For startups selling to businesses, client referral, trade events, and corporate sponsorships have been the traditional methods of lead generation. These methods have been helping startups grow profitably for years now. However, if they are looking for exponential growth, they soon realize that these methods fall short. The simple reason is that they are not scalable because of the human dependence in all three methods.
Software products which are specifically designed to generate business leads for startups can solve the above problem of scalability. These can mainly be classified into platform-based software products and automation-based software products.
Platform-based software products
LinkedIn has been one of the most popular platforms for lead generation. Because of the sheer amount of data about business professionals that it has, startups can find prospects on LinkedIn via its internal search engine and send them messages using the inbuilt messaging platform. The method has been very effective. LinkedIn also provides a business tool called Sales Navigator, which helps to simplify the process further and add scalability to it.
LinkedIn qualifies as a platform where the data is crowdsourced. There are also software data platforms like Fundoodata and Clearbit which actively collect and enrich the data of businesses. Startups can use the data from Fundoodata and Clearbit to run cold calling campaigns and targeted advertisements and convert this data into leads.
Marketplace platforms like Indiamart, BankBazaar, and SoftwareSuggest are equally effective as lead generation platforms for startups. They organise information on specific industries, which SMEs or other enterprises can access for free. These platforms help businesses make better buying decisions and in return offer optional services like assistance in finding vendors, evaluation of vendors, etc. If the user opts for any of the services, user details are shared with the startup as a qualified lead. Such leads have much higher chances of sales closure as they have already been nurtured by the marketplace.
Automation-based software products
Email automation is still the most popular scalable method of lead generation. For running an automation campaign, startups need email data and a software tool which can send out targeted emails on specific actions. A tool called Email Hunter can help you collect such data. All one needs to do is put in certain target keywords in the tool; it will crawl the web and get you the relevant email IDs.
Once you have the email IDs using Email Hunter or any of the other above methods, you can set up email automation using a tool like Hubspot. This will involve sending product information, use case, case study, and other relevant materials to your targeted list of customers. Over time, customers’ latent requirement turns into an active need, turning them into leads.
Email automation has been around for about 10 years now. There also exist modern day software like Leadworks and Zopim which help identify and nurture visitors to your website and convert them into leads.
Leadworks helps startups identify the company which has visited. It uses Artificial Intelligence built on IP address cookies, web login data, etc. to give enriched data on who has been visiting the startups’ website. The startup can then run email campaigns as explained above for these identified companies and convert them to warm leads.
Zopim, on the other hand, helps enable easy-to-use chat on the startup’s website. It helps in nurturing visitors on the website into leads by having a conversation. A visitor can easily ask questions right on the website and get immediate answers. This increases the velocity of moving the leads from the status of a visitor to confirmed buyer. For commoditized startup products with low pricing, the visitor-to-sales time can be reduced to as low as 24 hours using such a chat tool.
Lead generation is of great importance to any business. But for startups, it assumes a crucial degree of significance. This is because it is not practical for startups, which are typically low on funds, to rely on the traditional methods of lead generation. The various software and tools mentioned above are perfect for startups because they get the job done in a cost-effective manner. Most importantly, they impart scalability to startups, which are constantly on the path of growth. They need solutions that will grow with their business. Platform- and automation-based software products make lead generation lucrative without compromising scalability.
Ankit Dudhwewala is CEO and Founder of SoftwareSuggest.