There’s something that’s been on my mind lately. Over the past few weeks, the team has received many emails and phone calls from our Members mentioning the same problem: they need an appointment setter to book their sales appointments and don’t know where to start. My first question to them is: how many leads to you have to use in these calls? The answer heard ‘round the board is the same: None, really. It doesn’t make sense when you think about it. How can you expect someone to call and book appointments, if they don’t have an actual list to call from? Are they supposed to just flip open the phone book and do a random google search for businesses in your area? NO!

Before you start implementing your sales process, you have to make sure that you have leads to work with. This is why lead generation is so important. That said, here are our top 4 sources for lead acquisition.

  1. Referrals: By far, a referral is the best lead because who else can credibly speak to how great your company is other than someone who has worked with you before. But we all know that referrals aren’t an unceasing fountain, so you can’t rely on them solely. Increase your referrals by finding a way to manufacture them. Instead of just a gracious thank you and an occasional comment directed to your clients to please talk to their friends on your behalf, create a referral program and market it to your current clients or vendors. Consider making this a tiered program, where you reward them not just for giving you a name, but give them bigger and better rewards if they help you advance that lead down the funnel. Who doesn’t like a little gamification?!
  2. Local Chamber and Professional Organization Lists: I always say that the best way to get to know the local businesses in your town is to join your local Chamber of Commerce and at least one professional organization. It’s often said that multi-million deals are made outside of the boardrooom and out in regular life. In a business setting, you have to be guarded and professional while meeting business owners outside of the office allows you to get to know who they are as people and what motivates them. You can then use this information to speak to their desires when presenting to them. While some chambers and professional organizations are really great, there are some that are not as helpful. Most organizations can be worthwhile, if you choose to be ACTIVELY involved. Attend events but don’t just make them the boozy, fun mixers; the same people show up every time for the same reason that you’re there, the drinks. Rather, invest in the time to find a group of people in your ideal target market (hint: ask your best clients what groups they’re a part of), as it will pay off handsomely in the long run. Don’t be “salesy”, rather focus more on being friendly and engaged, and over time people will begin respecting your expertise.
  3. Events: Our power house lead generator is events. Host a monthly webinar or an event at your site and start with inviting your clients and then try advertising outside of that. Attend events throughout your service area and start collecting business cards. Not just the fish bowl cards that are only interested in winning the prize that you’ve got sitting on the table, but from people with whom you actually had conversations with. Speaking at events is a great way to not only position yourself as a thought leader in your industry, but also a way to gain new leads, but only if you incorporate some way of gaining contacts at the end of your engagement. You could have attendees text your phone for a prize or collect business cards for some type of a drawing. If they took the time to actually sit through your session, they are automatically more qualified than the person that walked by your booth and dropped a card in the fish bowl.
  4. Purchase: When push comes to shove, all of the above ideas require a lot of work and time, which is truly a precious commodity. Despite what some may say, it is not the end of the world to purchase a list, as long as it is done with discretion. Be wary of people who email you, promising to provide you a list of all the best and brightest CEOs in your area. At the same time, don’t buy a list that is a blanket covering of all types of businesses, of all sizes and revenue in your area. Do some research to determine your target market in terms of industry, size of company, and revenue for that company. Then, take to a list resource that allows you to put in all of these criteria and see some examples of the list before buying. Also, we recommend buying a list without email addresses. Based on spamming laws, you really shouldn’t utilize email addresses without opt-in anyway, so why spend the extra money.

So before you invest the time in searching for an appointment setter or sales admin, be sure that you have enough leads for them to work through. Get out and involved in your local community and you will find that you’re able to develop personal connections with your local businesses which in turn means more opportunities for revenue.