Small Businesses are always looking for new lead generation ideas, but many of the things that entrepreneurs do before they even make their first cold call or before they attend their first business card exchange practicaly ensure that they actually fail in the Lead Generation department. Folks say that “Experience is the best teacher,” but that is really only about half right. In fact, “Someone ELSE’S experience is the best teacher,” because they have already made those mistakes. Learn from their mistakes, and you get to a higher level of success in a much faster time frame.
Mistake #1: Hiding Your Company from the World. The internet is the great equalizer for small businesses, but you have to make it easy for people who are looking for your products or services to find you on the internet. Search engine optimization (making it easier for people to find your website through search engines like Google) should be your top priority as a small business owner.
Mistake #2: “I’m a Really Small Company” Website. Just like when a person hands you a business card with the rough edges from separating it at the perforation after it was printed at home, a cheap looking or homemade looking websites is a neon sign saying, “I’M A SMALL BUSINESS… Don’t trust me.”
Mistake #3: Creating a Confusing Perception in the Marketplace. This mistake made early in a business’ history can follow you for years. When we first start out, we’re trying to find any way that we can to generate revenue, so when times are tough in one product or service line, we dabble in others to make ends meet. People who see you promoting dissimilar product lines will wonder what exactly it is that you do.
Mistake #4: I Can Do It on My Own Mentality. We become entrepreneurs because we are experts in a specific industry, and we know that we can do it better than our competitors. However, we are never going to be experts in EVERYTHING, so it’s important to surround yourself with other experts in different industries. You can either contract work out through subcontracting or joint ventures, or you can create alliances with other companies who support you but don’t compete with you.
Mistake #5: Offering Something that the Market Doesn’t Want. You might have a great product or service that people actually want to buy, but if you are promoting that product or service to a marketplace that doesn’t want it, you’ll go broke. If you are networking with other entrepreneurs and your services are for prime contractors, you’ll just become very frustrated. Go find where people in your market gather, and promote your company there instead.
Mistake #6: Salesperson Fangs. This mistake is the absolute most annoying and will drive customers away in droves. It occurs when someone out of genuine interest or in some cases, just kindness asks a question about what the person does for a living, and in response, the person spends the next fifteen minutes talking about himself and how the listener really needs his product or service. Successful people tend to be pretty good listeners.
Mistake #7: Casting Your Pearls before Swine. Just so you know, I’m not calling your prospects swine. I’m just saying that most small business people spend way too much time with people who they think are prospects but who have absolutely no chance of ever buying something from them. In order to be a good prospect for you, the person needs to have the resources to buy from you and the authority to buy from you. Don’t spend a lot of time and effort building a reputation amongst people who aren’t in and will never be in your market. Find where your market gathers and build your reputation there.
Mistake #8: Giving a Pitch Instead of Solving a Problem. Most people walk into a meeting with a prospect or start a call with a prospect with a pitch in mind. So, before the prospect even indentifies a problem or a need that she has, the pitch starts and we verbally jumps all over the person with features and benefits about how great our product is. Remember that a successful entrepreneur is a one who solves problems for clients and customers, so spend less time talking about yourself and ask more questions about the prospect.
Mistake #9: No Follow Up (Web Visitors and Leads). This used to be a big problem with face-to-face meetings where an entrepreneur collects a business card from a prospect and then just doesn’t do anything with it, but in the digital age, website visitor follow ups are way more valuable and rarely capitalized on effectively. For instance, if you look at most website statistics, you’ll see a number of “page views” which is just the number of pages on your website that people have looked at in a given month. This number is almost always a BIG number, but then if you compare it with the number of people who actually request information from or buy from you, the latter is microscopic in comparison. More often than not, the big difference in numbers comes because we don’t make it easy for people to request information from or contact us.
Mistake #10: Slow Follow-Up. In face-to-face meetings, if you don’t follow up within 24 hours, your prospect will likely forget about most of your meeting because people are extremely busy. Website visitors are not as forgiving. If you don’t respond to them within a few minutes, they will forget about you. When we surf the internet looking for solutions to our problems, we want instant gratification. If we don’t get it, we just move on to the next site. Follow up quickly with your prospects, and you’ll increases sales dramatically.
If you solve just some of these challenges that many small businesses face, you’ll increase your income potential and your growth rate very quickly. This book was created to offer tangible, step-by-step processes and ideas to conquer these and other obstacles that you’ll likely face as you build your small business.
Doug Staneart is the founder of The Leader’s Institute® and the creator of the Entrepreneur Boot Camp that helps small business owners grow their companies by sharing little-known secrets of successful entrepreneurs with new business owners. This article is one in a series of helpful small business lead generation tips, and you can read all of them for free on his Entrepreneur Boot Camp blog.