Leads groups have been around for quite some time. They differ from networking in that they are all about passing active leads to members of the group. There are many formal leads networks, such as BNI, and many informal local breakfast groups that offer the opportunity for business owners to build their business via lead sharing.
I think this is a great tactic for many types of business, but the complaints I often hear are that some groups work and some don’t depending upon the make-up of the group. Many traditional groups require a big commitment in terms of time and meetings. It’s hard to control the quantity and quality of the leads.
My advice to business owners and sales folks alike is to take the best from what works and build your own leads network.
Hand pick your team
This is perhaps one of the most important step and it should start with your current customers. You can build a best of class team for your leads group by asking your current customers what companies they like to do business with or what companies and individuals they already refer. This way you can find team members that come recommended and that you already have a common bond with.
Create a map of all of the needs for products and services that your current clients have and look to fill your leads group with 10-15 businesses and individuals that fit into that list.
Set goals and expectations
One of the things that formal leads groups are pretty good at is setting rules and regulations. While I think that is pretty important to get established right up front, it’s your selection process that might be more important.
As you are selecting team members paint a picture for how you see the group operating and talk about goals and expectations, such as how often you’ll meet and what people need to do to stay active.
One of the downfalls with current traditional groups is meeting requirements. Some groups require 90 minutes every week, with stiff penalties for missing meetings.
Technology today can take away a great deal of the need to meet as frequently face to face. I think it’s still important to do so, but I also think you should employ a tool like LocalBase to help facilitate lead sharing, tracking and scoring.
This way people can share and track leads in real time and measure and analyze the ultimate contribution of every member in the group very easily.
Another way to make your leads group stand out is to think beyond pure lead sharing and expand into the area of creating opportunities for the entire group. Once you have your group members all sorted out, why not look into ways to create content sharing opportunities like a group blog. Or, pay to have an eBook created that the entire group could pass around their customer base that lists all the group members.
Think about ways that your group members could work together to create online and offline events or offer special discounts, product samples and gift certificates for services for each other.
Make sure that you keep the “in real life” aspect of your local group alive by meeting at least once a month to share leads and expand upon the ideas to grow the group. You might even consider asking group members to invite other potential members to these meetings.
Another powerful way to enhance your monthly meetings is to turn them into networking events as well so that members of the leads group can invite and meet prospective clients.
The control that this approach gives you also allows you to create the feel to the group that really suits your way of doing business. If you like have wine at your leads group you can. If you want to give your group a fun or educational or even exotic travel retreat feel, you can do that too.
The other thing that successful implementation of this approach can potentially do for the business or salesperson that originates the group is significantly elevate your status in the community as a business leader and innovator.