A common question asked by a new business owner is: “How do you find customers? ¨ Customers are the lifeblood of any business. The more skillful you are in looking for prospects, the greater your chances of success.
Selling begins with your leads. Whether you use your lists for direct mail or to cold call prospects, getting information about your potential customers should be the core of your sales and marketing plans. Some of these leads may become your customers, but some may not be interested in what you have to offer. Nonetheless, looking for people or businesses that may need your products or services should be a huge part of your day-to-day activity.
Your prospective leads can come from various sources. You can get information about potential clients from your family, friends, and even media. Other times, you have to buy leads from reputable sources. For the most part, however, you must institute a system for collecting, updating and compiling your list of sales leads.
Lead generation is a continuous activity. The business world is in a constant state of flux. New businesses are created everyday. Some close or reduce their operations particularly during these difficult economic times. You need to be prepared to add new leads over time, as well as clean and update your existing lists. If you use your lists for direct mail, frequent updating for address and personnel changes will reduce mailing cost by cutting down on undeliverables.
Where do you find these leads? If you are selling to businesses, there are three ways to go about finding potential clients: research them yourself, buy leads from a specialized source, or pay a lead aggregator service.
1. Do-it-Yourself Research
Public libraries are a rich source of business-to-business leads. Go through national directories, and trade publications for lists in vertical industries. You can also find valuable information from publications such as business or major metropolitan newspapers, particularly those that lists new business registrations in the locality. New businesses are good prospects as majority may not have any supplier of products or services that they need.
2. Get from Specialized Sources
If your target audience consists of members of any national, regional, or local associations, membership lists are a very good source of sales leads for you.
Chambers of commerce . Chambers of commerceare a fertile source of potential B2B clients, particularly if your market is narrow in scope and confined to a particular geographic area. They sell their membership lists, which often include the names of the contact person in the organization and other key personnel, if any. If you are a member of the chamber, you may be able to get substantial discounts when purchasing their list of members. Expect to shell out $250 to $500 for a one-time purchase of the chamber of commerce’s membership list (the drawback is that you will have to monitor changes in the membership list yourself).
Trade publications. Other businesses in your industry may be most likely to subscribe to trade magazines and publications. Print publications especially generate a significant portion of their revenues from selling the contact information of their subscribers. It may not be cheap, depending on the kind of industry and nature of the publication. Leads can go as low as $ 0.01/name to as high as $.15 /name depending on the volume of names you may order.
3. Buy from Lead Aggregators
Information about your market constantly changes everyday. Your role as an entrepreneur should be on top of all these changes, and be constantly on the lookout for potential new clients.
However, getting all the information may be time consuming, costly, and at best, incomplete. Your effort may simply skim the surface of all the available business opportunities out there. New businesses are registered every day, and some new entrants that fit well with your business may slip past your radar screen. You may also miss out a number of Requests for Proposals (RFPs) sent out by buyers looking for your kind of product or service.
A cost-effective solution for small and home-based businesses is to use a sales lead aggregator service.
Recommended Books on Where to Find Customers:
- Where and How to Find Customers When You Run Out of Family and Friends
- Mobile Marketing: Finding Your Customers No Matter Where They Are
- Customers for Life: How to Turn That One-Time Buyer Into a Lifetime Customer
- How to Market to People Not Like You: “Know It or Blow It” Rules for Reaching Diverse Customers