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How to Generate Sales Leads in Your Small Business

May 25, 2022

11 minread

byElisa Au

Expert Business Advisors Brad Kreutz and Elisa Au break down the sales lead generation process and outline how to get leads for your business.


Business growth can be challenging, but generating leads is critical to success. A consistent stream of sales leads ensures that you continue to add to your customer base and drive interest in your product or service.

Depending where your company is in its growth process will affect how you attract customers. Sales lead generation for small businesses is different than large enterprises or SMBs. It requires building greater brand awareness and connecting with consumers. That is why identifying the right lead generation tactics for your small business is critical.

In this article, we’ll share more about sales lead generation and outline some tactics you can use to get leads for your business.

Why Is Small Business Lead Generation Important?

Sales lead generation strategies are critical for filling your sales funnel with interested prospects. It is about creating interest that will result in future buyers, which means that you won’t necessarily see the fruit of your labor right away. However, you disappoint your later self when you stop putting effort into generating leads.

Most importantly, lead generation tactics put you, as the business owner, in the driver’s seat of your business. It helps you be proactive about your sales instead of reactive based on word-of-mouth, referrals, and other passive avenues of growth. It’s hard to hit business goals and experience growth if you sit back and wait for customers to find you.

If you want to figure out how to generate sales leads, here are some steps to start attracting future customers.

Identify Your Target Audience

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It’s hard to attract customers if you’re unsure of who they are, what they want, and why they choose your business. It’s critical to understand who is the right fit and, just as importantly, who isn’t the right fit. Your marketing strategy can go wrong when you’re targeting the wrong people.

First, it’s important to narrow down the basic demographics of your average customer, such as age range, location, income, occupation, etc. Beyond narrowing down demographics, there are other things to consider, such as:

  • What are they looking for?
  • Where are they looking for it?
  • What services do they already use?
  • Is there a gap in their needs?
  • Is there something missing in the tools and services they already use?

One of the best ways to answer these questions is by talking with your current customers. Hone in on what your audience wants, where they are looking for answers, and gaps in their existing services to help you narrow in on who you are targeting.

Choose the Appropriate Marketing Channels

Once you’ve narrowed down who you want to target, you need to adjust your marketing channels to reach them. Marketing channels are not one-size-fits-all: your business and audience will impact which ones work best for you. For example, a local painter will have different marketing tactics than a digital marketing firm. The first will likely want to keep tactics local, while the firm can expand to service anyone nationwide.

Some of the most common marketing channels are:

  • Search engine optimization. Most of us take to search engines when trying to get information. SEO is the perfect opportunity to get in front of your ideal customer searching for answers on Google. While crafting the perfect SEO strategy can be challenging, it is effective for generating leads.
  • Paid ads.
  • Email marketing. Once you have a prospect’s information, email marketing is a great way to cultivate a relationship. Email newsletters — that abide by the CAN-SPAM Act — are one of the best ways to maintain consistent communication.
  • Social media. Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter profiles are some of the best ways for customers to find you and engage with your brand.
  • Free trials and discounts. If you’re offering sales and promotions to entice new customers, make sure they know about it! Websites and apps dedicated to deals, such as Groupon, are perfect for getting your brand out there and using your discounts as a lead generation. 
  • New technologies. New technology makes it easier to engage customers, even if you have a small business. For example, chatbots are a great way to start a conversation with website visitors.
  • Referrals. Even with more marketing methods than ever, in-person networking continues to be an effective way to reach clients. Ask previous clients if they know anyone you use your product or service. It can give you valuable referrals!

Don’t try every method at once. Each takes time and dedication, so doing too many will likely lead to burnout and lackluster results. Instead, start with two. Then, pivot and adjust depending on your results.

Another critical consideration is budget. If you don’t have enough money to be successful with your marketing, it is far more effective to save your money and wait until you do.

Show Your Expertise 

Many business owners don’t realize that other people are not an expert in the same they are. As a result, they overestimate how much their audience knows: it’s probably important to someone, even if you think it’s boring or obvious. Sharing your quick tips and tricks is an effective way to attract customers by providing value. 

  • Publish authoritative content. Informative blog posts and articles are a great way to write about what you know and establish yourself as an expert in your field. As part of a content marketing strategy, it can effectively drive traffic to your website and improve your lead generation.
  • Hold expert events and workshops. An event or seminar is a great way to build deeper relationships with leads. It can be directly related to the field your business or service specializes in. Your attendees learn from you and network with each other, your employees, and other loyal customers. Consider hosting a happy hour, running a booth, or creating an add-on event at a conference to make it work for your budget.

In addition to building on your website or event, put your knowledge on other people’s channels to reach an even larger audience. For example, creating your podcast takes time and energy. Instead, try pitching yourself as a guest on someone else’s podcast to share your expertise and reach their already-built audience.

Create a Sales Funnel

how to generate leads

While you may know your audience and the best way to reach them, you need to collect their contact information to start building relationships and create effective lead generation. A lead magnet will help you do that. Businesses often offer a coupon, sample, gift, e-book, or another value-added incentive item in exchange for contact information.

Increase conversions in your sales funnel by creating a page that addresses the needs of your target audience and provides an incentive that will persuade them to give up their contact information.

Revisit Closed and Lost Opportunities

If you can’t close a sale the first time you reach out to a contact, it doesn’t mean that everything is over with that lead. Most deals require more than one engagement. Instead, have a process to maintain your leads and a system to revisit them without trying to re-sell them again. Touch base with lost opportunities, but ensure you’re spending more energy on new prospects. Some ways to maintain contact include sending newsletters or inviting them to events you host.

Get Tailored Advising for Your Business

When it comes to your lead generation, never take your foot off the gas. Small business owners often feel pulled in different directions, but it’s critical to protect the time it takes to drive the business forward. While you may need to shift this time based on your company’s needs, it still needs to be there.

If you have goals for your small business and need help building a lead generation strategy that will support them, an advisor can help. Our experts at Cultivate Advisors have been where you are and have the experience and skills to help you create sales leads that will grow your business.

To get started, schedule an initial call for a free business assessment.

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