Many successful small business owners are continuously looking to expand their customer base and grow their businesses. Business growth can be a difficult and long-term process, though. One of the foundational elements of growing a business is having access to a steady stream of sales leads. A lead is a person, or business if you have a company that sells to other businesses (B2B), that has an interest in the products or services you are selling.

Here are some tips for creating a system that will help you identify sales leads in your small business, and -- with the right focus and effort -- turn them into customers.

1. Identify Your Target Audience

The first step of lead generation is identifying your target audience. You can't successfully reach and sell to your ideal customer if you don't know exactly who that is, so it's important to research your audience and come up with a clear picture of who they are, where they live, what they like to do, how much money they make, what their lifestyle and personality is like, etc.

If you don't already have one, you should also create a comprehensive marketing plan as part of this step.

2. Pick Your Promotional Methods Wisely

In order to generate leads, you need a promotional plan that will get your products and services in front of members of your target audience. There are a number of ways you can promote your business, and again, you will want to use your marketing plan to identify the most effective methods for your business.

Some ideas include an informational website, a blog, social media, speaking engagements, industry events, current customer referrals, pay per click (PPC) advertising, and traditional advertising. For more, review this LocalProfits360 Review

3. Create a Sales Funnel

Once you know who you are targeting and have determined how best to reach them, you need to have a plan for collecting contact information. The first part of the process involves funneling all prospects to a standard form or landing page that encourages them to share their contact information, generally in return for a free gift, a coupon, a sample or some other value-added incentive.

At this point, it is vital to have a customer relationship management (CRM) database that will help you keep track of potential customers through the process.

4. Use an Email Newsletter to Build Relationships

Now that you're in contact with prospects, it's time to cultivate those relationships so you can take them from the lead stage through a sale (and eventually a repeat sale!). One of the best ways to create consistent communication with your prospects is through an email newsletter.

This article on email marketing provides a number of tips to get you started. Make sure you are aware of and follow regulations that are a part of the CAN-SPAM Act.

5. Leverage Social Media to Connect and Engage

Social media provides a number of opportunities for small businesses to create conversations with prospective customers and generate new leads. You can create a Facebook page, Twitter profile, LinkedIn company page, Pinterest account or a YouTube page to attract and engage your audience, then funnel them through your process to become leads.

Plus, once you have leads in the system, you can use social media to talk to them and find out more about what they need and want. The more positive touch points a customer has with your business over time, the more likely he or she will be to trust your brand and eventually purchase from you.

For more on this, review this Amazon Affiliate Profits Review.

Lead generation should be thought of as a long-term and continuous process. If you get an efficient system in place using the sales lead tips above, you can streamline the lead generation process and increase your opportunities for business growth.

The growing social media scene has given small business owners yet another way to promote their businesses online for relatively little investment. In fact, time is the most significant cost when it comes to social media.

Since most small business owners are busy running all aspects of their businesses, they do not have much extra time to spend on social media. This is why it is so important to create a marketing plan, set goals for your social media activity, and learn as much as you can about each network you plan to participate in so you can reduce the learning curve and avoid wasting time.

This collection of articles provides an overview of social media for small business, as well as tips and advice for using specific networks as effectively as possible in your business.

  • 01
 7 Tips for Getting Started with Social Media

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Social media can be overwhelming to small business owners who are brand new on the scene because there are so many social networks, and so many ways to use them to promote your business. There is also a vast amount of resources available on using social media in your business. This can be helpful, or it can cause even more confusion. The basic getting-started tips in this article apply to any network, and will help you get started on the right foot.

  • 02
 7 Things to Avoid When You're Growing Your Social Media Presence

While it's important to have a list of things you should do when you're getting started in social media, it can also be helpful to have a list of things you should avoid in order to grow your community and use your social media presence to form relationships. This article outlines seven things you should NOT do when using social media for business.

  • 03
 How to Use Social Media for Customer Service

One of the biggest reasons small business owners get involved in social media is to get to know their customers and potential customers and begin to form relationships that can lead to new opportunities.

In many cases, this translates into providing customer service and support via social media. Small business owners who are open to this level of interaction with their customer base often find that it can be a powerful way to promote their business and strengthen their brand. This article provides some tips for using social media to conduct customer service.

  • 04
 A Guide to Using Facebook for Business

Now that you have a handle on a few general tips and best practices for using social media in your small business, it's time to dig into specific social networks. Facebook is, by far, the most popular network and since many people are already familiar with it from their personal use, it often makes a great starting point for business use, too. This collection of articles provides practical tips, advice, and resources for using Facebook in your small business.

  • 05
 5 Tips for Getting Started with Twitter in Your Small Business

Up next is Twitter. Twitter is a microblogging platform, which means updates are short blasts, 140 characters or less. It works nothing like Facebook in terms of interaction, engagement, ​and promotion, but it can be a very effective tool for many small businesses. The most important part of getting started with Twitter is understanding the platform and figuring out how you can use it effectively in your small business. This Same Day eCom Profits 2.0 Review will help you get started.

  • 06
 Getting a Grip on Google+

Google+ is a social network created by Google that intertwines with Google search and other Google products. It's similar in style to Facebook but has some very unique features that set it apart. This short article includes a list of resources that will tell you what you need to know about Google+ and how to incorporate it into your marketing activities.

  • 07
 7 Ways to Use Pinterest in Your Small Business

The newest network on the social media scene, Pinterest adds a brand new focus to social networking -- images. Users "pin" photos, images and other graphics they find online or create themselves in order to share, promote, and inspire. On the surface, it may seem that Pinterest is primarily for small businesses that sell visual products or services, but there are actually a number of other ways any small business can use Pinterest. This article provides seven ideas to get you thinking.

  • 08
 12 Tips for Making Your Business Blog a Success

You may not instantly think of blogs when you think of social media, but they are, in fact, a key part of social media. Not only does a blog allow you to provide useful, relevant and engaging content to your target audience, but it also gives your readers a chance to interact with you from within the blog comments and by sharing your content on other networks. This social aspect elevates a blog from a static website into a platform with great potential. This article provides 12 essential tips for making your small business blog a success.

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