Prospecting Tips For Your Small Business

Are you in the dark about how to start small business? The very first item on your to do list should be prospecting leads.

With the dozens of details to consider-finding a location, appealing to investors, choosing the right suppliers, and hunting for employees-it can be easy to lose sight of what should be your most important focus: the customer.

After all, without customers, you haven’t any business.

You might have the best product or service anywhere, but if you have not drawn up a marketing plan outline for prospecting leads that can benefit from your new business idea, you’ll be struggling with how to start your small business.

The good news is, lead generation doesn’t have to be rocket science. With the right combination of research, planning, and execution, you can increase your market presence and make yourself known to your target demographic.

Top 8 Prospecting Tips

1. Create a concrete plan. Before you start prospecting leads, spend some time formulating a realistic, workable plan of attack.

For example, if you’re marketing a product or service to businesses, create a list of target companies along with the name of the department and person you need to reach. Determine how you’ll attempt to contact them (phone, email, or a face-to-face visit at their office or at a networking function).

2. Become an event junkie. Conferences, trade shows, and seminars can be gold mines for prospective customers. Look in newspapers and online for event calendars.

If you run a wedding planning business, invest in booth space at a bridal show. If you sell landscaping services, contact the coordinator of an upcoming home and garden show and offer to give away a free lawn treatment in exchange for prime advertising placement. Attending industry events is also a great way to build a network of professional associates in the industry.

3. Peruse the papers. Take a few minutes each day to scan the local headlines. Be on the lookout for new businesses opening up, awards or promotions that have been bestowed, and any developments related to your product or service. Drop an email to the people mentioned in the articles letting them know you saw the piece and subtly upselling your offering.

4. Watch your competitors. While you’ll want to develop your own unique approach, studying the competition can help you stay up to speed on the latest industry trends and developments. If your biggest rival is offering free shipping during the holidays, you may want to follow suit to remain competitive. It’s also a good idea to place advertisements in the same publications and venues as your competitors.

5. Don’t be afraid to follow up. One of the biggest mistakes small business owners make is pay a single visit to a prospect and then sit back and wait for them to come knocking. After the initial contact, it’s essential to follow up to gauge their level of interest, answer any remaining questions, and attempt to close the deal. If they aren’t ready to buy, ask if they know anyone who may have a need for your product or service.

6. Use the power of referral marketing. One delighted customer can lead to dozens more. Why wait for word-of-mouth advertising to happen on its own? Don’t be afraid to ask satisfied customers to spread the word to their friends and colleagues. Chances are they’ll be delighted to see their associates reaping the same benefits they’ve enjoyed.

7. Sample your way to success. Who doesn’t love a freebie? Giving away a complimentary sample of your product or service is a great way to demonstrate its benefits and encourage future sales. If you sell bath and body products, include a small packet of lotion with your marketing postcards. If you’re an IT consultant, offer businesses a free technology assessment.

8. Partner with other businesses. Nearly every industry has parallel providers that cater to the same group but offer different products or services. Forming an alliance with people in the same market can be mutually beneficial. If you sell custom stationery, contact a local bridal gown boutique and ask if you can drop off some business cards. If you provide consulting services for small businesses, ask a local office furniture seller if you can post a flier. Offer reciprocal exposure in exchange.

Remember, prospecting leads isn’t a one-time excursion. To sustain the profitability and branding identity of your business, you’ll need to devote time and resources to ongoing prospecting campaigns.

Small Business Leads – How to Increase Your Small Business Profits

If you are a small business owner, I hope you have a website. Even if that small business of yours deals with local clients and customers, an online website can go a long way. In fact, many internet users even like to research local businesses online first. So lets say that you get yourself a website and you do some marketing. Great; you are on the right track. But there is one more thing I’d like you to do. I’d like you to go out and find some small business sales leads. These leads are what will connect you with your targeted market. Whether you contact them via email or phone, you can point them in the direction of that online website of yours.

Now, it is a good idea to find some small business sales leads. What you do is search for leads or people who are interested in what you have for sale. You find them and make contact. Whether this contact is over-the-phone or via email, your goal is to entice them to become a customer. You can provide a link to your online store, discuss some of the products or services you sell, and even offer a promotional discount “just for them.”

Making contact with a potential customer you found for your small business is the easiest part. It is finding that potential customer online that can be the hard part. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be very hard. Here are some helpful tips for you:

Examine Online Classified Websites: Since you are a business that has a product or a service to sell, you want to find individuals who advertise online that they want it. You might wonder if someone is looking for a new dining room table (which you sell) why don’t they just search the internet looking for one? I’ll tell you; because it is much easier to just make a post and hope that someone (just like you) comes along to say “I got one for sale.” Buyers don’t want to spend hours on a computer searching when they don’t have to.

Search with Good Phrases: The tricky part about searching online classifieds and other similar sites for small business leads is that you are going to get mixed results. This is just something you have to make do with. So lets say back to that dinning room table, if you do a search with the phrase “kitchen table,” you are going to find a mixture if people looking to buy and people trying to sell theirs. You are looking for the buyers, so find these.

In short, you don’t need to pay a professional to generate small business leads for you. It is easy for you to do it yourself. Best of all, you know that you are getting the best results because you are 100% in control of the searching, the finding, the deciding, and the making contact.

Website Design Tips – A Small Business Road-Map to More Online Leads

Designing a website when you’re a small business is different than what a Fortune 500 company would do. While large companies may have the nationwide brand recognition and many people linking to their site, you probably do not. This poses a challenge in ensuring that visitors to your site are well informed, they are directed to what they need to see on your site, they can easily subscribe to your site, and they leave with the impression of a very professional company As a small business owner myself and a website designer, I’ve compiled the following critical tips on designing your website.

Overall Design

– Clean
– Uncluttered
– Light-weight

The overall design of your site should be clean, uncluttered, and light-weight. By clean I mean that it should be a more simple design as opposed to lots of shapes, contrasting colors, and unreadable fonts. You can still have a very unique design but your customers will thank you for keeping it clean. This also leads into keeping it uncluttered. Have only the essential links, pictures, and widgets on your web page. The days of providing a real service by having the local weather or a dancing baby on your home page are over. Keeping your page uncluttered will let visitors focus on what is really important. If you have too much for one page, split it into two pages and use a call to action in the original page to direct the visitor. You also must keep your design light-weight as in smaller pictures, no crazy flash/animation, and use of background colors as opposed to images. This will ensure your web page loads quickly on a visitors browser and will make it much more accessible.

Content – Content Formatting

– Quality, Original Content
– Direct and to the point
– Small paragraphs for easy reading
– Easy reading font
– Font to background color contrast

Content is critical for a small business. Your web design must account for showcasing your content and providing good content for search engines like Google. This will definitely help with your Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Ensure that your content is original quality content that doesn’t have too much fluff and gets to the point. I have been to websites before where after a couple of minutes of reading, I still don’t know what they do. Be direct and your visitors will thank you!

For formatting your content, you need to ensure that you have at least a 12 point font, which isn’t a crazy unreadable font. Stick with the basic fonts for your main content. Color is important so make sure that the contrast between your text and the background doesn’t make it unreadable. You don’t want too similar of colors so it’s hard to read and you don’t want a contrast that hurts your eyes to read (i.e. neon green on a black background).

Call to Action

– Include on every page
– Ask for what you want
– Explain the benefits

If someone is coming to your website, make sure they do what you want them to do. Many small business websites forget about asking the customer to buy a product, sign up for their list or whatever else you want them to do on your site. Be specific and include a call to action on all of your pages. If I want you to sign up for my newsletter so I can provide you with information and market my products to you, I need to sell you the benefits of being on my list. My call to action might be “Sign-up Today!” after explaining the benefits. If you don’t ask them or get them to take action, many times they won’t.

Capture Leads

– Capture an email address
– Entice with free products
– Low barrier to entry

If someone is visiting your website, you need to capture their information. They are obviously on your website for a reason and you need to give them the opportunity to learn more by capturing their information. Good website design for your small business should account for how you will capture their lead information. I like to make it a low barrier for entry for my visitors. You sign-up for my newsletter by providing me with just your email address in the side bar or the hover page that I display after you’ve been on my site for 7 seconds. I sell the benefits of getting free information and I make it easy. I will also offer a free product like a free report but I make the barrier to entry a little higher. If you want my free report, in addition to your email address you will also have to provide me with your name and phone number. Guess what makes great leads to call on?

There are many aspects to great website design for small businesses and I’ve really only scratched the surface. I suggest doing a lot of research on the subject so you can end up with an online presence that sets you apart from other businesses in your industry. There are many professionals that do a great job with the design and professionals that do a great job with the optimization and lead capture. Not many do both so make sure you do your homework.