The sales process

Generating sales leads


One of the hallmarks of a successful business is being continually on the lookout for new business. Generating leads in a proactive way will increase selling opportunities and help to keep your order book full.

Mapping your territory

Before you start sourcing leads, decide where you are going to base your search, and in which industries. If your product or service could be widely used, start locally and target particular geographical areas. If you have a niche product or service, focus on specific companies.

How to source new sales leads

There are many ways to find new leads, such as:

  • initiated leads - from prospects who fill out a website form, visit your stand at a trade show, or respond to an advertisement or mailshot
  • profile fitting - using market research tools to identify potential customers who are likely to be a match for your company's products
  • market monitoring - monitoring media outlets, such as news articles, internet forums and corporate press releases
  • canvassing - cold-calling in-person, by telephone or by email
  • data mining - looking for possible leads in information (for example, a corporate database) that your company has previously gathered
  • personal and professional contacts - asking for or incentivising referrals from existing customers, suppliers or acquaintances and through networking
  • promotions - using free gifts to encourage potential leads to provide contact information or attend a sales meeting

Qualifying sales leads

Deciding whether a sales lead has the potential is known as qualifying. There are many reasons why some leads may not be successful, including:

  • difficulties in meeting the needs of some prospects - their needs may be too great, or expensive
  • needs already being satisfied - prospects may have already purchased a similar product
  • lack of finance - someone may need a product but be unable to afford it
  • prospects lacking authority to approve the purchase 

Using databases to keep track of leads

Storing information on a database allows you to keep track of who you have already contacted and spot patterns where you have been successful. See benefits of databases.

You can also buy a database of business leads from a variety of suppliers. These can be expensive, and you may need to employ staff to help manage them, depending on the size of the list.