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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, butit's a good image to keep in mind when you think aboutprospecting. If your current approach to finding leads isn'tworking for you, it's probably time to get a little creative.After all, prospecting is more than simply making a phone call andasking to speak with the decision-maker. Here are three "outof the box" prospecting methods that have worked for me:

1. Build a qualified priority list. Recently, when Ibegan marketing a new product, one of my first steps was toresearch the marketplace. I went to every retail store I could findthat sold similar products and talked to the store managers. Iasked, "Which company sells most creatively to you? Which onereally moves product off the shelf and has a quality product peoplelike?" I checked out product packaging; got names, phonenumbers and websites; and did more research, legwork and homework.Only then was I able to call the president of a company directlyand prospect from a much higher and more knowledgeable level.

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