Finding new sales leads 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. In this case, it's easy to exhaust all of your resources pretty quickly.
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 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, suggest a specific LinkedIn connection if you can identify someone in their network you want to be introduced to.
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 as an opportunity to build relationships, not as a race to collect as many business cards as possible. 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.
Instead, take the time to get to know someone. He or she will 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” for both you and the prospect.
Reach out again with a soft touch – ideally offering something of value to the prospect. “I came across this article about [your industry/company/interest] and thought of you. How’s business? Would love to catch up.”
Similarly, reach out to ask how things are going. You'd be surprised how well people will respond to your genuine interest in the problem they had when you last spoke. See if they came up with a solution. If not, you're there to help!
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. Just make it a soft touch and keep it genuine.
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.”
Now that you've got these 5 creative ways to source new leads, make sure you add any new processes to your Sales PlayBook! Don't have a Sales PlayBook? Learn to build one by downloading our eBook: