a group of professionals at a networking event
There are several ways to generate sales leads for your business, from word-of-mouth marketing to enlisting a public relations expert. — Getty Images/Ales-A

One of the most common concerns business owners experience is how to generate sales leads. Also known as a prospect, a sales lead is as an individual or organization that may eventually become a client. Keeping a steady pipeline of these leads is essential if you want to grow your business's revenue.

There is no one-size-fits-all strategy for generating solid sales leads, though. More often than not, it takes a combination of methods — each one having to be tested, adjusted and improved over time.

Here are six of the most common lead generation strategies used by modern businesses to produce the optimal sales results.

[Read: Understanding the Sales Process From Start to Finish]

Invest in an advertising or public relations campaign

Advertising and public relations are tried-and-true tactics for garnering attention for your business. When you target the right individuals through a well-crafted campaign, you're sure to catch the attention of someone who's interested in your products or services. Running ads and hiring a PR firm can be expensive, though, so if you're on a budget, try starting out with some of these affordable PR strategies.

Be proactive on social media

In the modern world, social media is one of the fastest, cheapest and most effective ways to reach a large number of potential customers. LinkedIn is a go-to platform, especially for B2B companies, but choose your social networks wisely: It's important to go where your potential customers spend their time. When connecting with other users on social media, be sure to personalize your message so it stands out and sparks conversations.

Purchase a list

Many third-party companies create and sell ready-made contact lists of individuals who fit into specific target demographics. If you source your data from a reputable company with GDPR-compliant opt-in methods, acquiring a list can be a great way to quickly grow your lead database. According to Marketing Insider Group, these lists often include detailed data, such as the contact's industry vertical, annual revenue, key decision makers, company size and more. Just be sure to filter your list and ensure you're reaching out to only the most qualified leads before you begin contacting people; otherwise, you risk being labeled as spam.

Word-of-mouth marketing remains one of the most effective ways to generate leads, and there are more ways than ever to do it.

Attend networking events

Digital lead generation may be easier to do at scale, but making face-to-face connections is still one of the strongest ways to build your client base. Figure out where your prospects like to spend their time, such as at Chamber of Commerce meetings, trade shows and industry-focused meetups, and make an effort to attend. From there, it's all about following best networking practices to introduce yourself, ask smart questions and start conversations about your business.

Sponsor a community event

Communities are always looking for local businesses to sponsor events, such as fairs and festivals. Keep an eye out in your area for upcoming events where you can purchase a booth or table. This is a great way to meet potential customers and introduce them to your business. Be sure to have business cards — or, better yet, free giveaway items with your logo on it — so attendees remember you after they've left the event.

Encourage referrals

Word-of-mouth marketing remains one of the most effective ways to generate leads, and there are more ways than ever to do it. Such efforts may include asking customers to leave online reviews, influencer marketing campaigns, sharing user-generated content about your product, or offering a referral bonus or discount for customers who bring a new lead to your business.

Generating leads is a crucial part of every sales strategy, and following these tips is a great way to get started. Once you've compiled a list of well-qualified leads, you're ready to begin moving them through your sales funnel and converting them into paying customers.

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CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

Published July 19, 2019