Lead Generation Dry SpellIt is not uncommon for individual sales reps to go through a dry spell. Having worked closely with sales over the course of my career I’ve seen even the best of reps fall short for a month or so before hitting their stride again. But what if leads were drying up at the source? What if marketing was having a dry spell?

In hard economic times everyone feels the pinch. Consumers and businesses alike stop or curb spending, and marketing's budget is one of the first that gets hit. If your marketing team is responsible for generating leads, is that the right move?

What to Do in a Lead Generation Dry Spell
Like your company, your customers and target audience are also looking for creative ways to grow or maintain business as usual. So while the dry spell may not equate to no leads, it often equates to leads that are hesitant to buy. Here are some things you can do to help push them over the line:

  1. Redefine a lead: Sales and Marketing should work together to redefine what is considered a qualified lead. By loosening the definition of a good lead you can ensure your sales reps are having more conversations. Please beware that while more leads may help your sales team close some deals, it is important to ensure that the newly defined leads are not costly to your business in terms of productivity and customer retention.
  2. “Wake up” older leads: A campaign or two to drive older leads back to your site can easily jump start conversations that fizzled out a few months or a year ago. You can follow-up on leads that signed up on your latest offer as well as leads that just visited your site.
  3. Ask customers for referrals: Customer referrals tend to make excellent, high quality leads and often close easily. A concerted effort to reach out to customers to ask for referrals is often a successful strategy for getting new leads.
  4. A bird in hand: While the focus is on acquiring new customers there is a tendency to forget about acquiring new business. New business is often won from existing customers and marketing can play a big role to help up sell to your existing base.
  5. Tweak your messaging: While this may be considered hocus pocus by some, your messaging has a direct impact on drawing traffic and leads to your site. Using keywords like "ROI", "reduce costs" or "cost savings" on your website or campaigns could touch a nerve with budget conscious leads. Also it could help you de-prioritize leads that are skittish about buying so you can focus on leads that have the budget.
  6. Help us help you: While I’m not advocating you use that particular line, a philosophy focused on helping customers and prospects achieve their goals leads to a win-win situation. Make helping customers a part of your marketing mantra!
  7. Continue the dialogue: Economic hardship impacts prospects’ appetites for buying but it seldom impacts their taste for learning. On the contrary, prospects worried about their job often start learning about new trends and applications in their industry. Nurturing works! Continue to prime your prospects so they are ready to buy once the tide turns in the favor of spending.  Or, if they switch jobs, follow them to their next work place for a potential new selling opportunity there.

Of course if you have the budget you could spend loads of cash on PPC ads, but investing in long term strategies that will continue to drive leads in the absence of a large budget is always more helpful!  What are some of the strategies you have seen or employed to help lead flow when there is a shortage of good qualified leads?

Photo credit: Josh Sommers

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Originally published Jan 13, 2009 8:17:00 AM, updated March 21 2013


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