, the race has just begun. You finally have something to offer, so now it’s time to come up with a marketing strategy. Make it rain.
But, you have no idea how to make a light drizzle, let alone a rainstorm. You need to find people who want your product and are willing to pay for it. Beyond friends and family, how do you find potential customers interested in what you offer? You need leads and there are tools that can help you find them.
Lead generation (or lead gen, as many entrepreneurs call it) is the process of locating prospects that might be interested in your product or great products (if you have many) so that you can reach out, introduce your good product and start to get people interested. It helps you develop pricing, start selling, which you need to create revenues, keep the lights on, and, ultimately, grow.
Of course, lead-gen is the start of the selling process. The sales cycle can be quite involved, including lead nurturing and conversion, but let’s focus on lead-gen for now.
It all starts with understanding your target customer and their needs. Who actually needs the product you offer? What are their market needs? Who is experiencing the problem your product solves? Is this a solution for large corporations, medium-sized companies, or small, emerging businesses? Is there the possibility to acquire venture capital or other forms of funding to propel the product even further?
Or perhaps it appeals to individuals, to families, to retired homeowners or bicycle commuters or Parkour-practicing pet owners. To be successful, start with one target. You can expand with other campaigns to broaden your revenue streams down the road, but for now, focus on one.
Who’s the decision-maker for this solution within the organization. If you are offering accounting software, for example, you might want to target the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and the financial team. For office cleaning products, you’d want to reach office managers, and if it’s an employee training program, you’d target the HR team. Understanding your product market fit is just as important as selling the product itself.
Traditionally, the sales team would seek out lists from organizations that reach the target audience -- often magazines or trade organizations. A list of CFO Magazine readers, for example, was the best way to reach leads who worked in finance. The rise of social media has changed this, providing new ways to interact with a target audience. Today, businesses need a better way to sell than simply making cold calls downs on a static list. You need dynamic solutions that find qualified leads and provide information that helps your product management efforts.
Fortunately, lead-gen has become automated and highly targeted. Drawing on lists, but also social information and data, lead-gen can provide a more detailed context to help you sell. Beyond finding CFOs who might want your product, look for a solution that helps you understand the preferences of each lead. What are the CFO’s or co-founder's preferred social media channels? Is she active on LinkedIn? How long has she been the CFO? Does she belong to a professional organization? Is she quoted in business news articles?
To take advantage of these new techniques, look for Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions that can generate leads, provide rich information on each customer, and help you manage the experience throughout the entire customer lifecycle. While some stand-alone lead-gen applications can help, the integrated CRM approach will help you not only generate leads but convert them to loyal customers that can fuel your growth for years to come.
There are many CRM solutions to choose from. The market leaders are effective for large, enterprise customers but are costly and can be overkill for small, emerging businesses. Seek out a CRM solution designed for start-ups and high-growth companies. You want a solution that will generate leads, help you start selling, and successfully move from pure product development to sales that will allow your company to survive and thrive — without the high cost or high-pressure upsell from the CRM provider.
Tapdesk is a CRM platform designed for companies as small as one solopreneur and is extremely effective for businesses with up to 250 users. It’s a solution designed to help startups get started, generate revenue, and begin to grow. It was built to make lead gen easy and straightforward, to help your company get selling.