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Value Lies at the Intersection of Disparate Disciplines

James Colgan

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10 Steps to Generate Leads for Software Sales Online

Photo (cc) by Flickr user Leo Reynolds.

Photo (cc) by Flickr user Leo Reynolds.

Lead generation is one of the primary roles of your marketing organization and the greatest demand of your sales force. As markets become more globalized your marketing team needs to make greater use of the web in generating leads for your sales team to follow up on and close.

Here’s a list of 10 key steps to take in generating those leads.

1. Identify Your Prospects

List the key characteristics of your target customers in order to find where they are on the web, what they are interested in, and what is likely to make them take time out of their day to visit your site and provide their contact information. This last point should tie back to your value proposition.

2. Give to Get

While many sales professionals refer to the first stage of the sales process as “Lead Generation” we’re really talking about “Contact Generation”. We want our prospects to visit our website and then provide their contact information in exchange for something of value. So we have to create something that would be interesting or useful to our prospects. Such as a Case Study, Tutorial, Whitepaper, or maybe you have the budget for an iPad giveaway. Whatever you determine to give your prospects make it available on your website with a simple sign-up form.

3. Write a Blog Post

You or someone in your company should already be contributing to a blog, so write a blog post that talks to the subject of your giveaway. The less it is about your product and more about your customers the better. Your blog post helps with SEO (Search Engine Optimization), but also gives you an additional link to be used for subsequent steps.

4. Tweet

Very little about marketing is discussed without “Tweet” or “Twitter” being mentioned. Unless you have a very targeted audience (targeted using hashtags or your carefully nurtured list of followers) this may not be an immediately rewarding channel. However, post a comment with a link to your giveaway or blog post in order to build up that marketing channel at the least.  These links will drive your targeted prospects to your sign-up page.

5. Post to LinkedIn Group

Especially if your business is B2B, you should be using LinkedIn as a way to find and engage your target audience.  Search LinkedIn’s groups, join them (if you haven’t already), and start a discussion or join one.  Then, in a non-spammy way, post a link to your giveaway.

6. Post to Facebook

While the value of Facebook to B2B companies is still patchy, it is an essential channel for B2C businesses.  Search for groups that focus on your customers and post a link to your giveaway here.

7. Join a Conversation

Ideally you should be participating in online discussions important to your customers.  Either way, using tools such as Technorati, BlogPulse, or Google Alerts, find blog posts or articles from publications that serve your community (market).  Engage in the conversation by making posts.  You can add a link with your comments, but again - don’t make it spammy!

8. Answer a Question

Sometimes, within LinkedIn or Quora, your customers are asking explicitly for your help.  The question could be related to your value proposition, the problem you solve, or the field you’re in.  Perform searches on these platforms, answer the question in a meaningful way and include your link as a source of additional information.  But make sure that your giveaway content is indeed related to the question and your answer.

9. Buy Contacts & Engage

You can buy contact information using services such as Jigsaw.  But if you do, a best practice would be to enable your customers to opt-in to your marketing program.  Use an email marketing tool like ConstantContact of Mail Chimp to reach out to your new contacts with a “value rich” email and link to your giveway.  The same could be done with a purchased or rented email list.

Here’s an interesting perspective on evaluating the quality of your list.

10. Advertise

Last but not least, if your budget allows, purchase adwords from Google and include a link to your content and sign-up sheet.  It sounds pretty straight forward, but this alone is an art and a science.

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More Stories By James Colgan

James Colgan is the Founder and CEO of Xuropa, a unique cloud-based Sales & Marketing Platform for packaged software vendors for the demo and retail of their products via the cloud. Built upon a unique lead nurturing and analytics engine, Xuropa enables software vendors to conveniently deliver their products on the cloud and drive the resultant sales pipeline to increase revenues and profits.
Built upon nearly 20 years of high-tech experience, James has been pushing the envelope of cloud computing, focused on the intersection between the cloud, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), and Social Media Marketing, particularly as it relates to traditional installed software.