Business lead generation is the process of identifying new prospects, then using a range of tactics to turn them into new sales opportunities. In this article, 25 experts share their best business lead generation ideas with you. Some you may know, others will be new and they’ll help you improve the quality and quantity of leads entering your sales pipeline.
Here are the top business lead generation ideas from the pros:
Marc Prosser, Fit Small Business
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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.
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.
Augustus Franklin, Founder/CEO, CallHub
Since I work in the 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. And it’s always the same reason; because all these channels are easily glanced over or ignored. But, writing a letter or calling them up and having a real conversation; that’s 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.
A good sales CRM, like Pipedrive, 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 Pipedrive because it is easy to use, allows them to keep track of their prospects from lead to close, and it starts at only $10/user/month. Click here to start a free trial.
Lidia Varesco Racoma, Art director & designer, Lidia Varesco Design
Sometimes the best business lead generation ideas and 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.
Jacob Lumby, M.Sc., Founder, Cash Cow Couple
We’ve explored lots of business lead generation ideas and the one that has been most successful is generating leads through search engine traffic. We make a list of questions that customers are likely to ask Google, then we write a post answering each question. In the end, you get very targeted traffic and the ability to build trust with readers by solving their question or problem.
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.
Rob Watson, Click to Sale
One of my best business lead generation ideas is still business networking. I love digital and it’s right at the heart of what I do, but face-to-face contact can’t be beaten for impact and the ability to have a two-way conversation. Being an experienced presenter I regularly offer to present for free at events too. I always keep it informative and non-salesy, and I tend to find that even a third-hand recommendation from someone who saw my presentation and told a friend, can be warmer than a complete stranger coming to my website.
Maggie Aland, Fit Small Business
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David Klein , Director of Marketing, ClickTime
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 eBooks, 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.
Elene Cafasso, 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 advisor, 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!
Patrick Whatman, 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.
Roslyn McKenna, SH Data Centers
Your competitors are getting links to their sites on industry sites, blogs, and listings. These backlinks add value to their site for search engines and can also be sources for new leads to find out about them. Find out which sites are giving them backlinks with a free search on MOZ Site Explorer. You’ll see who’s linking to their sites so you can target the same ones for your own backlinks and comments.
Lusha is a simple app that enables you to reveal mobile numbers, direct phone numbers and contact email addresses when you are browsing prospects in LinkedIn or Twitter. It takes two clicks to launch Lusha in as an app in Google Chrome. If you’re existing customers use Twitter and LinkedIn this is a great way to generate the direct contact data that you need to make effective and more personalized cold calls.
Jason Scott, Archway Cards
The toughest thing about investing in SEO is that it can take months or even years to see the fruits of your labour. This is where paid channels such as pay-per-click advertising on Google, LinkedIn or Facebook can come in handy. They essentially allow you to drive traffic to your landing page and see almost immediate results. Be wary though, the cost per lead can be high, especially in the early stages when you’ve not yet optimised your campaign.
Brett Langlois, Pure SEO
One of our most successful business lead generation ideas is blogging because it’s a great way to keep your website fresh and it builds up your visibility for Google keywords. The B2B sales cycle is often longer than the B2C one, so blogging is also great for building trust in your brand and helping to nurture leads through your sales pipeline. But don’t write blog content that only speaks to your potential customers, write it for other experts in your industry and then reach out and encourage them to share your content. A simple message to a blogger in your industry can do wonders for your SEO. For instance, “Hey, I enjoyed your recent blog post about X. It inspired me to write a similar piece about Y. I would love to get your feedback – here is the link.”
Amy Kilvington, Blinds Direct
The best of our business lead generation ideas are focused on direct mail and email campaigns on customers who have done business with us over the past five years. We also arrange these customers by their buying patterns, which again helps to create small, targeted lists that can then be personalized. Personalization is so, so effective when it comes to B2B. Within our email campaigns, we offer the customer an incentive such as a first look at a new collection, multi-buy offers, free samples books or an industry report.
Emma Yeransian, SmartAcre
An eBook acts as a great incentive to get people to sign-up and provide you with their contact details and other useful information that you previously would not have access to. For instance, you could ask them to describe their biggest pain point and provide their mobile phone number in addition to their name and email address. Remember, website visitors are only willing to give up so much information, so the better the value offer, the more information they will give.
Using Leadberry is a cost-effective way to find out who is visiting your website. Leadberry is recommended by Google Analytics and can provide you with the names of the organizations visiting your site as well as the email addresses of the key contacts that you target. Knowing who has visited your website in real-time via email alerts, allows you not only to identify new leads visiting your site for the first time, but also existing prospects as they revisit during later stages of the sales process.
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.
Chris Allen, 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.
Tyler Sickmeyer, 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.
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?”
Sales Navigator is a sister business to LinkedIn that works completely independently from your LinkedIn Social Media profile. It’s rapidly becoming an essential tool for any B2B sales professional because it has the largest database of customer prospects in the US and around the world.
You can target prospective customers via 31 contact attributes like job title and when they started their current role. You can also target them by 14 company attributes like the size of company and location. The huge quantity of data, the excellent data quality and the multiple ways you can cut and dice data using 45 different attributes means that you can target the right leads accurately and communicate with a much more personal approach.
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.io 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 optimise the likelihood of a desired result.”
Over to You
A big thank you to all the business owners who shared their best tips for winning customers. Hopefully, you found one or two new business lead generation ideas that will help you improve the quality and quantity of leads entering your sales pipeline. If you have a great business lead generation idea that we haven’t already shared, please share it with our readers in the comments section below.