You’ve spent months developing your product with your business partner. Now that it’s launched, you’re finally ready to close some sales. But you’re not salespeople. You’re both developers, and have been fumbling around for weeks trying to figure out how to generate some leads.
Startups don’t often employ many people at the start–even social media platforms Instagram and Whatsapp were founded by teams of just two. But companies with small teams and limited resources can still generate leads and close sales successfully on their own, even if they aren’t initially experts. So how can entrepreneurs seek out sales leads? And what steps do they need to take to reel them in?
Attend events and network
You don’t have to present at a conference or set out a stall to reap the rewards of networking.
You can get your startup recognized by actively participating from the audience, too. At these events, one option is to live tweet conferences and talks. Another is to blog about what you’ve learnt and share it on social media, making sure to mention the speakers to let them know what you thought. You can also network online at events through social event apps. Bizzaboo, for example, looks at your profile and suggests people to connect with who are also at the event. The app gives you the link to their social media accounts, and lets you message them directly within the app.
Being active online at an event or conference makes people take notice of you. It also will help set you out as a thought-leader in your industry, if you offer quality insights. Once people start to find out about you and your startup, they will begin to refer you within their circles. And considering 50 percent of businesses think they get their best sales leads through referrals, they’re one of the best ways to generate leads.
Some larger events may be expensive–according to some entrepreneurs, Web Summit charges $10,000 USD to meet with angel investors–but there are also smaller events at lower cost. For example, Startup Weekend tickets cost just $150. What’s more, major cities host dozens of free or low cost Meetup Groups for people wanting to discuss and network with each other–and most boast thousands of members. For example, New York Entrepreneurs & Startup Network has almost 17,000.
Use your reach
According to anthropologist and psychologist Robin Dunbar, the average person has about 150 casual friends. Anymore than that, and it’s too complicated for a person to process. So if your startup consists of three people, collectively you would have 450 casual friends. Together, those 450 people reach 67,500 others. Go to a third-degree, and you’ve already reached over 10 million people. Ask your friends to support your business and share it with as many people as possible. The number multiplies quickly. Once again, it’s about generating leads through referrals.
LinkedIn is a great way to reach out to potential clients, collaborators, investors, and new talent too. Keep track of who has viewed your profile, determine if they’re potential clients or recruits, and then reach out to them. Give recommendations to other users or companies, and ask for them in return. These build credibility quickly for your company. You should join groups and share your content within them, but also write your own blogs on LinkedIn. It’s a way to position yourself as an industry expert, while connecting with others and generating leads in the process.
Set up an inbound marketing strategy
Inbound marketing is about promoting your company through online content. Producing videos, blogs, SEO, social media content, white papers and case studies will help draw potential clients to your company’s website and educate them about what your company does.
The average business-to-business customer is 57% of the way through the purchasing decision before even talking to a salesperson. So when they do, half of the salesperson’s work is already done–they just have to close the sale. Inbound marketing brings sales leads directly to your company, educates potential clients, and makes finishing off a sale significantly easier. According to this CMSWire infographic, companies who blog generate 67% more B2B leads, and 88% more B2C leads.
So, how can you best take advantage with limited resources? On top of having a good website, you need an effective social media strategy. A Socialbakers study found that on average, top brands post about once a day. Posting less than twice a week will cause your audience to disengage, and so will posting more than twice a day found the study. You should also start generating your own blog content in house–even one blog a week is fine at the beginning. Once you have a bigger budget, you can start to increase the amount of marketing you do. This will drive more traffic to your website, and help to generate even more leads.
Startup founders with no background in sales may find themselves running in circles. But by getting out into the community, leaning on friends and professional contacts for help, and generating online marketing content that brings potential clients straight to you, you will have an easier time getting the word out about your company. And effectively, close more sales.