“This should be the topic of your next web column,” a client told me recently. We were reviewing his sources for new business, and some weren’t lead sources. They were business resources. Here’s a brief explanation of the difference between a lead source and business resource.
Lead Sources: Who They Know
Simply put, lead sources know people. Lead sources are other business owners or contacts whose companies sell products or services that are complementary to the ones your company provides. A lead source may also be one of your own current or past customers or suppliers. Two essential characteristics of lead sources are:
- They know and interact with people who match your target customer profile.
- They are willing and able to connect you to people who meet your target customer profile or express interest in your product or service.
For example, the real estate agent who refers buyers or sellers to an interior designer is a lead source.
Business Resources: What They Do
Business resources help you to deliver value to your customers through specific products or expertise. Characteristics of business resources are:
- They provide specialized products or services on an as-needed basis.
- They provide products or services to your customers, but do not provide you with referrals.
The law firm you call to provide a specific service for your customers, such as a will or a trademark application? That’s a business resource, unless that law firm is also referring customers to you.
Converting Resources to Sources
The best source relationships are a two-way street, based on give-to-get, mutual referrals. Here are five ways to convert resources into sources:
- Describe your target customer in detail. For example, if your target customer is the director of finance for a manufacturing company, provide your source with specific companies that are a good fit for your business.
- If your source is a customer who fits your ideal customer profile, help your customer to think about similar people among family, friends, work colleagues, neighbors, professional and social groups, or business contacts.
- Suggest a mutual introduction and a timeline, such as: “I appreciate your introducing me by email to Jane. Will this afternoon or tomorrow morning work for you?”
- If your source prefers face-to-face interactions, provide your business cards with the message “Referred by (source’s name)” on the back.
- Draft an email referral message for your source to forward to potential customers. Add your email address to the cc line, and add a link to your website or LinkedIn profile in the body of the email.
Both lead sources and business resources are helpful to business owners. So is knowing the difference, and the impact each has on your business.