Internet Tools for Generating Sales Leads

Tools for Sales LeadsContinually finding new sales leads is the lifeblood of most sales organizations.  While this task is often a painful struggle, a number of technologies have emerged in recent years to help lessen the burden.

In particular, those involved in selling may find the following Internet-based technology solutions can improve lead generation and help create a more targeted and rewarding selling effort.

News Alerts
In many industries, the company is the primary source for providing sales leads to its sales force.  These leads emerge from numerous sources such as contacts purchased from commercial databases, call centers inquiries, and website requests.  However, depending on company policy, most salespeople should not limit leads to only company provided information.  Instead, salespeople should seek additional information sources including news sources found on the Internet.  For starters, salespeople may want to look at the Google Alerts service.  The service delivers a notice to an email account when a news item contains keywords selected by the user.  For instance, entering the name of a company may provide a large number of news items related to that firm.  But users are not limited to entering just the company name.  Any information that could suggest a potential customer could yield a news item.

Virtual Trade Shows
A highly successful form of lead generation is trade show selling.  Trade shows offer numerous advantages over individual selling efforts including the ability to reach a large number of targeted buyers in one location.  Unfortunately, trade shows are expensive to manage and attendance by potential buyers has declined sharply as corporations tighten travel budgets.  Yet, the value trade shows possess for generating leads has persuaded many companies to explore other meeting options including online or virtual trade shows.  Virtual trade shows employ web technologies, such as video conferencing, chat rooms and avatars, to satisfy buyer?s demand for information.  While the virtual trade show has yet to be widely adopted, major firms including IBM have found create value using this method and expect it to become even more useful as more buyers become comfortable with the technology.

Internet Social Networks
One of the most effective technologies for generating sales leads is through Internet social networks.  The premise of Internet social networks is to build friendship circles based on relationships with others within the network.  These circles are often built when one person invites another to join the network.  In this way, theoretically speaking, everyone has some connection to everyone else in the network.  For salespeople and marketers, the network can be a source of highly qualified business leads.  The main social network site to explore for business contacts is Linkedin.  While setting up an account is easy, it may take time to build a personal contact list.  While waiting for this list to build, it may prove useful to join groups that are in the field in which one sells.  A simple search using the right search terms should yield plenty of options.

Build a Website
For more technically adventurous salespeople, a productive method for generating leads via the Internet is to build their own website.  In fact, recent research suggests that more leads are generated from websites than from social network sites.  However, building a website can be frustrating.  In most cases, this job should be delegated to others who have done this before.  No matter how the site is built, it should have two key components: 1) provides a complete description of what products and services are offered and 2) offers easy to locate contact information.  In terms of the site?s content, it is essential to keep in mind the key factors that affect how search engines, such as Google, list sites in response to a search request.  Following basic search engine optimization (SEO) practices may improve the chances of customers finding the salesperson?s website.  For contact information, include phone number, email and possibly an online contact form.

Online Ads
Lastly, salespeople may want to use Internet advertising to build sales leads.  Creating basic ads, such as those found when using a search engine, are extremely easy.  The key is to select the right keywords that when entered by a searcher will then trigger the ads.  Better yet, newer methods where ads are linked to phone calls, called click-to-call advertising, are also showing promise for lead generation.


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