Generating Sales Leads

For professionals who sell, effectively generating sales leads is a crucial part of attaining ongoing success in the marketplace. Most people have, at some time or other in their life, attempted to sell something. Whether that selling experience came from raising money for a school project as a child or attempting to build a successful career in the field, many of the challenges remain the same. A lead is a possible customer who will hopefully be interested in the service, product, or program that is being presented. An elementary school child who is selling fruit baskets at Christmas time will have a lot in common with the professional salesman. The child may start with friends and relatives and then expand the hunt for prospects by going door to door in their own neighborhood. The professional, like the child, may start with people or businesses that they already know, but will have to look further once that source has been exhausted. Finding ways of generating sales leads can be an uphill battle. Some methods that might be used to locate these leads could include cold calling, researching and profile fitting, professional contacts, seeking contacts through related data bases, or purchasing a list of prospects from a list compiling organization. In some cases, a lead might present itself. If a salesman has made business cards widely available, an interested individual could be the one to make the initial contact.

When generating sales leads, there are many approaches that could be used. These approaches could include initiated prospects, monitoring the market, canvassing, mining data, profile fitting, promotional activity, canvassing, networking, telemarketing, telephone prospecting, professional contacts, advertising, direct mail, email marketing, or building a web site and optimizing that site for search engines in a way that will draw customers. Initiated prospects are potential customers who contact the salesman or organization. These kinds of leads can make the salesman's job very easy. By using market research, profiles of potential customers can be used to drum up business. One way to create these profiles is to look at the characteristics of previous customers. Monitoring the media might also produce a lead. Canvassing, or cold calling can be an effective way of generating sales leads, but can be time consuming. For every legitimate lead that is discovered, multiple contacts will need to be made. Referrals that come from personal or professional contacts can sometimes produce prospects. There are also software products that allow an organization to sort through corporate data bases and find prospects using information that was gathered at a previous time. Offering free gifts and other promotions can bring in possible customers. Many consumers will sit through a sales presentation if the free gift that is offered good enough. In addition to these techniques, advertising, direct mail or other marketing campaigns can also uncover potential sales leads.

Cold calling can be a very difficult way of generating sales leads. Even the most seasoned salesmen often do not enjoy calling total strangers and attempting to sell something. Recipients of these calls usually do not welcome them and are often not remotely interested in the merchandise that is being presented. These factors can make cold calling a very discouraging endeavor. Sales professionals often recommend volume when it comes to this type of prospecting. For every ten calls that a salesman makes, one or two recipients might translate into legitimate prospects. More encouraging sources of genuine leads can be found in a variety of places. An email in box might be a good place to start. Communicating with email contacts from time to time might turn out to be an effective way of generating sales leads. The same is true with a desk top address list. These are people that have a ready made relationship with the salesman. This fact can break down many doors that cold calling can never get through. Networking with business contacts or through associations that are related to the merchandise, service, or program that is being offered is another effective way to find leads.

Expressing thanks to regular customers as well as individuals who have provided profitable referrals is always a good idea. Remembering the secretaries and assistants of professionals who are also potential customers can be a good way to get a foot in the door. Sending the occasional gift to that contact who makes the buying decisions for an employer can be an effective way of generating sales leads. A potential lead will be much more receptive if they have already expressed an interest in the product, service, or program that is being offered. The Bible instructs believers to turn to God and to see Him as a refuge. Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah. (Psalm 62:8)

Some salesmen prefer telephone prospecting to telemarketing when it comes to generating sales leads. Telemarketers are usually low wage workers who read from a script and attempt to persuade unprepared consumers to buy a particular product. Since most families view telemarketers as nuisances rather than opportunities to purchase a quality product, this approach has earned a very bad reputation. Telephone prospecting is a much more targeted approach and involves spontaneous conversation rather than the use of prepared scripts. There are organizations that compile and sell lists of targeted contacts that can be used for telephone prospecting. While the quality of these prospects can vary, the availability of list of hopefully interested contacts can be a valuable thing.

Internet Sales Leads

Many business owners find that Internet sales leads, as long as they are used correctly, can often make the difference in a company being profitable or struggling for business. With a vast majority of Americans spending time everyday on the computer, it is not a stretch of the imagination to say that the World Wide Web is the biggest advertising and marketing field there is. Above print ads, billboards, and even commercials, having a finely tuned operation that centers on online marketing and sales is the best way for a person to get publicity and traffic to the company's site. Having a solid list of Internet sales leads will help a company take advertising to the next step, by giving the business the capability to send marketing emails directly to the customer. A company has many different ways and methods at their disposal in order to help gather a good list of potential customers and pertinent contact information.

A company's website is the first place that a business owner should look to when trying to generate Internet sales leads. Having a site that is professional and pleasing to the eye will go a long way to enticing a potential customer. If the website looks unprofessional or is poorly designed, meaning that links are hard to locate and products get lost in the jumble of information, a consumer is less likely to buy the product or even return to the site. So this should be a person's first priority: making sure that the webpage is a pleasant experience for anyone who visits. For those who are not necessarily adept at computer coding or design, hiring a professional to create the page might be a great investment; that way, the business owner can ensure that the work is done well. Others, however, may have enough of a grasp on the basics of design to do the job themselves, saving money as long as they do not mind the extra work.

So what is an entrepreneur supposed to do once the website is up in order to gather Internet sales leads? The best way to do this is to offer a page where the customer can input information directly on the website. By asking for email addresses, and sometimes even mailing addresses, a company is able to compile a list of Internet sales leads from people who are already interested in the product the business has to offer. Every time a new product comes out, or a special promotion is about to occur, the company can send an email to the customer, giving him advanced notice, and hopefully, sparking the customer's interest. Many people will sign up to be on a mailing list simply for the periodic updates in their inbox, alerting them to deals or items that might be of interest. Another way to get people to sign up through the website itself is to offer something for free. Offering a free sample product and having a customer fill out a contact page can add more contacts to a list of leads.

Choosing to align one's company with affiliate marketers is another, increasingly popular, way to generate Internet sales leads. By allowing other individuals to place advertisements on their websites that redirect the reader to the head company's webpage, a business owner increases his chances of having people see his site. One of the tips to using this avenue to help build a group of contacts is to choose affiliates who have a standing and readership among the company's desired customer base. Business owners can choose to pay affiliates through a "pay per click" method, meaning that each time a reader clicks on the ad, the affiliate earns a commission. Or, affiliates can earn their commission through a "pay per sale," the most popular, method. This term means that a customer actually has to purchase an item before any money is paid out by the business owner. Even though hiring affiliate marketers may cost the business owner some money, the amount of traffic that will be redirected to his site should be ample compensation for any commissions paid out.

For those who want to greatly expand their list of Internet sales leads without having to put forth much effort, there is always the option of purchasing leads from a company. Doing so has its advantages and disadvantages; the business owner does not have to spend a lot of time devoted to directing the bulk of traffic directly to the website in order to get customers to sign up. He can pay the company for leads that have been specially selected for the product or service that the business offers. One downside is that the business owner may not have the ready funds to pay for leads from another company, or doing so may deplete some needed money in the budget. For those without much extra in the budget for marketing, it may be best to forgo this particular avenue of generating leads. Another concern is that the entrepreneur needs to thoroughly check out the company he intends to purchase contacts from. Of course, an individual should only go with those companies who have proven themselves to be trustworthy and successful at what they do.

Generating a strong list of Internet sales leads is a great way to build a potential customer base and to improve the likelihood of successful selling. The most important, and perhaps most difficult step, is often coming up with a viable plan to create this very important list of contacts. But as long as a person perseveres in his mission to make his company successful, then his efforts will be met with success. "In all labour there is profit: but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury" (Proverbs 14:23). There is no right or wrong method to use when trying to generate a list of potential customers for one's business; every company will find that different strategies work for different businesses, products, and services. The most important thing is to simply find what works for a person's particular needs, whether that is just one method or a combination of all of them.

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