When you watch the television show Shark Tank, it’s easy to become disappointed when someone you’re hoping will receive an offer from one of the sharks doesn’t. You might even feel bad for the presenter. But don’t.
Because, just by appearing on the show, the person could have potentially generated millions of leads with a completely different audience than they were reaching previously, through a medium they could never have been able to afford on their own. After all, a 30-second commercial during prime hours probably costs more than most of the contestants have budgeted in marketing for the year.
Many times, these small startup businesses may not be offering a product or solution that you’re even interested in. But you enjoy their pitch and understand the concept, and even if you’re not interested, others might be.
For example, on a recent episode, someone created a new type of children’s shoe and items to adorn them. If you don’t have small children, that may have been the point at which you decided to microwave some popcorn or read about Megxit on your phone. But if you do have little ones, you may have been thinking, “Awesome idea!”
Perhaps the most famous example of snatching victory from the jaws of Shark Tank defeat is the Ring doorbell that now hangs on millions of doors around the United States. It was originally rejected by the sharks. Whoops. But people saw it, loved it and ultimately bought it—and continue to do so.
While the Ring doorbell founder didn’t go home with an injection of new funding, he gained something that’s perhaps even more valuable: lead generation, a process that attracts potential customers who may have interest in your company’s product or service.
Following is some advice to keep in mind for your lead generation initiatives, whether you’re providing a business-to-consumer (B2C) or business-to-business (B2B) offering.
Know Your Buyers (And The Influencers)
Understanding your buyer is more than simple demographics. It’s also knowing who they associate with, who their family members are, what technology they use and where they prefer to get information.
Everyone around us has wants, needs and desires. And we as human beings understand the wants, needs and desires of others. You want to reach the potential buyers of your product, but you want to cast a wider net so you can also reach a group called influencers.
Take the example of the children’s shoes and trinkets entrepreneur: In addition to parents, there are many grandparents who may wish to buy those shoes for their grandchildren. Or they might make a really nice birthday gift for a friend’s child. Even a friendly neighbor may suggest a new pair of these shoes would make a nice replacement for a child’s current ones.
In businesses that focus on services and solutions, there are also many influencers. Even though they may not be the ones who sign the check, they often make recommendations to others.
If your solution or product is primarily B2B, you will want to consider your buyers’ direct reports or peers in other organizations who could be influential in their purchasing decisions.
Know The Buying Journey
For B2C offerings, the journey is much different for someone buying a house than it is for someone who, say, buys a candy bar in the grocery checkout lane. Similarly, for a B2B offering, a group of executives deciding which technology to implement for their financial management systems is on a much different journey than someone deciding what coffee to put in their employee break stations. You need to understand how each journey works to attract the lead.
For example, to attract the young couple looking for a house, you’ll need to know what they’re looking for and provide information that matches their needs—on the web, to real estate agents, in social media and by leveraging other sources. This journey could take months. The candy bar just has to look tasty.
Buyers also take journeys in business settings. Sometimes these seem like interminable journeys if your commission is awaiting their decision. But all along these journeys, the buyers—and their influencers—are collecting information. Your job is to give them the information they’re looking for in the way they want to receive it for as long as it takes to close them.
Don’t Count Them Out, Even If They Say No
Quite often, if they don’t close a deal, a salesperson will simply give up on a lead and move on to the next one. The previous lead is effectively dead to them.
That’s a mistake, because there may be a next time when that lead bears fruit. There’s also a good chance the information the salesperson continues to share could be passed to another potential buyer. Then you have two leads.
The goal is to maintain relationships—many relationships—because there could be a chance for a sale later down the road.
Tying It Together
I’m sure when the Ring doorbell contestant went on Shark Tank, his goal was to get the money. But he may have gotten something even better: exposure to millions of people who lived in a house with a doorbell, had an internet connection and a mobile device, and who were either tired of porch pirates stealing Amazon deliveries or wanted to see who was at the door before answering.
As a result, millions of leads were generated, leading to an eventual billion-dollar acquisition by Amazon. And in a made-for-TV twist, the inventor was invited to appear on Shark Tank again, this time as a conquering hero when he became one of the sharks himself. Thus a new cycle began.
Lead generation isn’t easy. Doing it right requires a lot of time and effort. But in the end, when your lead gen efforts result in prospects and then customers, it’s worth it.