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Leads into Deals: One Step Further


In this posts I'll try to expand on the my previous post "Lead into Deals: 'The Checklist' for closing big deals" since I believe it needs going more in depth with examples and inspiration for any questions you might have while after reading that article.

Here are some general questions answered about the process:

1. Is this process applicable to all industries, or are there any modifications needed for specific sectors?

The core framework of assessing the opportunity, researching and preparing, and crafting an initial contact is generally applicable across industries. On the other hand, the specific tactics and resources used within each step might require adjustments depending on the sector you're in.

Some examples for you:

  • B2B vs. B2C: When dealing with businesses (B2B), your research might involve industry reports, competitor analysis, and decision-maker identification on LinkedIn. In contrast, reaching out to consumers (B2C) might involve social media listening, influencer marketing research, and understanding consumer trends.
  • Technical vs. Non-Technical Industries: For highly technical industries, in-depth knowledge of the specific technology or niche could be invaluable during the assessment stage. Researching relevant publications, attending industry conferences, and building relationships with industry experts could be valuable additions.

2. How much time should be allocated to each step (assessment, research, crafting initial contact)?

There's no one-size-fits-all answer for time allocation. It depends on the complexity of the deal, the lead source, and your existing knowledge of the industry. On the other hand, let's face it, who enjoys working against a clock?

Here's a different way to approach it:

  • Treat each stage like a critical mission. Imagine yourself as a detective gathering intel before a big case. Don't move on until you have a solid understanding of the lead and their needs.
  • Focus on achieving clarity, not clocking hours. Research until you see the whole picture: the client's challenges, decision-makers, and industry trends. When that "Aha!" moment hits, you know you're ready to craft a powerful message.
  • High-value deals deserve extra TLC. Complex opportunities with multiple decision-makers might require more digging. Don't be afraid to invest the extra time upfront, it'll pay off later.
  • Think of research as building your knowledge muscle. Every lead you assess adds to your industry expertise. The more you learn, the faster and more efficient you'll become at qualifying leads in the future.
  • Work smarter, not harder. Leverage existing resources like industry reports, competitor analysis tools, and online communities to maximize your research efficiency.

3. What are some red flags to watch out for during the assessment stage that might indicate a lead is not a good fit?

Red flags to consider:

  • Unrealistic Budget Expectations: If a potential client's budget falls significantly short of what's required to deliver your services effectively, it might not be a good fit.
  • Lack of Decision-Making Authority: Identify the key decision-makers early on. If you're struggling to connect with the right people, it could indicate a long and frustrating sales cycle.
  • Misaligned Goals and Priorities: If the client's priorities don't align with the value you offer, it's unlikely to be a successful partnership.

4. How can this framework be adapted for smaller deals or shorter sales cycles?

For smaller deals or faster sales cycles, you can streamline the process by:

  • Leveraging Available Information: Utilize existing company information, online reviews, and readily available resources instead of in-depth research.
  • Shorter Research Cycles: Focus on the most critical industry trends and competitor insights relevant to the specific deal.
  • Standardized Templates: Develop pre-written templates for initial contact messages that can be easily customized for each lead.

5. Are there any additional resources or templates recommended for each step?

Here are some resources to consider:

  • Industry Associations: Many industries have associations that offer research reports, industry news, and networking opportunities.
  • Free Online Tools: Utilize free tools like Google Alerts, social media listening platforms, and competitor analysis websites.
  • Sales Automation Platforms: Consider sales automation platforms that offer features like email templates, lead scoring, and follow-up reminders.

These are just a starting point. As you gain experience, you'll develop your own preferred resources and adapt the framework to your specific needs.

Specific Follow-Up Questions: Assess the Opportunity

Let's take a closer look at the specific questions within the "Assess the Opportunity" section of the original guide:

1. How can you determine the source of a lead if it's not explicitly mentioned (e.g., anonymous website form submission)?

While anonymous submissions can be trickier, here are some ways to gain insights about the lead source:

  • Landing Page Analysis: If the lead originated from a specific landing page on your website, the content and call to action can offer clues about the visitor's intent and potential industry.
  • Website Tracking (if enabled): Website tracking tools can sometimes reveal information like referring websites or geographic location, which can provide context about the lead source.
  • Follow-up Questions: In your initial contact, you can include a polite and non-intrusive question about how they heard about your company.

2. Are there any alternative resources besides company logos that can provide clues about a potential client's budget range?

Absolutely! Here are some additional methods:

News Articles

  • News articles are a great source to find information about a company's recent acquisitions, expansions, and funding rounds. 
  • Look for articles that cover topics like:
    • Funding rounds the company has raised, including the amount, investors, and intended use of funds 
    • Acquisitions or mergers the company has completed, including details on the acquired company and rationale 
    • Expansion into new markets or product launches 

Company Careers/Jobs Pages

  • A company's own careers or jobs website can be a good source to find information about their recent growth and hiring needs.
  • Look for sections or pages dedicated to mergers, acquisitions, or integration of new teams, which may provide details on recent deals.
  • Check the open job listings to get a sense of the company's expansion plans and new functional areas they are building out.

Investor Relations

  • A company's investor relations website is another place to find information on their recent corporate developments. 1
  • Press releases and financial reporting often cover major acquisitions, funding rounds, and other strategic initiatives. 

3. Beyond industry publications and news articles, are there any other ways to stay updated on industry challenges?

Staying informed goes beyond traditional publications. Here are some additional options:

  • Industry Podcasts and Webinars: Many industry leaders host podcasts or webinars that discuss current trends and challenges.
  • Social Media Listening: Follow industry influencers and thought leaders on social media to stay updated on industry conversations and pain points.
  • Industry Forums and Online Communities: Participate in online communities or forums specific to your target industry. This allows you to engage with professionals directly and gain insights into their challenges.
  • Industry Events and Conferences: Attending industry events and conferences provides valuable opportunities for networking and learning about the latest trends.

By incorporating these strategies, you can gain a more comprehensive understanding of the potential client's budget range and industry challenges, allowing for a more targeted approach in the following steps.

Specific Follow-Up Questions: Research and Preparation

Let's explore the specific questions within the "Research and Preparation" section of the original guide:

1. What other social media platforms besides the ones mentioned (website, company profiles) could be valuable for research?

While company websites and profiles are a good starting point, here are some additional social media platforms that can offer valuable insights:

  • Industry-Specific Platforms: Depending on the industry, there might be specific social media platforms where professionals and businesses congregate. Researching relevant groups, forums, or hashtags on these platforms can reveal industry trends and challenges. For example, in the tech industry, Stack Overflow or GitHub could be valuable resources.
  • Visual Platforms: Platforms like Pinterest or Instagram can be helpful for understanding a company's brand identity, target audience, and visual content strategy.
  • Employee Reviews: Review platforms like Glassdoor or Blind can sometimes offer insights into company culture, employee sentiment, and potential pain points. However, it's important to be cautious and focus on recurring themes rather than isolated anecdotes.

2. Are there any free alternatives to Google Alerts for monitoring industry keywords and company news?

Yes, there are several free alternatives to Google Alerts:

  • Social Media Listening Tools: Many social media platforms offer built-in listening features that allow you to track keywords and mentions.
  • RSS Feeds: Utilize RSS feeds from industry publications, blogs, or competitor websites to stay updated on relevant content.
  • Free Email Alerts: Some industry websites or publications offer free email alerts for new content or news articles.

While free options might have limitations compared to paid services like Google Alerts, they can still be a good starting point for staying informed.

3. How can you identify past projects or successes if the company website doesn't provide detailed information?

Here are some strategies to identify past projects or successes when the company website is limited:

  • Client Case Studies: Search the web for existing case studies or testimonials featuring the company. These might be published on the websites of their partners, vendors, or industry publications.
  • Award Nominations or Wins: Review industry award websites to see if the company has been nominated or won any awards for specific projects.
  • Social Proof and Online Reviews: Look for mentions of their work on social media platforms or positive reviews from past clients. These can offer clues about their past projects and successes.
  • Company Portfolio (if applicable): For creative agencies, design firms, or similar businesses, their online portfolio might showcase past projects even if not explicitly mentioned on the main website.

By combining these methods, you can often piece together a more complete picture of the client's past work and areas of expertise.

Remember, the goal is to gather enough information to understand the client's specific needs and tailor your value proposition accordingly. The more targeted your research and preparation, the stronger the foundation you'll build for a successful initial contact.

Specific Follow-Up Questions: Craft Your Initial Contact

Let's continue with the specific questions within the "Craft Your Initial Contact" section of the original guide:

1. What if the preferred communication channel isn't readily available (e.g., no phone number listed)?

If the preferred communication channel isn't explicitly stated, here are some approaches:

  • Multi-Channel Approach: Consider a multi-channel approach. If there's no phone number, try a personalized email referencing your research on the company. You can also explore sending a connection request on LinkedIn, followed by a brief message mentioning your email outreach.
  • Website Contact Form: Most websites have a contact form. While not ideal for personalized outreach, it demonstrates your initiative and allows you to capture their contact information.

2. How specific should the reference to their company or recent news be in the initial message?

The reference in your initial message should strike a balance between personalization and brevity. Here are some tips:

  • Specificity Demonstrates Research: Mention a recent company achievement, industry challenge they're facing, or a specific pain point you discovered during your research.
  • Avoid Being Overly Generic: Don't reference generic information readily available on their website.
  • Conciseness is Key: Keep the reference concise and use it as a springboard to introduce yourself and your value proposition.

3. Are there any specific metrics or data points recommended to quantify the value proposition?

Quantifying your value proposition with data points can significantly enhance your message. Here are some strategies:

  • Industry Benchmarks: Demonstrate how your services can help them achieve industry benchmarks, such as increasing conversion rates or reducing customer churn.
  • Case Study Results: Highlight quantifiable results from successful case studies with similar clients.
  • Client Testimonials: Include client testimonials that showcase the measurable impact of your services.
  • Data-Backed Claims: If relevant, use data or statistics to support your claims about industry trends or challenges.

The here goal is to present a clear picture of the value you bring, backed by specific data whenever possible. This strengthens your message and positions you as a credible solution provider.

You might not want to do all of it, try to fit this playbook into your routine as you grow by utilizing what you find works best for you.