We have all heard of salesgenie.com and various other lead sources out there, right? Odds are you could open up your spam filter and see several hundred emails with new lead sources for you to try... goodness knows mine could be. Every time i see one of those i laugh because almost all of them are just giving you tools to work with the free information that is available online or at city halls/county courthouses. All you have to do is ask for it.
This article is about active lead acquisition... if you are wanting leads to come to you, then you need to look into search engine optimization, social media management, and a good quality responsive website. Y'know, the obvious ways of getting your and your company's name out there - just not the yellow pages or print ads... talk about throwing good money after bad.
So here is a list of some of the excellent sources for new business leads (in Texas at least) that i have found over the years:
- Texas State sales tax permits
this is a weekly list that is published by the Texas state comptroller's office. You download it as a CSV file then open it in your spreadsheet program. It is substantial because there are a lot of permits issued each week. You can download the last four reports at any time by clicking the link above. Make sure you download the layout file they have linked just above the list to see what each column has data for. It includes the company name, the location, and what kind of business it is... it even has the owner's name and phone number on it!
- Certificate of occupancy lists:
Any time a commercial property is occupied, the business that is moving in has to register for a certificate of occupancy or CO. Each city has its own way of doing things, but typically a city will publish this list on a regular basis as a matter of public record. Sometimes you have to go to city hall or the code enforcement/zoning office, but many times they publish it online. Many cities are working with an online source that can even email the list to you as it is added. Click this link to see if any municipalities in your area are using it, then sign up! Here are a few that i know about in addition to the one before:
- Arlington TX: you can search the entire database
- Grand prairie TX: another full database that is searchable
- Dallas TX: goes all the way back to 2005 currently
- Fort Worth TX: weekly or monthly for the past year
- Coppell TX: monthly going back to 2011 currently
- Your Local Library:
I know this sounds very oldschool coming from us, but it is true, they have all kinds of reference materials that you can use to find leads. For instance a Coles Directory is probably there for you to use... free of charge! Here is a great article on just this subject from sales.about.com
- Your big mouth:
Yeah, that's right... speaking of old school, the oldest and most time tested way of getting leads is you. Any time you are out and about put one of your business cards in businesses you visit. Put one in the hand of every person you meet. When i was in car sales, a trainer told me to simply stand in front of the gas station and hand my card out to people as they go in and out... dont ask them anything, just hand them your card. Every day we miss hundreds of potential leads because we dont talk about what we do to everyone we meet.
Remember it all boils down to numbers, you have to talk to X number of people before you get a lead, you have to speak to X number of leads before you set an appointment, and you have to run X number of appointments before you get a sale. Figure out what those numbers are and you are half way to whatever goal you set for yourself.
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