This post is part of an 8-part series on the steps of the sales process.  Click here to see the full series.

Generating Leads – The First Step of the Sales Process

As discussed in the post An Overview of the Steps of the Sales Process that leads off this series, a funnel is a good metaphor for the sales cycle and the sales process that supports it because the funnel  – like the sales process – is typically larger at the beginning than at the end.

Extending this idea into the concept of Generating Leads – this first step of the sales process – it stands to reason that both quantitatively and qualitatively, the number and quality of leads will have a major impact on the results at the end of the process.

  • The more names there are at the top end of the funnel, the more will trickle down to deeper stages of the sales process.
  • The better the quality of those names, the more will trickle down to deeper stages of the sales process.

So the first thing to do to ensure the effectiveness of the sales process – here in the first stage of the sales process – is to:

  • Define the target customer as best we can
  • Find a source of names that syncs up with this definition (i.e. quality) and that supplies a large quantity of these leads on an ongoing basis

How you define the “right” leads will, of course, be specific to whatever it is that you are selling.  The best way of getting a good definition of your target is to combine your own common sense with the experiences that you and others selling your product have had.  If you look at the attributes of who is buying your product now, and who might buy it in the future you can begin to build your target to include things like:

  • Someone who has a current need for your product or service
  • The revenue of a company or income of an individual
  • Location
  • Industry
  • Age, gender, etc. for consumer products
  • Etc.

Sources of leads will vary greatly, but the point is that the source should flow more like a hose than a glass of water.  For example, if you need to do a lot of research to generate each new lead, this will be less efficient than if you have a source of leads that produces new leads on an ongoing basis without much extra work from you, like an advertisement, a social media program, new listings of something like home sales, etc.

The other important thing to consider with respect to your leads is data management.  If you are successful in generating a lot of them, then they will need to be well managed.  Beyond the raw number of leads, they will change status as you work through them.  Called once, called twice, positive response and moved into prospecting system, negative response, etc.  If you don’t have some kind of a system to manage these leads you will quickly lose control of them, and spend too much time trying to stay on top of them.

Please click on the following links for more information about leads, or this link for the full list of topics in this 8-part series on the sales process.



Hi, I’m David Masover. With nearly three decades of B2B sales experience, I work as a private practice Sales Force Development Consultant. I help company leaders understand the root causes of sales issues that keep revenue from growing as fast as it could, and to fix those problems through work with reps, managers, systems, processes, strategies, and tools. You can learn more about me and my work and/or get in touch with me here at my web site or on LinkedIn at