A Beginner’s Guide to Generating Business Leads

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.

So what is a lead? 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.

I have some tips ready for you for creating a system that will help you identify sales leads in your small business, and — with the right focus and effort — turn them into customers.

But before we get to the tips, there are a couple of lead generation ground rules you should be clear about. Without understanding these, you can end up wasting a lot of time and money.

Be prepared, it may seem boring, and far from sexy, and nothing even close to resembling a silver bullet lead generating solution. And THAT is why it is so effective!


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The Ground Rules!

Ground rule #1
Swipe the freebie seekers off your list!

If it appears that your list has little to no “money” hiding in it. It is probably because you filled the list with freebie seekers instead of potential buyers, maybe because  you build the list before you have something to sell. It is easy to build a list of people that just want free stuff. Those are not the kinds of leads you are looking for.

Don’t bother. You build lists to generate leads that turn into buyers.

So, how can you get rid of all the freebies? I recommend that you cast your lead generating net as wide as possible. But as quickly as you can, like on the “thank you” page, make it clear that you’re SELLING.

You will totally scare away the folks who are only looking for a free lunch. As long as you provide value WHILE you sell, the true potential buyers will stick with you.

You are running a business, not a charity. So make that clear from the beginning (unless of course you ARE running a charity.

Ground rule #2
Do you know your target audience?

You don’t like the freebie seekers, and now you know how to get rid of them. But you really like the buyers, so who are they, and where are they? If you don’t know exactly who that is, so research your audience and come up with a clear picture of who they are, where they live, what they like to do, why they need your product or service, how much money they make, what their lifestyle and personality is like, etc. 

When you know their tone of language, lifestyle and stage of lifecycle, then you can easily tailor your marketing to meet their needs, hopes, dreams and expectations.


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Ground rule #3
Ask your leads to buy FAST!

People buy because they want things. They buy because they are yearning for the perceived benefits of what you provide, and today’s buyers are impatient and can’t afford long velvety sales speeches and don’t bother looking for the “buy button”

Yes a relationship helps. But you can’t pay your bills or pay your expenses with relationships. So ask them to buy FAST. It’s business, don’t make excuses for it – just sell.

Ground rule #4
Build your asset before you need it!

I saved this point for last, as this is the lead generation technique that most entrepreneurs will not have the discipline or patience to pursue. Even if it is the REAL value machine for your market. This could be a blog you post to frequently, or a video series you create daily or something else. It is far from easy, but worth your efforts.

Create a 100% value blog post or video every day for a month. This is work from top to bottom, and that is why it is so effective. The majority of your competition probably don’t do it. Use that to your advantage!

So, let’s continue to the real cool stuff;

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How you can generate leads

There is no doubt that the algorithm age changed the way marketers approach social media. Brands that used to see each post reach the majority of their social media followers saw their numbers dwindle to a small trickle a couple years ago.

Even so, not all is lost. There are still opportunities for brands to offer up value on social media and collect leads in return.

Tip #1
Run a photo contest

People buy because they want things. They buy because they are yearning for the perceived benefits of what you provide, and today’s buyers are impatient and can’t afford long velvety sales speeches and don’t bother looking for the “buy button”

Yes a relationship helps. But you can’t pay your bills or pay your expenses with relationships. So ask them to buy FAST. It’s business, don’t make excuses for it – just sell.The basic idea is this: Submit a photo according to the theme or guidelines of the contest, and be entered to win a prize.

What makes a photo contest well-suited for social media lead generation is its visual and interactive appeal. Your fans get the opportunity to exercise their creativity and contribute to a brand they love. Participating is half the fun, the other half is winning.

To make your photo contest reach an exponentially larger audience, encourage all participants to share it on social media. If they do, they are rewarded with bonus entries for a greater chance at winning.

Aside from the leads you generate, you also get user generated content (UGC)—the photos. The photos can be shared across your other social networks or used on branded assets like your website.

If you plan on running a photo contest, make sure you have clear goals. What end result are you looking for? What theme will produce the best UGC for your business? How can your fans get involved with the overarching story of your brand? How can this be a win for you and your fans?

Tip #2
Get your followers onto a media you have full control over

Social media is a great tool for brand building. There is no debate. But when it comes to converting followers into leads, your choices are limited. That is why it is crucial to focus part of your social media marketing strategy on getting your followers off of social media and onto an asset you have full control over. I’m talking about a dedicated landing page on your website with a high-value lead magnet.

A visitor that clicks through on your post to download your free ebook has only two options, convert or bounce. It is what makes landing pages such a powerful tool. They focus visitors on your desired conversion goal and eliminate every other distraction.

To promote it organically on social media, you can do the following:

  • Pin it to the top of all our social channels.
  • Change your cover photos on Facebook and Twitter to highlight the industry report.
  • Include it as links on blog content you share to social media
  • Create a custom landing page on our Facebook page
  • Share it regularly across all channels

Don’t rule out both paid and organic methods of promotion. Paid ads can return a lot of traffic at a low cost if you have created something that genuinely interests your target audience (ground rule #1). Especially if you are new to social media, paid ads can deliver an immediate influx of traffic.

Don’t worry about your budget, todays advertising tools can dial down your costs and allow you to only bid as much as a lead is worth to your business. Experiment with both and see what works best with your target audience.

Tip #3
Offer a killer prize

If you would rather not get involved in running a photo contest, maybe the social sweepstakes works better for you. Offer a killer prize, create a landing page to accept entries, and pick a winner.

To promote the start of the sweepstakes, you can

  • Post a photo to your social media feed urging your followers to click the link in the post and enter.
  • After clicking the contest link, visitors arrive at the sweepstakes landing page on your website.
  • To enter, they provide their information, plus for example 200 words on what winning the prize would mean to them, or something else.
  • Requesting an additional creative task like this does two things:
    It allows the best entries to rise to the top and it creates user-generated content to use for promotional purposes in the future. An addition like this makes sure the contest isn’t only a win for your fans but for your business as well.
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Tip #4
LinkedIn Sales Navigator

LinkedIn is the #1 network for B2B companies in the world and the #1 B2B channel to distribute content.  So of course there are some unique advantages of LinkedIn that you should exploit to build reliable leads.

Besides taking advantage of the Groups function to join all of the relevant groups and pages for your industry, and reach out to companies or potential clients directly through messenger, you can use LinkedIn Sales Navigator to build a dream prospect list.

  • Find the right decision makers faster by using 20+ advanced search filters
  • Prioritize companies based on size, growth, revenue, and more
  • Discover new people based on your sales preference

LinkedIn Sales Navigator is required to build hyper-targeted lists on LinkedIn, opening you up to 20+ advanced search filters, and enabling you to send more outreach messages per day than with a standard account.
With 61 million active senior-level influencers on LinkedIn, it is certain you will reach decision-makers.

Also, god to know (and surprisingly few people knows it) that some LinkedIn profiles, called Open Profiles, allow you to bypass the connect request and send a free InMail to them, without using an InMail credit. Cleverly filters these profiles out, and scales messages to them.

Tip #5
Sponsor or attend to events, fairs and conferences

Attending or sponsoring business events and conferences is great for your business’s market presence and positioning. More than that, networking can be a great opportunity to grab contacts that might have a pain your solution can solve.

That is because corporate event attendees are more prone to discover new methods, techniques and products that will improve their processes and increase their numbers. Knowing that, discover if there are good events around you. If not, create your own meetup or event! Start small, with just a few dozens of attendees: it’s great to build up your brand and acquire valuable leads (and partners)!

Why does it generate sales qualified leads: corporate events are famous for grabbing the attention of influencers and decision-makers. Some sponsorship tiers allow you to send messages and exhibit your solution to a qualified base of attendees. With that, they can be encouraged to visit your website and find out more about what your company offers.

Practice your networking pitch before you go and make sure to crank up the charm factor.  

Focus on making friends first, who you can turn into leads further down the line. Take the time to start a conversation before throwing your business card at people. And hold back your elevator pitch until encouraged.

As you meet people, ask them open-ended questions about their work. What are they working on? What are some of their current challenges? Is there an opportunity for you to help by connecting them to a resource or guide them based on your value proposition and/or experience? This is how you create strong and lasting relationships.

Tip #6
Create a live chat function on your site

Maybe you are essentially hoping that your landing page is enough to lure in the leads you need. But it is worth to consider a live chat function on the site, that allows potential customers to communicate with you in real time and find out more about what you have to offer. If you are a small business, integrating live chat into everybody’s workflow means the chat line is always attended to and sales leads won’t be missed. 

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The bottom line is …

sales are the lifeblood of every business. Knowing how to generate sales is vital for growing your company. As you go through your day-to-day operations, don’t forget to keep improving your business’s sales efforts.

With these simple tips, you can start building a reliable sales pipeline no matter what size your business is. Wishing you all the best of success!


Thank you for reading my blog!​

Hi, I’m Trine! I’m a Brand Strategist & Designer from Denmark, living in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. I use this blog to share simple, efficient, branding and marketing tips, and an honest glimpse of entrepreneurship!

I give professional and constructive feedback on all inquiries and comments. You won’t be disappointed! I look forward to hearing from you!