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 5 Simple Steps for Generating Sales Leads
   By Dean Rieck

Generating leads is a smart way to support your sales staff and make their efforts more efficient. A good lead generation program can lower your sales costs and raise your sales revenue. 

Here are the basics of making lead generation work for your company:

1. Offer something free. This is the key to any successful lead generation program. Whether you use direct mail, print ads, radio, television, or other media, you must offer something free to get prospects to raise their hands and say, “I’m interested in this.” You can offer just about anything: free booklet, free gift, free survey, free sample, free catalog, free inspection, free consultation, or anything else that’s related to your product or service.

2. Help your prospect solve a problem. Forget positioning pieces and other pomp and circumstance. Give your offer value. For someone having tax problems, offering a “free tax reduction kit” is more appealing and relevant than “a free brochure about the XYZ Accounting Firm.” Try to solve particular problems.

3. Stay focused on getting the lead. Don’t get carried away with the creative aspects of designing a mail piece or ad. Keep your message as simple and lean as possible. The idea is to peak your prospect’s interest in the free thing you’re offering and get a request for it. Don’t talk about your company, then tack on an offer. Focus the whole message on the freebie.

4. Gather the information you need to make a sale. The only reason for offering something free is to get a name, address, phone number, and other information to build your database. So make sure your reply device asks for the necessary data. Be careful if you ask for an e-mail response, though, because the prospect may not give you everything you need. And if you want to direct a prospect to your Web site, create a special URL that will ask for contact information first, otherwise your prospect will wander around your site and leave without providing the data you want.

5. Follow up fast. Hot leads cool off quickly. When you get an inquiry, send the freebie immediately. Then get the lead into the hands of your sales force pronto.

---- Dean Rieck is president of Direct Creative (, a full-service creative firm. E-mail:


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