The importance of Lead Generation in Professional Services

 

“Lead generation is a process that requires a well-crafted plan. When you get it right it will result in a steady flow of qualified leads that result in prime clients.”

Today’s professional services marketplace is undergoing considerable change as it adjusts to the introduction of various online and digital marketing tools. While many firms still prefer traditional lead generation techniques such as face-to-face networking, client referrals and sponsorships, recent trends have shown a rapid change in the way buyers select professional services. Firms that ignore these changes do so at their own risk.

The challenge that professional services firms face is that the sales process is more complex than that of the retailers or wholesales. Other than creating awareness by advertising a product at a certain price, making it easy for prospects to evaluate value and quality, professional services have a much harder job to attract the interest of prospective buyers and create engagement. Besides having to create awareness, other elements come into play when generating leads: visibility, building trust, educating and nurturing the lead. If any of these elements are neglected, the firm will struggle to convert leads into business. Lead generation therefore becomes a process that requires a well-crafted plan. The centrepiece of that plan is a structured lead generation process. When you get it right it will result in a steady flow of qualified leads that result in prime clients.

Lead generation will be effective when it is managed according to a plan. Your plan should address the following aspects:

Identifying your target client
The biggest stumbling block for firms is that their target clients are overly broad and they see everyone as their target market. The less specific you are, the more difficult it will be to generate qualified leads. Try to identify the particular type of issue you are best prepared to solve.

Know your target client group
Most firms skip this step and do very little research about the target clients. Try to learn as much as you can about the challenges and concerns they face, where they turn for help, and what their expectations and questions are.

Determine the specific sequence of lead nurturing
Very often leads show interest, but are not yet ready to make a decision to buy or move from their existing service provider. Consider what sort of information they might be interested in today that would set them up to be a client in the future. How can you begin to establish trust and build rapport now? Monthly electronic newsletters are effective lead nurturing approaches to move early-stage prospects through the pipeline.

Identify online and traditional techniques
Online lead generation techniques are gaining rapid ground as they are often less expensive than the more traditional techniques. Here are a few online and traditional techniques to consider:

Track all leads
How will you know if your lead generation process is working? The only way to know for sure is to track a few key variables. Here are some ideas:

• Track lead generation activities. These are the things you do to generate and nurture leads.
• Track the number of leads generated by each activity.
• Track leads that convert to proposals for each activity (conversion percentage).
• Track proposals that convert into clients (closing percentage) for each lead source.

Without a plan and a data collection system, it is very easy to cling to tactics that no longer work. Follow these five key steps and your chances of generating qualified leads that turn into profitable clients are greatly improved.

For more information contact Tobie vd Merwe at tobie@succeedgroup.co.za

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein.