The Detective’s Guide to Finding and Chasing Sales Leads

How to find and chase business leads

If a business wants to survive and grow, it will need a constant supply of business leads and ability to convert into sales. By following a few simple steps you can successfully generate, qualify and follow up the hottest prospects.

Finding Sales Leads – ‘The Detective’

Ask yourself who is currently buying your product or service? What sector are they in? Are they good customers? If they are, look for similar companies in the same sector that mirrors your current customers; chances are they are buying the same. Use online directories and other research tools such as LinkedIn and Google. They can be powerful allies in identifying prospect companies and even contact names.

Database Purchase

Another source for generating business leads is to purchase a targeted database from a well-known provider such as Experian. Some data providers specialise in particular markets. If the data is to be used for a telemarketing campaign, ask for the telephone numbers to be checked against the Corporate Telephone Preference List. The problem with buying a database is that it may need to be cleansed to find the correct contact name

Social Media

Using Social Media is now the popular way to engage with potential new clients, with the ease of access to the Internet and mobile apps. The business world is a smaller place with us all using platforms such as Blog, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest. But please remember engagement must be both ways to benefit. Encourage prospects to sign up to newsletters and follow you. Consider how you are going to contact them when they are showing signs of real interest in your company. Are you really going to wait until they contact you?

Other well-known and trusted ways to acquire business leads are word-of-mouth referrals, business networking, advertising and other promotional activities.

Ideally you should use a mix of all of the above to ensure a continuous stream of leads and enquiries.

Qualifying Sales Leads

First thing to remind yourself it is not the quantity but the quality of the sales lead that is important. Consider your qualifying questions, it may help to look back at who you are selling to at this time and what makes them a good customer e.g. your normal customer makes a £# plus turnover and has a large engineering presence. You should be able to discard unpromising leads by using the ‘BANT’ method. A simple tool to identify which of your prospects are hot and which ones are not. I often think of it as “giving the prospect a solution”:

B – Budget, does the prospect have the expectation to spend on a solution? Do they have the money?

A – Authority, have you identified the key decision-maker with the authority to buy?

N – Need, is the prospect seeking a solution; do they need what you are offering?

T – Timing, when will they be looking for a solution, are they likely to buy soon?

The above qualifying process continues until you make the actual sale. Budgets, decision-makers, the need and the opportunity goalposts will always move. A typical approach to qualify leads is by telephone. The key is to focus on a small, attainable set of prospects.

The Follow up “The Chase”

You have now identified a list of potential prospects. How are you going to establish and manage contact? There are three key aspects to consider:

Resources – for prospecting and sales to be a success there needs to be a commitment of time set aside by the sales team and an understanding of a cost of sale. Outsourcing to a Lead Generation service might be an option, especially if in-house resources are stretched.

Data Management – sales tools like customer relationship management (CRM) software can help you track contacts and follow up on leads at the right time. CRM Systems also have reporting and monitoring functions giving you the ability to measure sales conversions.

Method of engagement – establishing contact and generating interest is the key to success in sales. You can choose a multitude of methods: direct mail, emailing, social media, advertising and promotion. But one stands out more than others “ just pick up the phone”. Over the last few years telemarketing has proven itself to be very effective. It can give you instant results by generating those sales appointments that are needed.

In the next blog I am going to talk about how to set up a structured Telephone Call to a potential prospect. How to ask open questions, listen and interpret what the prospect is really saying.