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How One Startup is Using Crowdsourcing to Generate Business Leads
© Image: BusinessLeads.com
editorial

How One Startup is Using Crowdsourcing to Generate Business Leads

A good business lead is something that no company can ever have enough of.

The traditional way to generate business leads is to spend money on marketing campaigns up front in hopes of attracting new customers. With the emergence of social media and crowdsourcing, however, new and more efficient ways of generating leads are surfacing.

BusinessLeads.com, which launched late last year, is betting that crowdsourcing can help to create new opportunities for direct marketing in business lead generation. We recently chatted with founder and CEO Zev Posner to find out exactly how BusinessLeads.com uses crowdsourcing and why he believes this model can become the norm going into the future.

First, a bit of background: Posner founded the company in 2010, after seeing the terrain for business lead generation shift with the spread of social media. Around the same time, employees began to move around different jobs more often, making it more difficult to track down good leads. Seeing what Jigsaw, the crowdsourced business contact site, was doing and responding to the demand for qualified leads, Posner decided to open up business lead generation to the crowd.

BusinessLeads.com’s primary role is to facilitate relationships between well-connected individuals, and businesses looking to find reliable leads.

“At the end of the day, every business has one goal in mind: to have a conversation with prospects that are looking for the products and services they offer,” Posner told Crowdsourcing.org. “We want to be a platform that allows those people to engage each other.”

The process for finding qualified leads on the platform is fairly straightforward. First, the Business looking to have a conversation with a potential lead creates a post, including a number of questions that it needs answered to qualify the lead. Then, they offer a “bounty” that Bounty Hunters can earn for successfully creating an introduction. The Bounty Hunter sends the post to a potential lead, the lead contacts the post owner, and if it seems to be a good fit, the Business pays the reward to the Bounty Hunter.

Unlike some of its competitors in the lead generation space, BusinessLeads.com does not compile any information about leads and then sell them to businesses. Its focus, Posner stressed, is on facilitating the relationships between the Bounty Hunters and Businesses, in more of a business development effort.

“Instead of someone giving me your contact information, and me having to introduce myself to you, the [Bounty Hunter] actually introduces us and initiates the engagement,” Posner explained. “It’s a real leap forward at the point of engagement.”The company’s owner believes this makes the leads more useful – if a Bounty Hunter sees a post and thinks of a potentially good business lead, that lead is more likely to be uniquely tailored to the post. A Bounty Hunter will forward the post to the potential lead, and the lead will contact the Business directly if there is a good potential fit.

If the potential lead has more questions about the Business, that individual can ask the Bounty Hunter to request more information about the post.

“BusinessLeads.com takes the whole concept of a business lead far beyond what traditionally has been thought of as a lead,” Posner said. “It allows for a part of the biz dev process to be included.”

Aside from channeling the money from a Business to a Bounty Hunter, BusinessLeads.com takes a hands-off approach to the interactions taking place on its site, which is primarily self-policing. After all, both Bounty Hunters and Businesses have an interest in practicing good behavior. There is incentive for Businesses to pay for good leads – even the unsuccessful ones -- because not all leads result in a sale and their reputation will suffer if they don’t. Bounty Hunters, likewise, are incentivized to only send posts to credible leads because they want to be rated as highly as possible so that Businesses will invite them to engage.

While BusinessLeads.com is in beta, Businesses can submit posts free of charge, and the platform collects a 15% fee on the bounty hunter’s earnings. In the future, when the site leaves beta, Posner says he wants to charge Businesses for posts as well.

Having launched in beta only a few months ago, BusinessLeads.com is currently focusing on attracting more Businesses and Bounty Hunters. Once the number reaches critical mass, Posner believes, the amount offered for leads will increase (as businesses compete for the best leads) though. Even now, bounties range from $50 to $2,500 per lead and the platform is being used in innovative ways. Posner, for example, mentioned a headhunter looking to connect with companies hiring Ruby developers.

Perhaps the most appealing aspect of BusinessLeads.com from a Bounty Hunter’s perspective, and what makes the platform interesting, is the ability to monetize existing connections with minimal effort. Though the company is in beta, there is already over $30 million in bounty cash offered, and the number is growing every day.

“The old adage, ‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know?” Well, now that really is true,” Posner said.

For more on BusinessLeads.com, visit their website here. We’ll be sure to keep in touch with Posner and his company and will update our readers on the latest news coming from the platform.

Disclosure: BusinessLeads.com is a client of Crowdsourcing.org / massolution.

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