Small Business Brief


The 5 Best Ways to Generate Sales Leads

If you’re in sales, you know how important it is to create a consistent stream of sales leads. Here are five of the best methods for finding prospects and turning them into potential customers.

If you own a small business, then you know you can’t sit around waiting for customers to show up or call. Whether you’re selling goods or services, you have to sell both your product and yourself. Customers need to know that you exist and where to find you.

Even if you have the best product or service out there, if people don’t know about it, you won’t sell anything. So how do you generate leads for your business?

Below are the 5 best ways to generate sales leads.

Even the savviest salesperson knows that you have to cast the net far and wide when it comes to finding leads. And they will use all five of these tips in combination in order to find prospects and turn them into loyal customers.

1. Friends and Family

Make a list or spreadsheet of everyone you know, from immediate family to acquaintances.

Rehearse what you’re going to say. And then start calling this long list of sales leads. Keep track of everyone you contact, and make notes as to their response. Some may say no right away, some may say yes, let’s talk, and some may say not at this time.

Of course, if you find someone who’s willing to talk, you’re halfway there. If you are selling a product you believe in, getting that meeting is half the battle.

If a friend or family member says it’s not a good time. Find out when you can check back in.

Make note of that, and follow up.

The great thing about a list like this is that you don’t have to build a report. Your friends and family already know and trust you. Most of the time, they want to support your business and see you succeed.

Don’t let the thought of imposing get in the way. Again, if you have a product or service you think is important or useful, you’re doing them a favor by letting them know about it.

2. References

Your current clients are your best bet for finding additional sales leads. It’s a great in for calling someone out of the blue.

If you can say Cousin Marge thought you might be interested in hearing about what I’m selling.

Or if Uncle Frank believes you could benefit from learning more about my product, you’re golden.

You may not have that built-in trust that you have with friends and family, but if you can toss out a name that a person knows and trusts, then you have your foot in the door.

If a person you know isn’t a client, for whatever reason, that doesn’t mean they can’t give you a list of references. Even if what you’re selling isn’t right for them, they might know one or two or ten people who are.

Always end a phone call or meeting by asking for references. It’s one of the best ways to generate leads.

Another way to acquire leads is through a lead-generating service like Landvoice.

3. Social Media

If you don’t have a presence on Social Media, you’re missing out on one of the best opportunities for finding leads. Everyone is on Facebook and Twitter. But for businesses, LinkedIn is a must.

If you have a definitive business plan, then your LinkedIn page is a great way to find prospects looking for exactly what you have.

You should have a page that is reflective of who you are. This includes a picture that shows that you’re approachable, trustworthy and reliable.

It’s also important to keep your profile up-to-date. And it’s essential to have well-written recommendations.

If you don’t have the time to regularly post on your Facebook page or Twitter, it’s not a bad idea to hire a Social Media intern to help with that. Keeping a presence with frequent posts is essential for name recognition.

4. Network

Even if you’re not super outgoing or an extrovert, if you’re likable and friendly, it’s worthwhile to attend networking events.

Think of it this way. You’re going to be in a room full of people who are there for the exact same reason that you are–to sell their service or product. You’re all in the same boat.

Because you all have this understanding, networking events tend to be far more supportive than cut-throat. Everyone there is willing to listen to what you have to say about your business because they want to be heard too.

The best thing that can come from networking is by creating symbiotic relationships. You might find clients and you might become a client. Either way, at the end of the even, you’ll have a stack of business cards with sales leads.

A few things to remember when attending a networking event:

  • Bring plenty of business cards
  • Try to set up one-on-one meetings when you’re there
  • Connect on LinkedIn and Facebook right away
  • Be yourself and have fun

So when you follow up the next day or so with a phone call, they’ll be receptive to setting up a meeting, if you haven’t already set one up at the networking event.

A good way to approach networking events is to find several that you can go to on a regular basis. That way people get to know you. Over time, you’ll make friends, and these friends will either call you when they’re looking for the service you provide, or you’ll be the first person they recommend to their clients or friends.

5. Website

Make sure your website is user-friendly and Search Engine Optimized (SEO). If not, find a company that can help you out with that.

One of the best ways to generate sales leads is by having a blog on your website. This way you can demonstrate expertise in your field. Blogs can also educate your potential customers. This helps build relationships.

Generate Sales Leads and Don’t Take No for an Answer

No matter how well your business is going, it’s always important to be on the lookout for new sales leads.

Businesses will ebb and flow. Having a business plan, a set of goals and a list of people to call on can get you over the hurdle.

A lot of people struggle with cold calls, or even warm calls, with the biggest obstacle being the fear of the dreaded “no”.

Turn that no into a yes. How? By using the phrase, “just out of curiosity.” Then that no might turn into a discussion. And that discussion can not only help you learn a little bit more about your potential client or customer but might give you the opportunity to educate that person a bit more about your product or service.

It’s quite possible that he or she said no out of misunderstanding. In either case, it may give you a second chance.

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