Lead Development

Like every sales person knows, generating high-quality, new leads is the way to generate high-quality, new business. Expecially in small farm product direct sales, it's also one of the hardest things you will do to help your farm sales grow. Getting low-quality leads is much easier, but don't let that sway you into just adding names to your list. The hours you spend entering the information will probably be wasted, not to mention the frustration you will feel when you send out information and nobody responds.

In order to build a high-quality email list of potential customers, a few boring suggestions (I never said this would be exciting):

  • Build your list for the long-term. This will lead to long-term customers. How do you do that? Simply by adding timely content to your website that covers the topics your potential customers are dying to read about.  Then post links to your new post on Facebook, Twitter or where ever else your audience is hiding. Finally, compile links to several of your must-have posts into a newsletter and send it out to your lead list, asking your readers to pass the newsletter on to their friends and neighbours. Wasn't that easy?crowd-final
  • Subscribe to an email marketing service. Constant Contact, MailChimp, AWeber and others all have basic packages that cost about $20 per month. Play a mind game with yourself -- remind yourself that this service is costing money, so your list better generate some sales to pay for it. These services will sort your list, provide templates that make your material look professional, provide a variety of testing options and track who opened your email, when it was opened, if there are any click-throughs to your website posts and whether the recipient shared your email with someone else. Of course, it also tells you which email addresses on the list are not live, so you can clean your list on a regular basis.
  • Decide on what your list should be. If it is a revenue generator, don't offer something free to get email addresses and then expect those same people to start spending money with you. But, if you want to build a 'community' around your business or farm and its products, then offering free reports or engaging with your potential customers on issues of common interest may get you what you're after. 
  • Create a 'perfect customer' profile -- this customer is everything you want in a customer. It probably (hopefully) describes some of your current customers, so this is who you want more of on your lead list. Once you have identified these customers, ask them to recommend you to their friends, to point their friends to your website or bring them along on their next visit. These people will be the high-quality leads that you're after. Also ask questions about where your customers live, where they shop and what brought them to you originally. The answers to these questions will guide you in where you can look for new customers.
  • Don't buy email lists - ever. In farming as in small business, your customers are mostly locals and the companies selling emailing lists can't separate them enough to be of any value to you. And even if they could, the names on those lists are far from being your perfect customer.

What are some things that you use to profile your customers and reach out to them? Share them with other readers by commenting below.

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