Business leads are important for any business whether they are small or large, they are a way to continue to help your business grow. However, they are not just going to happen for you automatically. You need to create them yourself. One way of course is cold calling. However, that is not the only way these days to generate business leads. Here are the top 12 ways in which you can achieve this.
1. Consider joining a networking group. There are plenty of local business lead or networking groups to choose from. Pick a group that will encourage important one on one exchanges so you can develop relationships. Just don't expect to do business with the members of a group directly, the best thing to do is educate the members about your business and then they can refer others to you.
2. Join associations. It's a good idea to join a local chamber of commerce, a professional association or other groups that can offer your business an opportunity to network. Remember, relationships take time and may not immediately translate into business leads but they can contribute to leads later on down the road. Also consider joining an association's committee or volunteer to be a speaker or help to organize an event. This will help you have a better working relationship with other members of the same association.
3. Use cold calling. Not many people like to do this, but cold calling can still work. This can be done over the phone, which is the most common, but don't be afraid to go in person if the situation arises. This not only can help to generate new leads but it also helps you to polish your sales techniques.
4. Create strategic alliances. This will depend on the kind of business you have. But if you get a long with another type of business you can do cross referrals. For instance if your business is accounting then you may refer clients to bankers and bankers can refer clients to you.
5. General referrals. These are usually received from your already existing customer base. Offer different incentives to your customers in order to get referral information from them. One way would be to offer cash back for each referral of theirs that becomes a new customer. Also ask for referrals from family, friends and other business associates you know.
6. Give seminars. Instead of going all over and speaking about your business to others, offer to host a information seminar. This can be a valued service to some people and it will give you the opportunity to showcase your business and expertise. You can build your attendance by first inviting your existing customers and having them bring friends and family with them. Leave your push for new customers until the end of your seminar. Then after you can ask orally or hand out a written form asking if they would be interested in hearing from you to get more information.
7. Consider being a guest speaker. Often local business associations as well as charitable organizations look for speakers to help fill their event schedule up. You can offer to talk on a topic that will highlight your skills and expertise. When you speak it will lead to visibility in your local community.
8. Be host of a special event. Think about having an after hours wine and cheese party for all of your customers. Encourage them to bring family and friends, all of whom are new prospects.
9. Become a volunteer. Get involved with a local organization that has nothing to do with the business that you are in. The aim is not just to support this organization or cause but to make yourself more visible and develop relationships. The activity might not result in immediate business leads but it will over time help by gaining new relationships that will eventually help your business.
10. Send out direct mail. You could run a mail campaign and it doesn't have to be a huge undertaking that costs tons of money. Create a limited program where you send out 5 to 10 pieces every week. The key here is to target your prospective customers and then do a follow up by phone. By doing this it helps to warm up your prospect prior to your cold calling. You can also refer to the piece of advertising you sent out during the call and ask if they have any questions.
11. Take advantage of trade shows. Trade shows are a great venue that can offer a large number of leads in a really short time. Doesn't matter if you have a nice booth or just a table at the show or if you are just a visitor. This is a great place to exchange business cards with others. Just make sure to write down key points about each person you meet on the back of their business card.
12. Remember to observe the three foot rule. If you are in a line and within three feet of someone make sure to be prepared to give your “30 second commercial” about who you are and what you do for a living. You do this by introducing yourself, give the name of your business and then offer a very brief explanation of what your business can do for a customer.