Acquiring Sales Leads Is 'Never-Ending'

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Sales professionals have tried-and-true approaches that work for them. The challenge is finding new sales weapons for their arsenal. Getting outside the comfort zone and trying new methods helps develop sales skills and brings bigger rewards.

Consider sale lead development. An aptitude for cultivating fresh, accurate leads can help salespeople generate more revenue for their company, and it sets them apart from their stiffest competitors. And prospecting for sales leads is a never-ending job. Here are 10 tips for generating leads and certain sales growth.

Find new customers just like your best customers. Profile existing customers. It is easy to find others like them. Targeting prospects similar to existing customers provides a greater chance to grow faster and be more profitable.

Develop relationships. Treat customers like gold. Stay in constant contact with customers. Check in with them regularly. With today's technology, that should be easy. Keep them happy. Get to know them as people. They are the foundation of success.

Become technologically savvy. As the Internet continues to grow as a business channel, Web-based sales and marketing tools are becoming more prevalent and affordable for small businesses. They are great to use and easy to find.

Use effective cold-calling techniques. Cold calling gives many salespeople chills. Turn cold calls into fact-finding missions versus a sales call. Prospects are better qualified when they are asked questions about their business needs instead of listening to a sales pitch. The prospect's needs are better met, and the salesperson has a better understanding of the customer.

Take tier 2 and 3 leads. Marketing directors say a vast majority of sales leads are ignored. Salespeople often are accused of cherry-picking leads for the quick sale and leaving as many as 80 percent of leads on the table. A closer look at second- and third-tier prospects could be an undiscovered gold mine.

Work with the marketing department. A survey by the CMO Council and the Business Performance Management Forum found that only 7 percent of respondents said their sales and marketing departments worked together effectively to harvest sales prospects. Offer to participate in the strategic marketing planning process to represent the sales team's needs. Keep communication open by creating a formal dialogue between marketing and sales. Marketing will be better positioned to support the sales team, and the resulting relationships could benefit business development efforts.

Make follow-up phone calls. Whether it is the customer who buys only sporadically or the lead who said to call in a few months, sales opportunities often are missed for lack of a single phone call. Track customer contact and schedule follow-up calls whether the customer asks for them or not.

Differentiate yourself from competitors. Salespeople are the face of their companies. It is easy to position a product against its competition, but salespeople need to stand out among their competition as well. Be available to customers when needed. Solve problems after the order is taken. Become indispensable to customers, and they will reward great service with sales.

Create a referral program. Forbes has said that 60 percent of executives make technology business decisions based on recommendations from friends and co-workers. Customers are one of the most underused resources of most companies. It could be as simple as asking each customer for five referrals.

Be a trusted adviser. The most successful salespeople will tell you they don't sell - they help their customers solve their business problem. Ask questions to better understand the customer's business and challenges. Work with customers to provide solutions that make solid business sense.


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