When it comes to lead generation, engineering firms have a tougher job than consumer businesses, as not only does cultivating new customers take time, but if marketing is too ‘out there’ it could impact on the firm’s perceived reliability.
So says Louise Robinson, sales director of CG Consulting, who says that many businesses are doing the same thing, despite saying their processes and systems are unique. “In reality, when you look at 20 engineering firms with a similar specialty, they offer a very similar array of services.”
She says it’s hard for engineering firms to differentiate themselves, as potential customers are looking for trustworthiness, reliability, and a good reputation, as opposed to a radical alternative to the expected firm. “Getting new customers involves a long and time-consuming lead generation process, meaning the business needs to build its profile and form relationships way before the potential client is actually ready to bring a new firm on board.”
According to Robinson, this poses the question: “What tactics work, and where are the opportunities for engineering firms to better their results?”
“Lead generation remains the most effective way to build a new client base. Businesses who rely on referrals alone are finding themselves in hot water, as they are not enough to generate sufficient new business. Unfortunately, too many engineering firms are now well known by their potential customers and target audience, which means a focus on lead generation becomes even more important.”
She says many firms rely on a combination of referrals, cold calling, and appearing at conferences and trade shows. “Cold calling, despite the fact that it has a bad reputation, actually works. However, in order for it to be effective, the caller must know details about the prospective client. This is where having a good database / lead-generation provider comes in, as time will not be lost calling clients who have no interest in your services.”
Robinson says too many businesses make crucial mistakes, such as not listening to their potential clients’ needs or not having a thorough understanding of the industry in which they’re operating. “A qualified list of leads will ensure that you call prospects with the right offer. Cold calls that offer no value will get you nowhere. Don’t start by running through your firm’s strengths and past clients if you want to secure a meeting; be prepared and have a specific offer based on the prospect’s needs.”
In comparison to other, more consumer-focussed industries, engineering firms are behind the curve when it comes to using lead generation properly. “Effective lead generation will become increasingly important for engineering firms, as will integrating lead-generation with other marketing efforts, whether email or search marketing, cold calling ad similar,” says Robinson.
“However, the hardest part of lead generation for engineering firms is finding the time to do it. In order for it to be effective, it must be done by company leaders or professionals, not office support staff. Again, this is where having a lead-generation partner comes in, as it is hard to pull top professionals away from their core business and focus on existing clients.”