As an entrepreneur, you know how important leads are to the growth and success of your business. Leads mean sales, and sales mean profits. So, if you don’t have leads, you won’t make a profit. It’s pretty much the number one rule of business.

So, imagine if you switched on your computer on a Monday morning and found 20 new leads waiting in your inbox. Can you think of a better, happier or more productive way to start your week? I doubt it!

So, we know that leads are pretty much every entrepreneur’s favourite thing. But how do we find them?

Finding Leads vs Generating Leads

The first thing we need to understand is that there’s a big difference between finding leads and generating them. Finding leads is time consuming for a start. Most of it is done face to face – it’s sitting at trade shows for hours, or even days, trying to get people to leave you their contact details. It’s handing out pamphlets you’re almost sure will end up in the rubbish bin before the day is out.  It’s going to countless networking events, handing out business cards that get thrown out. And it’s bracing yourself for indifference, disinterest or, at worst, verbal abuse, as you make cold call after cold call to people who have little or no interest in what you’re trying to sell, and who resent your uninvited intrusion into their personal time.

Generating leads, on the other hand, is done online. It’s inobtrusive, cost-effective and much quicker and easier than finding them. With lead generation, leads actually come to you – so you know they’re at least partly interested right from the start. But there’s a right way, and a wrong (and expensive) way of doing lead generation online.

Lead generation actually forms part of what we call the second stage of inbound marketing. The first stage is attracting your audience. This is done through a data-driven, all-inclusive approach that uses the content on your website – a blog, social media posts or videos, for example – to attract visitors who are researching products and services like yours online. The ultimate goal is to convert that visitor into a customer – but only after building and nurturing a relationship long before they know they want to buy.

This attraction effectively turns a stranger into a visitor. And that’s when lead generation kicks in. The visitor then takes some kind of action in response to a request from you: “Download your free guide,” or “Sign up for our newsletter,” are two of the most popular. It needs to be something with enough perceived value that the visitor doesn’t mind giving away their name and email address to get it. As soon as they’ve done that, they morph from a visitor to a lead.

No cold calling, no resentment, no desperate hard selling. Your lead came to you!

Of course, there are different ways in which you can generate leads, some of which are more effective than others. Someone who fills in a contact form on your website, for example, is a high-quality lead. If they’re willingly giving up their details and asking you to get in touch with them, they’re clearly interested in whatever it is you’re selling.

Running a Pay Per Click (PPC) campaign is also a great way to generate leads, but if you haven’t taken the time to properly define your ideal target audience, you run the risk of generating a lot of leads – but the wrong kind. This is why having clearly defined buyer personas is so important. When it comes to lead generation, go for quality over quantity every time. Of course, if you can have both, then you really have hit pay dirt!

Leveraging online opportunities to generate leads is a win-win for both you and your prospective customers. Prospects aren’t pestered by people to whom they haven’t given permission, and you’re not wasting time and money pitching to people with no interest in your product or service. Leads generated like this have significantly higher conversion rates than those found through cold contact.

Other benefits of generating highly-qualified leads include:

·      Easier ROI calculation, as pricing can be determined on a per-lead basis.

·      Leads can be targeted geographically and demographically.

·      Different products or services can be pitched to different prospects

What About Buying Leads?

I know you want to grow your business. You want to fill your sales funnel and you don’t want to have to wait around while it happens. You want leads and you want them now. So, why not just buy them?

I will admit that buying leads is easier and quicker than generating them organically. This is a huge reason why a lot of people do it – even though it’s a more expensive way of getting leads. And I do understand that it’s tempting. A lot of business owners aren’t particularly good at the sales and marketing side of things anyway, and prefer to outsource this function to a digital marketing agency. This is especially true of small businesses, or sole proprietors, who can’t afford an in-house sales team.

But here’s the thing:

When you outsource your lead generation to a third-party agency, you’re not always sure what you’re getting – and the sad reality is, there are a lot of cowboys out there. Many agencies won’t take the time to generate high quality leads specifically for you. Instead, they’ll take the quick and easy route and sell you a bunch of generic leads. Their hope is that you’ll have some luck with the “spray and pray” approach.

There are several problems with this. Over and above the fact that you’ve paid a premium price for unqualified leads, you also have no idea how many other companies – many of which could be your direct competition – have bought those exact same leads. You also don’t know accurate, true, or recent, the information is.

Of course, the main problem with bought leads is that the real people behind the list of contact details don’t actually know who you are. Their name probably ended up on the list you purchased because they opted in for something on another company’s website. They didn’t actually agree to receiving anything from you. The result? Any communication they do receive from you is unwelcome and unwanted, and you run the very real risk of having it flagged as spam. This means the lead’s service provider will no longer forward emails from you, and, which is worse, you could end up blacklisted. Once this happens, it’s very hard to get yourself un-blacklisted. Your IP reputation and email deliverability could be irrevocably harmed.

To add insult to injury, bought leads come with a very high price tag. If you’re a small business with a limited budget, you could quickly find yourself in a lot of trouble.

It is always, always better to make every effort to generate your leads organically instead of buying them.

It is always, always better to make every effort to generate your leads organically instead of buying them.

How Do I Generate Quality Leads?

To answer that question, I’d like to share a story with you. And, in the interests of full disclosure, I want to be completely honest with you here: My first introduction to digital marketing did not go well!

I had always used traditional marketing methods, such as radio ads, print ads and billboards, to promote my coaching business. And it worked – I always filled up my courses.

Until I didn’t.

A few years ago, my business was in trouble. After always having been very successful, I suddenly found that I didn’t have enough clients. I couldn’t understand why – and then it hit me: my business wasn’t yet digital. I wasn’t online.

I realised that the reason I wasn’t online – despite all the ways in which social media were being used to make a lot of businesses a lot of money – was because I was scared. I didn’t have the skills or the know-how, and I didn’t have a mentor to show me what to do. The hard truth I had to face was that my business was suffering because of my own ignorance.

The next obvious step was to hire a digital marketing agency to do it all for me. Because we all know it’s best to outsource to so-called specialists, right? So, this was exactly what I did. Unfortunately, the expected jump in business didn’t happen. Instead of bringing me new leads, all that agency did was waste my money – and a lot of it. I was bitterly disappointed. So, I hired a different agency but, frustratingly, got the same results. I lost hundreds of thousands, and had nothing to show for it.

I could have used this failure to justify my belief at the time that digital marketing was obviously a dark art and it didn’t actually work. But I didn’t. Somewhere deep inside I knew that this was where the future of marketing was headed, and I had better get on board quickly before my business sank.

So, instead of giving up, I decided to learn the skills myself – after all, I couldn’t do any worse than those agency guys who had wasted all my money! I was lucky enough to find a really good Facebook marketing course online. The very first time I applied what I’d learned, I started to make money. Real money. I couldn’t actually believe that it was working, and that I appeared to be good at digital marketing.

I was so inspired by my success, that I did more courses. I learned about sales funnels, copywriting, and many other skills. Once I started being successful at running my own ad campaigns online, other people came to me asking if I would do the same for them. They wanted the results I was getting, but they didn’t know what to do to get them. Soon I was charging retainers of $1000 a month. My clients were more than happy to pay me that much, because the work I was doing for them was making them much more than that! I soon became but so successful, and attracted so many clients, that I could charge in excess of $3500 per client per month – just to get them more leads.

So Here’s The Thing – You Can Do It Too…

I now want to share everything I’ve learned with you, so that you can take these skills and use them to grow your own business in exactly the same way as I’ve grown mine. There’s something extremely powerful and empowering about taking charge of your own digital marketing and watching your business thrive as a result. Plus you stop being reliant on external sources, who may or may not be successful.

I know digital marketing is still a relatively new science, and the thought of tackling it on your own might be a little overwhelming. But the thing is, you just need to align with the right partners to take you every step of the way. If you can learn to drive a car, you can learn how to do digital marketing!

You know that you need to continually find new sources of income for your business. Yes, it’s good business practice to nurture existing customers, but if you don’t also work on bringing in new ones, you’re missing out on a vast, untapped well of wealth. When you start really working on generating leads for your business, you move out of the “surviving” zone and fully into the “thriving” one.

I know you want more customers, and you don’t have to break the bank to do it. This is the money-making sweet spot!

I know you want more customers, and you don’t have to break the bank to do it. This is the money-making sweet spot!

Lead generation is without a doubt the quickest and – ultimately – easiest way to boost your ROI and expand your client base exponentially. To help you gain a better understanding of how it all works – and how you can use it to grow your business beyond your wildest dreams – I’d like to invite you to join me for a FREE webinar. It’s a digital marketing Masterclass, in which I’m going to show you the core components you need to turn eyeballs into paying customers for your business.

Registering for the webinar is as easy as  clicking here, so do it now and I’ll see you online!


About the Author:

Niel has worked with and studied some of the top sales and marketing professionals in the world like Jay Abraham (the USA’s highest paid marketing consultant) and Tony Robbins (the well-known personal development guru.)