How to find sales leads that actually work

Looking for strong sales leads? Try these six ways to generate them yourself.

For many businesses, generating strong sales leads is a top priority, but a painstaking one. HubSpot research found that generating leads was a top challenge for 61% of marketers. You need clues about the people and businesses that will buy your products and services, but how to get sales leads is a constant conundrum.

Plus, unscrupulous people may take advantage of that challenge. Lead fraud - companies selling bogus leads - is not uncommon. These fraudsters misrepresent where they got the leads from or how they qualified them. Businesses may later learn that they bought worthless sales leads.

Whether you are selling business-to-business services or trying to generate more marketing qualified leads for your products, one of the best ways to grow your business and avoid being scammed is to create a system for generating your own leads.

Here are six ways to start.

1. Encourage Referrals

“People influence people. Noticing influences people more than a recommendation from a trusted friend. A trusted referral influences people more than best broadcast message. A trusted referral is the holy grail of advertising." says Mark Zuckerberg.

Satisfied customers are your advocates—and they likely know other people who may buy your product or service. “Anyone can cold call, but a referral from a respected entity in the space that has actual experience with your organization will take you much further - especially in a time when businesses are being much more discerning when deciding to buy new services," says Jeremy Zerbib, head of marketing at community management and engagement platform Hivebrite.

Remind customers that you are always interested in referrals. You may even consider a discount or loyalty reward for those who refer business.

2. Target Strong Sectors

In any market, some segments thrive and some do not. When you are qualifying marketing leads, choose strong companies in thriving industries and aggressively go after key targets. 

Targeting companies that are uniquely positioned to weather a down market for sales opportunities can give your business a steady flow of marketing leads. Look for mutual contacts who may be able to help identify the decision-maker and perhaps even give you an introduction.

3. Optimize Your Website

Whether you are running an e-commerce business or using your website as an information resource and brand-awareness builder, it needs to be optimized for greatest effect.

“Good SEO work only gets better over time. It’s only search engine tricks that need to keep changing when the ranking algorithms change.” – Jill Whalen (@jillwhalen),

In other words, SEO is an asset. It’s like buying real estate and investing to remodel your kitchen and bath.  That work will increase the value of your home so that you can sell it in the future for a profit.

Using SEO tricks or hacks is like trying to beat the house in Macau. Sure, you might get a couple of quick wins, but in the long run you’re bound to lose because “the house always wins.”

4. Publish Great Content

Post amusing and useful tips on social media platforms or update your website's blog with the latest industry insights.

So how do we get to this place where we can make people feel? This observation is one I come to time and time again. It’s from Clare McDermott’s interview with Andy Weir, author of The Martian, published in the February 2016 CCO issue:

"I think marketers are very message-focused. They know what they want people to hear. They have to work backwards from there to figure out how to make that happen. What they should do is to find the thing that’s unique or interesting that captures people’s attention. Figure out what that thing is; don’t worry about the message right now. Just find the interesting part, and then figure out how to link that to the message." – Andy Weir

5. Build Community

Create a community of fans of your product, company, or content through social media, which gives you an opportunity to connect with those who already have a relationship with you. This author has personally created mailing lists for years to communicate with customers and prospects.

A popular way to build a mailing list is by using landing pages, in which the business provides something of value that is given to the reader in exchange for providing an email address. The author offers free conversations to discuss expanding businesses to safe havens like Singapore, free customer and investor leads. He has also created facebook groups to gather a community.

6. Boost Your Platform

When you build your own or your company's profile, you can benefit from inbound leads that come with awareness. The author likes to host webinars, which he says are a great way to provide value and better understand your audience.

“Customers want to regularly hear from businesses that they know, like, and trust. Other ways to push out content are through social media such as YouTube."

With more people tuning out from online ads, influencer marketing is a game changer. It is essentially word-of-mouth marketing brought to a whole new level. Social media influencers have a significant following, and consumers are more likely to buy something that a person they like and look up to uses, as compared to seeing a product ad. 

While small businesses may not have the budget to work with top-tier influencers with a large fan base, it doesn’t mean closing the door on influencer marketing. Shoptiq suggests how you can pull it off.

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