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Developing leads is something that needs to happen on a weekly, if not daily, basis. Instead of having a plan for ongoing lead generation, many companies go about it haphazardly at best. Too many times you are caught desperately trying to close a couple of deals that really shouldn’t close or aren’t ready to close because you have nothing else in your sales funnel to work on.

6 Ways to Grow Your Sales Funnel Using Data Quality ToolsIf you keep your sales funnel full, this won’t be an issue. You will have plenty of leads to qualify and work through the funnel.

Here are six ways to keep your sales funnel full.

1. Networking

Networking remains one of the most cost-effective and efficient ways to generate new business. Get out to your target audience’s key events. Make an effort to meet the people you don’t know. Be a great listener and be sure to follow up.

2. Referrals

Referrals is one of the best lead generating tools any company could have. If you have satisfied customers, most of them would be happy to give you a referral. They can do this through a program where you would reward them to give a referral. Or just ask! Most people will be happy to introduce you to other people who can buy from you.

3. Direct mail

If you have targeted your audience and have a good list, you can get great results. Frequency and message are key. Direct mail should be integrated with your social media and other advertising.

4. Social media

There are many ways to generate leads and build your list with social media, but you need a plan. Sit down with someone who knows social media and can tell you the most beneficial things to do to get the required results. Your social media should integrate with your other marketing efforts.

5. Email marketing/enewsletter

This is not something that can be taken lightly, or else you will end up with tons of unsubscribes. Have a plan and understand how to use email effectively. Engage your reader and make them look forward to the next email. Use proper subject lines, offer great content, and make sure there is an offer or call to action so that the person continues reading.

6. Cold calling

If you use cold calling as part of a campaign, where you’ve already perhaps sent them an email, some direct mail and have interacted with them on social media, you will have a better chance of connecting with them on the phone. But it is still a lot of work. Effective cold calling campaigns need to be planned. Just printing out a list and picking up the phone to call a hundred people you don’t know will take a lot of time and your results will be unrewarding.

Lead generation is one of the most important things to focus on in your sales process. If the funnel runs dry, it makes it tough for everyone. Lead generation should be part of your annual strategic planning, a budget needs to be applied and someone needs to manage it. If you don’t have a plan, you need to sit down with your team and go through the above ideas and see which ones you’re going to use to generate leads and maybe come up with some others. Then you need to make a plan for each one of those, as well as how they will all be interrelated with each other.

Get more networking tips with the ebook, The Guide to Networking at Conferences.

6 Ways to Grow Your Sales Funnel Using Data Quality Tools

This post originally appeared on AliceHeiman.com.

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