Ask the expert: your questions on growing the business answered
In this fortnightly column, Ask The Expert, we aim to provide readers with practical advice on how to grow their businesses.
Greg Watts is our resident expert. He is the founder of Demand Creation Partners, a London-based growth consultancy that helps fintechs and paytechs to scale. A visiting lecturer at the American University in Paris and regular industry speaker, he was previously head of market acceleration at Visa Europe.
QUESTION: I’m struggling to generate leads and reach the right decision-makers – how can I refine my approach?
Alongside raising investment, generating leads is the most important thing a fintech can do. Commercial agreements and partnerships, after all, are required for growth.
But why do many fintechs struggle to create leads, reach the right decision makers, close deals and create valuable partnerships? Here are some reasons:
- You haven’t identified the right target businesses
- Your approach is too generic
- You haven’t spent sufficient time identifying key stakeholders
- Your offering and content doesn’t resonate
- You don’t spend time in the right places generating awareness of your business
In this column, we’ll explore why some fintechs struggle to generate leads, then provide tools and tips to enhance your approach.
- Re-evaluate your targets.
In theory, lead generation is a straightforward process. However, many businesses often fail at the first hurdle – which is to have a razor-sharp focus on targets.
For example, many fintechs decide to create partnerships with “all” retailers or banks in a particular market, then expect their sales teams to hit the phones and secure meetings. However, with finite resources, that’s often an inefficient and ineffective approach.
Fintechs need a clear set of criteria. The start point should be, what pain or benefit does your proposition fix or provide? Will you save customers money, make them more efficient or bring them more business? The criteria for each fintech will vary, but some questions to consider may include:
- Which verticals or categories do you want to focus on? Within that, which are the priorities?
- What are the characteristics of your target partners? For example, are they high frequency retailers such as coffee chains or do they boast higher than average transaction values, such as luxury brands?
- How easily can you partner with them? For example, would a Tier 1 retailer such as Tesco or Boots take more or less time to partner with than a smaller coffee chain? Given how important time to market is, targeting larger partners initially may not be the most efficient strategy.
Once you’ve evaluated your targets, you should assign weightings to prioritise your approach.
- Enhance your approach to demand generation.
We’ve previously written about demand generation in this column, and it’s critical to underscore the importance of getting it right.
Once you’ve identified your target partners, the next step is to ensure all your resources and activities are focussed around generating awareness of your business to help you secure meetings with target stakeholders – and ultimately – create and close commercial deals.
The next step is to identify buyer personas within your target companies. The reason for this is to create content that makes them want to engage with you.
As you create the buyer personas, some points to consider are:
- What problems do you fix?
- What benefits do you offer?
- Why should they engage with you?
- What channels do they engage with? How can you reach them?
- Which events or forums do they attend?
- Who – if anyone – do they currently partner with?
Typically, a business should have between four to six buyer personas for each industry. Categorise them as budget owner, influencer, key decision maker, executive sponsor and detractor. Cluster them to create segments with common challenges and issues you can solve. Ultimately, you need to articulate why they should engage with you.
Once the personas have been created, you can focus on your content plan, encompassing your website, social media feeds, thought leadership and other marketing efforts.
Finally, allocate weightings and corresponding triggers within your marketing automation system for interactions with your business. For example, if a prospect comes to your website and downloads a thought leadership article, that might be classed as sufficient to be passed to the sales team for follow-up. Assigning weightings means the sales team will already know the prospect and have an interest in their business.
- Make it a team effort.
Too frequently, lead generation is viewed as solely the sales team’s responsibility.
Yes, the role of a salesperson is to sell – however, he or she must have the full support of the business behind them when it comes to generating leads. Without that, the business will often struggle to make an impact.
At Demand Creation Partners, we believe that the entire organisation should be involved in generating leads – albeit in different ways – and that any efforts not focussed on sales should be questioned. Thinking of lead generation in these terms can help galvanise and focus your resources.
One way to instil this mindset and a create a high-performing culture is to display sales targets throughout the organisation and provide regular updates on performance. Another way is to hold a 15-minute all-hands meeting focussed on: How many leads have we generated today? What can we do to be more effective? It’s amazing how many great ideas will be generated by employees outside of the sales organization.
Bringing it all together.
Generating leads often sounds easy. However, without the right planning and focus, the results may be disappointing.
Being ruthlessly clear on who you’re targeting and why they should engage with you – and then creating content that resonates – will make for a more effective approach.