What are the best ways and the best practices for attracting better prospects for your business?
A qualified lead is basically any company or individual who could become your potential customer based on certain criteria and the information they have provided. Note that there are no standard criteria for all types of businesses. You can develop your own criteria based on a number of factors.
Sales teams want to focus on qualified leads in order to increase the success rate when prospecting. I’ve actually written an article on the top sales prospecting strategies that SMEs can leverage, wherein I have discussed these five strategies:
But, what it really boils down to is a series of steps you need to take to refine your brand and your proposition, then finding the right places where your customers hang out.
So let’s dive in deeper and review all the important steps you need to take in order to really nail it down for the long run, especially as 2021 is starting real soon.
Here are the top 11 tips to attract better prospects.
1. Start With the Buyer Persona
The buyer persona is the definition of your ideal prospective customer.
It’s important to know this now as best as possible in as many details as possible to get the best idea of who your ideal customer is. Lots of people think they know who their top customer is. It’s not enough to automatically conclude the rich and the successful to be your ideal customer.
Unless you have a real buyer persona definition, you’re going to be clueless. Your messaging is going to be random and not really detailed. Starting with a buyer persona that goes as deep as demographics, age, location, career, job, and revenue is going to give you the blueprint for identifying and finding your ideal customer; what they’re struggling with, what types of business challenges they’re having, and what types of objections they would have during a call.
You can use this template to identify your buyer persona:
If you’re looking for the right prospects or you want to attract better prospects, define them in the best possible manner and find ways to unlock opportunities to start working with them.
2. Confirm Your Product-Market Fit
Once you have the definition of your ideal customer, make sure that there is a product-market fit for your offering. Product-market fit means that whatever you’re selling actually has merit within the context of your ideal customer. Now, why is this so important?
In this video, I have discussed briefly how to tailor-fit your offer to your buyer persona:
You may have a great solution, but unless there is a product-market fit, nobody would be interested in buying this solution.
If you’re selling something that’s way out of scope and price, that doesn’t really solve a problem worth paying for, or anything along those lines, you wouldn’t be successful at the end of the day. Nailing this down is something extremely important.
Source: Product Plan
Whatever you’re trying to do, you need to go through the entire process of validation by speaking with prospective customers who are trying to do some price-gouging and a bunch of other things in order to make sure that whatever you’re doing as a business, in terms of pricing and packaging, makes sense. But right now, if you are realigning the target audience, you still need to go through the same exercise and make sure that there is a market for it.
So, again, try to figure out if your ideal customer is willing to pay and if you have planned for the type of solution that you’re offering.
3. Work on Your Brand
Why is branding very important? Well, you can’t attract better prospects unless you have branded yourself the right way.
95% of B2B buyers research companies online before deciding on making any purchases.
I can’t stress this enough. If you’re trying to be the person who’s building websites, the person who’s selling SEO packages, or the person who is cleaning houses, it is not going to be too narrow to build a brand that people are going to relate with.
For instance, you go to a gym and you see a number of different trainers whom you are going to start working with. The best-case scenario is going to be a hit or miss. You’re still going to review them and determine what their personality is, what their achievements are, what their goals are, and how they plan to achieve them.
To give you a better example, there are multiple trainers at my gym. Each of them specializes in something. Some are more easygoing; some are more hardcore. Some are more into gymnastics and weightlifting, or mobility or aerobics. Finding the right person is completely reliant on whatever their brand is, their best practices, and so forth.
Make sure that you build the type of brand that really explains what the product offering is and why exactly you’re doing this, so people would want to start working with you.
Rebrand yourself if necessary. Check out your website, your social media profiles, your bio, and everything else that can contribute to giving the right type of messaging to your target market.
4. Be a T-Shaped Expert
Whenever we are talking about specialization versus generalization, one of the things that I really love as a concept is the T-shaped expertise.
Whenever you start in your career, you normally start as a generalist, right? For instance, when you start at marketing or management with only a very little understanding of the entire ecosystem, you first start tidying their computers, processing things on their behalf, and a bunch of others.
Having all that information, of course, is the core essential principle to understand what the entire ecosystem is about. That’s what universities are trying to prepare you for as well—just giving you a little bit of information for everything so that you can start to specialize.
Once you land a job and spend a year on the job or so, you start to specialize. You start knowing a little bit of a lot of different things. You gradually need to jump to the point where you are capable of improving dramatically in a given area.
As your career gradually grows, you’re transitioning into multiple different steps. But, that doesn’t need to scale. Right now, what you need to care about is being the T-shaped expert. Make sure that people are fully aware of the fact that you understand the ecosystem, the semantics of the business environment, and at the same time, you possess the specific quirks required for the job.
Why is this so important? You would need to be distinctive enough and be an expert in a given sense. The downside to being an expert only on one specific field or in one particular vertical is that you would think you wouldn’t be capable enough to solve specific problems unless you understand the full context and unless you understand the bigger picture.
5. Find Where Your Ideal Prospects Hang Out
This is one of the hardest things of them all.
If you want to work with executives, you need to know where they hang out. Executives don’t hang out anywhere. Some of them play golf. Some of them do mountain hiking, bar hopping, or other stuff. Their tasks don’t really require daily attendance so they have time to attend mastermind groups or specific communities like Young Entrepreneur Council, which I also participate in.
If you have real estate agents as your target audience, it’s a hit or miss as they hang out somewhere more dynamic. But of course, most of them attend different real estate chambers or real estate broker conferences so somehow, you have an idea where to find them.
You would be able to figure out where your ideal prospects hang out by determining the following:
- Industry where they belong
- Nature of their job
- Communities or groups linking them
- Type of websites
Some of them have specific media, such as Forbes or Huffington Post.
Knowing where they hang out is really going to help you focus and position your efforts in the right places and promote accordingly.
6. Quadruple Down on One to Three Channels
Once you understand your ideal prospect or your target audience, and know where they hang out, do whatever you can.
Quadruple down—not just double down—quadruple down on targeting them, finding them, and making sure that things work. Make sure that once you find a channel that works, exploit this channel as best as possible to scale down production, attract better prospects, and reach more and more prospective customers.
We have found some of our specific audiences through our network, consulting, and talking to many different people. We have also found a conference where a good percentage of our ideal prospective customers hang out. It’s a very nice conference. It’s really hard to find them otherwise unless you’re within the circles. They have different packages for sponsorship, webinars, and for other communities.
Now, most of those packages cost like $20,000, or even more. It’s not an easy feat, or it’s not super cheap, but it’s extremely important for us to reach out to our target audience, which is why we are embracing the opportunity.
You don’t have to put all your eggs into a single basket, but at the same time, make sure that whenever something works, you double down, triple down, or quadruple down so it continues to work.
If there is a partnership that works out really well, someone who’s sending you the best leads possible, make sure you work with them, send them referrals, send them leads, or try to work on several opportunities so you’re both as successful as possible.
7. Vet Your Leads ASAP
Whenever you scale this channel, be it PPC, webinar through sponsored events, or conferences, you will notice the leads start piling up until it becomes difficult to tell the good leads from the bad leads, which is why you need to vet them ASAP.
Try to figure out a way to tell a good lead from a bad lead. There’s a specific type of customer that the salespeople call “tire kickers”. Tire kickers are the people who are just browsing around, browsing around, asking for opportunities, and submitting the same RFP to 30 different agencies.
There are lots of those people. Unless you really have a great business model and recurring revenue, you would still have to try hard for some of those opportunities. But in the grand scheme of things, you don’t have to do that. You need to vet these people and make sure you understand the principles of what tire kickers look like and how they work, so you will know how to politely decline their business when it comes to that.
You can say, “I’m sorry, we’re only working on serious opportunities because we really care about our customers and we really want to spend the most time possible with customers who care about their business and know what they’re after.”
Find ways to ask them the right questions or send them the right forms that will help validate whether they are tire kickers or they are the right prospects that you’re looking for.
8. Prepare Starter Decks and Blueprints
Now, once you start with your prospective customer and once you’ve reached the point where you have a warm lead, take them further down the sales funnel, and make them a sales qualified lead.
Start nurturing them and start bringing them nearer to closing the deal, preparing the right information in order to successfully transition them from being a prospect to being a customer.
Describe your product offering in a way that makes sense and in a way that positions you in the best possible manner and effectively represents your skills, your opportunities, and your achievements. To do this, prepare several decks on the following:
- The types of services you offer
- Case studies
What we do whenever we are unsure about the prospect is that we directly send them all the information about our offer. We no longer go around the bush to save us time and money, as well as do them the same favor. It can be really frightening, but if this is within the realm of what you imagine, that’s great.
The reason it’s really important to do that is it gives us as much context as possible. We get tons of pricing requests on our end, and most of them are great people, but some of them don’t have the budget. So without wanting to insult them, and even if they came through a landing page with pricing on it, some of them would literally scroll down, fill out the form with a couple of sentences, and still email us asking for an estimate or a ballpark.
And sometimes, even if we send them some of those validation decks, like the starter decks and whatnot, they still don’t browse it. But at least after that, you can say you did your best.
Again, remember to move your prospects down the specific funnel. Having those starter decks and blueprints would help you to lead them down the funnel and explain to them how the process works.
You can prepare a white paper and say, for example, “Hey, I do SEO, and in order to start, here’s what I need in a one page PDF. We need access to Google Search Console, Google Analytics, and other relevant tools. If you don’t have a search console, we’re going to sign up one for you and connect you to analytics because it’s very important for your business.
What we’re going to do as we have access to that, is performance analysis on the past three months. Once this is done, we are going to connect you to our SEMRush account or Ahrefs and you are going to do some competitor analysis among others. Also, send us a list of your top five competitors so that we can continue our research…”
Just walk them down through the following:
- What you need from them
- Rough plan over the next few weeks or few months
If you’re looking for the best prospects, the people who are willing to pay for your services, are capable of paying for your services, and are able to understand the value proposition, you want to impress them.
You want to show them that you’re also serious and reliable to keep them for as long as possible. The starter decks and blueprints can explain and help answer some of their questions as you connect on a deeper level.
9. Prepare Case Studies and Validation
The case studies and validation are for your website and socials.
If you target your ideal customers, you have to niche down as much as possible in order to understand what exactly they do, what exactly they need, the industry, niche, and so on. Target and try to produce and generate or ask for a few case studies and validation testimonials, and remarks or feedback so that you squeeze the right information from the customers you care about now. You convey this information in a way that’s responding to what your customers are asking for.
Even if you find where your best customers are hanging out, even if you’ve figured out how to attract them to your website, or even if they come to your website and they like your packages, unless you have some proof or some validation that makes sense, you’re not going to be able to convert. You’re not going to be able to receive their email or ask them to schedule a call. Validation comes in any of the following forms:
- Case studies
- Customer feedback
- Feedback videos
- Press features
- Conference talks
Try to gather as much of this as possible because this type of trust is building credibility and it’s increasing the odds of the right customers actually reaching out to you.
10. Be Brutally Honest From the Get-Go
Once again, it’s all about finding the right prospects. The right prospects are loyal and willing to pay to stay with you for a continuous period of time.
You need to be brutally honest with them and build this trust through honesty. This means that every single prospect, if they are in the right customer audience for you, you need to be honest. You can say, “I’m sorry. I’m only working with this industry now.”, “I’m sorry I can’t commit to your product right now”, or “I’m sorry this package is just too small for me.”, “We are looking for a different type of service that we serve better.”
The same goes for ideal customers. If you tell them more or less the same thing right away, they’d say, “Well, you know, that’s great. We’re actually this type of customer. We are actually within this industry. That’s actually exactly what we are doing. And that’s kind of how it works.”
We have been rebranding ourselves to a retainers company for years now, even though we build “WordPress” websites more or less. Whenever I hop on a sales call or anything, I say, “Well, the way we work is 93% of our business is comprised of retainers, meaning that we are most efficient in working on a month to month basis with our clients we built into our teams. This is more efficient. We can employ 6-12 people for a given project, even if it’s a $50 a month or $100 a month project. We don’t care. It’s just something that we find important to deliver business.
So if someone comes and says, “Well, I only need a developer to lease for a project.” We’re not a good fit. We are going to be more expensive. We are going to introduce project management on top of that, QA, and we actually think of the business. If that’s not what the client is looking for, there is obviously a mismatch. We can wrap this up right away.
But if the client is fully cognizant of saying, “Hey, we don’t have a tech department, but we don’t want to hire a project manager, QA, or tech lead, or ten other people to just get $100 per month done”. And we are actually looking for a team that is managing all of that. We are looking for a team that’s looking for this partnership and not just getting the job done and then escaping, evaporating, just trying to leave some crap and disappear.
11. Win Them for Good
Whenever you have a perfect customer, try to do whatever possible to just retain them for as long as possible. Great customers are rare to find because they need to be in a very specific place of their lifetime, in a very specific industry, in a very specific size, in a very specific need, so that they can leverage your services.
Try to respect them as best as possible and figure out ways to keep working with them because potentially you may be working with them for a very, very long period of time, especially if you have some form of recurring packages.
At some point, you can start other product lines or other services and expand them and sell them. Maybe, you can even start other companies doing different things and you still want to work with this customer audience, but make sure you win them for good. You show them you care, you show them why you see so much sense working with them. Just build the right type of rapport to work with these customers.
Just retaining these customers is probably going to be a goldmine for you.
So that’s how to attract better prospects. That’s how to build a pipeline of customers. It starts from defining them through branding and through the sales pitch, to actually working with them and closing them.
Make sure you refine the entire process and make the most out of it, because, again, top customers are rare and hard to find. But if you position yourself better and you can close them, it’s all going to be a winning scenario.