January 25, 2013

How to Generate Hot Leads for Enterprise Startups

You’re a fresh new startup. You have 6 people on the team. Half of your team is the product development team. If you’re lucky, you’ve got another guy working with you in sales and marketing. If you’re not, it’s only you.

You’re competing with companies who have established sales teams, with leads coming through the door, and with partner distribution networks you only dream of. How do you compete?

Startup Enterprise Sales
It’s an uphill battle. A gruelling grind. You’re fighting for each and every opportunity to present your product to anyone who will care. Sometimes, only to have them not buy because of reasons like “we can’t do anything until next month”, “it doesn’t work with my favorite browser”, and “if only it had this one more feature…”

Selling to the wrong companies will kill your company.

You cannot afford to be selling to customers who are unqualified. They are less likely to see the value of your product, less likely to experience the problems that you’re solving, and less likely to take their credit cards out and pay you.

We learned this the hard way at Ecquire.

Getting Enterprise Users

If you believe in the consumerization of enterprise software (which you should), then you already have a way of getting new leads. Give your product away. Let users take your product for a spin. Let them see and understand why they should care about your product.

If you’re solving a big enough problem for someone working at an enterprise, that person will care. Just be clear who that person is. Make sure your marketing and messaging is catered towards that person. Speak only to them.

Make it Easier to Access your Product

Just by having your product available with the right messaging is not enough. Every additional step required to try your product is another barrier keeping your potential customer away.

Things like signup forms, tool authorizations, usernames, passwords, and downloads. This does not mean that you should get rid of all the things mentioned. A little bit of work qualifies your lead. It shows that they actually care enough to put in some work. Don’t waste time on tire kickers.

Make an Impact with the First Run of your Product

Onboarding new users to Ecquire

The worse type of new product experience is one where you’ve done all the work of signing up and downloading, just to be dropped off in a huge hot mess. Too many buttons, too many options, so you leave.

Go the extra step to show your user the one key experience that will make them think “oh! that solves my problem.”

Customize the Experience

Create a way for you to connect with your users. At Ecquire, our product is deeply integrated with Gmail, so we created a way for users to personally email me as part of their onboarding process.

This gives me a channel to personally reach out to our new users to introduce myself and welcome them without sounding too spammy.

Identifying the Right Leads

Here is where things all the pieces fall into place. Every single new user who emails me is a potential lead. A very qualified lead.

  • They have self-filtered by actually going through with signing up and downloading our product.
  • They’ve seen our tutorial and are familiar with how the product works.
  • They have emailed me so that I have a way of personally reaching out to them.

All there is to do, is to choose which ones are the right leads. I use Rapportive to gain more contextual information about our new users.


If you’ve done your work, you know exactly the right type of person and company who would benefit from your product.

Rapportive helps me to learn more about the person on the other end of the email. I quickly get a snapshot of their title, company, and where I can find more information.

Tag and Organize Leads

Enterprise leads in your CRM are only valuable if they get acted upon. Leave them there for over a month and they become stale and your chances of closing will be drastically reduced.

Have a way of organizing leads and cycling through them so that they don’t become stale. With Highrise, we tag all new potential enterprise leads. All contacts tagged as “Enterprise Lead” are individually contacted to see if we can develop them into a sale. If not, they are re-tagged or closed.

Hitting the ground running when you’re in a startup is tough. You won’t beat your incumbents at what they’re already good at. Instead, rely on being agile, innovative, and the ability to make changes on the spot. Make changes to your product, totally revamp your branding, and build strong partnerships early on. You never know when you’ll catch your big fish.

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