How to generate sales leads for your business

November 16, 2023 | 7 minute read

Sales leads — potential customers who have supplied you with their contact information — are essential for any business. They’re increasingly more important in today’s competitive business environment. According to Bank of America’s 2023 Small Business Owner report, 1 in 4 business owners are losing sales due to the impacts of inflation, and nearly 1 in 5 have lost customers because of supply chain issues. Generating leads is one way to build back that customer base.


The good news is there’s a lot you can do to ensure you build a healthy pipeline of sales leads. For example, 44% of small business owners say digital tools help them reach new customers, the Small Business Owner report found. Small businesses can tap into a wide variety of effective techniques to successfully generate new sales leads and drive more revenue for the business.


What sales leads are and why they’re important

Sales leads are individuals or businesses who’ve been identified as possible customers. At the very top of the sales funnel, leads form the foundation of any sales outreach strategy and are critical to developing new customers.


There are a few types of sales leads:


  • Cold leads may not have encountered your product or service before but have responded to a social post, blog or another form of content or outreach.
  • Warm leads are already familiar with your product or service.
  • Information-qualified leads have provided basic information about themselves.
  • Marketing-qualified leads may have attended a webinar or had frequent interaction with you on social media and are even more familiar with your brand.


How to generate sales leads

There are multiple ways to generate leads, ranging from tapping customers for referrals to publishing engaging content.


Seek referrals

One of the most effective lead generation methods is asking satisfied customers for referrals and, if possible, testimonials that you can add to your website. It won’t cost you anything, and a consumer who has received a word-of-mouth referral is often primed to buy. 


Keep in touch after a sale

Follow up on purchases with a simple survey to find out if customers were satisfied. Customers like to know you care and are listening carefully to their feedback. Using customer feedback to fine-tune your business can build lifetime loyalty.


Run contests and offer freebies

Anything from a sweepstakes to a quiz targeted toward your preferred potential customers can be effective. The key is including a registration form that requires entrants to provide contact information. To make sure your giveaways appeal to your target audience, conduct online research — for example, scouring relevant social media platforms for insights. You can also research current trends through Google Trends. When promoting your giveaway, make sure to choose the hashtag likely to generate the most buzz among the groups you’re targeting, whether it’s #freebaseballcap or #triviacontest.


Provide discounts

Offering coupons that give future customers savings on your product or service if they provide their contact information is a simple way to pass along a discount while collecting leads. Be careful not to overuse discounts. Otherwise, you risk unintentionally encouraging customers to buy only when there’s a price cut. You may want to direct the offer only to new customers. You can also add a banner ad to your website encouraging people to take advantage of the discount immediately.


Create engaging content

Search engine optimization (SEO) is an effective way to attract people to your website. A great method for building an SEO strategy is creating high-value content — anything from reports and blogs to videos and e-books on topics of interest. Don’t focus only on your product. Instead, discuss a problem your potential customers face and how your offer addresses it.


Run ads on social media

Social media ads allow you to reach your target audience with precision. With geotargeting, you can zero in on specific locations. For best results, tap custom advertising features like Facebook’s dynamic lead generation ads, in which the content changes depending on the target’s interest. These ads include pre-populated forms containing some of the user’s information, making the sign-up process quicker and easier. There also are retargeting ads aimed at people who have, for example, regularly read your blog posts or visit your site without submitting any information, encouraging them to fill in the blanks.


Work with social media influencers

Another effort that can be very successful is forming partnerships with social media content creators and personalities who can promote your product or service to users who fit your target market via multiple platforms. In some cases, that could mean a respected industry expert trusted by your target audience. One tactic: Ask them to share a code for special offers that can lead users to your website.


Hold special events

One way to generate leads is by sponsoring events ranging from educational seminars to charity drives that foster interaction with potential customers. If you want to show off your expertise in a relevant area, consider running webinars. They’ll attract people interested in your industry sector, and by using an online booking platform, you’ll already have gathered their basic information.


Engage in lead nurturing

If a prospective customer isn’t immediately interested in buying what you have, don’t give up. Stay in touch; send them relevant information. With the right software tools, you also can create a schedule to contact them next. Another approach: Strategically keep in touch with buyers after a sale to nurture those relationships, turning existing customers into a reliable source of leads.


Send out email newsletters

Make them as personalized as possible with information such as the recipient’s name and expressed interests. Then track results so you can see what’s working and make necessary tweaks. Using customer relationship management software can make it easier to keep up your output.


Form partnerships

Team up with other small businesses and form a mutually beneficial lead generation collaboration. Ideally, choose a partner that isn’t a competitor but sells to customers similar to your target audience. Other collaborations could include backlink exchanges, in which the two companies link to each other on their websites. For best results, make sure the links are placed well within a relevant article or other content to ensure the reader is engaged by the subject.


Simple ways to qualify sales leads

You’ll need to evaluate your leads to determine the likelihood they want your product or service. Use a systematic process to qualify leads and make sure they’re worth pursuing. 


With that in mind, there are several methodologies to help you do so. For example: 



Short for budget, authority, need and timeline, it entails determining the answers to a few key questions.


  1. Does the prospect have the budget to buy from you? If not, will they and when? 
  2. Is the prospect the decision-maker with authority to make the purchase, or are there additional people to consider?
  3. How are they currently handling the problem your product or service addresses, and how pressing is their need to address the issue?
  4. What is their timeline for making a purchase?


A lead that meets at least three of the four criteria is considered viable, although what is worth pursuing is ultimately up to you.



An acronym for challenges, authority, money and prioritization, CHAMP focuses on identifying the extent to which your product or services address a challenge an individual or organization may face. Like BANT, it assesses whether you’re talking to a person who has the decision-making authority to approve a purchase as well as the budget to do so — and views that transaction as a priority.



This more complex and data-intensive method, short for metrics, economic buyer, decision criteria, decision process, identify pain and champion, is best for low-volume, high-value sales. MEDDIC includes factors such as the desired quantifiable outcome the potential customer seeks, the process for making decisions and whether there’s a champion at the company who is already willing to advocate for your product or service, among other criteria. 


Ultimately, finding and cultivating high-quality leads is a crucial element in your sales strategy. With the right leads, you’ll be able to acquire new customers — and grow your business.

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