Business lead generation is the process of identifying new prospects, then using a range of tactics to turn them into prospects. In this article, 25 experts share their best business lead generation strategies. They’ve offered a variety of ideas to help you improve the quality and quantity of leads entering your sales pipeline.
Here are the top business lead generation ideas from the pros:
1. Do Video Outreach
Aristide Basque, CEO, Shift Agency
My best tip on finding new leads is to do video outreach with LOOM. We’ve been implementing that over the past few months and have been getting killer results. We find business owners, do our research and share our expertise through a genuine video where we introduce ourselves. Showing you went the extra mile and put a lot of effort into your outreach increases your chance by 1,000%.
2. Automate Follow-up Emails to Stay in Touch
Anthony Martin, Choice Mutual
Not every lead will turn into your customer on first contact. One thing is for sure, they will likely buy from someone at a future date. It’s important you keep in front of them, so you can have the opportunity to reach them when they are ready to buy. Using a follow-up email campaign after your initial consultation will keep your company in front of your prospect on a regular basis. This will in turn lead to some of them converting into sales when they get to a point where they are ready to buy. The fact that the email campaign is automated means that it requires little management from you.
3. Qualify Your Leads Better
Linda Parry, Esq., Chief Executive Officer, Product Launchers
What many companies do not realize is that there is generally only one person responsible for making a purchasing decision about your product or service. Put together a hit list of companies that you want to work with and then find out who that one person is through online research and cold calling. Once you have their contact information, personalize your outreach and this will become one of your highest performing business lead generation ideas.
4. Get Personal
Augustus Franklin, Founder/CEO, CallHub
Since I work in politics and advocacy, I have a lot of customers reaching out to me looking for business lead generation ideas and ways to connect with elected officials, mostly when Facebook, Twitter, and email, all prove ineffective for them.
It’s always the same reason; because all these channels are easily glanced over or ignored.
Writing a letter or calling them up and having a real conversation is difficult to ignore and that’s what always works best. It’s the same strategy with your cold leads. At a time when people are being overwhelmed with digital ads, it pays to actually call them up and have real conversations that add value to their lives. Getting personal; that’s how you get people to buy your stuff.
Marc Prosser, Chairman of the Board, Fit Small Business
Tired of wasting time with a list of leads that simply won’t convert? UpLead is a lead generation platform that lets you build contact lists with custom filters using over 50 criteria, including job title, location, and even the technology and CRM each lead uses. With this information your sales team can tailor their outreach to connect with the right contacts every time. UpLead also gives you access to over 30 million contacts in 200+ countries.
6. Reach Out With Cold Emails
Lidia Varesco Racoma, Art director & designer, Lidia Varesco Design
Sometimes the best business lead generation ideas aren’t well established, but simply done well. I created a targeted list of potential prospects in my niche. I reach out to them personally via cold email to start a conversation and determine if my design studio may be the right fit for them. It has resulted in new clients as well as helped me build my email list. The key is to research each of your prospects thoroughly and send them a fully personalized email.
7. Get Serious About Using Keywords
Lauren Tickner, CEO, Impact School
To generate new leads, you can:
- Post free, value packed content (ALWAYS must add value to one specific target audience, speaking to one pain point)
- Run Facebook/Instagram/YouTube ads
- Post into niche specific Facebook groups
8. Attend Your Local Chamber of Commerce
Brad A. Swezey, President, JustSmallBiz Marketing
One of my best business lead generation ideas is to go to chamber of commerce seminars and workshops and network small business owners there. I collect their business cards, send them an email asking if they want to get together for a one-to-one, where we can learn more about each other’s businesses. Many times this leads me to get a new client without spending much money at all.
9. Use Facebook Groups to Build Your Email List
Vicky Wu, CEO, Vicky Wu Marketing Guru
One of the most effective lead generation strategies that many of our clients use involves their Facebook Group. With a Facebook Group, you can ask new members questions when they request to join. Rather than simply driving people to the group, you can use the group to drive people to your mailing list.
Here are my own group questions:
A. Please provide your email address to join the group. As a welcome gift, you will receive (in your email inbox) your choice of items from the next question, plus marketing tips and tricks.
B. Which item would you like to claim as your gift: 1) Facebook 101 E-book; 2) Website Planning Work sheet; 3) Facebook Business Page Planning Work sheet. Tell us your choice and then check your inbox!
Maggie Aland, Fit Small Business
A great way to generate leads is to write a white paper that your prospects would be interested in reading. If you create a landing page that shares what the white paper is all about in an engaging way, you’ll generate plenty of leads by asking site visitors to give you their email address so that they can download the white paper.
Once people have given you their email address, you’ll need an email service to deliver the white paper and to begin building relationships. Constant Contact is great because it has marketing automation where you can set up your email marketing sequence and let it run on autopilot.
11. Use Success Stories to Woo Your Customers
David Klein, Director of Content Marketing, LightStep
Emailing potential customers with links to customer success stories has been incredibly successful for us. A proper case study that demonstrates clear, quantifiable ROI for a specific industry or need, validates the work you do and sets your sales team up for success. Unlike whitepapers and e-books, case studies are relatively quick and affordable business lead generation ideas to move forward with. Plus, they resonate powerfully with potential customers at all levels in an organization.
12. Make Alliances With Your Top Customers
Elene Cafasso, President, Enerpace Inc.
Develop strategic alliances with customers who naturally refer to you as part of the way they do business themselves. For instance, every client of mine receives a certificate for a complimentary consultation as part of my “Preferred Partners Program.” My partners include a vocal/presentation expert, a financial adviser, professional organizer and executive attorney. All of these services make sense for my busy clients. And all of my partners’ clients get a certificate entitling them to a free session with one of Enerpace’s coaches. It’s a win-win.
13. Generate Leads Efficiently With Co-Marketing
Patrick Whatman, Content Marketing Manager, Mention
Co-marketing partnerships have been our most efficient business lead generation idea by far. Each time we partner up with another company to create co-branded content, we get 2x promotion and 2x more leads. Out of all types of co-marketing partnerships, we’ve seen the most ROI from webinars, as they generate the most leads and require less preparation or input from different teams (e.g., design, development). Plus, you’re often able to present the same or similar content to different forums, which saves even more time.
14. Offer a Preliminary Service for Free
Tom Blake, Founder, This Online World
When it comes to generating leads, one of the most effective ways to actually obtain a client is to show them the quality of your work before they have to put any money down. Providing a free and preliminary version of your full service package is a great way to build trust and connect with new clients, and it also shows a token of good faith that can help foster long-term relationships. Even if a free service takes an hour or two of your time, the leads you generate will be far more receptive and likely to work with you. Plus, they may even refer your free service to their colleagues, taking one step out of the lead outreach process.
Allison Potts, Divisional Managing Editor, FitSmallBusiness
A good sales CRM like Real Simple Systems can provide you with the sales analytics reports you need to understand which of your lead sources are generating sales. Using the data, you can decide which leads are most likely to convert. Salespeople love Real Simple Systems because it is easy to use, allows them to keep track of their prospects from lead to close, and it starts at only $14 per user, per month.
16. Get Referrals from Happy Customers
Amy Finlay, Edinburgh IFA
When we have happy clients who have used our services we have an automated email series that offers our happy clients incentives in the form of shopping vouchers and entries into an annual prize draw that we run just before Christmas.
We also tend to follow up with a courtesy phone call to get feedback about how happy they were with the service we provided. When the feedback is positive, we have found this is a great time to politely ask if they have any friends and family that could also benefit from our services.
We have found there is no higher quality lead than that of a recommendation from a happy existing client.
17. Use Quizzes & Assessments
Patrick Chukwura, Co-Founder, Kuia
The best performing lead generation solution that I’ve been using for our clients has been the usage of interactive lead generating assessments and quizzes. Not only do these engage with website and landing page visitors but the assessment itself helps ensure that the leads are qualified based on the answers visitors provide in the assessment.
The results from these interactive assessments and quizzes are leads that are easily categorized based on their responses, which makes it much simpler to score a lead based on how qualified they are.
18. Answer Questions on Quora
Trifon Tsvetkov, Content Manager, Regiondo
Quora is a question & answer based social website where millions of people from different demographics post questions and contribute answers. Quora can be a great source of generating sales leads. If you answer enough questions of users, they will spot your profile and most likely check out your website.
19. Establish Authority in Your Space
Jerry Haffey Jr., President of Business Development, Ambrosia Treatment Center
The idea here is to create content that doesn’t necessarily mention your product or service but is intended to educate the audience. Educational resources and marketing materials can be used to establish your company as an industry influencer. These materials should be accessible and useful to both customers and potential customers. Limit the use of overt branding by incorporating your company colors or a subtle logo. By and large, the message should speak for itself. Doing this helps people see your brand as a knowledgeable and trustworthy leader in your industry.
20. Ask for Online Reviews from Happy Clients
Ron Humes, VP Operations, Post Modern Marketing
If you have a client that is happy with the work you have done for them, ask them for an Online Review (like Google). Also, ask them to post pictures of the work performed with their expression of satisfaction and an endorsement of you and your company. Their information does not have to break the trust barrier since their connections already trust them. We tend to refer to these leads as warm leads versus cold leads because they already feel a sense of trust with you. There is a noticeable difference in the initial communication with warm leads. The next time someone expresses satisfaction with you and your company, be prepared to ask them for the review and the post in various media platforms.
21. Create & Participate in Podcasts
Cristian Rennella, el Mejor Trato
Podcasts are easy to make in-house and you can also participate in short radio programs and webinars being hosted by other experts in your industry. This helps to position you as experts, builds awareness of your business in your marketplace, and opens the door to word-of-mouth and business networking opportunities.
22. Understand Your Cost Tolerance Early
Chris Allen, Founder, FirmTree
When using pay-per-click advertising create a plan with budget expectations and performance targets such as cost per lead and cost per sale. If after three months, with AB testing to refine and improve, you’ve not gotten below those targets then pause to reconsider the channel. A good benchmark for cost tolerance per sale is to invest up to 25% of the lifetime value of a customer account. This will get you moving in the right direction.
23. Don’t Take Your Foot Off the Gas
Tyler Sickmeyer, Owner/CEO, Fidelitas Development
Business lead generation ideas are great to put in place, but many business owners take their foot off the gas when business is good and they’re busy fielding sales opportunities. This opens their business up to instability and risk in the future because a shortfall of leads opens up in their pipeline. Don’t forget to consistently generate leads on a week-to-week basis to maintain the health of your sales pipeline and protect the future growth of your business.
24. Ask For Introductions, Not Business Referrals
Kyle Porter, CEO, SalesLoft
Customer referrals should be one of your key sources of new business. This means keeping in touch with your existing customers to ensure you are well placed to get referrals. Kyle Porter advises keeping the conversation informal. For example, “Hey John, we’ve got a killer new feature coming out that does X & Y. Which other marketing execs do you think would find this interesting?”
25. Go in With a Plan
Steli Efti, CEO, Close
Being unprepared is a big disadvantage especially when you’re cold calling to generate new prospects. The best sales reps take time to gather some sales intelligence on their prospects and create a plan before picking up the phone.
Steli Efti, the CEO of Close explains it very well, “If you don’t have the right plan going into a sales call, it’s going to be much harder to close the deal. Every sales call, from a cold call to a closing call, should follow a pre-planned structure that is meant to optimize the likelihood of a desired result.”
Bottom Line – Lead Generation Ideas
There are all sorts of creative ways to generate leads. From building targeted lead lists to reaching out with cold emails, you’re bound to find some lead generation ideas or lead generation strategies in this list from the experts. Once you’ve found a few that you think will work for your business, give them a try and use this list to think of a few others.