5 Creative Ways to Find Leads

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••• Try looking for leads in unusual places.

It's great when you can get all the leads you need from lists that your employer provides. However, there's probably been at least a few times when you run through all your lead lists and wish you had more. Don't feel limited to your existing lead lists; try one of these tricks to stir up some new leads for your pipeline.

Find out where your leads hang out and go there. Hopefully you have some idea of what your "ideal customer" looks like.

The best leads to have are leads that look as much like your ideal customer as possible. And the best place to find those leads is someplace where your ideal customer would also choose to go. This could mean trade shows and other such events, but you can also look at some more unusual ideas of places to meet. For example, is your ideal customer likely to own his own home? In that case, try attending events that target homeowners. If you typically sell to technical people, try visiting places that appeal to techies – not just trade shows, but things like fairs hosted by computer manufacturers that would appeal to technically minded people.

Start with a more general list and drill down. Generally speaking, the more specific a lead list is, the harder it is to get. So you can start with a more general version of the lead list you really want, and use e-newsletters and similar means of contact to winnow out the leads who are not a good fit for you.

For example, if your ideal customer is someone who owns a midsized manufacturing business and leases his equipment, you can start with a list of midsized manufacturing businesses, and then send emails that will appeal to the ones who lease their equipment. Another approach would be to send a brief survey that includes a question about whether or not the recipient leases his equipment.

Whichever approach you use, the replies you get will identify the leads that you want to pursue further.

Run ads where your leads will see them. These days, there's a magazine (both print and online) for every possible subject. And the more obscure the subject is, the cheaper ad space will be. An even more budget minded option would be to use a classified ad in such a magazine or newspaper. Find two or three publications that your ideal customer would be likely to read, and use them as a way to get in touch. Don't forget to include an offer in your ad that will motivate leads to reach out to you.

Set up a free seminar. Since your product is designed to solve an important problem for your ideal customer, and since you're hopefully an expert on your product, you have knowledge that can be very useful for people similar to your ideal customer. Set up a free seminar in which you will offer suggestions and advice on a subject that would be very interesting to your ideal customer. The people who are likely to attend such a seminar will also be excellent leads for you. And this is a great way to meet them, because your seminar will demonstrate your expertise and ability to help them.

Partner up with a compatible salesperson from another company. There are undoubtedly a lot of other salespeople looking for the same kinds of leads that you are.

Some of those salespeople are competitors, but others are in a related but noncompetitive industry. Those salespeople are a great choice to buddy up with in order to get both of you twice as many leads. For example, if you sell mortgages, partner up with a realtor or two. If you sell computers but not printers, partner up with a salesperson from a printer company. The two of you can share leads, essentially giving each of you twice as many leads as you would have alone. Be sure to spell out your exact requirements to your partner and ask him to do the same; that will ensure that the leads you share back and forth are good ones.