Increasing Sales Through Self-Generated Leads



By Donna West

The real work of a salesperson—the work that truly increases your sales, and thus your income—happens outside of inquiry calls.

Inquiry calls can come in at any time, and you are there to respond to the leads that your company pays to generate. But sales are more than reacting to inquiries. Put that waiting time to effective use: set up accounts, complete paperwork, or do research for areas in which you want to sell. This is interruptible work that allows you to be ready to jump on an inquiry call the moment it comes in.

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Increase Your Sales

You must do warm calling, cold calling, and call-backs. Don’t forget the “How are we doing for you? Who else do you know that might need our services?” calls that will feather your commissions’ nest. If you aren’t calling the people who have inquired about your services, you’re abandoning them. 

It can take more than seven touches (some say many more) before a prospect becomes your client. It’s important to consistently make those touches. Create a list and be sure you’ve made at least seven touches. Note what they were. Tracking them will show what works best for you.

  • Personal notes—handwritten, using snail mail, the old-fashioned way—still work, but few people send them anymore. When was the last time you wrote one? When did you last receive one? They get attention.
  • Send bulky packages containing swag. Few people can resist a padded envelope with a surprise lump inside.
  • Forward an email about something that pertains to a prospect’s business, something you find on the internet. Sending it to them creates a touch. It says you listened when you were chatting with them.
  • Revisit their website to discover something you might comment on or ask about the next time you talk with them.
  • Call back the day after your conversation or visit to share something you’ve thought about that might benefit their business.
  • Send a copy of your newsletter, preferably a recent one that talks about a feature your potential client asked about or that you think might fit their business needs. 
  • Create a newsletter article that speaks to a feature that might interest multiple potential clients. Then share it with those prospects.

These are all important things to do after you speak with a potential client. It shows that yours is the kind of company that nurtures and cares about their business partners.

Self-Generated Leads

A good portion of your sales should come from self-generated leads—if you are putting effort into them. This is vitally important, and your commissions hinge on it. If you aren’t making the amount of money you’d like to, put more effort into generating your own leads.

Be creative. There are more ways to find people who need your services than contacting names on a purchased list of businesses. The yellow pages were once an excellent source of business leads, but there are many modern-day equivalents, including the yellow pages online.

  • Simply go to your browser and type in plumbers, for example, and your location. You will find a whole list of ads. If they’re looking for business, they probably need your services.
  • Check local advertiser newspapers (such as the Penny Saver), which often has advertisements for local small businesses. They need their phones answered, and many use an answering machine or voicemail. 
  • After hours, call businesses that use answering services and see how their phones are handled. Make a list of those calls that don’t sound professional. Then reach out to those companies.
  • As you’re driving, notice businesses that may need your services. Pull over and snap a photo or leave yourself a message on your phone.
  • Ask friends and relatives who they use for various service needs.
  • Call your local chamber of commerce and ask for lists. Or check with Home Advisors or Angie’s List.
  • Join your local chamber of commerce and attend their meetings.
  • Scope out various service clubs (such as Rotary or Lions), attend hobby clubs (knitting clubs, book clubs, even the sportsman’s club—whatever interests you). Join the PTA, a church, or a trade association and work on a committee.
  • Get acquainted with businesses that serve the tradespeople in the types of businesses you want to bring on board. For instance, if you are seeking plumbers as new clients, target plumbing and electrical supply stores, local hardware stores, and big box stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s.

Don’t ever join a club, church, or organization for what you might get out of it. Be sure you’re genuinely interested in the group. Invest yourself in their goals and become a real part of their activities. Make this something you do for your own enjoyment; any leads that come from it are a bonus. Socially active salespeople have a greater income than those who are not. Some salespeople merely take orders as they come in, and their paychecks reflect that. Successful salespeople do far more, and their paychecks reflect the extra effort.

Always Be Seen

The rules for sales are different than for hourly workers. You can increase your income independently. Once you fulfill your agreement with your employer, you can make contacts at any time and any place.

It’s important to realize that people buy from those they trust. When you are out, you will become acquainted with more people. Eventually that facilitates sales. The sales slogan “Always be closing” is changing to “Always be seen.” You can’t make as much money if you stay home and only make calls during business hours.

A recent conversation with a top selling realtor netted the following great quote: “I’m never not selling. No matter where I go, I’m aware of sales possibilities. My livelihood depends on that.” That’s what makes a good salesperson. They recognize that they don’t know where that next lead will come from. 

When you’re in sales, you are working for your employer, but also for yourself. Be aware—but not aggressive. There is a difference between making your goal and making great money. That difference comes from the effort and imagination you’re willing to invest. Invest in yourself.

Donna West is the founder and president of Focus Telecommunications and relies on her super salespeople to build her company and their own income. Come to the Sales Symposium (rescheduled for 2021) for the telephone answering industry to learn more about the great game of sales and how you can win that game.