Cold calling as a sales strategy is effective–there’s no denying it. In fact, many successful businesses have been built and continue to be built on cold calling alone. But unfortunately, all good things come to an end, and many business owners are now searching for tips on how to generate leads without cold calling.
It’s easy to see that, as business owners, we need an alternative. We need a system that we can rely on to generate a predictable flow of leads & sales for our business.
But does such a system or solution exist?
Turns out it does, and this 8-step process is as close as you’ll come to an automated system for generating new business leads.
Identify Your Prospects
A persona is a fictional representation of your ideal client. You’ll want to create one or more personas that closely describe someone you’d love to do business with.
Think of your current customers. What do they all have in common? Gather client-facing employees from your company and go through a persona discovery exercise with them.
When you’re done, you’ll know what your prospects’ questions, challenges, pain points & concerns are so you can better address their needs.
You’ll need this valuable insight for the next step in the process.
Establish Medium, Messaging & Frequency
Armed with the data & insights you collected in step 1, now it’s time to establish your content marketing plan.
Your goal is to create educational content that answers all the questions, concerns & push backs that you discovered in the persona discovery exercise. Doing this establishes your business or company as an expert in your industry.
By providing answers & addressing any concerns your prospects have, you’ll earn their trust and they’ll be more likely to choose your products or services as a solution to their problem when the time comes. In this step, you’re going to want to ask yourself these three things:
What channel will you use to publish content, and what form will it take? In other words, are you going to write blog posts, design info graphics, produce videos, podcasts or other? Once this content is created, are you going to publish on your website or elsewhere on the web?
What kind of messaging will you use? Are you going to create content that has a friendly tone or are you going to stick with something more corporate, rigid and formal?
How often are you going to publish? Can you commit to one piece of content per month? Per week? Twice per week? Every day?
If the personas you discovered in step 1 don’t typically listen to podcasts, then don’t spend time & effort creating podcasts. If your personas read Forbes, Entrepreneur, and other business related magazines & websites, it may be wise to focus distribution on those channels, too.
The key is to choose a publishing frequency and stick to it. Start slow and increase your frequency as you get better at creating quality content.
This next step is a crucial part of the process.
Keyword & Topic Research
Now that you know what your personas are concerned with in regards to your product or service offering and you’ve decided on medium, messaging & frequency, it’s time to find out which keywords & phrases your prospects are actually searching for.
The possibilities are endless, and you’ll want to use a keyword research tool that can give you an estimate of the monthly search volume for each term. There’s no use putting 10 hours of work into a piece of content optimized around a keyword or key phrase that no one is searching for. This will also help you prioritize which keywords are worth spending more time on.
You should also consider the difficulty of the keyword. If the keyword is being targeted by many other businesses, it’ll take more effort to snatch up a piece of the monthly search volume.
Don’t skimp out on this step. It’s crucial if you want to build up organic traffic that grows over time.
Plan Your Premium Content Offer
What’s the one thing your prospects & customers always ask you? Is it related to pricing? Is it about product features? Is it related to the use of your product?
Take the time needed to come up with a topic your prospects would want to learn more about, and then create a downloadable piece of content on the topic to give away for free in exchange for an email address. It can be something as simple as a pricing guide, a product feature brochure, or even how to get started with content marketing if that’s what your prospects are interested in.
Make sure your premium content offer is well designed and provides enough value to your prospects that they’ll be willing to give you their email address for it.
Once your premium offer is complete, it’s time to make it available to your website visitors.
Install Opt-in Forms & Landing Pages
When it comes to generating leads from your website, opt-in forms and landing pages are your best friend.
If your website is built on WordPress, there are a myriad of plugins that make creating opt-in forms and landing pages a breeze. Going this route also means you won’t have to hire a designer to make your forms look pretty as these add-on plugins come with beautifully designed templates. Any one of these plugins will do the trick, and a quick Google search will provide you with the most popular options to choose from.
If you’re not all that technical, you’ll have to hire a web developer to set all this up for you in order to start generating new leads from your website.
Once your opt-in forms & landing pages are created, link them to your email marketing platform so that you can deliver your premium content offer and begin nurturing prospects into customers.
Create, Capture, Promote
Now that you’ve discovered your personas, found the right keywords, planned out your content and made a premium offer available for download on your website, it’s time to start creating!
Set out to create content optimized around the keywords your prospects are looking for (based on your keyword research), and make sure each piece of content asks your prospects to download your premium offer for more information.
While not all visitors will give you their email address for more information, a small percentage will which means new valuable leads for your business.
In order to maximize the reach of your new content and get it in front of as many people as possible, you need to promote it. Email influences in your industry and let them know you’ve created new educational content. If they’re receptive to your message, ask them to share it with their audiences. If you’re active on any social networks, be sure to share it there as well.
Don’t be shy to amplify your content with paid advertising if it starts to pick up traction on its own. Even just a few dollars can go a long way.
Marketing Automation & Lead Nurturing
Now that your machine is set up to generate leads without having to cold call, it’s time to nurture your new leads into sales.
The best way to nurture leads into sales is to drip feed them relevant content over time with regards to which stage they’re at in the buyer’s journey. You’ll want to send different content to prospects in the awareness, consideration, and decision stages.
This can be done with marketing automation software. There are many different solutions available to you based on your business size & needs, but they all help you achieve the same goal: to get the right message in front of the right prospect at the right time.
If you implement marketing automation & lead nurturing into your strategy, you’ll soon realize how powerful this cold calling alternative is. You’re no longer interrupting prospects, but rather having them find you. It completely changes the sales dynamic, and your prospect will no longer feel like he’s being pressured or forced into listening to your sales pitch.
Messaging campaigns is becoming an increasingly essential part of effective lead generation sources. Also SMS is one of the most immediate channels available for generating leads. you can be reassured that your time critical messages will be read almost instantly. Most of the marketing and promotional SMS campaigns generate a successful ROI combined with other popular channels such as email and social media. SMS is a great channel to get feedback from your customers via surveys using virtual number over 2 way messaging.
This strategy is what many businesses are turning to as their go-to marketing method for generating leads. It takes more time to implement, but it’s also less expensive and more successful in generating new business leads down the road.