“The money is in the list,” is a business proverb you might have heard. Outside of referrals, following up on leads is a great way to identify prospective customers and ultimately close more business. The more rock-solid, quality leads you have, the more results you’re likely to see from marketing efforts aimed at your leads. But before you can follow up on a lead, there’s one big, pestering question: Where do you actually find new leads?
Before we get into where MSPs should find leads, it’s important to learn where you shouldn’t get leads.
Don’t Buy Leads
A number of companies make some serious cash selling leads in the form of email addresses and other contact info, but getting leads this way has a few huge problems associated with it. First, if you use email marketing software, a lot of these software vendors won’t even let you send to a list you’ve bought. Second, these lists are typically no good since the company that sold you the list probably sold that same list to others, so those email addresses have already received a ton of advertising messages. Last, if someone gets a completely unsolicited email from you, they won’t want anything to do with it, so what’s the point?
The lesson here? Build your own lead list. Here are a few ways you can do it right this moment.
Take Advantage of Lead Sharing
Whether it’s the developer of your favorite backup software, your hardware supplier, or your distributor, most of the bigger vendors you work with will have a partner program, many of which include a lead-sharing program. Since most of these leads are interested in software, hardware, or services available locally, these are people who actually want to talk to you, making them extremely valuable contacts to have. Be sure to ask all your vendors about lead-sharing programs.
Understand Content Marketing
Content marketing involves providing useful information to people who visit your website, social pages, or other digital locations. Your goal is to provide content in the form of ebooks, guides, videos, or online tools that are so useful, your prospects will give you their contact information to get them. From there, you have the opportunity to provide them more information via an email newsletter or digest. As you illustrate your expertise to them, many will gain trust in you, and when they’re ready for services, they’ll know just who to go to.
Use Reference Selling
While reference selling doesn’t always get you contact info in-hand, it’s a useful tactic for gaining new business. Your clients have friends, family, vendors, and plenty of other people they come into contact with. Though you may not be able to get these contacts for use in a traditional marketing list, you can still offer a reward to current clients who refer a new client. Make sure existing clients know there’s an incentive and make it dead-simple for them to refer others. Most importantly, you need to be someone your clients will recommend without hesitation. If the quality of your services are top-notch, you won’t have a shred of trouble.
Leverage Your Personal Network
Marketing often involves sending emails to the hundreds—even thousands—of people in the bulk list you’ve created. Try as you might, it’s tough to make emails personal when they go out to hundreds of people. Sometimes you need to use a personal touch to get leads. By staying active on networking sites like LinkedIn, you can create new connections and keep in touch with people you’ve known for years but may not have talked to in a while. This doesn’t mean you should be trying to pitch your services directly, but by keeping in touch and making new connections, you let people in your network know what you provide and, with luck, they’ll think of you when they or someone they know needs a hand with IT.
IT conferences, chamber of commerce events, meet-ups, and local trade groups can be a great way to network, get new contacts, and even toss back a few adult beverages. Best of all, it’s not just a chance to gain new leads, it’s a great way to build new relationships, which are really the foundation of any business. Check your local chamber’s site and sites like Meetup for events in your area and start going—there’s tons of opportunity to be had.
Get To It!
When it comes to getting leads, the only big mistake (other than buying lists. Repeat: don’t buy lists!) is to let opportunities pass you by. Business is out there waiting. The next money-making lead you find could be the person sitting in a chair near you at local event, browsing online for IT business tips, or even hanging out with a client you already have. Your best option? Throw a few poles in the water and start reeling them in.