Developing and Finding Leads

I just received an interesting email from a reader. His name is Jonathan and he has a question about prospecting, a favorite subject of mine. More specifically it’s about developing and finding quality leads. He wrote:


Good day. I purchased your “Don’t count the yes’s, count the No’s " audio program. I’ve listened to the audio often and I’m ready to begin making calls. Before I got your program I planned to call companies from the local yellow pages. After listening to your program, it appears that’s not the best way to do this. Can you tell me what’s the best way to get quality leads and do you recommend any companies? Thank you for any information you can give me.

Best Regards,


First of all, it’s not that I don’t recommend the Yellow Pages; it’s just that I consider it a last resort. The first thing you need to do when starting out your prospecting effort is to figure out who you want to call. Develop a client profile that specifically describes what types of clients and people you want to deal with.

For example:

  • What kind of companies are you looking for (size, industries, maybe even location)?
  • Who will be your contact person? A purchasing manager; VP level; Middle management. If you don’t know who you’re looking for, it’s going to be real hard to find them.

Cold calls are another last resort. But if you don’t have any clients, hot leads or referrals, you better start making some cold calls in order to develop your own hot leads and referrals.

When I first started my speaking business over 21 years ago, I was mostly conducting sales seminars, so my plan was to approach companies that were very sales oriented. Right off the bat, the first thing that came to my mind was the life insurance industry: an abundance of salespeople; new ones being hired every day; plus it was an industry that was not afraid to spend money on training.

So every Sunday, I picked up the New York Times and went to the help-wanted section and looked under “Sales Help Wanted.” I found numerous ads placed by local sales offices of large life insurance companies. Not only were they advertising for salespeople, but there was also a contact name (usually the sales manager) and a phone number.

First thing Monday morning, I would call, ask for the sales manager (the perfect contact person for me) and when asked by the receptionist, “What is this in reference to?” I would say, “The Sales Help Wanted ad in yesterday’s Times.”

Naturally, I was connected to the Sales Manager. Once on the phone I would say, “I’m not looking for a job, but since you are hiring all these new salespeople, you’re going to need someone to train them. Let me tell you about my services.” I would get the appointment and, very often close the deal to train their agents.

But here’s the best part! Every one of those sales managers knew other sales managers in other offices and it was real easy to pick up at least 3 or 4 referrals every time I did a session.

Once you get the ball rolling, and, of course, deliver a good product or service, cold calling becomes less of a factor in developing new business. as you now have a hot new source of referrals.

To learn more about how to get tons of referrals, read these past articles:

Referrals: The Lifeblood of Sales Part I
Referrals: The Lifeblood of Sales Part II
Winning Referrals

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