How to Build Your Own Lead Generation System

One of the essential parts of the work of every business is to build a robust lead generation system that will enable exponential business growth in the long-term run. Without customers, your business can not survive.

Here, I will explain an ultimate guide with all the necessary steps you need to take to develop your own leads generation system.

Why you need a lead generation system?

Generating leads for your business is an activity that you need to perform to attract the customer’s interest and capture enough customer data into your leads database. You can download our leads database template to use for this purpose. One of the biggest problems of entrepreneurs and businesses, especially business startups, is to set up a strong lead generation system that will collect data about potential customers and transform them into buyers.

It’s not only to collect data, but the system will also need to grow the list constantly. So, this is not a one-time task. It is instead an everyday routine for successful businesses.

Purpose of lead generation system

The primary purpose of the lead generation system is to collect contact details from persons interested in your products and services. Also, there can be those that are already your customers, but you want to generate more sales from them. Another thing as the purpose of the lead generation system is to build a relationship with the people on your list. These are critical things for every business.

As you grow your list, you will grow your business. Let’s see what the primary purpose of a lead generation system is:

  1. To find the right persons for collecting required contact details.
  2. To collect required contact details from current and possible potential customers.
  3. To build a strong relationship between those persons and you and your business.
  4. To maximize the possibility for growing the list.

When you want to set up and implement the lead generation system, you must think about these four primary purposes. The cycle cover finding, collecting, building relationship, and growing your list. Because of that, you will have four different questions that you must answer before you start to build the system:

lead generation system

1. Where you can find the right persons for your lead generation system?

The simplest answer is everywhere. But, this depends on the type of business you have for which you want to collect contact details.

The market where your business operates and your entrepreneurial creativity will also impact the answer to this question.

Your potential customers are everywhere around you. When you try to answer this question, you will need to note all possible places where the right persons for your business are. In such a way, you will have a possible list of the places you will include in your lead generation system for your business.

2. How you can collect contact details as a part of your lead generation system?

The second question you need to answer is how to collect the contact details. One simple answer is to ask for them. Yes, you can not expect that you will get something if you don’t ask for that something. It’s simple if you don’t ask, you will not get contact details from a potential customer that you want to be a part of your list.

The asking for contact details will depend on places you already identify with the answers to the previous question. If the collecting place is your store, then you will ask your current customers. If the place is your neighborhood, you will open the yellow pages or local directory, call the persons and ask them to become a part of your list. If that place is the internet, you will use a squeeze or leads page with the primary purpose of capturing contact details. You can also use online social networking to connect with people who can automatically become a part of your list.

3. How you can build a strong relationship with those persons?

The next important question is related to building strong relationships with potential customers. You must have a plan for building such relationships. It is not a simple process where one person becomes part of your leads database and automatically becomes a buyer.

One possible way to build a relationship is to give help for free. Asking a question is an excellent way to start a conversation on online social networks. Sharing valuable information is another way of building a good reputation in a strong relationship.

Simply make a list of possible relationship-building tactics with potential customers from different places. The relationship will be different from different places where you collect the data for potential leads.

4. How you can grow the list?

The last but not the least important question relates to building continuity through growing the list. As you grow the list, your business will grow also.

The purpose of this question is to include the restart point of the whole process again. You will start again with finding the right persons, collecting contact details, and building relationships. About this question, you can read more here in the following parts of this article (How You Can Grow the List).

When you answer these four questions, you will create a plan for building a successful lead generation system. As you can see, this is a never-ending process. When this process end, the growth of the business will also end.

Step 1: Find the Right Persons?

Here we will answer the second question in lead generation system cycles: where you can find the right persons for your business.

Where are your potential leads, and who they are?

The first thing in building a lead generation system is finding where your potential customers are. Better said, you want to find all places where are your ideal customers. Where are located your potential leads? As I said previously, your potential leads are everywhere around you.

You will never know exactly who can be interested in your products or services. Because of that, you must look everywhere around you to discover and attract potential leads for your business.

Before you start to note the possible places where your potential leads are, you must ask yourself what value your business offer and where are the persons who want to buy your products and services. For existing businesses, it is crucial to consider how the current way of doing things related to collecting leads data is.

customers location

What are possible places to take into consideration for lead generation purpose?

First, the places are everywhere where your possible leads are. But, your business doesn’t need to be everywhere. Simply, you don’t want every type of potential customer to become part of your leads database. You want ideal customers to be part of your list.

You can have a very large list of potential customers, but if they don’t buy from your business or they are not interested in your products and services, you will miss the purpose of that list. Your business needs targeted leads.

Targeted leads are persons that probably want to buy your products and services or who have a need or interest in your products and services. They are persons that have some type of problem that your business can solve. Maybe the biggest problem with building your lead generation system is to find the right persons. Because of that, you must brainstorm all possible places where your leads can be.

To Start Building Lead Generation System, Start to Brainstorm Places Where Your Potential Customers Are

The brainstorming process can be divided into two crucial parts: preparation and idea generation part. Let’s start with the preparation first.

Prepare to Brainstorm Possible Places where Your Potential Customers Are

This preparation will ask you to answer some crucial questions about your business. The purpose is to help you in better brainstorming process for the ideas as possible places where your customers are:

What is the type of your business?

This is an important question because, in many cases, the places where you can find potential customers will depend on your business type. You cannot find potential customers on the web forum related to internet marketing if your company is a retail store that doesn’t sell products on the web.

To whom serve your business?

The second question is about the customers that you want your business to serve. If you precisely know your current and potential customers, you will also know where they are.

What type of customers do you want to serve?

The third question is about customers, but this relates to desired customers or customers you want your business to serve. If you want customers who don’t care about prices but only about the quality of products and services, you will target those customers. These customers are in different places and with different habits from customers who care only about price.

What is the type of problems that your business solve?

Where happen the problems that your business solves, there will probably be your potential customers.

Where you will seek a solution to the problem if you have the same problem?

This is the question that will consider your behavior if you have the same or similar problems.

Where are competitors looking for potential customers as a part of their lead generation system? 

A great strategy is to look close to the competitors to find where they generate the leads for their businesses. You can use the same places because they may find the best and most important places in their lead generation system. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. You can copy and paste the success of your current competitors.

How you have found your current customers?

Another possible way is already proven tactics that you have used to find your current customers because you know it already works. Why don’t you improve your current process?

When you note the answers to these questions, you are half to finish possible brainstorming places where your potential customers are.

Start Brainstorming Places

Brainstorming is a technique for generating ideas where it doesn’t matter about the quality of the ideas, but only about the quantity. The more ideas you have, the better the brainstorming session will be. In your case, you want to brainstorm as many as possible ideas to find potential customers for your business. Until now, you have some roadmap from answering the previous questions, and now you can start using this technique.

At first, there can be two possible groups of places that we can use to start our brainstorming session: offline and online places. Online businesses can use some of the offline places, and offline businesses can use some of the online places to generate as much as possible more potential customers for their businesses. Because of that, for every type of business, these two groups of places are proper.

The tool that can help you with this process is some MindMap software. An example of brainstorming of ideas about places is given in the image bellows:

Places Where You Can Find Leads

As you can see, you can use different colors for different types of ideas that can help you improve the brainstorming process. This is only an example. The purpose of this step is to generate as many as more ideas of possible places where you can find potential customers for your business. Don’t think about the quality of the places, only generate ideas about the possible places.

Select the Most Appropriate Places for Your Lead Generation Strategy

When you already have all of the brainstormed ideas on the paper or in the MindMap software, the next step is to choose what will be most appropriate for your business. You cannot be at all places simultaneously, but you must be present at the most important places for your potential customers that will give you the best results.

Your purpose is to find targeted leads that you can quickly transform into your customers. It is better to choose only 20% of brainstormed ideas and receive 80% of quality leads than to put your efforts in all places. In such a way, you will not be focused on real targeted leads. This is the 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto Principle.

Evaluate Brainstormed Places

In this step, you need to evaluate all brainstormed places using three critical criteria:

  • The potential of the chosen place to generate leads.
  • The number of potential leads that will be generated.
  • The quality of the possible leads that will be generated.

You can use the same MindMap to note your thinking with different marks on it. Now your mind map will look like the following:

Selection of Places

As you have the places you can use for your lead generation system, you can move on to another step in building your lead generation system. The next step is how to find possible ways to collect contact details.

Step 2: How You Can Collect Contact Details?

Here we will answer the third question in lead generation system cycles: collecting contact details for your leads database.

Now when you have your list of possible places where are your ideal customers, you can start thinking about the attack strategies of these places.

You must know that you want to attack and attract more potential customers as possible leads for your business. Because of that, you need to build an attracting and attacking strategy carefully. You will have rivals. They are your competitors who will fight with you for the attraction of the same customers. This is similar to a war between businesses when it comes to attracting new customers.

But, until now, you have several things that you already know:

  • You want to target leads that will have the biggest probability to convert into customers.
  • You know your strategic places where you want to attract those leads.
  • And you want to define your next activities to attract those leads.

Mapping out the path you will need to follow

The next thing that you must perform in building your lead generation system is to map out your path to collect contact details from persons that will become your customers in the future. In this step, you will continue with your MindMap file, where you have previously brainstormed all possible places.

Start to brainstorm possible ways how you can collect contact details from potential customers from each place. All of this will be included in the final strategy that you will use to increase the size of your leads database continually.

One simple principle that you must remember is that the more you ask for contact details, the more leads you will generate. I have already noted that if you don’t ask for contact details, one thing is sure, you will not get contact details.

Another important factor when you build your lead generation system is the conversion rate of your asking for contact details.

Conversion Rate of Asking Potential Leads to Become Real Leads

The conversion rate of asking is the percentage of persons asked for contact details and give you contact details or will respond positively. For example, if you ask 100 persons to give you contact details for future cooperation, and you get 20 contact details, the conversion rate of asking is 20%.

Another example is your website. If you have 1000 unique visitors daily and 100 of them opt-in for your newsletter or whatever you offer, the conversion rate of asking is 10%.

This is a crucial measurement rate of your success.

You need to keep in mind that this conversion rate will be higher if you have successfully chosen your places with potential targeted customers.

Another critical element that can influence your conversion rate is how you ask for contact details and what benefit you offer to your potential customers. The benefit, in this case, answers the question: what they will get from you if they give you the requested contact details. Before they give you contact details, all potential leads will ask themselves one simple but essential question: “What’s In It For Me” (WIIFM).

lead generation example

Different places that you choose to use will have a different conversion rate of asking. Because of that, you need to measure these numbers to see what places give you the best results and what can be excluded in the future. In such a way, you will enter in one never-ending circle of continuous improvement of your lead generation system.

Now before we start with brainstorming, let’s summarize the most critical elements:

  • First, you must attack the places with only targeted potential customers. You have already done this.
  • Second, you must always think about the possible improvements of the way how you ask for contact details to increase the conversion rate of asking.
  • Third, you must measure our conversion rate.
conversion rate lead generation

Brainstorm Possible Ways to Collect Potential Customer’s Contact Details

The purpose of this step in our lead generation system is to find as many ways to collect contact details. Don’t think about the quality of the asking or connecting type. Only think of all possible methods that can be employed to generate leads for your business. We can use the same file from the previous steps for brainstorming purposes, but only for places marked as chosen to use for lead generation purposes.

After brainstorming, you will have something like this:

Lead Generation - How

Now you have brainstormed all possible ways to ask for contact details, and you can start with choosing the best ways.

Choose the Best Ways to Ask for Contact Details in Your Lead Generation System

When you have brainstormed all possible ways, you can analyze them and choose the best one that you will include in your lead generation strategy. It is also essential to consider the 80/20 rule, which means choosing 20% of brainstormed ways that will bring 80% positive responses about contact details.

Some of the places will have only one way, and you will use that way. But, some of the places will have more than one way brainstormed, and you can choose several ways that will bring the best results.

There are two most essential elements to consider for this purpose:

  • What will be the conversation rate?
  • Can you automate the process?

Conduct some research about the conversion rate of each of the ways you have brainstormed and see if there are some possibilities about the automation of the process. The results must be the 20% of the ways that will have an 80% conversion rate and 20% of ways that will give you an 80% automated process. You cannot automate some of the ways, but you will not use them every day. You can mark all chosen ways with the Free Mind app to know what will and will not be used in the future.

Until now, you finished with the planning level of building a lead generation system with the whole process. You know where you will find targeted leads, and you choose the strategies for collecting contact details. Now you can start with real work to build a relationship that will convert leads into customers and grow your leads database.

Step 3: How to Build a Relationship With Your New Leads?

Until now, you have already chosen places for potential targeted customers, and you have already created a strategy that answers how to ask potential customers for contact details. You need contact details if you want them to become a part of your leads database.

But, your work doesn’t end here. First, it is not vital to have a big fat leads database if the persons from that list don’t start buying from your business. Some will never start with buying, but they are on your list, and it is your challenge to find ways to convert them into buyers. Some of them will start buying earlier and some later. But, it is another topic. Now we need to focus on building a lead generation system.

Now you’ve got your leads, having their contact details in your database. But, the next question is what you need to do with this data.

Let’s see.

How you can build a relationship with your potential customers as a part of your lead generation system?

The significant part of your job is to connect with the persons, and you made the first step by putting them into your database with their contact details. Now you can contact them, but it is not appropriate for you to immediately try to sell to them. It is more important to build quality relationships with them.

If you want to build a quality customer base from your leads database, it is better to build a relationship first. So, in such a way, you can build trust for your business. Trust will be the most critical competitive advantage.

When you build a good relationship, you can build trust. With trust in your business, it is more simple for your potential customer to become your customers. But, how can you build great relationships with your potential customers? We will move step by step in this case. Let’s start with the real meaning of relationship because if you know what relationship means, you will know what you need to do next.

What is a relationship?

A relationship is a connection between two or more individuals or businesses. People in relationships share different things with each other. In a relationship, there are three essential activities between people:

  • People share different things,
  • They have a strong influence on each other and
  • They help each other.

We have a relationship when two or more persons are connected and share different things, influence each other, and help each other. We have a strong relationship when persons that have a relationship have trust and respect for each other.

How You Can Build Relationship?

Building a relationship is not a simple process. As I mentioned previously, it is not a simple journey from A to B. Between A and B are trust and respect.

You can have a relationship, but if it is poor, you cannot have a great conversion rate in transferring potential customers into the customers. But, we always start at A – poor relationship. And A is better than nothing.

That journey is different for all previously chosen places and potential targeted customers. Some methods work for one and don’t work for another. Because of that, you cannot make a template that will successfully build strong relationships with all places and target customers.

As we say between A and B, there is trust and respect. If you succeed in building mutual trust and respect inside your potential customers, that means they will trust you, respect you. If they trust you and respect you, you have a strong relationship, and in such a case, it is easier to convert them into your customers.

In Oxford Dictionary, trust is defined as:

The belief or willingness to believe that one can rely on the goodness, strength, ability, etc.

In the same dictionary, respect is defined as:

To admire or have a high opinion of something because of the strength of that something.

As we can see from the definitions of trust and respect, you must build your reputation as a good, strong, and capable in your working area and broader. When your potential customers can recognize you as someone like that, they will trust you and will respect you.

leads relationship

One of the basic rules or activities in building a relationship with your potential customers are follows:

  • Ask questions.
  • Answer to their questions.
  • Give them free stuff.
  • Help them if they ask for help.
  • Share important information with them.
  • Share your business achievements.
  • Share industry news.
  • Share funny jokes.
  • Invite them to different events.
  • Talk with them.

Building a relationship and something important, maintaining a relationship is not the process that starts and ends at some point in business life. Instead, it is a continuous process that never ends.

Step 4: How You Can Grow the List?

Here we will answer the fifth and the last question in lead generation system cycles: how to grow your list with potential customers.

So, we come to the last part of the lead generation system. This part is about growing the list. Until now, you have found the right persons that mean targeted customers for your list. Also, you develop and implement a strategy to collect contact details that simply means asking for contact details and start building relationships with persons that become part of your targeted leads database.

But, the process of a lead generation system doesn’t end here. As we have mentioned earlier, the whole system must have continuity. Continuity means that we must continue with all the previous steps for finding, asking, and building relationships.

lead generation system

What means growing the list?

Growing the list is an essential part of this system because growing the potential customers on your list will grow the sales. With sales growth, you will grow your business. Growing the list will bring an always fresh breath into your business. You will also grow the business potential energy of our business.

sales vs number of leads

Because of that, it is essential to continue collecting contact details from fresh potential customers for your company. Nothing is perfect. You will lose some of your current leads in the process of building relationships. Simply some of them will not want to have a strong relationship with you or your company. But, it doesn’t matter. Let them go away. If they don’t want to be connected with you, they probably are not targeted leads for your business. But, using this system, you will always have more potential customers on your list, even you lose some percent of them.

As I mentioned previously, your potential customer can increase your business’ potential energy. But, as you probably know, you need to transform that potential energy into kinetic energy that means more sales for your business. You can implement a successful transformation process if you have already built a strong relationship. Because of that, you don’t want to have leads that will be calculated as something with a significant business potential energy when the reality is different.

With a good website, blog, and opt-in list, the probability of collecting a targeted list is bigger. It is the case because the type of collecting contact details is permission-based. We don’t call them. We don’t press them to make something. They, on their own desire, have opted-in to your list.

You will have a good base for targeted leads with well-chosen social media for networking and an excellent social media strategy.

Why do I talk about this when I already talk in the previous parts of this series? Because if you choose highly targeted leads to become a part of our list, and you build a good reputation based upon trust and respect, then your current list will be a promoter of your business and will spread good words about you.

Factors That Influence List Growing in Your Lead Generation System

I will abstract three factors that have the most crucial influence on growing your list with potential customers:

1. Finding New Leads

The first is finding new potential leads. In this lead generation system, your task will always be to find new potential customers that will become part of your leads database. Here are four elements that are important for this purpose:

  • Always come back to the different places that you choose to find new, fresh potential customers for your business. If it is seminars, conferences or trade shows always come back from time to time to collect new contact details.
  • Always work to improve chosen places. This improvement means to exclude the places that don’t give you the results you want to give you, and to include new places that will improve the results from the whole process.
  • Always improve your asking system to increase the conversion rate of asking. The main purpose of this improvement is to increase the conversion rate of asking. This means that you will get more contact details with less asking attempts.
  • Use the viral elements to grow the list. With viral elements your leads database will grow with the exponential speed. With your website and the blog this is very simple. But, entrepreneurs are always creative and find and include viral elements at offline places for growing their list.

2. Retain Your Current Leads

How can you retain your current leads to stay in your database? When they are on your list, you can try to convert them into customers. If they are satisfied as a part of your system, they can bring new leads. As most essential elements in this area are the following:

How you are welcoming new leads?

The welcome message represents the first impression about you and your business. Because of that, the first impression with the welcome message is a crucial element to make them happy to stay as long as possible on your list as the potential customers until they are converted into buyers. If they recognize something like a wrong impression from you, they will leave you before you even start to build a relationship.

What’s in it for me?

As always, what they will get as a part of your list. What are the benefits they will get from you if they stay on your list? These are essential questions. Do they get discount coupons, some free stuff, or the possibility of being the first to try the new products?

How you will manage the relationship with them?

Managing a relationship is all about building trust and respect in their eyes. With a strong relationship, they will stay as long as possible on your list.

what customers think

3. Ability to Manage and Grow

The next important factor is the ability to manage your current list and at the same time to grow the list. Sometimes while you grow the list, you can forget your current potential customers in your current list. In such a way growing the list with new leads will bring losing some of your current leads.

Because of that, you must keep your focus on two tasks simultaneously. With these two processes, the list will be growing at exponential rates.

Dragan Sutevski

Posted by Dragan Sutevski

Dragan Sutevski is a founder and CEO of Sutevski Consulting, creating business excellence through innovative thinking. Get more from Dragan on Twitter. Contact Dragan