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Lead the Way

In the Information Age, customers want to hear you say more about your product and what it can do for them.

How will you find your next customer? "Warm" cold calls, speaking at seminars and hosting events are the three most effective lead-generation techniques, according to a report from sales info site RainToday.com (you can download the free executive summary here.)

 

Brian Carroll, author of Lead Generation for the Complex Sale, agrees with the report, adding that lead generation has moved more toward providing information and service than ever.

 

"About 80 percent of the people who come to your site aren't ready to buy," Carroll says. "They're looking for information." Free reports, articles and podcasts are great ways to educate customers. However, Carroll advises against following up with a hard sell. "If a customer downloads a free report, they want information. Contact the customer and ask what questions you can answer."

 

He also advises having materials that make keeping in touch easier. Many reps stumble once they get beyond the product introduction, he says. And customers read repeated keep-in-touch calls as a way of saying, "Are you ready to buy yet?" Carroll suggests companies create special reports, newsletters, case studies and success stories to help keep clients involved in a relevant conversation until they're ready to buy.

Gwen Moran is a freelance writer and co-author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Business Plans (Alpha, 2010).

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This article was originally published in the September 2007 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Lead the Way.

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