Planning: Leads Generation
must consistently generate new sales leads to grow your business sales.
Marketing is not enough! In Selling Your Services: Proven Strategies
for Getting Clients to Hire Your (or Your Firm), Robert Bly says you
need to 1) generate interest in your products or services (i.e., generate “leads”); 2) follow up on that interest by setting up an
appointment or a chance to discuss your offerings further; 3) convince prospects to hire you at a “sales meeting,” which can take place in
person, over the phone, or even via instant messaging and e-mail; 4) get
the assignment or sale by coming to an agreement on price, deadline and
other terms; and 5) make sure you complete the sale or assignment to the
client’s satisfaction. You must go through the entire selling process
to truly close the sale. To begin the five selling steps outlined above,
you must generate sales leads as part of your sales strategy.
Here are 9 lead generating techniques you can use to begin your
Advertising generates interest in your
products or services when the ad copy appeals to your potential
customers’ needs and desires. As
with direct mail, there must be a call to action:
“Call toll free…,” “Log on to …” or “Visit us
at…” If you don’t
have experience writing ads that sell, hire a copywriter or read Robert
Bly’s The Copywriter’s Handbook:
A Step by Step Guide to Writing Copy that Sells” before you
design your ad. You should
also ask the advertising publication, directory or radio or television
station for a demographic profile of the people who will be exposed to
your ad. Do the customer demographics match the age, race, income and/or education level, and
geographic area of your target market, or “choice customers?”
Advertising can be expensive, so shop around for advertising
vehicles with the best demographic match with the people you are trying
Sending out newsworthy press releases, writing a regular column
for a newspaper, journal or magazine read by your choice customers, or
public speaking can consistently generate leads.
If you publish articles and the editor allows, include a resource
box with your company name, telephone number and web site information.
For press releases or articles where you’re not allowed to
publish your contact information, make sure you are listed in local the
telephone directory and place contact information in easy-to-find places
on your web site (e.g., the bottom of each page and on a “Contact”
page of your site). When
speaking publicly, distribute handouts or brochures with your full
contact information to your audience.
Telemarketing or cold calling involves
calling or visiting prospective customers to inquire about their needs
for your goods or services. Cold
calling implies you have had no prior contact with the company or
individuals you are calling or visiting.
Use this approach with caution:
Unless you are well trained and are comfortable making calls (see
for some great teleclasses on how to sell), business-to-business cold
calls can make you appear desperate for work and damage your professional reputation. You
are better off making “warm calls,” where you have met the person
before or have been referred by a colleague.
And if you sell to consumers, be sure to check the Do Not Call
to insure that your telemarketing efforts are legal.
Networking is a great way to generate a
list of contacts for your “warm calls” or
people to whom you can send your sales literature.
Attend events or social gatherings where you’re sure to come
into contact with your potential customers (a.k.a., “target
market”). Or, attend
events where you’ll meet people who are already in constant contact
with your target market. For
example, if your choice customers are small business owners, you might
want to network with Certified Public Accountants or attorneys that
specialize in providing small business services. When
you attend networking events, be ready to provide support to the other
people you meet. Networking
is a two way street: The
more you’re willing to support others’ businesses, the more they’ll be willing to provide you with the sales leads you ask for.
When you receive a lead, follow up immediately with a phone call
or a letter, introducing of yourself by mentioning the colleague who
referred you. Caren
Weinstein, owner of Cmail, a relationship marketing service provider,
recommends that you also send a thank you note to the person in your
network who has provided you with the lead.
Your leads strategy is important, because you must initiate the 5-step selling process to have a steady, or growing, sales and revenue stream. Begin by choosing the leads generation strategies you are most comfortable with and incorporate them into your sales strategy plan. You will find that you are talking to more potential customers about how you can help solve their problems or make their lives happier, more profitable or more fulfilling.
Anne Ramstetter Wenzel, M.A., is an economist, author and market research consultant providing entrepreneurs, business owners and professionals with strategic economic and market information for use in business decision making and long-term planning. Please see our “About Us” page to learn more.
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For more insights on the economy, markets and life as an entrepreneur, visit Anne Wenzel’s “Reflections of an Economist” blog.
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