Finding more leads can be one of the most frustrating parts of a job in sales. Many salespeople feel confident closing new business, but can’t find or nurture leads well enough to develop a steady pipeline of new opportunities. In some companies, leads are provided by the marketing department, while in others salespeople must fend for themselves.
If you’re in the “fend for yourself” camp, you might be struggling to find new sales leads to fill out your pipeline. If you’ve exhausted all the lead sources you can think of, try these options.
1. Referrals: The best source of new sales leads
Ahh, a warm lead. In this age of Facebook likes and Yelp reviews, we are all more likely to buy something if it comes with a strong recommendation. Even more so if that recommendation comes from someone we like and trust. That’s why referrals are so powerful – the strong recommendation of a friend or colleague can mean more than all the marketing materials in the world.
So if referrals are so great, how do you get more of them?
Most people love to help. If you ask for referrals, and your contact feels comfortable with you, chances are they will think of someone who could benefit from your product or service. Even better, if you can identify someone in their network (maybe through LinkedIn), suggest a specific contact. This takes the guesswork out of it and increases the likelihood you’ll be introduced to someone who could really move the needle for you. And be sure to follow up with your referrer, and do something nice for them in return.
2. Find new sales leads at networking events
Great salespeople are great networkers. Treat networking events not as a race to collect as many business cards as possible, but as an opportunity to build relationships. Networking has a bad reputation because people treat each other as transactions – if you’re in my target market, I’ll take your card and move on to the next transaction. If instead you take the time to get to know someone, she’ll be much more likely to return your follow-up call or email after the event. Having a conversation will also give you something to talk about when you do follow up. Sales is all about building relationships – networking should be, too.
3. Revisit lost opportunities
Remember that opportunity that didn’t pan out? A lot might have changed since that initial “no.” Reach out again with a soft touch – ideally offering something of value to the prospect. “I came across this article about
4. Reconnect with past clients
If you have a client that’s lapsed, go back and try to rekindle the relationship. You can approach a past client with an email along the same lines as the example above for lost opportunities – make it a soft touch. Since you probably know your past clients fairly well, use this as an opportunity to add more value with something you know they need or want. Send them a list of great new lead sources for their industry, or an article they might find interesting. Start with something small and the conversation could grow.
5. Mine industry recognition and accolades lists to find new sales leads
Awards, recognition and accolades lists for your industry can all be great sources of new leads. The Inc5000 organizes honorees by industry, revenue, location, number of employees and more, so you can narrow down your search to your target market. The CMO Leadership Awards is specifically geared toward excellence in the pharmaceutical industry, which could make it a gold mine if that’s your target audience. Not only are lists like these handy collections of similar prospects, it also gives you a talking point. “Congratulations!” emails are often better relationship-builders than “check out our new product launch.”
Identifying new sales leads doesn’t have to be your least favorite selling activity. Get creative with these 5 sources – and more – and make prospecting fun!
Do these lead sources work for you? Let us know in the comments where you’ve had luck for your industry.