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How to Build a Strong Leads Engine for Sales

Ensuring your business has a continuous stream of potential customers is an important agenda for most organisations. Finding and following up on those leads, however, can be a challenge. 

While there are a lot of ways to build sales pipeline, including tele-marketing and cold calling, how do you build a cost-effective marketing engine that continuously pumps out a steady stream of sales-ready leads?

Here are some ideas:

Create a Digital Referral Program
Referral programs are not new. But they’ve received a boost in the arm as more new-age digital companies have begun deploying them. 

The beauty of a referral program is that it turns your customers into salespeople. Uber’s referral program in Malaysia, for instance, allows the company to use riders to spread the gospel of Uber, and ensures more people use the mobile application. 

Uber’s referral program has an additional twist: It rewards both the person making the referral and the person being referred. Referring the Uber app to a friend earns you a free ride worth RM20, and also earns your friend the same. 

Referral campaigns are also better than other forms of lead generation (think cold calling) because the sales-person (the person making the referral) is already trusted by the potential buyer. 

And it isn’t hard to start one. There are a host of apps that simplify the process of creating a referral program, here’s just one of them. 

Here are more reasons why referral programs are great, accompanied by examples. 

Start an SMS Campaign
SMS marketing campaigns are a great and cost effective way to create marketing leads, and have among the most bang for every marketing buck spent. Almost 98% of SMSes are opened, on average, compared to only 20% of emails. 

You can also expect an eight-fold increase in engagement levels with SMS, compared to email. 

And an SMS campaign isn’t heavy on the pocket. You could get started with as low as RM18/month. Here’s one company that offers it. 

SMS campaigns also allow your business to segment your customers and create differentiated messaging. If you own a retail business, for example, you could send different texts to men and to women. Or you could tweak your SMS to be in tune with the time of day or around a special occasion like Hari Raya.

And by asking your customers to reply to a call for pre-orders (say you were launching a new product), you could build a hefty pipeline for sales. 

It’s important to choose an SMS campaign tool that’s easy to use (think ready-made templates) and allows you to send texts in English, Malay and Chinese. Here’s one example. 

Start a Newsletter
Newsletters are a great way to build a lead pipeline, especially if you can build a lead generation and lead management program around it. 

Here’s how this basically works: Your business creates a piece of content (centred around your business) that potential buyers want badly enough that they will part with their contact details. 

Say, for example, your business sells paints and interior decorations. You could commission to have an e-book written on 51 Ways to Do Up Your New Home. 

Once you have their email IDs (and their permission), your business can then send them email newsletters at a set frequency with articles like How to Ensure the Best Paint Job for Your Home or 5 Tips to Beautify Your Home Quickly—and on the Cheap. 

Every time, someone clicks on a story, you give them points (using a lead management tool), signifying their interest in a specific area. Once specific people have clicked on a pre-fixed number of stories in a specific area (like paint for example), you can be quite certain of their purchasing interest. That person then becomes a lead that can be passed on to sales.

Use Live Chat
What’s the one thing all buyers do, no matter what they are buying? They ask questions. They want to know more about a product they plan to buy. A lot of those searches take place today on the internet. 

According to Google’s Consumer Barometer, 80% of Malaysians do research online before they make a purchase, and 55% compare products or price or features online. 

If these potential buyers chance upon your website, you want the ability to note down their interest so that it can be passed on to sales. This is where a live chat tool comes in. With a live chat tool, you give interested buyers the option of getting pre-purchase questions answered in exchange for their contact information. 

For salespeople, these numbers are a goldmine: Not only do they have a lead’s contact information, they can also be certain that the lead is very interested in buying. 

While there are plenty of ways your business can build a leads engine that will keep your sales humming, these four ideas are easy-to-implement, relatively inexpensive, and are aligned to the way buyers work. 

Here’s to a healthier sales pipeline!

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