Read our top closing sales tips from expert salespeople to learn how best to ask for the deal, including preparation and follow-up.
Regardless of your business or industry, lead generation is the lifeblood of your sales process. You need a consistent influx of quality leads to grow your customer base. While you probably know the basics of lead generation and the common strategies, there are some more specific lead generation ideas that you can use to improve what you're currently doing. Today, we bring you 25 of them to try out.
The strategies we'll share fit into the following categories:
Feel free to read through this entire list to get a sense of all strategy types, or use the links above to jump to each section according to your business's current goals and priorities.
If you choose to grow your sales pipeline by researching and reaching out to cold leads, use the strategies below to find success in your cold calls or cold emails. Then, for additional advice from cold outreach experts, check out our articles on cold calling tips and cold emailing tips.
When cold calling your leads, you have little time to convince them to listen to what you have to say. Prepare an opening line that introduces you, compliments the lead, presents your reason for calling, and states how much time you need. The flattery gets their guard down, and the statement about your purpose and time frame for speaking with them helps them decide to give you a moment of their time.
Here's an example of a great opening line that uses this four-part structure:
The most important thing to do in your cold calls is to get the lead to give you a little of their time so you can perform a needs assessment or plan a future time for a discovery call. This structure will help you do that.
You rarely know which medium an individual prefers to receive contact from strangers. Sometimes, salespeople either cold call or cold email, forgetting the power of doing both together. In cold outreach, try a multi-channel approach. Michael Sullivan, business development executive at Leyton Consulting, has this to say about sales outreach:
When doing cold outreach, you don't want to throw darts in the dark. People are busy, and a few random calls and emails aren't going to engage them. It's vital to structure outreach through a cadence that utilizes multiple channels, including calls, emails, LinkedIn, and video, but calls and emails are the bread and butter of any cadence. It's best to use calls and emails in tandem; a call by itself is a phantom touch, and emails are the best voicemails.
As Michael mentioned, you can also incorporate LinkedIn or other outreach methods in your multi-channel strategy. Start out by pairing cold emailing and cold calling, and then add other methods as you see fit.
Be sure to personalize each email so your leads feel that it was written specifically for them. While we encourage that you start with a cold email template, avoid sending individual emails that were obviously sent to others, as well. Take the time to include personal details such as the lead's first name, company name, and probable pain points.
Take this personalization a step further by leveraging any unique details you discover about them in your research — this will help you make a personal connection. For example, if you find on LinkedIn that they live in a city you've visited, mention your favorite thing about that city at the beginning of your email or as a P.S. at the end.
To learn more about writing a great cold email that will prompt your recipient to respond, check out our article on cold emails, including the process for sending them; the best candidates to use cold emailing as a prospecting strategy; and how to write, personalize, track, and improve your emails.
Outreach is all about standing out. To do that, try using video memes. These are short videos that you send to leads. Piñata Farm is an app that makes creating these memes easy. For example, with no video editing skills required, you can grab a prospect’s headshot from their LinkedIn or their company logo and add it to a meme. Then, you can write in a creative blurb that explains why you're reaching out.
That said, go test it out. Younger markets will love this, especially if you can make the memes funny and relatable. At the end of the day, the sellers who stand out will be the ones who gain their leads' attention and interest.
Instead of immediately pitching cold leads on your product or service, try offering them a hyper-targeted research report about their industry that reveals information they want to know. This is a great way to break through the noise and start a conversation. Seth Dotterer, CEO of SiteCompli, told us about how he used to use this lead generation strategy at a former company.
Giving value first makes all the difference. We would create custom research reports by vertical. We’d pick an industry, like anti-virus software, do a super targeted research report comparative performance of the top 10 players in the space, and send it to them. We’d say, "Hey, we did this report. Your company came up in the third spot. Are you interested in seeing it? And it's not bad for PR, either."
We’re all used to being pitched a product. If you mix it up and lead with the value of a hyper-targeted report based on research, you can get their attention and start off on the right foot.
Business networking, door-to-door sales, and referrals are all effective sales prospecting strategies that you can do face-to-face with your leads or current customers. We also have an article full of tips from door-to-door sales professionals if you're interested in learning more after reading the strategies below.
Trade shows are great places to form personal connections with potential leads, especially if you have your own booth. Better yet, most trade shows give out lists of attendees before the event. If that’s the case, look through the list and find people who fit your buyer persona. Then, email them asking them to stop by the booth for a quick demo or chat.
As for leads who are just wandering around the trade show looking for swag, be more proactive. We asked Eric Hirsch, creative/digital marketing director at CDx Diagnostics, how he attracts people into the many trade show booths he’s run over the years, and this was his response:
Working a trade show booth is all psychology. When you're passionate about what you're doing and saying, and you're genuine, others can't help but be interested. Generating leads is about connecting with people, listening to what they have to say, and providing a solution to their challenges. But you can't wait for them to wander in; you have to engage with them. Otherwise, they will probably just walk by and grab a brochure when you aren't looking.
If you're unsure how to go about business networking, trade shows are a great place to start, and purchasing a booth can be a great way to get leads to come to you.
Door-to-door sales is when you walk from house to house or office to office trying to generate leads. Examples include a painter offering free estimates to homeowners in their territory or a bagel shop owner selling the idea of Bagel Mondays to an office manager.
The hardest part about door-to-door sales is that it’s hard to scale. It takes time to walk or drive door to door. However, if you sell something that applies to every homeowner or office in a local area, such as realtor services, landscaping, solar, energy, cable, or cookies, door-to-door sales might be worth it for that increased human connection.
To succeed in door-to-door sales, follow these tips:
Most of all, get used to rejection so that at each door, you can maintain the mindset that something wonderful is about to happen. Your leads will sense the positivity.
Tap into your customer base to generate new customers by asking for introductions to other potential buyers in their network. If the customers enjoy your service and know someone who might benefit from it, why wouldn’t they facilitate an introduction? We asked Matt Green, founder of Sales Assembly, about how his company grew primarily from referrals. He gave us this informative response:
First of all, don't ask for a referral. Ask for an introduction — the two are different. . . . [C]learly lay out why you're asking for the introduction and, more importantly, the value you're going to be providing to the person should he/she opt in to connecting with you.
If you follow Matt’s advice, you’re sure to find quality business referrals from your existing network. As he says, focus on getting introductions over asking explicitly for referrals.
If you're looking to generate traffic to your website so you can collect lead contact information, check out the online lead generation strategies below. Many of these strategies involve lead magnets since they're a powerful way to earn your leads' trust, provide value to them, and receive their information in exchange.
A lead magnet is a gated piece of valuable content that the user can access when they submit contact information. The most important aspect of a lead magnet is that it actually converts. To make that happen, try the hook, line, and sinker (HLS) strategy.
In his article, Sean Ogle, founder of Location Rebel, goes in depth about how to use the HLS method for email opt-ins. He runs a website for golf fanatics and uses the HLS method in an ultimate guide titled 7 Tactics to Play the World’s 7 Best Golf Courses. Users click into it and get to read the tantalizing intro and the first three of seven tactics. Then, hungry for more, they run into the sinker below, where they enter their email address to read on.
To use the HLS strategy for your own lead magnet, consider writing an attention-grabbing title as your hook, giving the first half of the lead magnet as your line, and asking for contact information to access the rest of the guide as your sinker.
Hosting webinars is a great way to turn your audience members into leads. First, create a webinar based on industry-relevant information. The best ones solve a problem or give an insight that changes the attendee’s worldview. To learn more about how to create great webinars, we asked Kristen Hariton, senior product marketing manager at SiteCompli, what makes a webinar valuable to the viewers:
It seems counterintuitive, but put sales secondary to content value when you're designing a webinar. Prioritize an outline that provides folks with information they want and need, and they'll see your company as a trusted advisor (without having to give them a hardcore sales pitch during the event). This was especially true during the onset of COVID, when our industry needed clear answers and advice on how to care for their residents and buildings. By designing webinars around COVID strategy instead of just our product, we were able to get people engaged with our content on a higher scale, and turn those people into solid leads.
But the work’s still incomplete until you market the event to your email subscribers and social followers. Then, afterward, follow up with customer attendees to further develop the relationship.
You probably see interactive quizzes or calculators all over the web. For example, some might help you find the right index fund for your financial goals. Others might help you map out your fitness and diet plan, like Built With Science's quiz pictured below.
When you offer a quiz, you're helping the buyer answer a question. And you aren’t just giving them some canned answer you give to everyone. You’re offering personalized advice based on their traits and desires. Leads will happily give you their email address to learn a bit about themselves.
To generate more leads, gate these quizzes, asking for contact information in return for their results. Then, once they've taken the quiz and looked over their results, you can start emailing them and offering extra help with whatever they searched.
Successful content marketing is all about educating and engaging your target market. What better way to do this than with a free course, which can be as simple as five video presentations about a topic stitched into a single location online. Let’s go over how to create a video course that actually provides value to your target audience:
For a more in-depth analysis on building a free course, check out Ninja Bean’s article on the steps to generating leads using free courses.
There are some processes in life and business that require you to remember a lot. That could be packing for a wilderness backpacking trip or creating a website. Whatever this long process is for your customers, provide them with a checklist that makes it more manageable. For example, SEMRush offers this free checklist to its audience that needs help with SEO.
Create these checklists and market them across various channels. This is a great way to build trust with your audience and show them that your business is there to help. If you're marketing it to people whose emails you don’t have yet, consider gating the content so you can require them to give you their email to access it.
Try interviewing an expert in your field and sharing their conversation on social media or your blog. People are always interested in hearing industry secrets and insights from experts. So consider gating this content, too; that way, people submit their contact information to hear the interview. Or share it for free to build your reputation as a value provider in the field.
Take this a step further and create a branded podcast and record the conversation. For instance, LinkedIn runs a podcast called Hello Monday where LinkedIn's senior editor at large interviews various business experts about the changing nature of work. It’s a brilliant way to grow a fan club for the company.
Your customers come to you to solve their problems. To help them see this, create problem-solving videos they can access for free. For instance, a local plumber might shoot a video about a cheap, easy way to unclog a drain, then share it on their town’s Facebook page. People will applaud and thank them. And when a pipe bursts, they’ll give the plumber a call. Lead generated.
Try creating entertaining and educational videos answering questions and providing best practices and then sharing them on social media. And at the end of your videos, after building trust, advertise your service or a lead magnet offer.
Consider taking this a step further and starting a lead-generating YouTube channel. One company doing a great job of this is Income School, a small business that teaches people how to build niche websites through their videos:
SEO stands for search engine optimization. Essentially, businesses use SEO to generate organic traffic to their websites by writing articles or blog posts that will rank well on Google search. If an article ranks on the first page for a certain query, more people will click it and end up on the site.
For example, a loan agency might try to rank for the Google search query “How do I get a personal loan?” To do so, they write an in-depth, unique, helpful article that satisfies the searcher’s intent, then post it on their blog. For instance, NerdWallet, which sells loans, comes in at number four:
The most important factor in getting posts to rank well is addressing the user’s question and intent. Focus on satisfying the person, not Google.
Starting a private Facebook group for your business is a great way to build a fan club and turn members into leads. Invite your email subscribers or followers from other networks. Then, within the group, share content that they'll enjoy — e.g., articles, videos, and conversation topics. Trust and familiarity will grow.
Every once in a while, post an offering, a special deal, or anything that pitches your product or service. If you find the right balance, the group members will trust and like you enough not to mind the occasional sales pitch, and some will reach out to you with interest.
To create an engaging Facebook group, try these practices:
Social selling on LinkedIn is an effective lead generation tactic for B2B sellers. It focuses on creating relationships with decision makers on the platform so you can build enough rapport to ask them for a meeting. One of the best ways to find these industry decision makers is by joining relevant LinkedIn groups. For example, a proptech salesperson might join a property management group through a search like the below:
Once inside the LinkedIn group, scout for people who fit your buyer persona; add them to your prospecting list; engage with them each week by replying to comments, posting articles, and sending valuable content via InMail; and finally send a connection request. Soon they will begin to view you as an industry expert and will be open to a call when you ask.
Your audience might be posting questions on Reddit, which boasts 430 million monthly active users. Get on the platform and answer those questions. This is a great way to build yourself up as an expert in your industry.
For example, a natural skincare business owner might search out questions related to skin health. If someone asks, “Why is there a rash on my forehead?”, the business owner jumps to the rescue with research-backed answers. And if your answers are the best, the algorithm will push them to the top of each question’s forum. Therefore, more people will see it.
To turn those inquisitive potential customers into leads, you can include a link to your website. Or you can directly reach out to the person who posed the question, asking them if they need any help with their current problem.
Facebook lead ads allow you to capture Facebook users’ contact information directly on the platform. How it works is simple. To users, lead ads look like regular Facebook ads; however, embedded within them is a form that pops up when the user clicks. The form asks users to fill in a few fields that you’ve chosen (email address, name, etc.) and autopopulates the ones for which Facebook has data. This makes it easy for the user to submit without leaving Facebook.
Here's an example of a Facebook lead ad and the associated pop-up form:
Facebook lead ads are perfect for B2C companies looking to collect email addresses, increase webinar attendance, or book consultations with qualified buyers. They're also an excellent choice for those without a lead generation website since the contact information is gathered directly on the platform.
Similar to Facebook lead ads, LinkedIn lead gen forms are LinkedIn ads with embedded lead capture forms that pop up when a user clicks the ad. This enables you to capture lead information without sending the lead off-platform. Better yet, the form prepopulates data about the user that LinkedIn has in its system. That lower friction often means higher conversion rates. According to LinkedIn, these forms produce conversion rates of 13%, while landing pages average just 2.35%.
Check out this example of a LinkedIn lead gen form attached to an ad:
LinkedIn lead gen forms work best for B2B businesses that have a strong presence on LinkedIn and a relevant lead magnet to share with their audience. That way, the leads who see the ad can visit the business's page to check for legitimacy and then will be willing to trade their information for the valuable lead magnet.
In SEO, you try to organically rank highly on Google’s search engine results page for certain queries. With pay-per-click (PPC), you receive placement at the top of the page for the keyword you’re targeting. Your goal is to win clicks on the link and drive people to your website or landing page. You pay only when someone clicks on the ad.
Here’s an example. A food delivery service might pay to rank for the query “How to get healthy food delivered weekly.” This has high buyer intent, so it probably costs a pretty penny. Let’s see which businesses are using PPC ads on it:
PPC is a great way to capture leads that might have ordinarily missed you in their search because you didn't rank highly enough. Plus, you can capitalize on selling to them at the right time. If it’s on their mind and they google it, they might be ready to purchase immediately.
Quality tools made for lead generation and lead capture are useful for finding, collecting, and sorting leads. Below, we'll talk about some of the essential lead software to consider using. Some are free, while others come at a fixed cost or offer tiered pricing.
Lead capture software consists of tools like embedded forms or pop-ups that help you capture lead information across your landing pages, blog posts, and other lead capture mediums. The tools usually look like forms that capture email addresses, but many offer more than that on the backend, such as giving you data to optimize your forms as well as lead data that helps you define your ideal customer profile (ICP).
Here are some of the best lead capture software available:
All of these are quality options, but the software that works best for you will depend on your unique business.
If you’re having trouble finding email addresses for potential prospects, try an email finder tool. These tools usually require you to type in the user’s full name and their company domain name. The tool then delivers you the email address or a batch of them.
Three of the best email lookup tools are below:
Ultimately, you'll get the most use out of email finder software that fits your budget, the amount of searches you need to conduct, and the way you'd like to search the emails (for example, via a Chrome extension or a website).
Not all leads are equal. Some will end up being a bad fit and wasting your time. It’s important to be able to differentiate between qualified leads and teases. You can then prioritize selling to these high-scoring leads who fit your buyer persona perfectly or express buying behavior. Lead scoring is the best systematic way of making this differentiation, and lead scoring software can help you do this.
When you set up your lead scoring software, the scoring factors you use could include:
Leads with lower scores will receive different treatment and actions than leads with higher scores. For instance, a lead with a score of 2/10 might continue being nurtured by marketing. Meanwhile, leads with a 6/10 are passed to the sales team, which will attempt contact. With quality scoring software, you can set up workflows to automate much of this process, saving you time on otherwise tedious work.
Lead generation refers to the process of researching and attracting potential customers who’d be interested in purchasing your product or service.
A qualified lead is a person or organization that fits your ideal customer profile and has expressed interest in your product or service. The best way to qualify leads is through a process of lead scoring where you rate how good a potential prospect is in terms of fit.
Inbound (aka online) lead generation refers to all methods of generating traffic online and then gathering their contact information, often through your website or landing page. Outbound lead generation (aka sales prospecting), on the other hand, refers to the manual selling process of finding and reaching out to leads directly.
Effective lead generation strategies are essential to any salesperson who wants their sales process to be a well-oiled machine. To determine which strategies are best for you, first understand your sales process and your ideal customer profile, and then devise a strategy that best helps you interact with your most valuable prospects.