How to generate leads for Internet of Things (IOT) solutions - Part 1

How to generate leads for Internet of Things (IOT) solutions - Part 1

How do you generate leads for leading-edge technologies like Internet of Things (IOT), when your proposition is not yet clearly articulated, or you don’t have a fully realised route-to-market?

Internet of Things refers to a device that can sense some aspect of the real world, like temperature, the presence of people, level of lighting, objects in the vicinity, and report or act on that information. For example, your smart fridge would read information off grocery items as you put them inside (from RFID tags), identifying eggs, milk, chocolate, ready-meals etc. The fridge then tracks expiration dates and warns you of items past their best, alerts you when groceries are running low, even places an on-line order automatically. So, essentially, IOT is increasing Machine-to Machine (M2M) communication of data collected from sensors, creating a scenario where one machine speaks to many, sharing meaningful information that is leveraged to the benefit of people.

What has any of this got to do with technology lead generation, sales and marketing?

The shift to Internet of Things is happening quickly. Like the related technology, Cloud, companies are rushing to define and develop their solutions, then bring them to market. Some of this is happening through strategic partnership (i.e. you make fridges and we’re in radio frequency tags; let’s get together to make smart fridges), some as an extension of existing investment, and many through acquisition. The pace of development is, at this stage, way ahead of adoption. What this means for marketers and sales people really depends where your company is in the product lifecycle.

You might be:

  • Going to market with a working solution and struggling to differentiate yourselves against a great deal of background noise, much of it hyperbole, that is affecting the perceived credibility of your proposition
  • Trying to engage organisations to explore partnership opportunities and struggling because you don’t yet have a clearly defined message
  • Needing to explore potential markets, and gain enough intelligence (on competitors, sales cycle, current plans etc.) to make an informed decision about where the best sales and marketing prospects lie
  • Trying to figure out who the right stakeholders are, or which organisations you should be marketing your proposition to for effective lead generation.

Don’t panic. All of this is completely normal when you’re working with a leading-edge technology in an immature market. So what should you do?

  • Search LinkedIn to find contacts with IOT-related business titles - that tells you the company they work for is serious about IOT. Think about other, related areas too, like M2M (machine-to-machine). If you don’t have the time, look for a bespoke data provider who can do this work quickly, at high-volume.
  • Brain storm with other people in your business to work out what you’re looking for. If it’s partnership, what criteria mark a company as a good-fit partner (this sounds obvious, but you’d be shocked how many marketers miss this fundamental step). Extrapolate this into the questions you want to ask each company.
  • If you’re looking for partners, define what you’re bringing to the party. You may not yet know exactly how the technology part of it will work. That doesn’t matter. Instead, you’re going to prepare some key credibility builders for your business that relate to the prospective partnership (e.g. "We’re the leading manufacturer of RFID tagging technology in Germany.")
  • Once you know what you’re bringing, and what you need from others, you’ve created the foundation for a campaign. Generating leads for any leading-edge technology, requires a multi-faceted approach which we’ll explore next.

In part two, we’ll look at how you use this information to start winning leads.

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