I’ll say it quietly I am a Spurs fan, but please read on as you will be relieved to know this post is NOT about football. It is on the other hand about something that is crucial to your business – lead qualification. If you are a Spurs fan, or for that matter, a fan of any Premier League team as August arrives, you will dream that your side can compete in Europe’s premier club competition. All your club needs to do is finish in the top four, and you have a route into the competition. Easier said than done, but as a fan, our job is to dream and hope.
Ok, enough with the football!
All entrepreneurs want to be winners, it does not matter how you define winning – getting funding, being acquired, IPO, running a business that means you can eat, etc.. while marketing has a key role in creating the future success. The goal is to win business and grow market share, but it will be marketing that will set up those opportunities for you. Irrespective of whether you have people doing marketing and or sales for you, as an entrepreneur you are keeping a close eye out on everything that is going on in your business.
Marketing, onboarding and upselling
In my view, marketing is all about leads – either generating them from a standing start when your business has no brand awareness or ensuring that there is a steady stream of them once you are up and running. There also has to be a really smooth process to ‘on board’ your customers. Make it easy for them to join and they will. Treat them nicely, and they will stay. Upsell and cross-sell are terms that make every investor and sales person smile; these opportunities are leads too but just refer to your existing customers, and we all know it is a hell of a lot easier to sell to existing customers than get new ones.
There is one area that as a marketer you have to be aware of – lead qualification. If you think that by generating loads of leads its job done, or you can leave it to the sales guys, think again. I have been in situations where the positioning of the company and product is sorted, we know who our target customer is by job title and geography, we can talk to them, we know what our USPs are versus the competition. But will they buy? Possibly or possibly not, as the key is to work out exactly what the criteria is for your prospects. Be really, really clear before you start your marketing. Otherwise, you risk generating a set of leads that are probably more useless than none at all.
The sales person should not spend too long working out if the prospect is worth spending time on. If the prospect will take ages in making a purchasing decision, stall on doing a trial – your lead will not be dedicated enough to really benefit from the product you are selling (the above also applies in a consumer situation, but my focus is on the B2B side), kick the lead into touch and focus on the real prospects that will result in a sale.
To free or not to free, that is the lead generation
There is a big debate in start-up land about giving your product away for free to build an installed base, a particularly favourite strategy with the Software As A Service (SaaS) market. As the old saying goes, there is no such thing as a free lunch, and if you can’t convert a bunch of free trial users into paying customers, I am afraid you picked the wrong ones! For marketing, this is a really tough lesson, as our approach tends to be all about execution – produce the content, run the webinar, launch the website and then assume that sales will do the rest. Well, I hate to break the bad news, but in start-up land where marketing and sales must live side by side in harmony, we marketing folks need to wise up to lead qualification to ensure we and our start-up are the champions!