5 Lead Generation Tips for First Time Entrepreneurs

This guest comes to us from Brian Spero. Brian is a contributing member of the Money Crashers team, where he helps promote via social media and shares tips related to business, marketing, technology, and more.

A business without leads is like a racecar with no gas. You might have a machine primed to go the distance, but without the necessary fuel, you're going nowhere fast. As a first-time entrepreneur with a sound business plan and quality product, your success hinges on identifying prospects and attracting them to your offerings. If you are eager to initiate revenue streams, whether you are starting a small business or launching an individual venture, consider these five tips for generating an effective list of leads.

1. Invite Consumers to Opt-In

The first step to gathering quality leads is simply asking potential clients you interact with to subscribe to your marketing list. Studies confirm that your highest rate of conversions will emanate from leads that knowingly opted in to your communications. When it comes to leads, quality always counts before quantity, making it essential to first identify the core audience that represents the highest potential for success. By putting yourself in the right places, whether it means joining online forums, attending trade shows and events, or commenting on popular industry blogs, you can start to build a list of contacts to successfully market to.

  • Utilize search engine optimization (SEO), targeting niche keywords to start driving traffic to your website.
  • Invite consumers to opt-in to your contact list whether you are registering them at the time of purchase or reaching them by email, on the phone, or via direct mail.

2. Get Into the Content Game

It's not always easy for those new to Internet marketing to grasp how producing content for an online audience is effective for generating leads. The idea is to produce useful, intelligent, and relevant content that your target audience will value and enjoy. With each individual that your content reaches, you gain the opportunity to not only recruit a new subscriber and extend an offer, but also gain deeper insight into what your customers covet most. By using content marketing to educate the public about the value of your products and services, you effectively pre-qualify leads by confirming their interest, while at the same time establishing your business as an industry voice and trusted authority.

  • Share content across multiple platforms, such as your company blog, industry specific forums or magazines, and social media channels, creating video and text communications that contain relevant information for consumers.
  • Track and analyze content metrics and user interaction to gain insight into your core audience in order to hone an approach that leads to conversions.

3. Don't Be Shy About Paying for Leads

While some frown upon it, most experts see purchasing or renting leads as a perfectly acceptable method to expand your reach. SEO can take a while to start driving heavy traffic to your website and pay-per-click is expensive for competitive markets. But working with a high quality lead source can supplement your list and help get your wheels turning. By steadily bringing in qualified leads that return on your investment, you not only begin to generate much needed revenues, but also serve the purpose of getting your name out there while building valuable customer relationships that support your broader campaign.

  • Choose a provider that can demonstrate a track record of results, possesses precise lead targeting capabilities, and offers full-scale modern solutions to maximize ROI.
  • Have a professional software management application in place to assist in honing your approach and nurturing leads for optimal efficiency.

4. Make the Most of Low-Cost Advertising

Advertising is a proven sales motivator, as well as an effective way for new businesses to generate quality leads quickly. By identifying inexpensive methods to advertise online and extending a hard-to-refuse offer, you can begin to build a base of genuine buyers. Placing ads on niche sources such as blogs and websites where your best prospects typically congregate, or using an outlet such as Facebook to run ads that strategically target qualified leads, represent affordable solutions that also serve to boost brand exposure.

  • Subscribe to the idea that most businesses make 80 percent of their revenue from 20 percent of their customers, applying laser-sharp focus to advertising to consumers most likely to buy.
  • Use Google Ads that charge only when they are clicked on as a scalable solution to help control costs with adjustable daily spending limits.

5. Seek Referrals to Drive Your Business

For most businesses, word-of-mouth referrals are like gold, delivering a high rate of conversion while forging loyal consumer relationships. Armed with a knockout offer and some compelling, potentially viral content, the Internet provides rich hunting grounds for dynamic referral marketing opportunities. A straightforward strategy is to combine your content marketing efforts with some social media mojo, offering consumers valuable information or opportunities to receive free or discounted services for promoting your content. When properly executed, your customers will endorse your brand to their friends, followers, and professional circles on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

  • Place social media sharing buttons on your website and all of your online content, inviting users to “like” and share your content and offers.
  • Run events and promotions geared toward building a qualified consumer base, extending referral rewards that targeted buyers value and pursue.

Final Thoughts

Effective lead generation is what puts the wind in the sails of great entrepreneurial ideas, funneling a steady stream of customers to your quality products and services. By making contact with potential buyers in ways that establish your reputation and authority, as well as build enduring relationships and stimulate referrals, you can quickly grow a base of leads to chart a profitable course for your business venture.

How else can new entrepreneurs effectively generate leads? For more tips on how to generate more leads, follow up with them, and increase your sales check out How to Rock Your Lead Generation.

How to reach your Salesforce A-HA moment

I finally experienced my Salesforce A-HA moment. The realization that Salesforce is AWESOME and actually makes life 10x easier.

Before the BIG A- HA moment this was a pretty standard conversation at ToutApp.

TK: “Can you clean up Salesforce? Is Salesforce up to date?”

Me: “Yes… sorry I’ve been meaning to do that just haven’t had time. (my week excuse for avoiding Salesforce because it seemed like a beast to tackle. * I did see the end value, but the reality was I struggled to integrate Salesforce into my workflow, which resulted in it being “just another tab on my chrome”)”

My biggest piece of advice is take the time to set up Salesforce. Not halfway set it up, but go all the way. The hour or two (if you’re quick) or even the day you sacrifice will be worth it.

Three things to keep at the top of mind.

#1 You may need to tweak your workflow just a bit. Be flexible to change.
#2 Remember what has been successful in your sales process and incorporate these practices into your new Salesforce workflow.
#3 Mistakes are okay.

Let’s dive in…

#1 You may need to tweak your workflow just a bit. Be flexible to change.

Here’s how it all started. We sat down and decided to take advantage of the Salesforce Lead View. This is the moment my whole blog post was building up to!

Beforehand I’d been using opportunities and contacts, but without using leads these two views lost value.

Here’s how it works now:

The new lead comes in and another salesperson is about to discover how ToutApp will help them be more productive with their email and close more deals. Check out our tips on how to rock your lead gen here.

Whether it is a webinar lead or just one of our wonderful customers sending us a referral, the custom “New Leads” view shows me everyone who I should ultimately help be successful with ToutApp.

How do you manage leads and know who to follow up with?

Based on your own parameters here are some tips.

  1. Score leads. Some examples: qualified, unqualified, qualified- webinar lead, qualified- big deal, qualified- conference.
  2. Assign the lead owner to yourself or maybe it’s another person from your team. This makes it really easy to work from a lead list with your team. There is clear visibility to make sure all the leads are handled.
  3. Follow up with all your “qualified” leads at once by exporting a report from Salesforce and importing them into a ToutApp group. Then you can easily follow up with leads who are at the same stage of the sales process.

And finally convert qualified leads to contacts and create an opportunity (of course only if there is actually an opportunity there! Example… you’ve scored a demo.

Why is this such a game changer?

  • It is easy for leads to go cold pretty quickly, so being able to create a streamlined process for handling leads is key.
  • Scalability. When there is a clear, effective and simple process new guys can plug in.
  • I tweaked my workflow and was flexible to change. In the end now our team can handle more leads effectively. On a side note, I do have to give ToutApp templates some credit here for eliminating the time spent writing the same emails over and over.

#2 Remember what has been successful in your sales process and incorporate these practices into your new Salesforce workflow.

The biggest change for me is I start my day logging into Salesforce and jumping into the view for “New Leads”.

Although, Salesforce has changed my sales process the important thing to keep in mind is to not lose sight of the small practices that worked before.

Maybe this is as simple as a great template or asking the right questions on a call.

For ToutApp, our mantra is “Be Human”. I’ve made sure to not lose sight of this.

#3 Mistakes are okay.

I may have oversimplified the Salesforce setup just a bit in my post. The reality is either you or someone on your team needs to be Salesforce savvy or have the drive to tackle the ins and outs.

Mistakes are inevitable. It may take a few tries to get the filters perfect, mismark a lead, navigate through FAQ’s to find an answer or clean up some of the earlier mess.

We had some minor road bumps along the way and I am sure we’ll run into others, but here’s what it comes down to…

The conversation after the Salesforce AH-HA moment.

Me: “TK, I’ve come to the conclusion… Salesforce is GREAT. Now I know why everyone has been raving about it including you! This change just made my workflow way better.”

TK: “You should write a blog post about it.”

If you’re already a ToutApp user check out why you should integrate with Salesforce here.

If you’re a Salesforce user be sure to start your ToutApp Trial here to see how we help make email follow up easier and save time with your day-to- day emails.

Feel free to email me at with any questions or share any of your own Salesforce tips!