BLKNS Academy is now live!
Learn more

How to generate sales leads: A guide for sales managers

Precious Oboidhe
Precious Oboidhe
Reading time:11 m

Picture this: Your company hired you to grow sales by 40% before the end of the year. You’re good at your job, but you’re freaking out because you have a small team that’s ill-equipped to hit their quotas.

Worse, your sales lead generation process is broken. Though the rest of your sales process is solid, it doesn’t deliver because the first stage of the process isn't working.

How do you navigate this chaos? How do you maximize your existing resources and start getting quality sales — rather than marketing — leads? In this article, we’ll dig into different ways of generating sales leads. But first, let's address the elephant in the room.

Why should salespeople hunt their own leads?

In one word: control. 

For most companies today, revenue is rapidly plunging, buyers are not in excellent purchasing mode, and job cuts are rampant. These are evidence of an ailing economy. These also mean you may have fewer leads who will thoroughly evaluate your product or service with a fine-tooth comb before deciding to buy.

Historically, marketers help salespeople to qualify leads using organic and paid marketing channels. But with many marketers losing their jobs, relying on a small or nonexistent marketing team to generate leads is increasingly becoming a gamble.

To stay relevant, you have to get out of your own way and source leads yourself. This puts you in control of your lead qualification process, offers more autonomy over your pipeline, and heightens your sense of ownership over your sales process. 

We’ll discuss six strategies for hunting your own sales leads.

  • Cold calling
  • Cold emailing
  • Social selling
  • LinkedIn outreach
  • Post-sale engagement
  • Sales outsourcing

Before using any sales leads generation strategy

Before diving headfirst into lead generation, your team needs to be clear about your ideal customer. Who should they target? This question appears basic, but not addressing it is why some salespeople shoot for leads and miss by mile.

A classic example is this cold email I got a few days ago.

Bad Sales Pitch Email Example

Looking at the website of the Sales Operations Analyst, I knew there’s zero chance I’d become a customer. Plus, I don't have sales reps — meaning, this email missed the mark completely. If this analyst chases other leads like me, they’d be wasting a lot of time. 

Avoid this by creating an ideal customer profile for your team. Go beyond demographic data and include information about the industry, organizational size, total sales and revenue, location, and growth trends of your ideal customer.

6 strategies for generating sales leads

Now that you’re clear on who your ideal customer is, let's walk through practical ways to generate sales leads without waiting for leads from your marketing team.

1. Cold calling

It's not uncommon to see sales reps who abhor getting leads over the phone. Research says one out of two reps dislike making cold calls because they are intrusive, can be robotic, and have a high chance of generating rejections (which can force a tear).


Here’s the thing though: dislike cold calling or not, it works!

In 2022, I made 2,572 cold calls. Most of them resulted in nothing, but it just takes only a few wins to change your year,”

Jc Pollard, Account Executive at Gong

In 2022, of the $1.4 Million I closed, I self-sourced $1,182,879. Besides other strategies, cold calling helped.


“Many cold calls fail because of poor openers in the first few seconds. For your call to succeed, your opener needs to have swagger and conviction, show you did your research, and ask for permission,” says Pollard.

Such conversations go like this:

Sales rep: “Hey Sales Leader, this is (first name) calling with {company name}. I know I have been chasing/bugging/pursuing you for weeks, but could I briefly explain my persistence?” (Notice the permission upfront).

Sales Leader: “Proceed”

Sales rep: “I listened to a podcast where you mentioned your focus on improving conversion rates. I also noticed you are actively hiring for 4 AEs. Based on that, I thought {your product} would be right up your alley, so I am curious…are you familiar with what we do?” (Solid research will earn you some time)

Sales Leader: “No, never heard of it.”

Sales rep: “How about I give you the high-level rundown of what we do, and if it sounds relevant or interesting, we can set up some time to talk about it more in-depth... or if I miss the mark you can tell me to go kick rocks... fair?” (Notice you are already hinting at the ideal outcome and are constantly gaining permission)

Sales Leader: “That’s fair to me.”

Swagger, conviction, research, and asking for permission are not all that matter. Sales teams can also lean into humor to generate leads. This will make calls less robotic and more personalized. 

For instance, if you’re making calls on Friday, you can use this opener:

“Hey (first name), this is (your name) with (your company). I know the last thing you want to be doing on a lovely Friday is taking a cold call from some pesky SDR at (your company), but can I briefly explain why I’m bugging you?”

💡 Pro tip: If you find that your permission-based openers aren’t working, tweak your cold call script and be laser-brief. A script like this works: “Hey (first name), I know I’m calling out of the blue, so I’d absolutely respect your time and be brief. I’m calling because ...”

2. Cold emailing

Cold email is a staple for generating leads. But it gets effing tiring when salespeople have poor open rates, poor response rates, and a poor follow-up sequence. These poor results directly correlate with the effort put into the message.

As a team, your salespeople must realize that creating an excellent cold email is like sculpting a block of marble. They’d need effort, precision, and patience to come up with a masterpiece.

For instance, when the Belkins team worked with GoHealth Urgent Care, an online health insurance marketplace, we had to craft different cold emails that generated stellar results.

These emails also got an 80% open rate 😮

See one of them:

Subject line: {{Sender’s_Company}} and {{Company}} Partnership

Dear {FirstName},

Are you the appropriate person to discuss employee health at {{Company}}, or should I contact {Referral_Name}?

The anticipated flu/COVID crisis this Winter requires that employers like you support the health of employees, have clear clinical guidance from our medical experts, and keep employee absenteeism and turnover to a minimum.

[HEALTH SYSTEM NAME] - {Sender’s_Company} can be your local clinical partner to ensure immediate access to virtual and in-center care, rapid COVID tests, and guidance for your leadership team on the most challenging healthcare situations you will face this year. We have multiple centers that are less than a 30-minute drive from your office.

Would you care to learn more over a quick chat?

This cold email worked for several reasons. 

  • We personalized the subject line
  • We sent a brief and personalized message
  • The email provided value
  • The email showed the prospect needs minimal input (30-minute drive from your office)
  • The call to action wasn’t pushy

Sending cold emails with these elements will make you win more leads fast. But ensure to prioritize the quality of the emails over the quantity.

If you reach out to over 200 leads per week per sales rep, you’re probably not sending enough quality emails. Reduce your volume to focus on quality over quantity. By Kevin Moenne-Loccoz.


When sending cold emails, we recommend a sequence of three to five emails and a follow up once in two or three working days. If prospects say “no” or don’t respond after exhausting the sequence, put them on a do-not-contact list so they don’t mark your email as spam.

💡 Pro tip: Avoid sending cold emails on weekends. Unless you're emailing B2B executives, weekends are the worst times for sending emails. Plus, warm your email before doing cold outreach so your message doesn’t land in spam folders.

Chart How Emails Tank When Clients Neglect Email Warmup

🎥 Related Video: Why Should You Care About Email Deliverability

3. Social selling

Social selling is the use of your company and employees' social accounts to promote your organization and organically attract leads.

Companies like Chili piper, Gong, Outreach, and many others have been milking this strategy for many moons. According to Chris Walker, CEO of Refine Labs, 84% of his sales pipeline contains leads from social channels like LinkedIn

Attributing leads to channels like LinkedIn can be difficult. That’s why you need a checkbox or text field on contact forms so your leads can state how they found you. For instance, in one of Walker’s deals worth $60,000, Refine Labs knew the lead was from LinkedIn because of a text field on their form.
Generating Sales Lead From Linked In

This makes it easy for Chris to know his posts work. It also makes it easy for you to convince any hesitant higher up that social selling is worth it.

To use this strategy in your organization effectively, consider incentivizing your team and make the social selling program official. That means you should have ground rules, outline the goals of your program and state what your sales team and the company stand to gain. 

Here are some tips for launching a social selling campaign that creates trust and generates leads:

  • Have a strong point of view
  • Occasionally share reviews from happy customers
  • Give your team the leeway to get creative on LinkedIn
  • Ask team members to engage with the posts of their peers
  • Have a content bank that contains ideas about what to post
  • Encourage your founder to become the face of your company on LinkedIn 

Personal brands are more powerful than ever. This is double true for founders and leaders. By Brendan Hufford.


Note: It may take a while to see results from social selling. But when results come, it’s often a consistent downpour of leads.

📚Related Post: How To Effectively Use LinkedIn for B2B Lead Generation

4. LinkedIn outreach

Without almost a billion users, LinkedIn remains the primary channel for salespeople looking to generate their own leads — especially those in the B2B and B2C industries.

Finding your ideal leads on LinkedIn is a piece of cake. Using LinkedIn filters, you can narrow your search to an industry or find relevant decision-makers with particular titles. But, things can get difficult if you lack scripts for messaging these leads. Think of these scripts as a mild version of your cold email templates.

When sending connection requests, you’d need templates that include a brief message explaining why you’re connecting. This lets you quickly build rapport from the get-go.

Our experience in providing LinkedIn marketing services shows that finding common ground between you and your lead is the easiest way to create a resonating connection message. 

  • Do you have the same professional experience or skills as the lead?
  • Did the lead engage with a post you reacted to?
  • Are you in the same LinkedIn group?
  • Are you in the same Slack group?
  • Do you have shared connections?
  • Did you read, watch or listen to the content of the lead?

Info like these help you create excellent LinkedIn connection messages instead of sending an instant pitch that leads will most likely ignore.

Note: LinkedIn InMail lets you send messages with 2000 characters. A connection request message allows 300 characters. LinkedIn Premium eliminates these limitations.

After a lead connects with you, build more rapport and engage with their content before sending messages about your product.

💡 Pro tip: Building rapport is like ‘giving.’ Don’t give once and then ‘ask.’ Give multiple times before asking. When you ask, recognize that your lead may not respond at first. So follow-up.

As Marina Radoveliuk, Account Manager at Belkins puts it, “Not all users are ready to commit to your product upon the first introduction. They need some time to think it over. Timely reminders about your offer will help them finalize the decision and make a purchase.”

Not all users are ready to commit to your product upon the first introduction. They need some time to think it over. Timely reminders about your offer will help them finalize the decision and make a purchase.

📚 Related Post: How to Do LinkedIn Outreach

5. Post-sale engagement

Existing customers are great for lead generation. Since they’ve done business with your company, they are qualified and likely to do more deals. Stay in touch with your customers and create a follow-up schedule to maximize this opportunity.

By building rapport with your customers and avoiding the hard sell, you may find that customers will be more likely to oblige to an upsell or reactivate if they've churned.

Post-sale engagements can also unlock referrals. According to a 2020 Sprout Social report, social media posts of friends influence 71% of U.S. consumers’ purchase decisions. If a post can do a lot, what about a direct referral? Happy customers want happy friends and they’d refer leads to you if you’re genuine, empathic, and helpful. 

When asking for a referral, make it easy for the customer to say yes. For instance, you can search the LinkedIn profile of your happy customers, find leads who fit your Ideal customer profile, and request an intro. This removes friction from the process and gets you closer to winning new leads. 

💡 Pro tip: Post-sale engagement gets better when you set up a solid customer referral program. “Optimize your sales generation effort by implementing a referral program that offers generous rewards. This encourages existing customers to give positive testimonials and bring potential prospects to your business,” says Allan Stolc, Founder of Bankly.

Optimize your sales generation effort by implementing a referral program that offers generous rewards.

6. Sales outsourcing

Outsourcing sales is the delegation of your lead generation activities to an agency

This strategy is great for all businesses, but it's even more important if you have a small sales team, lack the resources and expertise to make your team succeed, or you want your team to focus on nurturing and closing deals.

When looking for a sales outsourcing agency, ensure these checks out:

Agencies with these qualities will prevent you from wasting time, help you focus on nurturing and closing deals, and make you more effective at selling.

I had used 2 other companies previous to using Belkins and didn't see half the success that they did.


📚 Related Post: How To Outsource B2B Sales (+ 5 Best Companies Reviewed) 

Generate quality sales leads faster with Belkins

From cold calling to emailing and social selling, every lead generation process we’ve outlined works for businesses of all sizes. But there’s only so much you can do if you have a small team or lack the resources to execute these brilliant strategies. This is where the Belkins team and our sales development service can come in to help.

Our outbound process is based on knocking on doors and getting attention with the BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, Timeline) sales methodology. First, our SDRs use sales intelligence tools to find data points that prove the authority and need of potential leads. Afterward, our Sales Executives discuss qualifiers like B — budget and T — timeline.

We’ve used this framework to deliver leads for over 1,000 companies and the evidence of its efficacy is many. This framework also has a low customer acquisition cost.

If you’re looking to outsource your lead generation and get the most appointments from a combination of the strategies we’ve discussed, consider outsourcing to a proven agency like Belkins. Contact Belkins today to start building a quality pipeline.

FAQs about finding sales leads

What makes a good sales lead?

Good sales leads are a collection of many data points. A name and phone number don’t cut it. Before checking off a lead as ‘good,’ you want to ensure the lead fits into your demographic, firmographic, and technographic profile.

  • Demographic data: Information like the location, income level, age, sex, race, and level of education of the ideal customer
  • Firmographic data: Information about the industry, organizational size, total sales and revenue, location, and growth trends of your ideal customer
  • Technographic data: Information about the tech stack used by a potential customer

What are the best tools for sales lead generation?

Several tools can help you have a seamless lead generation process. Our posts on B2B sales tools and sales prospecting tools explore these tools in detail.

Subscribe to our blog

Get the ultimate insights on the B2B trends and hands-on tips from sales professionals.

Agree to Privacy Policy by submitting data.
Orange ellipse
Precious Oboidhe
Precious Oboidhe
B2B Content Strategist & Writer
Precious develops content marketing strategies and frequently blogs for the well-known B2B players. HubSpot, CoSchedule, EngageBay, and Foundation Inc. — this is only a small part of the MarTech brands Precious collaborated with.