Many companies are constantly in search of quality, new lead streams. Find even one of good size and record revenues should follow. The process to find new lead streams is widely varied but there are a number of tactics common to most searches.

Some Proven Tactical Solutions for Sourcing New Lead Streams

  • Use in-depth customer research: we are always encouraging our clients to get closer to their customers. If you get really close- that is, you accumulate a great deal of information about your customer database- you can apply database mining, information overlays and a number of modern profiling techniques to identify new lead opportunities sometimes hiding in plain sight. This is a very effective way to target new markets or market segments.

    A company might sell to a market segment defined by certain demographics. For example, one of our clients sells an information product to aggressive investors who are mostly male, 45-65 years old, married, homeowners, etc. Their principal lead source is lists from competitors who sold a similar product. The demographic profile didn't really offer a lot of differentiation meaning they didn't really have enough information to make hidden nuggets stand out from the crowd.Stand out from the crowd by leveraging research to beat your competition in every way

    A little in-depth customer research revealed a large number of these buyers happened to be firemen- an unexpected discovery that was perceived to be an intuitive mismatch for the product until our research proved otherwise. As a result, the company discovered a completely new, narrowly-defined pool of leads that would turn out to be a lucrative source of sales. It was easy (and cheap) to source and sort out direct response marketing lists of just these relevant firemen, then narrowly promote them. Doing so maximizes marketing ROIs because costs are significantly reduced with such specific focus and an audience of willing buyers will open their wallets. Had this client not engaged in the research, they would have never noticed that segment nor would it have been likely for them to guess their way into it. There's always gold to be mined; the trick is knowing how and where to locate it. We know.
  • Use in-depth competitor research: while it is extraordinarily logical to keep an eye on the competition, many companies don't do this very well. Worse, corporate egos, internal rah-rah, etc, can breed foolish mentalities like "we do everything better than our competitors," implying there is nothing to learn from the competition. Meanwhile, over at the competitors, a bunch of very bright people are spending all day, every day working just as hard, searching for great new sources of business too. Ignoring or discounting them means their discoveries will remain exclusively theirs, and only their business will grow from those discoveries.

    Investing in a good model of ongoing competitive analysis will give you the opportunity to catch such discoveries as early as possible. For example, promoting directly to firemen involved running what appeared to be out-of-place ads in firemen publications. There, among ads for fire equipment, fireman-oriented educational offerings, etc, they were exposed to an ad for an investor product. Good competitive analysis notices the "crazy" things competitors are doing. If they are spending money to do it, maybe chances are good it's not so crazy. Catch these early and you can share in their newfound bounty. Ignore them and you leave all that new business to your competition.
  • Look within: one of the best sources of new leads is your front line sales and/or service people as well as any other employees who interface with customers. We always want to work with them when we are engaged to help a company grow because they are typically a treasure trove of great ideas begging for a non-threatening outlet. They are also the ones generally charged with finding new business for their employers... so some of them may be experimenting in their own ways to uncover new buyers. One or more of them may find a source that doesn't come out because they aren't asked... or are afraid to tell.

    A jewelry retailer with whom we worked was particularly impressed with some very big ticket transactions by a small selection of deep-pocketed customers (think corporate titans). One or two of these transactions could make a retail store's entire month- a very exciting scenario considering that it would typically take several hundred normal transactions to accomplish the same. In hopes of winning more of this kind of business, they decided to shift their marketing budget & energy into positioning themselves as the chain for the affluent. High brow models were used in their new advertising to imply that the elite shopped their stores but big sales growth from this newly targeted audience did not follow. Why?

    We worked with the top salespeople at the front lines noticing that they tended to let other sales personal approach "the suits" (those that appeared to be the newly targeted prospects) but would practically jump over the cases to get at those who appeared to be of more modest means. The front lines knew that the suits were often very difficult transactions and genuine corporate titans in search of big ticket items were few and far between in retail malls. Most of "the suits" were middle manager or below, cash strapped, keep-up-with-the-Jones's credit risks, etc. However, the middle class prospect was quicker to buy and could often spend as much on each unit as the average suit. In a nutshell, the front lines knew where the company's bread was buttered. Had the company listened to them, all the expense in a mismatched marketing thrust could have been saved.
  • Strategically monitor anomalies: most companies work in the now, finding it very difficult to step back and observe... especially from a strategic level. When e-commerce was in its infancy we worked with a company that was very good at turning a list of relevant leads into lucrative sales. The sole limiting factor in their upside was the monthly volume of leads they could hand to their sales teams. Their approach was to blast out some marketing promoting their products, then have the sales team follow up via phone to talk the prospects through each promotion. This worked exceedingly well.

    Meanwhile, their new website was kicking out a number of information requests every day from interested parties all over the world.That quantities of these new leads kept growing month over month. These leads were shared with the sales team but conversions were very poor. The assumption was that Internet leads was a weak source not worth much telesales effort. When we were tasked with trying to resolve this problem, our observations showcased a few anomalies: 1) many of these prospects were outside the typical market of North America but the telesales call times were heavily linked to domestic time zones, 2) the proven model of sending them a promotion and following that up with a telesales call was not being implemented; instead, only the telesales function alone was being used (which equated to a cold call), 3) the accumulating pile of these leads was several times greater than the volume generated by the established sources meaning there was a very big revenue opportunity if this source could be moved to yield, 4), the existing model had customers engaged in 2-way communications via phone but the web-sourced prospects were reaching out via email; perhaps they wanted to communicate that way supported by the choice of email over calling the number prominently displayed all over the website, and 5) there was little-to-no strategic consideration given to how this source of leads was to be worked (no adjustments from the established telesales approach). We addressed the anomalies and tested a variety of new approaches to try to harvest the perceived opportunity. 30 days later, sales from that source spiked 600%. 60 days later, 1300%. 90 days later and the company was creating a new department for Internet-sourced business. It was only a short time before sales from that lead stream overtook the long-established sources.
Think about global markets
  • Think globally: Most of our clients think of their revenue growth opportunity in terms of their local market. For example, an American-based B2C client may think of their market as Americans. Sometimes the product or service only fits a local market but many times it is something just as desirable to customers beyond the company's classic borders. We've worked with companies who, when introducing us to their web team, will point to a map on the wall showing how the website has sold customers in a good number of countries around the world. Sometimes, they'll point out that they are doing especially well in a couple of countries "without making any real efforts to sell there." We'll ask them why not make some real efforts to sell there and they'll often spin into some talk about language barriers, not knowing the market, etc. Often, all such excuses are remarkably easy to overcome with even modest investment. And part of the justification might be recognizing how much those international buyers might have had to go through on their own to actually buy the product or service (language barrier, international transaction, shipping costs, even just finding their way to the seller).

    One American company we work with tried it and now realizes a great deal of revenue growth from Germany- a country that wasn't an intuitive front runner for "the first international market with good potential for us is...". In fact, Germany wasn't even in the top ten on the executive, subjective (gut) guess list of better international markets to target. But the Internet can reveal where buyers are in absolute, objective ways (where does the money come from?). Pay attention and a new source of business may reveal itself.

    The 300M people in America represent under 5% of the total population of potential buyers on the planet. If your product or service is not limited to only a local market by design, perhaps another 5% of the planet's population beyond your local borders is anxiously awaiting exposure to your offerings. If they can be moved to buy your products or services as good as the home market, you double your business... DOUBLE! And if so, you'll still have the other 90% of the planet to which you can cast some other lines as your new global market trailblazing proves itself. Go ask your web team to make you a map of the countries where your products have sold and in what volumes. Then, put some real effort into selling in some of the places that stand out from the crowd... or engage BI to help you. There's a massive amount of untapped prospects on a global scale.
  • Leverage technologies: It can feel like a big task to try to keep up with just the technology changes that seem to stick. Doing so can help you uncover quality new lead streams. For example, B2B salespeople are finding social networks to be a great source of new customers either by reaching out to friends (or friends of friends) directly or by leveraging their network connections to help them locate new business. Website forums and sites that encourage buyers to rank products & services will also have postings by people interested in those same products & services (they're basically pools of people showing they are interested in your product right now). There are many other examples along these lines.

    You should build layers into your own web strategy that tracks prospect behaviors & interests striving to learn a lot about them before you even know who they are. We've helped clients develop this kind of technology along with a wide variety of ways to get prospects to finally identify themselves. When they do, you have a brand new lead to work... and they come with highly qualified, data-rich information to make the selling process considerably easier.

    For example, it is not complicated to track what prospects gravitate toward on a website that sells many products. If you were in a business selling- say- newsletters for investors, you might have a variety of newsletters focusing on a wide array of investments: gold, mutual funds, options, stocks, ETFs, currencies and so on. We could help you develop the technology to track prospect interest in various portions of your site- even before you know who they are. When they finally fill out a website form at some point in the future, you'll gain the contact information matched to crucial data that shows this particular prospect is very interested in- say- stock and stock option investing but not interested in currencies, funds or gold. The comparable data-blind competitor might send them some promotions keying on currency, fund or gold investing because they don't know and thus have to guess. You would have the added intelligence to push the prospects hot button interests right on your first try. Similarly, such tracking might reveal that the bulk of your prospects are really much more narrowly focused on just- say- stock & stock options which could encourage you to allocate more of your marketing budget toward other sources of those kinds of prospects and put less of that budget toward pursuing pools that don't yield much revenue for your business. The profit possibilities are endless when you leverage technology to arm yourself in these kinds of ways.

    Another technology channel that should be demanding your attention is the mobile market. Owners of devices like iPads, iPhones, iPods, Android-based phones & tablet devices and many others are willing buyers of software apps. Can anything you offer be packaged in a mobile app? We can help you do it all right: 1) fleshing out your app concept, 2) recommending & managing outsourced programmers and 3) doing all of the pre-launch, launch and post-launch marketing to drive success. That market is hundreds of millions of buyers strong and rapidly growing. Are you selling to them?
  • Etc. (there are many more)

Discovering a quality new lead stream is a blend of art & science, creativity & keen observation, diligent research and objective processing of the results, plus open-minded strategic management. You'll be best served to engage at least some external talent like ours to help you do this kind of very important work. Success can drive even short-term revenues to all-time records. We like to help companies break records. Try us.

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