Where Do I Find Leads?
- By Charlie Howell
- Jul 01, 2015
Throughout my 25 years in this industry, which have included 12
as an integrator and 13 as a consultant, the number one question
of all time has been: where do I find leads? In the past, I have
written commentaries on efficiencies, service and technological
aptitude because it is important for an integrator to be efficient when
performing the work and to keep recurring revenue and retain customers.
During a recent conversation with a local integrator, the conversation
centered on where they get leads from, and his challenge of finding the
right resources and sources of valid leads. In fact, it reminded me of two
recent conversations from manufacturers that centered on the same question
about how consultants get leads.
So, what is a lead? It is an open door to new business. It is the first leg of
the sales cycle. It could come in the form of a phone call, a note from an existing
client about another person/company, a request for proposal (RFP),
a request for quote (RFQ), Request for qualification (RFQ), or a request for
statement of qualifications (SOQ). There are probably a few other types of
leads, but let’s take these as the bulk of lead types and lets go back to the
question: “Where do they come from?”
If you are in sales or business development, your world centers on finding
and generating leads. Your world would revolve around this very thing and
how you respond to them. What I found over my years of experience training
sales staff was that the delicate handling of a hot lead takes more talent
than skill. It’s something that you either have developed from parts of your
character or have not. I have seen fantastic personalities that were great at introducing
people to one another but couldn’t identify how to have, acknowledge
or open/close a sales conversation to save their life. As
a sales person you must to be able to recognize when the
conversation with a hot lead is turning from introductory
into the sales conversation. Taking a hot lead and turning
it into a cold call is not going to help make your quota.
Now, let’s get back to the question at hand: where do
these leads come from? The answer is there are multiple
sources and almost too many at times. We will start with
the easy ones to find which are referrals.
As an integrator you should have already focused
on how to handle service calls and complaints
when they come in, but are you prepared to
handle sales leads when they come in? Does
the person or system answering your phone
know how to identify and handle a sales lead
as it is coming in? I have seen quite a few
integrators that simply took a number and
said they would have someone call them.
The chances of that cycle happening are
dependent upon the person answering
the call and the person who is supposed
to then call them back.
A lot of the success depends upon
qualifying the lead. If the lead is a simple
pass through then we are asking the
sales person that is supposed to call
the person back to call 10 people back
to find the one real actual lead versus
the request to be the third number in a
competitive bid situation.
A lead qualification step is required to handle leads appropriately and
successfully. One way to do that is to have a lead qualification form, either
hard copy or electronic, at the fingertips of the person answering the phone.
Notice, I said person answering the phone because if your phone answering
is automated then let’s hope the person calling in selects the right option to
get to the sales department. Chances of success on catching a lead from an
automated phone answering system are low; it requires more steps for the
person calling in, and is hit and miss depending on the sophistication of
automation. A sample lead qualification form should have a minimum of
the following data:
- Name of person calling in.
- Phone number of person calling in.
- Company that person calling in works for.
- Is this an existing customer?
- Is the request for card readers or access control?
- Is the request for video surveillance cameras?
- Is the request for intrusion detection devices or system?
- When would the project happen?
- Are we bidding against other companies for this work?
- Assigned _________________ to follow up.
- When is a good time for _____________________ to reach out to you?
You don’t want the lead qualification to be too lengthy or the person
calling in feel like they are being interrogated. The above list of items can
be asked in a flowing conversation and someone can be assigned as the lead
so they are part of this conversation and not a virtual bucket where names
get dropped off in. Knowing who is going to follow up on the lead is an
important step because if it is not clear who will follow up then your sales
cycle is broken, and you need to fix it.
RFP, RFQ, SOQ, or the second RFQ are all leads that are not associated
with a person calling in but a form or document that defines the scope of
work. The word ‘define’ here is a broad spectrum of definition. The hope is
that the RFP/RFQ/SOQ has enough detail in it to identify what the scope
of the project is and if not how to ask questions to find that out. These types
of leads generally come from companies/agencies that are required to have
at least three bids in a competitive nature.
The reason RFP, RFQ and SOQ’s are created is to achieve competitive
pricing to identify the best price among qualified bidders. To identify where
to find these leads, you need to understand where they come from. These lead
types originate in a company or agency in an operational department and get
distributed through the procurement or purchasing department.
The purchasing department ends out the bids and receives the bids to
keep the process fair and non-collusive. The questions are typically answered
by the operational department in charge of the project, but the handling
of all data is normally the purchasing or procurement department.
To find these leads you either need to subscribe to a lot of different city,
municipal or government procurement notification sites. Another way of
locating these leads is to subscribe to RFP distribution sources that distribute
lists for cost each day. Bidsync and IMS are just a couple of many
different companies that provide this type of service.
These are companies that either subscribe to as many different procurement
sites from cities, municipalities or agencies as they can, or they advertise
to the end user putting the RFP out that they can get more responses.
Either way, the list is extensive and comes out daily.
This article originally appeared in the July 2015 issue of Security Today.