How to Generate Leads Through Networking

“Sales is a numbers game.”

That’s what I was told on my first day “on the phones” with a large computer hardware and software distributor. The phrase means that the more qualified doors I knock on (i.e. the more calls I make) the more conversations will happen, and eventually the more closes will occur.

I have subscribed to this mantra ever since and it is a core belief at Acquirent. That said, there are many ways to make our calls less “cold” and the best is through networking.

5 TIPS TO GENERATE LEADS THROUGH MARKETING

1. Join Associations

Associations are an amazing place to meet industry experts, learn about your space (including your competition) and meet prospective clients. There’s an association for every profession. Yes there is even an association for inside sales called the American Association of Inside Sales Professionals which I have found to be extremely enlightening and a great lead source for our business.

2. Master LinkedIn

In January of 2013, LinkedIn announced that they surpassed 200 Million Members and had over 74 Million US members. This social media site continues to experience exponential growth and like the internet, I think it just may stick around. [Learn more about how to use Linkedin.] That said, you need to have a very professional profile and start connecting with everyone you meet. You never know when one of your connections may refer you to your next potential customer.

As we all know, referrals are the best lead sources you can get.

3. Cultivate Referrals

As stated above, referrals are one of the strongest lead sources that a salesperson can get. Yet surprisingly few salespeople spend any time actively cultivating this tremendous lead source. Many times, if you have truly helped a client with your products or services, they will be happy to refer you to someone in their networks. But they will rarely go out of their way to do your job for you.

Don’t be shy – you must take the time and ask for referrals. To make it easy on a client, you can even craft an email that they can copy and send out to their network.

4. Work the Trade Show and Conference Circuit

Many people go to conference to continue their education process and find solutions for current problems that they have. In my mind, we as sales professionals are by trade problem solvers and serve as a tremendous resource for conference attendees. The following is a great blog post from the co-founder of InsideSales.com, Ken Krouge, on how to get the most out of your conference or tradeshow: 12 commandments of successful tradeshows.

5. Know Your Competition

This one may sound a little unconventional, but I have found tremendous value in working with my competition. There are many companies in the outsourced sales space that have different spins on their business model (i.e. outside sales, telemarketing, B2C, etc.) then Acquirent does.

I make it a point to reach out to as many competitors as I can to develop a relationship with their sales teams. Acquirent gets many inquiries into our business that we just can’t help (company is too small, we cost too much, etc.), but by knowing about my competitors I can refer the prospective client to a company that could potentially help. Typically when I refer potential prospects to a competitor, I start to see leads sent back my way.

There are many ways for networking to serve as a lead generation tool for you and your business. The rule of thumb is to always be professional and to give more than you expect to receive. The funny thing is if you follow these simple guidelines you will find your efforts pay off in the long run.

For more networking tips, check out this great post on Business Balls that I found researching this post.

Happy Selling!