Two men engaged in sales conversation

Dear Professional,

You’ve arrived here drawn by an interest in marketing, right? Or is it sales, or maybe lead generation? Perhaps it’s a combination of all three?

Officially, they are all part of “the sales process.” And from our perspective, the process is all about communication. We call it a “sales conversation.

Hopefully you are in the right place, because we’ve been dealing with sales and marketing for over 25 years. Some of those years were pretty spectacular, as I hope the case histories show. (At last count some years ago, our campaigns had resulted in nearly $5 billion in sales!)

Of course, along the way we learned some valuable lessons, too. And some principles that seem to hold up year after year even as technology changes the playing field. This page will introduce you to some of those principles. Let’s jump in . . .

“Do you want leads, or do you want sales?”

So many sales people I’ve known have come to disregard the “inquiries” their company provides, or even the leads they themselves develop. “These leads are worthless!” they cry, tossing the lead cards or lists aside without really looking at them.

Yes, it’s a waste of time to follow up on many leads. (They shouldn’t even be called “leads!”)

But in our experience, a well-planned and executed lead generation program will produce good leads. In fact, the right program generates leads that result in sales and even set the stage for repeat customers.

What goes into the “winning” lead generation program?

It starts off as a carefully planned sales conversation that identifies a potential client’s interest in your product or service. Sometimes that “interest” disguises desperation or anxieties – and it takes time to uncover the real cause.

(People showing only a simple curiosity about your product or service are quickly diverted elsewhere.)

The conversation continues, identifying participants, discussing the issues. establishing the full “value” of solving the problem, and examining potential solutions. Ultimately, and hopefully, the best solution is one you can offer!

Throughout, these conversations are moving you and the client through the steps of the sales process.

Depending on your experience in sales, you’ll recognize the flow of the conversation described above and you’ll adjust your strategy as the process unfolds.

But, can you always make it happen just like that? Of course not. Perfect as your sales process may be, it may not match your prospect’s buying process.

Still, a well-designed lead generation program makes these conversations a whole lot more productive. So how do we come up with a good lead generation program?

A strong program starts with research.

Research findings are incorporated into every marketing piece and every step of the conversation! Before you begin you’ll need answers to marketing questions like these:

  • Who has a legitimate, appropriate interest in what you have to offer?
  • What circumstances underlie their interest?
  • How urgent is their need?
  • What do they stand to gain by talking with you?
  • What do they need to know about your service or product in order to make a decision?
  • Is the person you’re talking to the decision maker, an influencer or the end user? Who else is involved in the buying decision and what information do THEY need to have?
  • Are you able to adapt to the client’s buying process?

Research helps keep you on track, allowing for disciplined and directed conversations.

You have no time to be in conversation with the wrong people or with the wrong information. (They are likely to recognize the problem before you do!)

On the other hand, with a strong understanding of the client’s situation and buying process, and remembering that the objective at each step in the sales process is to get to the next step, you can systematically guide these conversations to a successful conclusion. . .

. . . as long as you don’t get impatient and try to close prematurely!

Always remember that advertising is “propaganda” and that’s a one-way process. Good marketing communications, whether verbal, written, or face-to-face, are two-way. And a successful sale is a communication in the form of a two-way conversation.