Many successful small business owners are continuously looking to expand their customer base and grow their businesses. Business growth can be a difficult and long-term process, though. One of the foundational elements of growing a business is having access to a steady stream of sales leads. A lead is a person, or business if you have a company that sells to other businesses (B2B), that has an interest in the products or services you are selling.


Unsurprisingly, the more revenue a company has, the more leads they generate. The differences are most drastic at the highest and lowest end of the spectrum: 82% of companies with $250,000 or less in annual revenue report generating less than 100 leads per month, whereas only 8% of companies generating $1 billion in annual revenue report less than 100 leads per month.
Lead generation often uses digital channels, and has been undergoing substantial changes in recent years from the rise of new online and social techniques. In particular, the abundance of information readily available online has led to the rise of the “self-directed buyer” and the emergence of new techniques to develop and qualify potential leads before passing them to sales.

With the new buyer it is important to note that your marketing efforts don’t end once a new lead comes into your system – what we call Top of the Funnel (TOFU) marketing.  Many companies do a good job at generating leads, but the problem is that most new leads are not ready to buy yet.  And if a sales rep does engage and the lead isn’t ready to talk with them, it reinforces the notion that marketing sourced leads are not great. As a result leads get lost, ignored, or snatched up by your competitors.

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Don’t use a simple word processing document. You might be more familiar with using a word processing platform or spreadsheet, but a dedicated survey tool is better. Consider using one such as Constant Contact or SurveyMonkey that aggregates results for you.[5] These tools also have helpful features and types of surveys and questions that you might not have thought about.

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Most customers begin researching their purchase long before they ever talk with a company representative. David Edelman and Marc Singer described the customer-led sales experience as a “journey” and emphasize the importance of being part of that journey. By creating customized, relevant, interactive, and engaging content for each step of the research process, products and companies can be a guide to customers before they are ready to engage with sales staff. “Today, winning brands owe their success not just to the quality and value of what they sell, but to the superiority of the journeys they create,” Edelman and Singer have argued.  Paying attention to the customer’s journey creates a significant opportunity for online lead generation.
Odds are that about half of your visitors will never return to your site if you do not adequately capture some bit of information from them. A working email address is the best thing a marketer can ask for here, but visitors are not always willing to give this kind of personal information up. Call-to-action buttons like "Sign up here" have practically become synonymous with "We are going to spam you," which is why marketers need to find new ways to obtain this information.

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The problem is that information abundance equals attention scarcity. This is known as attention economics. Social scientist Herbert Simon was the first person to discuss this concept when he wrote “in an information-rich world, the wealth of information means a dearth of something else: a scarcity of whatever it is that information consumes. What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients.”
Referrals are a powerful source of quality leads. If someone used your product and saw great results from it, they would recommend it to their colleagues and friends. In most cases, they won’t spread the word to people with little to no interest in your product, as it will be a waste of their time. Instead, they will ask someone who they think will have the finances and the need for your product, which matches the description of a quality lead.
Promote your business on social networking sites. These sites are where millions of people are already gathering to connect with each other. So, establishing a meaningful presence there is a good idea. You can create a page on these sites to promote your business. When a customer "friends" you or "becomes a fan," the people in her network can learn about your company as well.

We sure do believe in practicing what we preach. Our very own business development efforts are our proof of concept. In the decade of our existence, we have helped business owners not only generate valuable leads for their businesses (983,287 to be precise) but also made room in time and resources for them to concentrate on for which they started the business in the first place.

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