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9 proven ways to generate sales leads

Jennifer Lonoff Schiff | Aug. 23, 2013
Sales and marketing experts share their lead-generation tips, including the best methods and media for finding prospective customers.

"Long-tail keyword phrases drive targeted traffic due to their specificity, and they're less competitive than related, shorter search terms, which tend to be higher in volume and more competitive," Prince says.

In terms of SEO, "consider something educational, something your audience could benefit from," says Prince. "Once you've identified your target keywords, create content around it. You may be amazed at how fast you will rank and start generating traffic and leads for this term."

3. Cross-promotions and co-marketing. Consider forming "alliances with complementary, noncompetitive vendors to exchange leads, promote each others' products and services, or any number of other mutually beneficial activities," suggests Rodrigues.

"The leads generated from such activities can be quite good — sometimes almost the same quality as customer referrals," he says. "The downside is that managing such alliances can be time-consuming and the lead flow can be unpredictable."

4. Providing useful content. "According to Google, tech buyers consume an average of 14 pieces of online content before making a buying decision (as opposed to just eight to 10 for the typical buyer)," says Kathleen Booth, owner and CEO, Quintain Marketing, which provides small to midsized businesses with end-to-end marketing solutions. "Companies that produce educational or informative content can establish thought leadership and generate leads earlier in the buying process, setting the stage to ultimately win the business," she notes. "It may sound counterintuitive," she continues, "but the key is to avoid selling. By offering prospects helpful information in the form of blogs, whitepapers, ebooks, webinars, case studies or demos, you can win their trust and their business."

5. Speaking at trade shows, conferences and industry events. "The best lead generator is to give an event presentation and follow it with customized letters, calls or emails to individuals that you met [there]," argues Susan Carol, CEO, Susan Carol Associates Public Relations.

Speaking at an event immediately gives you name — and face — recognition, literally separating (and hopefully elevating) you from the hundreds of other vendors or service providers trying to get noticed. And by following up with people you meet at shows in a timely fashion, you stay top of mind.

6. Using LinkedIn. "Our customer research showed that traffic from LinkedIn generated the highest visitor to lead conversion rate (2.74 percent), almost three times higher than Twitter (.69 percent) and Facebook (.77 percent)," says Mike Volpe, CMO of HubSpot, a provider of inbound marketing software. So what makes LinkedIn a good source of leads for IT companies and professional services organizations?

"First and foremost, LinkedIn has a high percentage of professionals, so the likelihood, especially for B2B marketers, that you're dealing with people in your target audience is higher than some other channels," he says. "Moreover, LinkedIn Groups are organized around the concerns and challenges faced by many buyers and/or their geographic location and profession, so LinkedIn makes it easy to view and contextualize what your potential buyers are talking about and tailor content on your LinkedIn Company pages accordingly."


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