The only thing worse than receiving a cold call from a business trying to sell you something, is being the cold caller on the other end of the phone. Being told to “p*ss off!” or hearing the hang up tone screeching down your ear for the 50th time that day is a little soul destroying, to say the least.
Studies have shown that cold calling has had success rates as low as 1-3%.
Even if you have your sales pitch down to a tee, cold calling catches people off guard. They can feel ambushed by your 150 words per minute spiel, putting you on the back foot right away.
Successfully generating sales leads is all about connecting with customers in an authentic way, putting yourself in front of customers precisely when they are looking for your service.
Here are 12 different ways that you can connect with your customers in a genuine way without cold calling.
1. Build Business Networks
Your business networks can provide lead generation and referrals from other business owners. Find companies that operate within your sector but aren’t direct competitors and build up your network. You can connect with companies that complement your business and offer your customers package deals.
For example, let’s say you run a small online shop selling plants. You could search for a local pottery store that fits perfectly with your aesthetic. You could reach out to the pottery store and suggest a collaboration. They could introduce your plant store to their customers and offer a discount if they purchase using their unique code. In return, you can promote their pottery store, offering your customers a discount if they purchase using your unique code.
This is win-win for both businesses as they are reaching new customers and generating more leads. The possibilities with business-to-business collaborations are endless, and very much worth exploring.
2. Use Social Media Tools to Connect with Customers
Okay, it is 2022 and we might be suggesting the obvious here, but we want to leave no stone unturned. Having a solid presence on social media outlets like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and YouTube is vital to keeping your business in front of your customers.
If you are not on all these social platforms, you can bet that your competition is. If they’re not? Even better. Get ahead of them before they catch on, build a solid online presence in as many places as possible and dominate the market.
Just be aware that not all social platforms will be right for your business, so experiment, see how you get on, then prioritise the best performers in the long term.
3. Develop a Strong Content Marketing Strategy
Now you’ve thought about having a strong online presence, what are you going to say? A content marketing strategy will help you to pull together all marketing content, such as articles, social posts, special offers and events to create unified campaigns that build a strong message around your business.
Spending time creating a solid content strategy will save you so much time on deciding what to say later down the line.
4. Participate in Online Forums
Participating in online forums and discussion groups relating to the industry is a subtle marketing technique that will help build your brand presence and may generate leads over time.
Positioning yourself as an expert in your niche increases trust and authority, which is great for attracting customers to your brand. Be cautious not to be gung ho in your efforts to promote your business and instead try to provide genuine, helpful advice to those who request it.
5. Let Customers Hear About You on a Podcast
Reports have predicted that the number of people listening to podcasts will increase from the current figure of 383.7 million to 504.9 million by 2024*.
We think it’s safe to say that the podcast hype is here to stay, and for good reason. Podcasts are an awesome way to reach hundreds of thousands of people and with very little time required from you. Provided you are appearing as a guest on someone else’s podcast, you just need to make sure you come across well and let them do all the hard work.
If you want to take it one step further, you can host your own podcast as an industry expert, but be warned, this will require A LOT of time, effort and persistence to be successful.
6. Publish Articles on High Traffic Industry Websites
Sounds easy. Unfortunately, it isn’t so simple. This requires strategic planning and persistence. However, if executed properly, this can generate many sales leads.
One option is to find the websites that you would love to be featured on and reach out for a feature. They will need to be industry specific; the more refined the niche, the better. If they are a huge, well-known brand then it’s unlikely you’ll get featured if you’re a small business. Instead, aim for smaller brands that accept guest posts. You may need to build a long-term relationship with mutual benefits where you feature them on your website, and in return, they feature you on theirs.
Another way to feature on high traffic websites is by using services such as HARO (Help A Reporter Out). You can sign up to HARO for free to receive daily emails from reporters looking for support with their latest article. Find a topic that falls within your niche and reach out to the reporter with your valuable input in the hope that they will feature your titbit in their article, linking to your website as a reference.
The benefits of this are twofold. Firstly, your name is out there for potential customers to see which may result in a click through to your website and hopefully generate a lead. Secondly, if you manage to get featured on a high traffic (aka high domain authority) website, this can be extremely beneficial to your own website’s search engine ranking position (think SEO).
7. Sponsor Events for Your Target Market
By sponsoring events that your target market will be attending you receive the opportunity for additional brand exposure. Businesses that sponsor events get further promotion by having their logo and website features across the events marketing materials.
8. Give Presentations and Webinars to Your Target Market
Provide valuable information to your potential customers by offering free presentations and webinars. Similar to podcasts, however, these presentations can be at in-person industry events, or via video meetings. Find local events related to your industry and ask if you can speak at the event. Be sure to position your request as a genuine offer of help, providing some unique insight into the industry.
Be sure to take business cards to in-person events and pass them around to potential business networks as well as customers. Likewise, gather the business cards or email addresses of the event and webinar attendees and always follow up with them.
9. Invest in Digital Marketing Techniques like SEO
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) should be an essential part of your lead generation strategy. People are still very much turning to Google to search for the products and services they’re looking for. To be in with a chance of getting the custom from these users you need to be at the top of Google and other search engines (such as Bing).
Find a reputable SEO specialist who can do all the hard work for you. If you have the time and insist on doing it yourself, invest in decent keyword research and tracking software. You should also make use of Google’s free services such as Google Analytics and Google Search Console.
10. Capture Email Addresses and Create Targeted Email Campaigns
In every marketing campaign you have, consider whether there is the potential to capture email addresses. There is almost always a way to obtain an email address, which, aside from getting a sale, should be among the top priorities for every campaign you run.
For example, if you create a Facebook group for your niche, there is the option to have people answer questions when they request to join. One of the questions could be for them to have the option to include their email address to receive a free eBook. Of course, they may choose not to provide their email address, but with the right offering, many will.
You can collate all your email addresses into an email marketing tool, such as HubSpot, to create well-scripted email campaigns. Hubspot is a great choice for your marketing tool as it allows you to send automated follow-up emails if the recipient doesn’t open or reply to the original email.
11. Connect on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a great place to position yourself as an industry expert, as it is heavily business focused. Individuals and companies use LinkedIn to promote their businesses, find new staff members and job opportunities, and to connect with potential customers.
Having an outreach strategy via LinkedIn can be extremely successful for B2B custom. You can directly connect with and reach out to your potential customers on a personal level. For this to be effective you must tailor your communications for each person.
For example, ‘Hi John,
I saw the article you wrote on home brewing beer in Hold My Beer Magazine and loved what you said about how to get those citrus notes. I’ll definitely be trying that with my next batch!
I work in the brewing industry myself and would love to connect so I can learn more from you, and hopefully share some of my own tips.
This simple, personalised approach is far more likely to open a genuine conversation where you can eventually introduce your services.
12. Use Referral Marketing
Encouraging satisfied customers to recommend your business can generate many leads. Word of mouth is still a significant way to bring new customers because most people accept a referral from a trusted friend or business associate.
By incentivising the referrals, you can increase your customer base exponentially. The incentives themselves should encourage not only a referral but also additional sales. Consider implementing the ability to earn points to use against future purchases, discount codes or free gifts with their next order.