Have you ever created a time-consuming proposal for your services, only to learn that the prospect has no budget?  Or is not authorized to purchase?  Dead end leads like this waste time and increase sales acquisition costs. 

How can you avoid wasting your time on dead end leads?  Present and send proposals to only highly qualified prospects.  Prospects are highly qualified if they have a problem that your company can solve, and the budget to purchase your solution. 

To find them, you must first define exactly who they are.

Ask yourself these questions about your ideal customer:  What features and benefits do they want from a service like yours?  What industry are they in?  What size company?  What are their annual revenues?  What position did they hold in the company?   What do they read?  What organizations do they belong to? 


Now that you have a profile of your perfect customer, use these strategies to meet them.


  1. Introduce yourself in a simple email.  Research the companies that qualify as your ideal client.  Send an email introducing yourself and your services.  Keep the email simple and personal so it’s more likely to be read. 
  1. Attend the classes and talks that your ideal clients attend.  Read the newspapers, magazines and websites they read to find these classes.  Find classes and groups to join at Meetup. 
  1. Join the organizations that your ideal clients belong to.  This could be the Chamber of Commerce, Toastmasters, business networking groups like BNI, professional associations like the Kiwanis Club and others.
  1. Start a newsletter.  Add the signup form to your website.  You’ll build a list of prospects who are interested in your services.  Check out email service providers like Constant Contact, iContact or Mad Mimi.
  1. Conduct a survey.  Use your email service provider to conduct a survey of your newsletter list.  Ask questions that will help you determine which respondents are qualified to purchase your services.
  1. Use your website to qualify leads.  Send prospects to your website when you network.  There they can read exactly who you work with and what problems you solve.  This helps weed out unqualified inquiries.
  1. Qualify with a questionnaire.  Respond to inquiries with an email questionnaire.  One word answers are a sign of an unengaged, unqualified prospect.  When you find a good lead, use the questionnaire for talking points on your follow up phone call, or to write your proposal. 
  1. Get a list of new businesses, if they are part of your target market.  Business license application information is publicly available.  Check your county municipal offices. 
  1. Find a strategic partner.  What industries are related to yours, but don’t compete with you?  A web designer could partner with a printer or the yellow pages sales rep.  Introduce yourself and provide a one-pager describing your perfect client and how to refer you.  
  1. Attend trade shows where your ideal customer exhibits.  Exhibitors names are posted online.  You can research them, qualify them and plan your strategy ahead of time.  This is a great way to benefit from a tradeshow without the cost of exhibiting.


Don’t waste your time on unqualified leads. 

Instead, define and locate your ideal customer.  If you spend time selling to only these highly qualified prospects, you’ll shorten your sales cycle, lower acquisition costs, and increase your probability of winning the account.