lead generation for small business

Lead Generation For Small Business

Congratulations on starting your business! You deserve a pat on the back, and I mean that very sincerely.

But now the hard work starts.

It’s time to start generating leads in a way that’s repeatable and scalable. To survive as a small business you need to master lead generation. It doesn’t matter if you’re the best consultant, trainer, IT guru, or accountant. You still need clients for your small business to thrive.

Mastering small business lead generation enables your company to live up to its potential. And you can create the quality of life you envision.

Here are 9 principles you need to master to be really effective at small business lead generation.

1. Niche Down

Who would you rather work on your car? A licensed car mechanic, or your neighbour who’s pretty handy with a wrench?

You’re probably going to pick the mechanic.

Now how about a brain operation? Would you prefer an experienced brain surgeon, or a medical student?

I think you get the idea.

People have multiple options for any purchase. But generally speaking, they want to work with specialists that have deep expertise in their area of concern.

Consider a car dealership looking for an SEO expert. There are thousands of SEO companies, world-wide. But only a handful that specialise in boosting traffic to car dealerships. All things being equal, a car dealership will prefer to work with a specialist firm.

So make your business laser focused. Decide exactly who you want to work with. And make a compelling value proposition for that market segment.

Niching down makes it SO much easier to get clients. You’re easier to find. You’re easier to choose. And you have case studies and success stories that support your value proposition.

Choosing to niche down is scary because you’re cutting off all the other opportunities. But your deep focus will make client acquisition 100x easier.

2. Know Thy Client

Small businesses seldom have lead generation problems.

Instead, they have a “know your client” problem.

Your sales targets have problems that they’d love for someone to come along and solve. And if one of your prospects has a problem, others in the same industry probably do, too.

You can save yourself a LOT of time and money just by sitting down with your best clients and finding out more about what’s important to them.

Ask the tough questions. Find out what they like about working with you, and what could have been better.

Dig into their business challenges and ask what keeps them up at night. Then figure out how you can help.

When you provide exactly what your prospects are looking for, lead generation becomes effortless.

3. Be Intentional With Email​

Email technology keeps getting better and better.

But here’s the thing.

For many companies, the ease of cold email has only led to lower response rates.

Cold email is still the #1 best way to meet decision makers. But you’ve got to do it right.

And doing it right includes being hyper-intentional about who you are contacting, and why.

Start by picking your recipients one by one. Actually look at the people you’re contacting. Don’t just build a list automatically and start sending messages. I guarantee some of the people you contact won’t want to hear from you.

Precise targeting means identifying the exact decision makers who best fit your solution use-case. And it’s the only way to be good at email outreach.
Next, customise your messaging so it’s highly personalised, and relevant. Put in the effort! People don’t mind getting email when you’ve done the work!

Done correctly, the high ROI on email outreach makes it the best way to generate small business leads. But you’ve got to be intentional about creating value for your prospects.

4. Use Both Linear & Non-Linear Marketing

Broadly speaking, small business lead generation channels can be divided into two types – linear and non-linear.

To successfully generate a high quantity of small business leads, you’ve got to be really, really good at one of each.

Linear marketing refers to channels that have a predictable outcome for a known quantity of input.

An example of this is paid ads. If it costs $100 in Google Ads to acquire a client, then it’ll probably cost $500 to get 5 clients. The more you spend, the more clients you get.

It’s worth noting that email outreach can also be considered a form of linear marketing. Say you have a 4% contact to conversion rate. If you want to generate 20 leads then you know you’ll need to contact 500 prospects.

Non-linear marketing refers to marketing channels where the relationship between money (or effort) and results are not directly connected.

An example of this is content marketing. When you publish an article, there’s little expectation for an immediate reward. And for many companies content marketing is a big waste of money. Month after month they publish content, but never see any meaningful return on their efforts.

But that all changes if Google decides your blog is authoritative in your niche. A single article can send hundreds, or thousands of qualified buyers to your website.

So get really good at both types of marketing. Linear marketing will help you grow in the short term. And non-linear marketing will help you take your business to the next level when it’s successful.

5. Create Strategic Partnerships

One way to get small business leads with a massive ROI is to create strategic partnerships.

Somewhere, another business is selling to the same target clients as yourself. And they aren’t even your competitors.

Why not partner with them?!

Consider a digital marketing company. They could easily partner with web designers. Once a new website is launched, it needs to be promoted.

Your business probably isn’t much different.

When you find your potential partners, consider how you can work together. And how they will benefit from your relationship. Your proposal should meaningfully impact their bottom line. So it makes sense for them to support you as best they can.

Strategic partnerships work amazing because they don’t cost anything to establish. And you can usually manage multiple partnerships at the same time.

Moreover, partner referrals are usually compensated on the back end. So you know your marketing spend is generating a valuable outcome. For example, you could pay your partner for every introduction they provide.

6. Get On The Map

These days, many services can be delivered anywhere in the world.

But that doesn’t stop companies from looking for local service providers. It’s only natural to want to work with someone who is in the same vicinity as yourself.

That means that people near you are looking for, well, you!

One of the best ways to get small business leads in your area is by dominating Google Maps.

Take a moment and search Google for a service in your area. For example, ‘accountant in {your town or neighbourhood}’. What pops up in the search results? Most of the time it’s a map and 3 local listings.

What would it do for your business if you were the top local result for your industry? I’ll bet you’d generate a ton of leads.

Getting on the ‘Local 3 Pack’ isn’t difficult. Create a verified Google My Business (GMB) listing and make your page as complete as possible. Use your primary keywords (ie your solution) in your title.

After that, ask your clients to leave a positive review on your GMB page. Ideally they’ll use your target keywords in their review.

When Google sees that lots of real people are fans of your company they’ll reward you with better visibility in the local search listings.

That’s it! For just a little bit of effort you can generate leads from anyone in your area looking for your expertise.

7. Ask For Referrals

You know what the difference is between big companies and their smaller competitors?


Big companies typically charge clients a high amount for no other reason than they have to. Their operational expenses are so high they need to charge top dollar to keep the lights on.

High overheads also means they need to generate a LOT of leads. If their sales funnel runs dry then cashflow quickly becomes an urgent issue.

This is both good and bad for you.

The bad news is, large firms tend to bid up the cost of digital advertising in your area.

The good news is that as a smaller firm, you don’t need as many clients to thrive. That means you can grow while doing things that don’t scale.

As a small business, you don’t need 2000 leads a year. You just need to generate consistent, engaged leads. And referrals are the best leads possible.

That’s because they’re the easiest to close. When a trusted friend vouches for the quality of your work it makes the entire sales process much easier.

So do your best to facilitate referrals by reminding your clients of ways they can help you. Most will be happy to give you a hand whenever they are able.

8. Prove It!

One of the best ways to generate small business leads is to prove you can deliver on your promises.

Fortunately there are lots of ways to do exactly that.

Begin by requesting testimonials, and displaying them on your site. If it helps, here’s a handy testimonial template you can borrow.

Next, transform your best results into case studies. Case studies show potential clients how you manage your workflow. And provide insights into how you overcome problems when things don’t go as expected.

Telling people you’ll do great work is way more powerful when past clients agree!

9. Develop An Irresistible Offer

Have you ever visited a website only to be greeted with, ‘Join Our Newsletter’?

Did you do it? I’ll bet you didn’t!

No one wants to join your newsletter. And most of the time they don’t want a free consultation, either.

If you want to generate small business leads you’ve got to develop an irresistible offer that people actually care about.

It could be something as simple as, ‘download our fee schedule’.

Help your sales leads take the next step in solving their problem with the least resistance possible. They’ll thank you for it!

How Do You Generate Small Business Leads?

So how do you generate small business leads?

I’d love to hear what you do differently, and why. You can message me on Linkedin or send a message on our contact page.

Look forward to hearing from you!

Matthew Murray

Matthew Murray

Matthew Murray is the Managing Director of Sales Higher. He knows any company can THRIVE with enough qualified sales leads. So he’s spent the last decade helping companies meet engaged prospects and win new deals.

Share This