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Reaching Out

Finding good leads takes more than just making a few phone calls. Use a creative prospecting strategy to get yourself out there.

This story appears in the December 2004 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Thinking "out of the box" may seem clichéd, but it's a good image to keep in mind when you think about . If your current approach to finding leads isn't working for you, it's probably time to get a little creative. After all, prospecting is more than simply making a phone call and asking to speak with the decision-maker. Here are three "out of the box" prospecting methods that have worked for me:

1. Build a qualified priority list. Recently, when I began a , one of my first steps was to the marketplace. I went to every store I could find that sold similar products and talked to the store managers. I asked, "Which company sells most creatively to you? Which one really moves product off the shelf and has a quality product people like?" I checked out product packaging; got names, phone numbers and websites; and did more research, legwork and homework. Only then was I able to call the president of a company directly and prospect from a much higher and more knowledgeable level.

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