Jul 13, 2009 at 06:33 PM
written by Jim Loria

Lead Gen: From Sticky Notes to Sales Prospects

Have you ever sat down and thought about how you generate new sales leads? Here are a few of my personal experiences, as a sports team executive, that can be tailored to any rep in the sales business...

  • Invest in your local city newspaper. Browse through articles and advertisements. Great way to pull up new businesses and learn of the top contacts for that company! Every paper will also have a business section or at the very least, dedicate one day each week to discuss the hot business topics in your local market area. You’ll learn who the movers and shakers are, those that received job promotions and the new executives coming to the city. Some communities will actually publish a local Business Journal, which doubles your opportunity to find new leads!

  • Check your local newspaper “Want Ads Sections” and zero in on the company’s that are hiring. What you’re looking for are the Human Resource Directors, Office/General Managers, etc., that get posted. This is a great way to uncover LEADS for your sales staff and introduce your personnel directly to the "decision makers" versus making random cold calls!

  • Look closely in your Business Section of the newspaper for postings of "New Business Licenses" and "Corporate Filings". These are the Businesses getting ready to develop property and open up shop in your city! BE THE FIRST TO KNOCK ON THEIR DOOR!

  • At home or heading to a meeting, take time to surf the radio dials and TV stations. Listen and pay attention to the local ads that are running. If you’re a sports team sales rep, pay closer attention to the AM dials. Same on Cable TV with ESPN. Watch to see which local company’s in your city are buying a specific sports channel!

  • Be aware of the highway billboard displays. These are great prospects to contact for signage sales!

  • Facebook and Linkedin's global networks can help you recruit key decision makers related to your specific product. A great opportunity to get to know your prospect’s background, their likes, philosophy and personal contacts. Every call and appointment you make, ask your contact if they are involved with these Social Media sites and if they would like to network?

  • Catalog what businesses are sponsoring your local high school events, minor pros and big leagues. Regardless of when your team plays (winter or summer), pay attention to those sponsors that are investing in your specific playing time of year. There are corporate partners that buy only certain times a year. Depending on your demographic appeal, don't lose sight of the businesses that support the arts and theatre!

  • Recruit your prospects at your own events. Where I gain my most success is to simply stand out in the front lobby at my arena before every game and reach out and welcome my customers. Those that seem engaging, I’ll ask: "This your first game?" Pending the response, I can go into different conversations. I’ll try to find the customer’s seat location if there appears to be time; if not, I will pass out my business card and collect a name/title/business/phone number, HOW? I carry a pack of Post-It (Sticky) Notes with me at every game. I will have the customer quickly write down those key contact pieces for me. (The "Banana" theory of sales takes over now... which is, you must follow up on these leads within three days before the lead goes rotten!)

  • Stand in at the Portal Areas of the concourse during your actual events. At our hockey games, the fans are held up at the stairways during every stoppage of play by a "stop sign display" from an arena usher. During these moments, I get myself in position to enjoy a "captive audience of fans" and can ask one or two targeted questions to my guests and come away with a terrific batch of sales leads. Each year, my goal is to uncover at least "300" new prospects over the course of a season (10 per game x 30).

  • The easiest tip of them all: Simply ask for REFERRALS after every meeting or conversation you enjoy with a prospect!

    NOTE: Stock your vehicle with some packs of “Post-It Notes” and “Clicky Pens” to jot down your new prospects when moving around your city each day! Do make sure that you cross reference your team’s client list afterwards to make sure these new contacts are OK to pursue!

    Jim Loria has over 30 years of sports management experience and for the past 10 years as served as President of the USHL's Sioux Falls Stampede. Jim can be reached at loria@sfstampede.com. If you are interested in contributing your key learnings, shoot us an email at info@sponsorpitch.com.

    Photo cred: J O I D via Flickr