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February 12, 2013Is your sales team generating enough new leads each day to meet their sales objectives? Do they rely solely on cold calling to find new business opportunities? How many of their leads are actually converting to opportunities and new business?
Lead generation is the starting point for growing sales, and keeping a steady stream of qualified leads in your pipeline will ensure that you will continue to grow your small business.
By definition, a "lead" is someone who has an interest in something your business provides.
Generating sales leads is the process of making contact with prospective customers to create interest. In large companies, lead generation and creating interest is typically done by marketing via advertising, website content or outreach material.
In small businesses, it is common for the sales team to generate their own leads. Most rely on only a few sources to do this. Exploiting all potential channels to generate new leads, and allocating the appropriate time to work these channels, can provide a significant improvement in both the volume and quality of new leads.
Referrals are a top source of leads, and a good starting point for getting more referrals are your current customers. They already have bought your product or service and may know others who could use it. Have you asked your customers to refer business to you? Tapping into your network of contacts, both business and personal, is also a great source.
Your friends and business contacts may know what you do, but may not know the profile of an ideal referral.
Let them know.
You can also participate in networking events or join associations where you can interact with potential buyers at monthly meetings. There is nothing better than walking away from a meeting with a handful of new leads.
Sending a personal email to potential buyers and then following up by phone is much more productive than random cold calling. Including information about your product and service, or links they can click on to schedule a call or demonstration will help increase the leads you receive. If your company hasn't deployed lead generation technology, which automates the calling and email process, you may want to look into that. Generating new leads is a numbers game and technology can exponentially increase the volume of contacts your sales team can make.
For small businesses that rely on new business to grow, there is virtually no chance of them being successful unless they can consistently generate new sales leads.
Understanding who you are targeting, assessing and prioritizing the vehicles you use to connect and using multiple sources to generate leads will help your small business produce more leads.