Maybe you’re in a business that’s still too small or new to have a marketing team yet; or you’re an owner responsible for sales AND marketing but only have time to take on one of those tasks; or maybe you’re a salesperson with a marketing department, but they’re just not delivering the kind of quality leads you need.
Whatever your situation is, you can’t rely on marketing for help so you need to know how to generate sales leads yourself. Because I probably don’t have to tell you that without consistently fresh leads, your business is a sinking ship. You need to focus on lead generation methods that draw prospects into your sales funnel and increase customer growth.
How to generate sales leads
Most people tend to think that the only way sales professionals generate leads is through the ever-dreaded cold call. While that method is effective when done properly, there are other tools you can use.
Share your own content
You may think you need to be creative or have more of a ‘marketing brain’ to create your own content, but anyone can create content that’s of interest to your target audience. The easiest approach is to think of topics that help your potential customers solve a pressing problem. This positions you as the expert with the solution to their issues.
Become a blogger
Set aside time each week to write a short blog article targeted toward your ideal customer and the business challenges they may be facing. This can be shared through your email list of prospects and on your social media accounts, plus ask friends and colleagues to share, like, or retweet it to reach even more people.
Don’t have time to write a new post every week? Reach out to other professionals in your industry and offer to do a blog swap with them. This will save you time writing each week, but will still give you content to share to keep leads engaged with you and ideally flowing into your sales funnel.
Get to know prospects through webinars and workshops
People are more likely to buy from people they know, from people they like and trust, and from people they’ve met face-to-face. While getting your business in front of prospects online through your website and social media accounts is a great first step to connecting with the right people, you’re more likely to wow them and prove your value if you can connect with them in person and they can see your expertise in action.
Webinars and workshops are great vehicles of content for any company to create, since they allow you to explain who you are to a group of people, and show them, in detail, how your product or service helps its customers. Taking time to address questions will gain you the trust of the attendees while equipping them with knowledge into how they can solve their business challenges.
Prospects that take part in your webinar or workshop may not turn into paying clients overnight, but much like networking, hosting informational sessions provides you the opportunity to connect with them and build trust.
By showcasing your skills and expertise, prospects may be more inclined to start working with you, or more inclined to mention you to other professionals they know who you could use your product or service – warm inbound leads? Yes, please.
Create podcasts and videos
Creating video content, whether they’re videos to accompany your blogs, tutorials on how to use certain features of your product, or podcast audio you upload to YouTube are all great ways to widen your reach and engage with fresh leads.
Audio and video materials provide your prospects with content they can easily digest, that explains who you are and what you do, and demonstrates your expertise. It will entice any viewers or listeners to want to learn more about you.
Widening your audience reach through audio and video will help generate new leads from more areas, showcasing the value you provide more clearly.
Once you start creating more content and seeing more leads come into your sales funnel from each piece you produce, you can properly assess where the best leads are coming from. This will help you determine where you should be doubling down on your efforts.
Perfect the cold email
For a seasoned salesperson, the cold email is rarely the first go-to method to connect with a specific lead since it can sometimes feel a bit...cold. Don’t let the name shake your confidence though. When done well, cold email can make even the biggest client feel special, and show them that you’re genuinely interested in solving their problem.
The problem with most cold emails is that they assume too much, they’re usually very vague, and the person emailing pushes for a call before explaining why it would be worth your time or why you should care.
If you want to generate quality leads from a cold email, you need to put effort into the execution of them. Research the lead you want to email, clearly explain or demonstrate how your product or service can work specifically for them, then include a call-to-action like, “Want to see more? Get the full experience during our free 14-day trial.”
A well-researched “cold” email with a personal touch will not only garner more attention from the person you’re reaching out to, but a CTA prompting them to sign up for a free trial or consultation will increase your chances turning that prospect into a lead at the click of a button.
Start social selling
Once you start creating killer content, you want to share it with the masses, all while crossing your fingers that it will generate some mammoth leads. That’s where social media and social selling can help.
Most salespeople are on social media and use it as a source when prospecting, but they may not be using it to its full advantage when it comes to generating top-of-funnel activity. When used strategically, social media and social selling can help salespeople provide high-value to potential leads with little effort by providing multiple platforms to connect with leads and pique their interest in what you have to offer. It isn’t just about sharing content; it’s about building relationships and engaging prospects.
If you want to make sure you’re showcasing your business to the best of your abilities to generate fresh leads, here are a few tips to follow:
Make sure your accounts look clean, on-brand, and professional. When a lead sees your profile, there should be no question as to whether or not you’re a legitimate business.
Make sure your profile picture and cover photo are high-quality. Go the extra mile and fill out any “About You” sections with your business’s elevator pitch. This will explain who you are, what you do, and how you can help solves your prospect’s problem.
Increase audience engagement by endorsing sales leads on LinkedIn, liking and commenting on a client’s Facebook post, following key accounts on Twitter and other platforms, and adding your own comments to anything you retweet.
Share your company’s latest blog posts or audio content on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google+.
Run LinkedIn searches for outbound targets. This will help you reach new audiences faster, and will illustrate the type of content you can work on to better reach them.
Connecting with and generating new leads through social media and social selling doesn’t have to feel impersonal, unsolicited, or spammy. Instead, think of it as an enhanced way to do what you’ve already been doing to get more effective results.
By leveraging your social network to find prospects you’re interested in building trust with and with whom you want to nurture a relationship, you’re ultimately setting yourself up to achieve your sales goals.
Attend networking events
Networking. Even just reading the word can make the best of us freeze and forget how to say our own names properly.
It might not be your favourite thing to do – in fact, maybe you’d prefer interacting with people behind the safe, soft glow of your computer screen – but attending networking events is one of the best ways to form relationships and build up your sales funnel.
Networking provides the opportunity to speak with other industry professionals and learn from them. They may not be in the same industry as you, but speaking with new people regularly will do a few things:
1) Familiarize more people with your business and increase your brand awareness
2) Introduce you to key influencers in your industry
3) Keep you up to date on industry trends
4) Build your personal network and keep you connected with them
5) Keep you motivated throughout the year
Meeting people face-to-face at different events allows you to build trust with new prospects, providing you with warm leads that you can follow up with, and a network that can refer you to others (potentially generating unexpected leads over time).
If you want to get better at networking, make it a regular habit and check out some tips and tricks to put your mind at ease.
Reconnect with lost opportunities
Not every prospect you connect with is going to buy from you. If they did, generating leads would be leaps and bounds easier than it is. But remember that hearing a ‘no’ from your lead doesn’t necessarily mean no forever; it sometimes means ‘not right now’.
Make a point of scheduling a follow-up conversation with lost opportunities every three months to see what has changed with their business – goals, growth, priorities, etc. This gives you a chance to build trust with that lead, and demonstrate that you care more about your product/service being the right fit for them than you do about an immediate sale to boost your numbers. By following up with these lost opportunities every three months, you will build rapport and keep the doors of communication open.
Follow-up conversations can lead to prospects becoming clients, or prospects trusting you enough to pass your business name along to their network, giving you a new list of toasty warm leads to qualify. This is why it’s also key to stay in contact with existing clients, even when you’re not looking for business.
Existing clients are usually happy to hear from you and are a great resource for building up your sales funnel, so don’t hesitate to pick up the phone to chat about their business. When you do eventually make an ask – like seeing if they know anyone they could refer to you for business – they will be more likely to pass along some names because they know you’re great at forming a relationship with clients and aren’t always just looking to sell to them.
You never know when a prospect’s needs will shift, so stay top-of-mind be reconnecting with them.
It can be challenging to come up with new ways to generate ideal leads; especially without help from a marketing team. The key is to focus on ways to reach your target audience, position your business as the solution to their problems, and provide value at every level of the sales funnel.