The Ultimate Lead Generation Strategy to help your Agency secure Startup clients

Let’s get your agency on the path to a successful lead generation strategy. We’ll follow the simple recommendations I’ve laid out in this blog. Just remember that 50% of marketers consider lead generation to be a top priority in their marketing campaigns.

I spent 2 years as a Startup founder figuring out how to sell to other Startups. I plan to give you the secrets you will need to sell to someone exactly like me! 🎯

When I launched Prelo, I knew I had to do things differently. So, I started to study patterns and strategies in the marketing space to make sure we were going to be successful.

B2B sales is extremely tough, it’s several orders of magnitude more difficult for a small business like mine. If you are an agency or a consultant, it’s highly likely that you do most of the work yourself.

I should know, I am a Startup founder, and my Startup is also a small business. 😊

In this blog we are going to break down what makes a good sales lead, how to create and execute the right lead generation strategy to get clients from the Startup world knocking on your door.

Lead generation strategies rely on accurate data.

Understand what makes a good sales lead

A good sales lead has some sort of interest in your product or service.

They also have clarity as to why they need your product or service. If they aren’t interested in your product or service, then they won’t be interested in buying it.

In this section, I’m going to share some of the signals to watch out for and ensure that you have the right tools to help you spot a good sales lead.

I get it we are all extremely busy, even as I write this blog, I have one hundred and one things I’m yet to finish today. That is the life of an entrepreneur and that is why we need targeted help such as lead generation strategies to help us scale our business.

Key differences between sales leads vs sales prospects

Many marketers use the term sales leads and sales prospects interchangeably and this causes me some confusion. So, I made it my job to work out what the distinct difference is between a lead and a prospect, once I found out things became clearer.

What’s a sales lead?

A sales lead is an individual or an entity that is at the very beginning of a sales cycle. You as an agency will typically have limited information about them. You may have spoken to them once or twice, perhaps you met them at an event.

What’s a sales prospect?

A sales prospect is a lead that’s been qualified. As a business, it’s your job to qualify your leads, for example a digital agency business may have an ideal customer profile that looks something like this:

Tech Startup with 11 – 50 employees and a revenue range or recent funding of $10m.

How to find leads and prospects in your sales life cycle

Imagine your sales cycle as a funnel with 3 stages, at the very top you have sales leads, in the middle you have sales prospects and at the bottom you have sales opportunities. Just think of leads and prospects as individuals at different stages in your sales cycle.

Successful lead generation strategies require you to know the difference between a sales lead and a sales prospect
Successful Lead generation Strategies require you to know the difference between a lead and a prospect

How to identify a good sales lead for your agency

Identifying a good sales lead is an art and a science. The art is in reading between the lines based on their feedback to your service and the science is in creating an accurate lead scoring matrix.

This example is based on an agency. The agency can be a recruitment, digital, consulting or marketing agency that is looking for good leads in the Startup space.

1. Make sure to have good data about your leads

Data about a potential lead is extremely important. Data helps you to qualify your leads and turn them into prospects. Also, it is worth noting that almost 50% of businesses doing B2B sales consider lead qualification to be one of the most difficult challenges.

Here is an example of good data you should have about a Startup

  1. Key decision makers
  2. Middle management contacts
  3. Last investment raised
  4. Size of the company
  5. Hiring Updates
  6. Industry Sector
  7. Email address
  8. LinkedIn Contact

Prelo will provide all of the data you need to help you identify and qualify a good sales lead. Find out more about the data you can access from Prelo to help you discover more qualified leads.

2. Find out where they are in the buyer journey

The closer a lead is to “buying your product/service” the easier it is to convert them to becoming a client. If I’m looking for a digital agency to work on Prelo, it is your job as a digital agency to determine where I am in my search.

Awareness Stage
I’ve really made no time commitments at this point. I’m still trying to understand what a digital agency does. A great question to ask me will be “How familiar are you with digital agencies?

Education Stage
Since digital agencies provide a variety of solutions to a Startup’s problem you have to find out exactly what my problem is so that you can provide me with the right education.

Digital agencies provide services ranging from social media management to SEO consultancy services. The knowledge I demonstrate about the problem I’m trying to solve will give the agency an indication of how committed I am to find a solution.

Consideration Stage
This stage is perhaps the most critical, at this stage I’m super close to making a decision. I know what problem I want this digital agency to solve, and I’ve spoken to other agencies to compare price and service offerings.

Decision Stage
At this stage, I have all the information and I’ve compared all the relevant options on the market. I’m ready to pull the trigger and go with one of the digital agencies.

Your agency has to make it easy for me as a Startup to buy your services. Here is how to make this easy for Startups like Prelo.

  1. Make it easy to understand your pricing page
  2. Make sure the purchasing process is simple
  3. Make clear what’s included in the service
  4. Work towards a deadline or a milestone

Knowing where your leads and/or prospects are in the buyer’s journey is the most efficient way to help you identify a good sales lead.

How to create an effective lead generation strategy

You can use many different strategies to generate leads for your agency. Two of the easiest ways to do this is by using email outreach campaigns and social media outreach campaigns.

Social media sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter allow you to connect with people who might be interested in what you offer.

We have created Prelo to help you identify the email and social media contact details of key decision makers working in the top funded Startups.

What is a good lead generation strategy for an Agency?

The best lead generation strategy for digital and consulting agencies starts with knowing your ideal customers and niching down on them.

If you want to work with Startups, then you need good data to launch your Lead generation strategy. Focus on the type of Startups you want to work with and go all-in. Learn about the industry and their characteristics.

The Startup ecosystem is vast, it’s not good enough to say you want to work with “Startups”, you have to be laser targeted to execute a good lead generation strategy.

So why not just work with small to medium sized EdTech Startups raising between $2m and $10m. If you are a slightly bigger agency, then focus on medium to large Artificial Intelligence & Sustainability Startups with $40m – $80m in funding. These are just examples, but you get the idea.

Prelo is laser focused on helping our customers find small to medium sized Startups with money!

4 Useful lead generation strategies to help you target more Startups

1. Get more social proof on your website

87% of buying decisions are conducted online, so make it your responsibility to ask previous clients to share reviews of your services online. Be specific about how you’ve helped them to improve their business.

Here is a very simple example for you:
XYZ’s SEO services has improved our monthly website visits by 40% over 3 months.

On average, customers read about 10 online reviews before they make a buying decision. As a Startup founder, when I go to an agency’s website, I’m actively looking for social proof.

Make it easy for me by positioning your social proof messages closer to the top of your landing page, this is extremely important in helping potential clients like me make quick decisions.

2. Collect data about your ideal customers

Data is the new gold. I know it’s a cliche but if you plan on getting your agency in front of Startups, you need to know more about them.

To do that you have to collect different types of data. Collect specific data that will help you to understand where to find Startups. A platform like Prelo is a great place to discover funded Startups.

There are other platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, Beauhurst and AngelList where you will find generic data about all types of Startups.

It is worth noting that 88% of marketers surveyed by Forbes regularly use data from companies like Prelo to get a better understanding of their customers.

Also use Google Analytics (GA) to discover where your current set of customers are coming from.

Google Analytics will tell you the countries and the social media channels that’s generating the most traffic. It will also tell you which of the newsletters you sponsored generated the highest amount of interest.

Having all this information allows you to tailor your lead generation strategy to a specific country and a specific type of Startup.

3. Show up on social media

Joining social media may seem daunting at first, but it’s become more of a marketing necessity these days. The problem that a lot of companies and agencies have, is not knowing how to “show up” on social media.

Showing up, as with everything requires you to be on social media with a clear intention to attract more Startups as clients. The easiest way to do this is to post content that will help Startups save money or grow.

If you are just starting out on social media, then the best thing to do is raise brand awareness. To raise brand awareness, you have to create and share top of the funnel content ToFu.

Top of the funnel example content is something like, top 20 Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tricks every Startup can use to boost their content marketing strategy.

The last ToFu blog I wrote shared 40 top performing subject lines that digital agencies can use for their lead generation email campaigns.

4. Use marketing automation

Marketing automation is your secret weapon as a solopreneur or small digital agency.

Creating and utilizing email templates that connect directly to your CRM is a great lead generation strategy. This is the most efficient way to scale your direct outreach.

At Prelo we use email templates and add personalization to them before scheduling via our email scheduling platform.

Our scheduling platform of choice is Sendpulse. You can use Hubspot, Close, Mailchimp or any other marketing automation tool that works well with your marketing tech stack.

Email marketing automation tools have been seen to improve revenue for small businesses. Over 70% of companies see a return in investment within the first year of implementing a marketing automation tool into their business!

How to get started with your lead generation strategy

If you’re looking for an easy way to generate leads for your small business, then you should consider starting with social media. It’s one of the easiest ways to reach potential customers because it allows you to interact directly with them.

Learn the different types of Sales leads

You can use lead generation strategies to find new clients, build relationships with existing ones, and even sell products and services. In fact, there are so many different types of leads that it can be hard to decide which strategy will work best for your business.

Below we’ve shared some of the most common types of leads your agency and/or small business will encounter on a regular basis.

Hot Leads

A hot lead is a company or an individual that’s shown a direct interest in your services. You’ll be aware of this because they would have requested a demo, spoken to you or used a trial version of your product.

I know a hot lead on Prelo because they’ve either connected with me on social media, used the free version of Prelo or they’ve sent me a direct email requesting to find out more about the paid version.

Hot leads are ready to buy your product or service, the only thing that could stop them from pulling the trigger is the level of customer service you give them before they become a customer.

So, for us at Prelo we deliver the same service as we would give our existing customers.

Warm Leads

A warm lead is somebody that’s already aware of your business. They know about your services and have a good idea how it will help them in their business.

Unlike a hot lead, they haven’t reached out to you directly, but they’ve read your newsletter and probably follow you on LinkedIn or Twitter.

You can convert warm leads into paying clients by sharing the latest news about the services you provide. For example, you can share an update about a new discount deal you are offering to new customers.

Some agencies like to include surveys in their newsletters, for example they run polls and ask subscribers how they can improve their services.

Qualified Leads

Often people just group qualified leads into one bucket, but for the purpose of this deep dive blog, there are broadly three types of qualified leads.

  1. Information Qualified Leads (IQL)
  2. Sales Qualified Leads (SQL)
  3. Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL)

1. Information Qualified Leads
Information qualified leads are potential customers who have looked at some information about your services. For example, when Startups research digital agencies, it’s typically about a specific service.

2. Sales Qualified Leads
Sales qualified leads are leads that have been identified by you as someone you as a lead you would want to have a meeting with.

Before you decide to have a meeting with them, you’ll have to make sure that they meet the minimum requirement you’ve set for them to qualify for the meeting.

Note: Since this blog has been written for marketing agencies and/or consulting agencies we are going to assume that “you” are performing the function of a “sales team”.

3. Marketing Qualified Leads
Marketing qualified leads are leads that checked out your marketing content. They’ve read your blog or subscribed to your newsletter. Perhaps they’ve liked your social media post or even left a comment.

These indicators are items that you could include into your sales lead scoring tool to help set a threshold for determining if they are ready to buy your product or services.

Cold Leads

As the old saying goes, you can’t make an omelette without breaking an egg.

Similarly, you can’t create a lead generation strategy without starting with cold leads.

Cold leads are potential customers that fit your ideal customer persona.

They may not have shown any interest in your product or services, but they’ve demonstrated all the characteristics that your existing customers have.

So how do you convert cold leads into paying customers? The answer is by nurturing them.

Start with the awareness stage and share really useful top of the funnel content. Topics like, “10 Simple things we did to 10x traffic for our first Startup Client”

Discover how to turn sales leads into clients

If you want to make more money, then you need to learn how to convert prospects into customers. This means finding out what makes people buy your services, and then using those insights to help them choose the right product or service.

Make sure you have a deep understanding of the marketing funnel

Understand the marketing funnel. The top of the funnel is the awareness stage as discussed in the previous section and the bottom of the funnel is the decision stage.

Some books only share the middle of the funnel as being the conversion stage and others share the middle of the funnel as the Interest and/or the Desire stage.

A good content library is a prerequisite for your lead generation strategy
Build a good content library to support your lead generation strategy

Knowing where your leads are in the marketing funnel will determine the type of content and the type of improvements you need to make to optimize revenue.

I hate to dampen your enthusiasm as a digital agency, but most digital agencies I’ve used have typically come from recommendations or from a direct outreach message that lands in my inbox at the right time.

Create highly converting landing pages

There are a number of rules for creating highly converting landing pages. The number one rule is to create a website copy that helps customers like myself immediately understand what you specialize in.

Lead generation strategy requires a good website copy that explains exactly what your agency does. This will help in converting customers that visit your website.
Example of Sculpt as an agency that specializes in one thing – B2B Social Media marketing.

This is amazing because it means, I know what they are really good at. So, you know exactly where I’ll go to bring onboard a social media marketing agency.

Optimize your sales meetings to handle objections

One of the best and most effective ways to handle objections is to listen to the objection. Once you’ve fully understood the objection, repeat the objections back to the customer.

Use phrases like the four examples I’ve listed below.

  1. I see your point…
  2. Other clients have asked precisely this question
  3. I totally understand your concerns…. you feel that….
  4. In other words, you feel that…

Ensure that your prospects validate your understanding of their objection. Once they validate your understanding you can move on to handle the objection.

There are 7 ways to handle an objection and you as a business owner will have to understand each one of them. Substitution, Boomerang, Question and Superior Point, Denial and Demonstration, Third-Party

Create amazing product/service demos

Amazing product demos are underrated. If you can demo your service as a digital agency, then that’s awesome.

One of the things myself and other Startups will be interested in is a simple 5 minute demo that shows how your digital marketing service has 10x the number of page visitors for a Startup client.

If you sell a product on top of your services, then use something like Arcade to show a quick demo of the products your current customers are using to optimize sales and increase revenue.

Follow up regularly with your prospect

At Prelo we’ve created about 25 nurturing email templates to help you with follow ups. These templates help to keep your customers up to date on the industry landscape and any specific offers you may have.

Sending out an update every week is a great frequency that provides just enough information without overwhelming your customers.

Prelo’s nurturing email templates are amazing for pulling together a structure for a follow-up email

Set some major deadlines

Setting some deadlines is the quickest way to commit your leads to make a decision. However, be careful how you do this. I’ve been in a few meetings where I’ve felt as though I was being backed into a corner to commit to a date.

The best way to help your potential clients make a decision on date is to try the GPCT approach to lead qualification. GPCT stands for Goals, Plans, Challenges and Timing.

So, the first thing to do is to do your best and understand their goals. For example, I may have a goal to get to 100k website visitors in 12 months.

If you are running a digital agency you need to tell me how long, do you expect tasks will take and suggest a start date in order to achieve this goal.

Similarly, if you are a recruitment agency, and my goal is to hire a team of five people in 3 months you have to help me set some realistic timelines so that I can achieve my goal.

Deadlines are a great way to assess the level of commitment a potential customer has in order to execute a lead generation strategy.

Tired of pitching to Startups with zero budget?

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Until the next time.

Olu
Founder, Prelo
I tweet about helping founders win!

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