How To Get Corporate Clients: The Ultimate Guide

4 Powerful Lead Generation Strategies for Corporate Clients


Introduction to Winning Corporate Clients

Critical Success Factors for Winning Corporate Clients

How to Target the Best and Most Valuable Corporate Clients for You

4 Powerful Lead Generation Strategies for Corporate Clients

Follow-Up Techniques to Win More Corporate Clients

Selling to Corporates: the Best Approaches for Enrolling Clients

Resources for Winning Corporate Clients

Once you've identified which corporate clients to target and the individuals within those clients to focus on, your next step is to make initial contact with them or otherwise get on their radar screen. In marketing circles this is commonly known as lead generation.

In this article we'll review four of the most effective yet underused methods for generating corporate leads.

For corporate clients, your lead generation goal should be to get a meeting or call with a potential client.

Getting your name known is fine. Getting them on an email list is great. But for corporate clients, a meeting or call is where the work really begins.
And if you want to speak directly to corporate clients you have to ask your self the question "why would this person want to meet with me?"

Why would this person want to meet with me?

Back when I first started working with corporate clients in the 90s it was common practice for buyers to have meetings with potential suppliers to learn about their capabilities and to get updates on "what's new" in the marketplace.

These days that rarely happens.

According to a 2019 Gartner study, business-to-business buyers spend only 17% of their time talking to potential suppliers compared to 45% of their time doing their own independent research.
Which means that today, you need a much stronger reason before a potential corporate client will be willing to meet with you.

Offering to meet up to "discuss how we might be able to help you" or to "explore your problems and challenges" is just not a compelling use of time for busy executives in large organisations. You need to offer something they'll get immediate value from if you want to get on their agenda.

And that's especially true given that the vast majority of time, they're not actively looking for help. 

By the time they're well advanced into their buying process when they finally need to speak to potential suppliers it's often too late to make a big impression or build the relationships needed for them to feel comfortable working with you.

Most often the project ends up being awarded to someone who they already know: either because they're an incumbent, or because that person started talking to them when they were still in the early phases of discovering and exploring their problem or goal.

So if you want to position yourself for success, you need to be talking to potential clients in that early phase too. And that means you need a compelling reason for them to meet with you before they're looking to hire someone.

That means you need to offer them some kind of meeting or call that they'll get tremendous value from and will be helpful to them in those early stages where they're still exploring their problem and potential solutions. Or perhaps even before they’ve identified a specific problem to focus on.

Typically, corporate clients always value hearing more about:

  • What their customers are thinking and doing
  • What their competitors are thinking and doing (e.g. best practices/benchmarking)
  • Big external trends that will affect them (e.g. technology, legal, economic, societal, etc).
The key is that you have to be perceived as being able to provide valuable new insight and information in these areas that they can't easily find elsewhere. So it needs to be different to information they can easily find online, from your competitors, or from their own research.

And the more that information is perceived as objective rather than just your opinions and ideas, the more attractive it will be to them. For example, the results from a benchmarking study you did into customer service best practices in their sector. Or a survey you did with their target market.

That's why perhaps the most powerful approach to lead generation is to do an Authority Research Project.

Lead Generation for Corporate Clients: Authority Research Projects

An Authority Research Project is a custom piece of research you carry out with the twin goals of creating valuable content that will position you as an expert in your field, and introducing you to potential clients.

In essence, it's a smaller scale version of the approach that made people like Tom Peters and Jim Collins famous (and some of the highest paid and most sought after experts in their fields).

It's a significant investment of your time - but it comes with a huge payoff.

An authority research project serves double-duty in terms of lead generation:
  • It generates unique insights that your competitors can't match and that corporate clients will value and be willing to meet you to discover.
  • The process of doing the research gets you talking to potential clients in a context that positions you as an expert. 
One of the most powerful aspects of an authority research project is the way it can get you in front of potential clients relatively easily.

Most corporate clients are reluctant to meet potential suppliers for what they might perceive as a sales meeting. But they're very happy to participate in a research project with the potential to give them valuable new insights.

You mustn't abuse the opportunity by turning a research interview into a sales pitch. It won't take long for that to destroy your reputation. But what you'll find is that by asking smart questions as part of your research you'll begin to build your credibility and your interactions with potential clients will start a personal relationship. I've often had clients turn to me at the end of interviews and ask me how I could help them. 

Your main opportunity, of course, comes when you present your research results back to potential clients.

Not only will you be sharing valuable new ideas and insights, you'll get the opportunity to ask potential clients about their biggest problems in the areas of your research and to talk about their options for making progress.

So at worst, you'll have found out where their biggest issues are and established yourself as an expert in those areas while building your relationship by delivering tremendous value to them.

And at best, they'll ask you directly how you could help them in those areas.

You can download a detailed guide to running an authority research project by clicking here or on the image below. The guide will walk you through all the steps, including:
  • Choosing the right research topic
  • Finding potential clients to interview and getting them to participate
  • Which questions to ask in your research project
  • How to execute the project
  • The best ways to analyse the results
  • How to present back the results and use them in your marketing
  • An example interview

Lead Generation for Corporate Clients: Referrals

Corporate decision-makers may not take your call or cold email – but they will pay attention if you've been recommended by someone they trust.

Your best step here is to make sure you're connected on Linkedin to your best contacts (e.g. ex-clients and clients) who you're confident would recommend you, and to then look at their contact base or use the Linkedin search to find people who you'd like introductions to. 
If you search for your ideal clients on Linkedin it'll show you who your common contacts are, and if you know them well enough you can ask them for a referral.

Don't use Linkedin itself to ask for the referral. Reach out in person to your contact, either on the phone or email. Explain who you'd like an introduction to and why.

And rather than asking for an introduction for a meeting to introduce yourself, tell them about the valuable insight you'd like to share with that person (e.g. the results of your authority research project or other source of new ideas).

Your contact should be able to see that this will be incredibly valuable to the person you're asking for an introduction to, and so they're much more likely to make that introduction than if they think they're setting up their contact for a sales pitch.

For more details on this strategy of using valuable insight and ideas to increase referrals, see this short video on How to Motivate People to Refer You.

Lead Generation for Corporate Clients: Presentations and Seminars

Nothing gives you a better opportunity to prove your capabilities than to make a presentation in front of an audience of potential clients.

If you're targeting corporates, you'll have to work to find out which events their senior decision-makers attend. It's far more likely to be a high-end industry conference than it is to be a local chamber event, for example.
Or, armed with new insights from your authority research project, you could organise your own small-scale seminar and invite your ideal corporate clients.

You goal in a lead generation presentation isn't to sell, it's to raise awareness of issues and solutions with your potential clients, and to build your credibility.

Ideally you want attendees at your presentation to "raise their hands" for some form of follow-up with you. That could be relatively light touch: a discussion after the presentation and an agreement to touch base in a few weeks time. Or it could be to set up a follow-up 1-1 meeting to go into some of the areas you discussed in more detail.

My experience with lead generation presentations is that "new" works better than "how to".

A "how to" presentation may get great feedback. But ultimately it doesn't lead the attendees to think that they can only get this information from you. You become just one of many who knows how to implement.

"New" information that triggers a lightbulb moment for them will not only motivate them to find out more, it will set you apart as being to only person with this valuable insight. Combine that with a compelling narrative and the stage is set for a presentation that generates high quality leads interested in working with you.

Lead Generation for Corporate Clients: Direct Mail

In these days where we're overwhelmed with email, good old direct mail is making a comeback.

Not flyers and adverts – but well-written letters that offer something of value rather than pitching. And hand addressed.
Even better: send “lumpy mail”: a package with a relevant object accompanying the letter.  Like a message in a bottle if you offer communications consultancy, or a squeezy stress toy if you offer risk management consultancy.

After all, who doesn't open packages addressed to them with a sense of anticipation?

As with the other lead generation methods we've mentioned, your offer in the letter should be for some kind of high-value 1-1 call or presentation where you offer to share new and useful insights on an important issue for your potential clients.

With your Perfect 10 prospects you can tailor the letter and/or lumpy mail object to the specific client. With your Dream 100 you'll take a more standardised approach sending the same letter and object to everyone.

Direct mail is something of a numbers game. You can reach many more potential clients than using referrals or presentations. But you chance of converting each one o a call or meeting is relatively low. To up your chance, consider sending a sequence of mailings - usually three is enough to prompt a response from those who your offer clicks with.  

Next step

Follow-Up Strategies for Corporate Clients

Learn how to follow up while adding value to build your relationship with corporate clients and get into pole position for when they're ready to buy:

  • The Personal Touch
  • Systematising your Follow Up
  • Valuable, Interesting Follow Up that builds Credibility and Trust