How To Find Leads For Sales [With $0 Marketing Budget]

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How To Find Leads For Sales
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Let’s face it: Even with the best product in the world, your business is doomed to fail if not enough people know about it.

Those with the most leads win. Simple. If you generate more leads but have an average product – you still win.

However, we live in an unsure economic climate. Most small and medium businesses are trying to shrink the marketing budget as much as possible and prioritize more urgent expenses. So finding leads for the sales department at better costs is a challenge.

In the following article, I will show you 5 methods you can start using immediately to generate leads for your sales department with no or almost close to no marketing budget.

1. Blog Regularly

Top on our list of how to find leads for sales is… blogging!

Why is blogging so important? Well, B2B marketers who blog generate, on average, 67% more leads than those that do not.

And according to statistics from HubSpot, companies that blog 16+ times per month get almost 3.5x more traffic than those that blog 0 to 4 times per month.

Impact of Monthly Blog Posts on Inbound Marketing
Impact of Monthly Blog Posts on Inbound Marketing

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Look, we know it’s tough to find time to sit down and bang out a thousand-word article, let alone 16 of them.

But here’s the thing: blogging regularly helps you boost your website’s SEO, which brings you more organic traffic. On top of that, you also get to establish yourself as a thought leader when you blog and build trust with your target audience.

Now, to make your blogging efforts less painful, divvy up those 16 articles among your team. Say you have 2 marketers and 6 sales reps on your team. Get each person to produce 2 blog articles per month.

Once you’ve got the momentum going, you can also leverage your existing blog content to increase your organic visits and leads. Simply updating and republishing old blog posts can net you a 111% increase in organic traffic. Not too shabby, huh?

Can’t wait to get started with your blogging strategy?

Before you start writing a single word, come up with a content calendar for your blog.

Here’s a guide to help you get started. If you’re keen on creating a higher-level social media content calendar that lets you keep track of your blog articles and your other social media posts, check out how these 7 companies do it.

Next, determine what keywords you want to target with your blog articles (this article by Yoast tells you how), and optimize every article for those keywords using this guide.

After that, come up with a compelling headline that will intrigue your readers (if you’re not feeling particularly inspired, here are 10 tools that you can use to generate headlines).

Overall Headline Preferences
Overall Headline Preferences

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As a general rule of thumb, people tend to favor listicles – because they’re structured in a way that’s easy to read.

Make sure to include Call-To-Actions (CTAs) at the end of your blog article as well. You can’t go wrong with asking your readers to join your mailing list (and then hitting them with a drip-email campaign), but if you want to experiment with a more direct CTA, feel free to ask your reader to sign up for a free trial or product demo.

Last but not least, don’t forget to distribute and promote your blog articles as well.

We can’t emphasize this enough. There are 2 million blog articles being produced every single day, and if you hit “Publish” and expect people to sit up and take notice, well, you’re going to be very disappointed.

So how do you get more people to read your articles (and convert them into leads)?

It would be best to share your blog articles with your company’s social media followers and email subscribers at the most basic level.

For more advanced tips and tricks, check out Neil Patel’s guide here.

2. Harness The Power Of Brand Advocates

There’s nothing quite as powerful as a good old word of mouth recommendation when it comes to building trust.

Most trusted sources for B2B Buyers
Most trusted sources for B2B Buyers

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Bearing this in mind, one great way you can find leads online is by harnessing brand advocates’ power.

For the uninitiated, a brand advocate is a person or customer who influences their social network by talking favorably about a brand or product.

They’re like brand ambassadors, except they aren’t celebrities or notable people, and you’re not paying them to promote your brand.

2.1 Identifying Brand Advocates

Statistics show that just 4.7% of your customers generate 100% of your word-of-mouth marketing.

How to identify Brand Advocates
How to identify Brand Advocates

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Who are these people who are singing praises about your brand, and how can you identify them? Read on to find out more!

2.1.1 Happy Customers

If a customer writes in with positive feedback, they’re a shoo-in for a brand advocate position. The same goes for those who praise your company via social media.

For those using a Net Promoter Score (NPS) tool to gather customer feedback, you can use the data that you’ve gathered to identify brand advocates as well. Extract your list of Promoters from your NPS tool.

2.1.2 Referrers

If you have a referral campaign (that gives each of your customers their own referral code), then analyze the numbers to determine your best referrers. These guys are likely to be excellent brand advocates as well.

2.2 Convert More Customers Into Brand Advocates

I have too many brand advocates – said no one ever.

Converting more of your customers into brand advocates is a simple, two-step process. You’ll have to solve your customers’ problems and go above and beyond with customer service. That’s all there is to it.

2.2.1 Solve Your Customers’ Problems

If you want your customers to become your brand advocates, you need to address their pain points and solve their problems. If you can do this innovatively or unexpectedly, then you get extra brownie points.

Take Apple, for example, who blew our minds when they launched the iPod back in 2006.

At that point in time, no one actively said that they wanted a product that would enable them to store their entire music collections in a small, handheld device – simply because they didn’t know it was possible.

But when Apple released the iPod, everyone realized that this was exactly what they needed.

2.2.2 Going Above And Beyond With Customer Service

The next step of converting more customers into advocates is to go above and beyond with customer service. Now, it isn’t enough to meet your customers’ expectations. You have to exceed their expectations.

Offering Support

To start off with, make sure that your customers have easy access to your support channels. More is more here – if you allow your customers to contact you using email, phone call, and live chat, this definitely gives them a better experience.

Customer Support - Channel preferences depend on the type of question
Customer Support – Channel preferences depend on the type of question

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While small companies working on a tight budget might not be able to hire a huge team of support reps to answer inquiries, you can lessen your customers’ anxiety while they wait.

For example, please provide them with self-service resources such as knowledge bases and FAQ sections. (If these are comprehensive enough, your customer might be able to solve their own problem, which eliminates their need to contact your reps.)

Also, for customers who do reach out to you, always let them know how long your reply will take. We recommend triggering an email to them to let them know you’ve received your query, and that you’ll get back to them within 24 hours.

Finally, we recommend employing a more conversational tone (or even incorporating a funny GIF or two in your communications) whenever possible. The goal is to provide a more “human” experience for your customer and put a smile on their face.

Customer support aside, you should also aim to delight your customer in other ways.

Under-promise, Over-deliver

One way of doing this is to under-promise and over-deliver.

Say your company produces a technical SaaS tool for marketing teams. If it takes an hour, on average, for a rep to walk your new customer through how to set up their tool, then tell your customers that set up takes two hours instead.

This means you’ll always live up to your promises. Your average customer will get through the process in less than two hours, and they’ll feel pleased that set up took less time than anticipated.

If you encounter a customer who’s not that great with technology, it might take your rep the entire two hours to get your customer up to speed. But because you have that buffer there, your customer will still complete their set-up on time.

Surprising Your Customer

On top of that, we also recommend surprising your customer out of the blue.

Don’t worry – we’re not asking you to do anything as expensive or time-wasting as delivering a bouquet to your customer’s place.

Instead, you can upgrade a customer for free. Assuming you’re working at a SaaS company, this typically doesn’t incur any cost for your business.

For inspiration, here are 25 more ways you can surprise and delight your customers.

Stay In Touch Post-Purchase

Last but not least, remember to stay in touch with your customer post-purchase. This makes your customer feel valued, and they’ll appreciate that you’re making an effort to reach out even after they’ve completed their purchase.

For B2C companies such as eCommerce stores, doing this is easy. These folks can set up a series of templated post-purchase emails in their drip campaigns.

In the B2B world, however, follow-ups require a more personal touch. The best way to go about doing this is to note in your CRM system and remind yourself to follow up with your customer X months after their purchase.

When you’re following up, ask your customer how their experience has been so far and reference a specific concern they had about the product. (For example: “I recall you saying that you were worried about XYZ. Did you encounter any problems with that so far?”)

Remember: the key here is to focus on adding value to your customer. You’re not there to upsell them in any way.

2.3 How To Mobilize Your Brand Advocates

Now that you’ve got all your brand advocates rounded up, the next step is deciding how you want to mobilize them to find leads online.

Common tactics include asking your brand advocates for testimonials and reviews and having them refer leads and customers to you.

If you’re working on a new feature for your product, it might also be helpful to get your brand advocates to sit down in a focus group session. These are your most loyal, engaged customers, so go ahead and pick their brains.

Finally, one lesser-known strategy is to use your brand advocates’ testimonials to run Facebook ads. (For those who have no budget, post and repost these on your social media channels, and milk them as much as possible).

For example, here’s how AdEspresso does it:

AdEspresso - How to mobile your brand advocates
AdEspresso – How to mobile your brand advocates

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This provides a ton of social proof, and it’s highly effective in helping you find leads on Facebook.

One final tip about brand advocates:

While you’re using your brand advocates to help you drum up interest in your company, and generate more leads, make sure they’re getting something out of the deal as well.

Again, this doesn’t have to be about money.

Hootsuite, for example, motivates its advocates through the following ways:

  • Providing them with special badges that they can display on their LinkedIn profiles
  • Allowing them to have a sneak peek at their latest product developments through beta testing sessions, and
  • Providing them with social media training

3. Establish An Employee Advocacy Program

Next on our list of how to find leads for sales is… an employee advocacy program!

This is pretty similar to what we’ve discussed above – the only difference is that you’re looking inwards and getting your employees to be your advocates instead.

There are two primary benefits of setting up an employee advocacy program.

Similar to brand advocacy programs, employee advocacy programs enable you to reach out to a larger audience with virtually zero cost.

A company with over a hundred employees, for example, can increase its reach more effectively by implementing an employee advocacy program (as opposed to taking the tried-and-tested route of trying to grow their Facebook followers):

Employee Advocacy vs Brand Page Reach
Employee Advocacy vs Brand Page Reach

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Who would have thought?

But these programs don’t just get you more reach – they also get you better quality leads.

More specifically, leads generated by social employee advocacy are found to convert seven times more often than other leads.

Two companies that have experienced plenty of success with employee advocacy programs include global software giant Adobe, and tech conglomerate IBM.

Adobe hopped on the employee advocacy train back in 2014. Adobe decided to train a third of their 11,000 employees on brand ambassadors, and this move paid off handsomely.

In particular, one of Adobe’s Photoshop and Lightroom evangelists, Julieanne Kost, started generating more revenue for Adobe Photoshop than the company’s official Twitter account did. After starting a blog featuring tutorials, Julieanne drove more Creative Cloud subscriptions from her own account than the official Photoshop account.

Then there’s IBM, which has also capitalized on the power of employee advocacy.

In trying to expand their reach, IBM created an internal online hub that allows their employees to share promotions on their social media channels. This hub gives each employee six pieces of content each day, and employees may choose to share these with their followers or not.

According to Amber Armstrong, program director at IBM Marketing Digital, the company doesn’t make it mandatory for employees to share any material. That said, these employees are motivated by points-based leadership.

Shortly after kicking off their employee advocacy program, IBM launched a business-to-business appeal called #NewWayToWork. Employee shares resulted in an awe-inspiring 120 million digital impressions and 141,000 clicks to campaign content.

3.1 How To Encourage Employee Advocacy

Now that you know exactly how powerful employee advocacy can be let’s discuss how you might encourage your employees to promote your company.

Basically, your job is to remove all these roadblocks that stand in the way of your employees sharing about your company:

Why aren't employees sharing
Why aren’t employees sharing


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Let’s tackle these by one.

Employees Are Uncertain About Sharing

First, some employees aren’t sure if their companies are comfortable sharing their work on social media.

Remedying this is simple. Just let your employees know that they’re welcome to do so, and encourage them to use your company’s branded hashtags as well.

Employees Don’t Have Time To Share.

Next, some of your employees might already want to share about your company, but they don’t have the time to do so.

What should you do if this is the case?

Remove all the friction associated with sharing, and make it as simple as possible.

If you remember, we talked about how IBM built an internal hub that easily allowed their employees to share content.

Here’s the low-cost hack: instead of building something from scratch, use tools such as EveryoneSocial, Smarp, and PostBeyond.

And here’s the zero-cost hack: create a channel on Slack dedicated to employee advocacy, and get your marketers to update the channel once a day with all the new blog articles published and promotions and campaigns that your company is currently running. This makes sharing super easy.

Employees Don’t Know What To Share.

The above solution can also address this roadblock by regularly publishing a list of content and promotions that employees can share.

To mix things up, encourage your employees to post more casual content as well.

These are essentially your feel-good, behind-the-scenes content that features your employees and shows off your company culture.

Think something similar to this Instagram post from Hootsuite, but an employee’s account obviously shares it instead of your company’s account.

Employees Are Afraid Of Sharing The Wrong Thing

Back when social media was new, employees were very prone to over-sharing.

These folks basically took Facebook (and other social media platforms) as their personal diaries and ranted about their work on these platforms.

Nowadays, people are a lot savvier. Some might have a separate social media account that they use to bitch about work, but most employees will keep their lips zipped for fear of saying the wrong thing.

Now, in order to encourage your employees to share (and share appropriately), come up with social sharing guidelines, and disseminate this to the whole company.

Alternatively, you can also take a leaf out of Adobe’s book and conduct social media training for your employees.

There’s no need to get too fancy with this training. Each of Adobe’s sessions, for example, just ran for two hours.

The first half-hour was spent on introducing the company’s four key social media pillars (Authentic, Responsible, Involved, and Respectful); in the last hour and a half, employees were put in the “driver’s seat” and asked to brainstorm the right approaches to take based on a various real-life scenario.

4. Create A Webinar

When people think about using content to generate B2B leads, they invariably think about blog articles, case studies, and white papers.

But here’s another format that can help you find leads for sale… webinars.

Webinar Lead Generation Stats
Webinar Lead Generation Stats

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We’re not going to lie – these do take a bit more work to create (as opposed to, say, blog articles).

But here’s what many marketers and business owners don’t realize: Webinars also present you with a lot more opportunities to generate leads.

Plus, it’s possible to create a webinar without spending a single cent. Check out this guide for more – this was written to cater to bloggers, but the same rules apply for B2B companies.

4.1 How To Generate Leads From A Webinar

Your webinars should be structured in a way that allows you to maximize the number of leads that you get per session. Here are a few ideas to get you started…

4.1.1 Before The Webinar

Kick-off your lead gen efforts during registration. Include a question in your sign-up form to ask your attendees if they’d like to try your product.

With KISSmetrics (which has now morphed into Quick Sprout), founder Neil Patel says that his conversion rates were the highest when he asked people registering for their webinars to sign up for a product demo.

4.1.2 During The Webinar

Reserve the last 30 minutes of your webinar for a Q&A session.

These segments are a win-win. Attendees will gain a ton of value out of them because they’ll hear your thoughts about specific problems they’re facing. You can also use these sessions to share about how your attendees can benefit from using your company’s product at the same time.

4.1.3 After The Webinar

Once you’ve wrapped up your webinar, it’s time to follow up with your attendees.

The numbers don’t lie:

If you send your attendees follow-up material (such as an email or an ebook) within an hour of live material, they’re 60 times more likely to convert.

So get those drip campaigns set up properly. You’ll want your email timed to land in your attendees’ inbox right after your webinar is done.

Now, your follow-up email should contain an offer that’s exclusive to your webinar attendees. For example, include a promo code in your email for 20% off your product, or throw in a few freebies.

To convey a sense of urgency, have the offer expire within 24 or 48 hours.

5. Capture Visitors From Your Home Page

Regardless of how much time and money you spend optimizing your website for conversions, it’s impossible to have 100% of your site visitors convert as leads.

Capture Visitors From Your Home Page
Capture Visitors From Your Home Page

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According to statistics, most websites only convert at a measly 2% to 10%. That’s a massive waste of 90% to 98% of your traffic if you ask us.

That’s not all – Albacross also collects detailed company information on individuals who visit your website (in a way that’s compliant with the GDPR, of course). It provides you with your visitors’ contact information so that your sales reps can convert them into paying customers.

Now, like everything we’ve mentioned in this article, Albacross is 100% free to use.

Creating your account (click here) takes 30 seconds. Once you’re done, all you need to do is paste a tracking script into our code.

With this script, Albacross will start tracking valuable data about your customers. Your job is to skim through the daily, weekly, and monthly reports that Albacross sends you and pick out the leads you want to follow up with.

A Final Word On How To Find Leads For Sales

Now that you’ve reached the end of this guide, we hope you’ve gotten plenty of new ideas on how to find leads for sales!

Here’s one last takeaway for you:

The average sales rep only spends 36% of their time selling, with the other 64% being allocated to administrative and service tasks (among other things).

Sales statistics - How reps spend time
Sales statistics – How reps spend time

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If you want to increase your reps’ productivity, you’ve got to get them to shift their focus on selling and spend more time engaging with their leads.

How do you do this?

Simple. Make use of all the technology you have at your fingertips to reduce the amount of time your reps spend on research.

Here’s to skyrocketing the number of leads you get daily… and having your profitability shoot through the roof!

Daniel Stanica

Daniel is the founder of Digital Media Intelligence digital agency. For over 15 years he has helped hundreds of digital businesses to win the digital race through SEO, Marketing Strategy, Competitive Intelligence and Affiliate Marketing.

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