Lead Generation Top of Funnel Fumbles: What You Need to Avoid
Some companies think of a lead just as a name and a number.
But, that’s not a lead. That’s a lawsuit waiting to happen. If you have ever worked in telemarketing, you already know the mentality:
Get a name and a number. Get someone – anyone – on the phone. Make a spiel. Get a commitment, preferably a credit card. And get off the phone as fast as you can, so you can get to the next name and number.
The desperate sales person starts to see everyone as a lead. Did you see that? They made eye contact. They looked at me. They smiled. I’d better go introduce myself and make a sale before they get away.
There is a better way.
You need to start thinking in terms qualified leads. These are the people who identify in some way as being in the market for that which you have to offer, and have expressed some type of interest in pursuing a dialog.
You may think this is an impossibly high standard for a lead. But this should actually be your bare minimum standard.
Good leads cost you time, effort, and money.
One of the most fatal funnel fumbles is stuffing it with bad leads. Garbage in, garbage out. (It applies to a lot of things.)
Even if you convert bad leads into customers, they will likely be low-profit, high-maintenance clients who drain all your time and energy. You’ll have less resources left to find the good customers around which a profitable business can be built.
This is just one of the mistakes made at the top of the funnel. Here are four more:
A Poor Understanding of the Funnel
Another common error is the failure to observe that sales is a process, not a transaction. Ignoring that process, or getting essential steps out of order is almost certain to lead to a negative result.
While sales funnels are defined a little differently (depending on who is doing the defining), the idea is that things start out at a basic level near the top of the funnel. As the funnel narrows, the process gets ever more involved and specific.
At the end of the funnel is a sales relationship, which may in fact be the beginning of another funnel. The important thing to remember is that the funnel is a metaphor for a process.
Skip steps in the process, or get the steps out of order, and you will end up running a good lead through a grinder instead of a funnel.
Inappropriate Capture Techniques
Do you know what a mailing list is? Great. Now, do you know the difference between a mailing list and spam?
It is very important that you do, because one is legal. The other is not. If you are purchasing leads generated from mailing lists, it is up to you to be sure those leads were not acquired with inappropriate capture techniques.
Mailing lists can be a grey area. In fact, Microsoft categorizes bulk mail as grey mail.
The biggest difference between a mailing list and spam is consent. Spam receives no consent. Bulk business mail does, or should. This is one of those areas that get a little grey.
What constitutes consent? If you are like me, you have consented to any number of mailing lists without knowing it. You failed to read the fine print. You didn’t click a checkbox that you should have, or clicked one that you shouldn’t have.
Bottom line, you were tricked into being on a mailing list. To you, it is spam. How a court might see it is anyone’s guess.
If you are using these techniques as a business to generate leads, or buying leads from companies that use these techniques, you are dealing in grey leads at best, and spam-generated leads at worst.
This is not that hard to figure out. If you are tricking people into giving you their information, or getting information for one thing and using it for another, you are using inappropriate capture techniques.
Withholding the Valuable Information
If your expertise depends on your ability to jealously guard small amounts of information so that you can have an exclusive rights to information, then you need to reevaluate your expertise.
Welcome to the information age. Even doctors don’t have privileged information that can’t be unearthed with a web search. There are still plenty of reasons to go to a doctor. But everyday, we get more empowered to diagnose and treat more things ourselves.
A painter doesn’t just have specialized knowledge, but skill and experience (not to mention the right tools).
To get people interested in what you have to offer, you have to fill your website and blog with quality content that speaks to the customer’s needs.
You cannot succeed by hiding the good stuff. In a world of free information, attempts to withhold information will engender suspicion in the mind of the customer.
A curious prospect will become a good lead for someone else who provides something truly informative.
Closing Too Soon
You know the phrase: always be closing.
This is always wrong. Remember, the funnel is a metaphor for a process. You have to respect the process.
We are talking about the top of the funnel. We are nowhere close to closing time.
At the top of the funnel, we are generating leads. We should be focusing on building our network, establishing ourselves on social media, and getting customer referrals.
Don’t worry about closes, or test closes, or getting prospects on your side, or even having a sales conversation. This is not the time for that.
At this stage of the funnel, your only job is to find the people who identify in some way as being in the market for that which you have to offer, and have expressed some type of interest in pursuing a dialog.
Attempting to sell, not to mention close at this stage, is the fastest way to frighten off your lead into the less desperate arms of your competition.
In the sales process, most of the really big mistakes happen at the top of the funnel. Getting beyond that point requires you to understand the funnel as metaphor for a process, using only appropriate information capture techniques, providing valuable information to information seekers, and not mistaking the opportunity to generate a good lead for the opportunity to sell.