📄 How to make your lead generation much more fun and much much easier
The other day someone asked me whether I can help them generate more leads and opportunities.
And while my happy place is coaching people on closing more of the deals they already have in their pipeline, lead generation is certainly something I help with.
As always, it starts with saying no.
Being clear on who you should not work with, not contact, not interact with.
Because 'yes' is expensive. When you say yes to something, you say no to everything else.
Whereas if you start by getting clear on what to say no to, you'll have all the freedom in the world to focus on exactly those things that you should say yes to.
(This is actually a far more powerful concept than you might realise. Consider the fact that I spent 12 years in a monastery, which meant I said no to the world and everyone in it, freeing me up to focus deeply on getting better at being a human being. The result was nothing short of amazing).
Anyway: almost everyone makes the same fundamental mistake when looking for buyers: a strong bias to include people in a list of prospects, instead of looking for reasons why people should be excluded instead.
This is where sales people go wrong, looking to 'qualify' leads.
Sure, you need to assess whether a company is the right size, and in the right industry, and whether or not they have the right problem that they need your help solving.
But if that's all that you're looking at, you end up with a long list of mixed quality:
There will be the right kind of people, but you'll also get people who are duds.
So when I look at a list of candidates, I use a handy little list of questions, to make sure I don't waste any time of duds.
This list is specific to my needs, where my audience is B2B, and where my goal is to help people with their sales. For you the list will probably be different, but borrow what you need, and make sure you make a list of your own.
Do they lead with a "business-face"? 🔗
If someone is all uppity about yoga or their kids or how much they love riding their horse or the cause they are activistic about, I pass on.
I want people who primarily and predominantly show that they're in business, because I'm only interested in people who are focused on and dedicated to their business, and who don't let their personal interest dilute their business proposition and orientation.
But when people mix too many personal things into their business, there's a real chance that they're a wantrepreneur and not an actual entrepreneur, and I don't work with that type of person.
I've spoken to many startups, run by people who were young or who just left the corporate world in order to start out on their own.
And very often those are lovely people with truly terrific ideas and values I'd die for, but there's a common problem with starters:
Because they haven't had hard knocks, haven't failed, haven't gone bankrupt or otherwise learned the harsh lesson that "This business-building stuff isn't as easy as I thought", they are often blind to pitfalls or erroneous ways of thinking.
And while I'd love to help good people with good ideas, life is too short to deal with buyers who are convinced they're right and who try to convince me that they are.
Whereas when I see battle scars, I know that at the very least, they're like to have eaten crow, and have learned the hard way that being successful in business requires a degree of humility.
Are they in a fun space?
I don't care how much money a company has, or how badly they need my kind of help: I only want to work with people who do something that makes me go "Huh, that's cool!"
That can be different kinds of things, but it's one of the reasons I like nerds and technical people. Nerds are fun!
Do they look like they're in revenue?
It's not always easy to tell whether a business is doing well and making a profit. But, there are signs that they might not be doing well.
If there's zero social media presence, and they're not running ads, and their background or offer is not around lead generation or networking, there's a non-zero chance that they're not making enough money to be able to afford me.
So if I don't see signs that indicate or suggest that they are in revenue, I disqualify them and I move on.
Not only does a bias for shared values mean that it'll be a lot easier to have rapport with people, it also ensures that you have alignment on personal matters that are truly meaningful for the both of you.
Which makes for a much more fun and fulfilling working relationship, than having to deal with people who stoop to things that you wouldn't.
This ties in with the "Are they in revenue?" question. Because if they don't display a strong and attractive unique distinguishing value proposition, they are less likely to be thriving than those that do.
That doesn't mean they can't be in revenue, and it's not a direct disqualifier such as misaligned values, but it's a red flag that tells me I need to dig a little deeper, and figure out whether or not they might be unqualified after all.
Are they speaking to everyone (bad) or to a specific niche and/or use-case (good)?
When a business states that they're for 'everyone who has problem XYZ', there is, again, a good chance that they're not selling enough, to be able to afford me.
Whereas a business that gets very specific on who they're for - and who they're not for, a very good sign - is much more likely to have a full roster of clients, and therefore might have the ability to help me.
Of course this list assumes that you don't scrape a list of names from LinkedIn and then blast 100s of messages at them.
Instead, this type of approach and these types of criteria are for people who see lead generation as a people-game, not a number's game.
In my world, the only people we should deal with - buyers or otherwise - are people we want to deal with. So anyone who doesn't meet my criteria, I ignore. That's what you get when you play sales as a people-game.
And the ones left on my list, those are the ones to qualify.
So whenever I dive into prospecting, I ask two questions:
First, I want to know: "Should this be a no?"
And only then do I qualify, and ask: "Is there something here - should this actually be considered a marketing qualified lead that I should reach out to?"
Not only does that get me in front of a much higher percentage of qualified buyers, it also makes the entire process of lead-generation and selling a ton more fun.
Are you the kind of entrepreneur who plays a people-game an loathes all the automated spammy lead we see every day?
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