Generating sales leads is critical to salespeople, no matter how long they've been in the business. New sellers need qualified prospects to build up a customer base. Established salespeople need to constantly generate new leads because the average customer attrition rate is 15 to 20 percent. This means that if sales veterans don't go after new customers, their sales volume and personal income fall.
Cold calls are a necessary evil for many in sales. These are calls made to potential customers with whom you have no prior contact. Ideally, you can get more qualified leads by buying mailing lists from reputable companies that have names and contact details cataloged by geographic area or product interests. Your company can also build internal mailing lists by going to events and adding new contacts to a database.
For established sellers, referrals are a lifeblood of new business. Referrals are new prospects shared by current customers or prospects who didn't buy. Getting referrals is sometimes difficult, as some people are reluctant to give you names and numbers of friends or family. You must convince the customer that he is essentially doing the person a favor by getting your solution in front of him. Referrals help you create a personal connection on your initial contact.
The Internet has paved the way for a number of new media lead-generating tactics. Many companies and salespeople put questionnaires on their own websites and in ads on other sites to get contacts. They may offer a reward or incentive for completing a brief survey. Or you can offer a free weekly e-newsletter and ask for contact information at the point of registration. This approach also gives you a segue into the initial contact. You could start a blog or virtual community to turn readers into prospects or run contests and sweepstakes through your website or Facebook page.
Your business is more likely to generate more revenue from top customers than from new customers. Your best customers already know you and like you. If you can get them to buy all of your products and services, you increase your share of their wallet. Asking a satisfied customer if he has a need for one of your other products and services is typically simpler than cold calling an unfamiliar contact.
Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.