Leads are the lifeline of every business.
If you don’t get any leads, you can’t close any sales.
Without any sales, you don’t get cashflow.
And without cashflow, you won’t be able to continue operating.
Pretty straightforward, right?
Now, here’s the problem… in this day and age, consumers have more choice than ever, and everywhere they turn, they’re inundated by ads and marketing messages.
Buy this product. Try this service. Sign up for this subscription.
Bearing this in mind, how do you cut through all that noise, and stand out to your consumers?
Simple – stop relying on the tired, old strategies that you’ve been using since forever.
Take PPC ads, for example.
Consumers these days are pretty skeptical about being advertised to, and the vast majority of them either install ad blockers or simply ignore the ads that they see online.
The numbers don’t lie:
So if AdWords and other “traditional” tactics aren’t that effective in generating sales leads, what should you do instead?
Well, we’re glad you asked.
In this article, we share 8 lesser-known strategies on how to generate sales leads.
PS: We won’t talk about the obvious stuff (such as blogging, using automated email campaigns, or cold calling).
Ready? Let’s jump right in!
1. Speak at a trade show
Our first tip on how to generate sales leads is to get a speaking engagement at a trade show, conference, or industry event.
Now, most sales reps spend a lot of time attending trade shows and events.
Here’s what your sales colleagues probably do:
- Turn up at the event and work their way around the room
- Exchange name cards with several people
- Try to reach out to these folks and nurture them as leads once the event is over
Guess what? Everyone else is doing the exact same thing.
In fact, we’ll bet that when your lead sits down at their desk the next morning, they’ll find a deluge of sales emails in their inbox.
What do you think this person will do?
Will they patiently go through their sales emails, and respond to each and every one?
Nope – of course not.
If your sales colleague really managed to impress this person during the event, they might keep an eye out for an email from your company…
But otherwise, they’ll probably ignore all the emails that they get (or worse, bin them).
So here’s the thing:
If you want to generate leads from trade shows, conferences, and other events, you’ve got to find a way to make yourself (or your sales colleague!) memorable.
You don’t want your lead to mentally file you away as “just another sales rep”.
A great way of doing this is to get a speaking engagement at said event.
Of course, you won’t be allowed to plug your product or company during your entire presentation…
But you should be able to give a quick shout out, and share an impressive statistic or two.
Now, here’s how to make the most out of your speaking opportunity:
After you’re done with your presentation, you’ll probably get people coming up to you to ask follow-up questions, or to discuss the topic you’ve spoken about.
You can offer to share additional resources and tools with these folks – by doing this, you’re building rapport with them, and you also get their contact information.
Of course, there will be plenty of other people you won’t manage to connect with.
For these folks, you can still reach out to them via email (either from a contact list provided by the event organizer, or from name cards you collected).
Instead of simply saying “We met at yesterday’s event”, you can introduce yourself as the speaker who talked about XYZ.
Your name should ring a bell, and this will hopefully give you an “in”.
Now, you might be thinking:
The theory of it all sounds great, but how do I even get a speaking engagement at a trade show to start off with?
Don’t worry – it’s easier than you think.
The key to getting those speaking opportunities is to build yourself up as an industry expert.
Here’s a handy guide that will help you do just that:
Step One: Accreditation.
If you haven’t already done so, make sure you’re accredited and certified in courses and training programs relevant to your industry.
For marketing, for example, there’s the HubSpot Academy Inbound Marketing Certification Course, as well as the Google AdWords Certification.
Step Two: Choose your niche.
Next, choose your niche, and make sure you’re super familiar with it.
Say you want to focus on, specifically, SEO. You should read up on the best SEO strategies, experiment on a few campaigns, and bookmark SEO blogs which discuss the latest algorithm updates from Google.
Step Three: Reach out to schools.
Once you’re confident in your knowledge, start pitching to schools.
You can offer to conduct speaking sessions for their students for free – say you’d love to share your experience about working in marketing, and tell them about what skill sets they’ll need if they’re considering a career in SEO.
Not ALL the schools you reach out to will take you up on your offer, but you should be able to secure a few engagements here and there.
Once you’ve done this, it’s time to set your sights a little higher…
Step Four: Guest post and appear as a guest on webinars.
Remember those industry blogs that we were talking about?
If they accept guest posts, contact them and pitch a guest post topic to them. If they have a webinar or podcast, try and land yourself a spot on those as well.
Step Five: Research trade shows to pitch.
Now that you’ve got all this experience under your belt, you’re pretty much legit. It’s time to approach those trade shows!
First, research different trade shows to pitch, and decide on what topics you want to talk about.
If you’re having some trouble with this, a great way of getting some inspiration is to simply ask your readers or followers what they’d like to learn more about, or what they’re currently struggling with.
Step 6: Contact various trade shows, and submit your speaker proposal.
Exhibition organizers start preparing for shows really early on, so to get any chance of speaking at a show, you’ll need to submit your speaker proposal at least 9 months in advance.
BONUS: Network with the organizers.
Want to increase your chances of getting that speaking engagement?
Ask your event organizer who’s in charge of choosing the speakers, and try and connect with this person on LinkedIn or Twitter.
You don’t necessarily have to talk to them or promote yourself aggressively – if they look at your LinkedIn profile and see that you’ve published a ton of useful articles, this might be enough to swing the vote in your favor!
2. Monitor social media mentions
Moving on to the second tip on how to generate sales leads… monitoring social media mentions!
Now, most marketers will post on social media and reply to tags or Tweets, but they don’t monitor their social media mentions.
(For those who aren’t sure what these are, they’re basically occasions in which people talk about your brand, but don’t tag you directly).
So not this:
Why is it important to monitor your social media mentions?
Well, if you don’t do this, you could be missing out on a ton of lead generation opportunities.
Say you’re a marketer from Salesforce. If someone Tweets something along the lines of:
- Does anyone know if Salesforce or NetSuite is better?
- Has anyone used Salesforce before? Are they any good?
- Does anyone know if you can integrate MailChimp with Salesforce?
It’s pretty obvious that they’re a potential customer.
On top of monitoring your own mentions on social media, you can also monitor the mentions of other competing brands.
For example, say someone Tweets:
- NetSuite sucks, I still can’t get through to their customer service after 5 tries.
- NetSuite is so buggy. Anyone know of any good alternatives?
- Is it just me, or is NetSuite not an intuitive product to use?
…that’s a golden opportunity for you to jump in, and convince this person to switch to Salesforce instead.
Alright, so how do you monitor your brand mentions?
Your first option is to do this manually – just search for your brand name on Twitter, or whatever social media platform you’re using.
Alternatively, if you want to use an automated tool to streamline the process, there are quite a few options that you can choose from.
This list of 15 free social media monitoring tools will help you get started!
3. Use review platforms
Customer reviews and testimonials are insanely important when it comes to generating sales leads – that’s pretty much a given.
After all, when you see dozens of reviews talking about how amazing a product is, it’s hard not to get swayed…
But here’s the thing:
Featuring reviews and testimonials on your website only help to nurture your leads and push them closer to making a purchase…
They don’t actually help you to generate MORE leads.
So don’t just focus on amassing a ton of reviews for your website. Instead, make sure you have a good amount of reviews on external review sites as well!
Now, the review sites that you should be targeting depends on your industry.
For those of you who aren’t already on these review sites, here’s what you should do:
- Get your company listed on the review site.
- Fill out your profile carefully. If you’re on Capterra, for example, make sure that you add in all your product features, because your leads might be filtering out companies based on certain features.
- Email your subscribers, and ask them to leave you a review.
- In the event that you receive a negative review (it happens!), make sure you respond to the user, and perform service recovery.
Pro-tip: make sure you give your subscribers or customers some direction when you’re asking for those reviews.
If you don’t specify what you’re looking for, your customer might simply leave you a 5-star review along with a generic “Great product!”
As you might imagine, this isn’t as helpful as a review that actually discusses what the customer likes about the product.
To get more informative, insightful reviews, copy and paste this snippet into your email asking your customers for a review:
The more detailed your review is, the more you’d be helping our potential customers understand our product!
You might want to answer some or all of the following questions:
- What did you like about ProductName?
- What objectives or results did ProductName help you achieve?
- Was ProductName easy to set up?
- Did you encounter any problems with ProductName?
- Was it easy to get in contact with ProductName’s support team?
- Would you recommend ProductName to your friends?
Now, here’s a question that we get a lot… should you incentivize product reviews?
You don’t have to do this if you want to, but if you’ve got the budget, we say go for it.
After all, you’re asking your customers to do you a favor. Why not throw in a little carrot, and offer them a promo code for the next purchase?
Make sure you don’t outrightly buy reviews or get your internal staff to review your product as though they’re customers, though.
Customers are pretty savvy, and they might just be able to put two and two together, and find out that you’re being dishonest with your reviews.
If this happens, you’ll get a ton of negative press, and it’ll be really hard to win back your customers’ trust… so make sure you won’t be caught in that situation!
One last thing before we move on to the next strategy:
It’s very tempting to delete negative reviews that you get (yes, some platforms will allow you to do this), but you should definitely refrain from doing so.
Obviously, it’s unethical, but statistics also show that 95% of consumers get suspicious of fake reviews if the reviews don’t contain any bad scores.
Honesty is always the way to go! ;)
4. Optimize the Call To Actions (CTAs) on your website
Pop quiz: what’s the one most important element on your website?
It’s your CTAs!
Now, there are a ton of CTA best practices out there, and you already know that you should:
- Make your CTA button a prominent color (so that it stands out)
- Use first person pronouns (“get my eBook” instead of “get your eBook”), and
- use a single CTA instead of multiple CTAs
But how about the position of your CTA button?
Too high, and your visitors won’t bite. (We’re assuming these visitors are landing on your website for the first time, and they’re not familiar with your product yet!)
Too low, and your visitors won’t even see your CTA.
You could stick the same CTA multiple times on your page… but if you overdo it, you might come across as too salesy, and this might put off your visitors.
So what do you do?
Simple – supplement your CTA buttons with a floating bar that stick to the top or bottom of your visitor’s screen.
Here’s what this might look like:
With these floating bars, it doesn’t matter how far your visitor scrolls – the bar still stays on the top or bottom of their page.
That’s how you get maximum visibility for your CTA. Pretty smart, huh?
5. Track your website visitors
Let’s say there are 100 people who visit your site everyday.
Out of these people, how many do you think will fill in your form, and convert as a lead?
The answer is a measly 2.
That’s right – the average website converts at just 2.35%, which kind of sucks.
I mean, think about it…
You’re spending all that ad budget on your Google AdWords or Facebook ads campaigns, and you’re putting in the time to optimize your ads each week.
But all those folks that you’re sending through to your site?
There’s a 98% chance that they’re just going to churn, and leave.
Luckily, there is a way for you to identify who’s visiting your website, and re-engage them further down the road.
You can do that using our website tracking tool, Albacross!
Here’s the good news:
Albacross is 100% free, and it’s also insanely easy to use.
First things first: you’ll have to create an account. Again, this is completely free, and you don’t need to input any credit card information.
Once you’ve done this (it should take you just 30 seconds!), the next step is to paste your tracking code on your website.
That’s basically it. Now, all you have to do is wait for Albacross to collect enough data.
Once this is done, the tool will send you automated emails (daily, weekly or monthly) telling you who’s visiting your website, and how you can reach out to them.
If you’re wondering how Albacross works, it basically uses a combination of reverse DNS lookup technology and whois information to locate and identify your website visitors.
Sounds like Greek to you?
Don’t worry – since Albacross is a plug and play tool, you don’t need to understand the technicalities or theory behind it.
Albacross users range from marketing executives to managers and small business owners, and most of these folks have NO technical background whatsoever.
Here’s the link to create a free account. It’s time to start generating sales leads!
6. Create a Slideshare presentation
When it comes to content marketing, every marketer’s go-to is blogging.
Sure, blogging is a great way of generating more leads for your company… IF you manage to publish frequently enough.
What does “frequently enough” entail?
Well, according to this graph from HubSpot, you’ll only see a marked increase in your leads if you publish 5 to 10 blog posts per month.
This means you’ll have to publish 1-2 blog posts every week. That’s a pretty big commitment, if you ask us!
If you want to experiment with a lower-maintenance option, there’s always SlideShare, which is a platform where you can upload and share presentation slides.
What’s the big deal about SlideShare?
Well, seeing as the platform receives 159 million page views per month, it’s a great tool that marketers can use to generate more sales leads.
Also, consider the fact that the presentations on SlideShare (the well-received ones, at least!) are a lot more visual and aesthetically appealing than your boring old blog post.
This means they’re more shareable, which in turn means that your product or company gets more exposure and air-time.
Last but not least, it’s a lot less time-consuming to create a deck for SlideShare as compared to banging out a long-form blog article.
Yes, you’ll still have to do your research and come up with valuable content for your readers…
But you get to save a ton of time on the actual writing.
If you’re keen on making SlideShare part of your content marketing strategy, check out these 7 ways to use SlideShare for your business.
7. Create a tool for your website
A tool can help drive people to your website, and get you more sales leads.
What kind of tool are we talking about?
Well, the sky’s the limit.
SEOptimer, for example, houses an SEO audit tool on their website.
The goal is for consumers to Google “SEO audit tool”, chance upon SEOptimer’s website, and then go on to check out the company’s paid product.
Then there’s SumoMe, which has a headline generator tool on their website.
And Shopify, which has a nifty profit margin calculator (among the other tools on their site).
Now, don’t worry about actually building your tool… there are a ton of solutions out there which will help you create a tool without coding it yourself.
Here are some you can check out:
With these platforms, you’ll be able to get your tool up and running in no time!
Before we move on, here’s a quick tip:
Don’t get so preoccupied with crafting your tool that you forget to think about how you can engage the folks who use your tool.
If you want to use a softer approach, just make sure you’ve got a CTA on your landing page (perhaps for a free trial or a product demo).
If you want to be more aggressive, you can always request for your lead’s email address before you grant them access to your tool.
The choice is yours!
8. Set up an affiliate program
Alright, we’ve come to the last tip on how to generate sales leads…
And that’s to set up an affiliate program!
If you’re not 100% sure what this is, it’s basically a program that allows you to recruit bloggers and other partners, and get them to market your company’s products.
With affiliate marketing, we refer to the company that sells the products/services as the merchant, and the marketer promoting the items as the affiliate.
Now, most companies will use affiliate programs to SELL their products or services, but if you want to use it to generate leads, you can also do that.
Here’s how it works:
- You decide on the terms of your affiliate marketing program (eg: how much will you pay your affiliates for every lead they generate?)
- You publicize your affiliate marketing program (either on your website, or an affiliate platform/network).
- Affiliates join your affiliate marketing program.
- You generate a unique link for each affiliate.
- Your affiliates use these links to market your product/services on their websites (they might use banner ads, do a product review blog post, etc)
- When a visitor clicks through from your affiliate’s website and fills in your form (or otherwise converts as a lead), they’ll be tagged, and you can see that they’re referred by your affiliate.
- Your sales team follows up with the leads.
- At the end of the month, you pay your affiliates for all the leads that they’ve generated for you.
Here’s a simple diagram to help you visualize the flow better:
If you ask us, affiliate marketing is a great way of scaling your leads without spending too much money.
Think about it:
If your company hires an additional sales rep so that they can generate more leads, they’ll have to pay for this person’s salary, benefits, taxes, and more.
Why would they do that, when they can tap on a huge network of affiliates from around the globe, and only pay PER lead generated?
Of course, creating and managing a successful affiliate program isn’t easy.
For one thing, you’ll have to make sure your offer is attractive enough to entice affiliates.
If you’re only willing to pay $1 per lead, for example, you probably won’t get many affiliates joining your program.
For more tips on creating an effective affiliate program, read this article on How to Start an Affiliate Program That’s Actually Successful.
How to generate sales leads in 2018
Whew, you’ve made it all the way to the end of this bumper guide on how to generate sales leads. Give yourself a pat on the back!
Now, we know this is a lot of information to take in.
Where do you go from here?
Simple – identify one or two strategies that you want to start off with, implement them, and monitor the number of leads that you get.
We’d say the easiest strategies to start off with is #5 (track your website visitors) and #7 (create a tool for your website.
Both of these strategies involve once-off efforts, and they’ll allow you to reap the rewards for a long time to come.
If we missed out any of your favorite strategies on how to generate sales leads, make sure to leave us a comment, and let us know.
Here’s to skyrocketing your leads!