A Four-Step Guide to Generating
Sales Leads from Your Blog

Dean: Did you know you can use your blog to make money offline?

Blogger: Offline? What is this “offline” you speak of?

Dean: It’s the opposite of “online.”

Blogger: (confused silence)

Dean: You know. Offline. Not on the internet. The real world.

Blogger: (shaking phone) Not only does this stupid phone drop my calls, now it’s translating them into crazy moon language.

Okay, I jest. But to listen to some bloggers, you would think a blog’s only purpose is to make money online, by selling ebooks, membership sites, or advertising.

The truth is, blogs have grown into a more powerful tool than anyone ever imagined. They’re ideal for making money online, of course. But they can also be used to generate profits for nearly any kind of business, including those that provide real services in the offline world.

This often means generating sales leads for a service or consulting business. This is how I use my copywriting business blog, which accounts for most of the new clients who call me these days.

Okay, sounds great. People read your blog and then call to hire you, right?

Well, not quite.

Are you selling a product or a service?

First, it’s important to understand that selling a service is not like selling a product.

When you sell a product, the process is usually pretty straightforward. Basically, you introduce the product, spell out some benefits, make an offer, and people make a buying decision.

Selling a service can be a little more involved.

Prospects first inquire about the service, usually comparing you with other providers. If the service is expensive, like my copywriting and marketing consulting, people are even more careful about their decision.

I’ve had clients take years to finally made the decision to hire me. And it’s common for people to start a phone call by saying, “I’ve been reading your blog for quite a while now. Do you have a moment to talk about a copywriting project?”

This shouldn’t surprise you. The more expensive the service, the more important it is, and the more commitment it requires from the customer, the more careful that customer is going to be.

Think about it. If you need your bathroom painted, you might spend an afternoon looking for a decent painter. If you need to build an extension onto your house, you might spend weeks or even months finding the perfect contractor for the job.

So if you provide a service, such as freelance writing, graphic design, web consulting, wedding photography, event planning, translation, or whatever, you can use your blog to attract prospects and begin the process of selling them on your services.

Here’s how.

Create your sales funnel

Professional sales people often talk about filling their “sales funnel” or “sales pipeline.”

What they mean is that in order to make a sale sometime in the future, they want people to inquire today. They always want to have lots of people who are in various stages of readiness to buy.

To keep things simple, I like to think of the sales funnel as having just 4 simple steps.

1. Generate inquiries

This means getting people to contact you. Typically this is done by offering something of value in exchange for contact information.

For my business, I offer a free newsletter. If people go to my main website, I also offer a free white paper. In both cases, they have to give me some contact information before they get the freebie. I also provide a contact form and phone number for “hot” leads who are ready to talk business.

I get many inquiries every week. Most can’t afford my services. But a few are high quality and good candidates for future business.

2. Follow up

After you’ve delivered the freebie or provided whatever information you have promised, it’s time to schedule your follow-up, usually either by email or phone.

Because you are responding to someone’s inquiry, it’s not a cold call. You have a valid reason for making contact and have an opportunity to gauge how serious the person is. Are they just gathering information? Do they need your services immediately? Or are they somewhere in between?

The most serious are your sales leads. Everyone else is a prospect. You will want to spend more time on sales leads than prospects.

3. Nurture leads

This is the step most people are tempted to skip.

Like every other person selling a service, you want to make a sale right away. But while a few people will hire you immediately, most will not. Their interest needs to be nurtured until they’re ready to buy.

You should store all contact information in a database, which could be a simple customer relationship management system like Highrise or a desktop-based program such as ACT!.

Find ways to regularly communicate with your leads. Over time, they will become more familiar with you and more comfortable with the idea of hiring you. People always prefer the familiar over the unknown.

There are many ways to nurture leads. You can send news or information they might be interested in, make additional offers for low-cost or introductory services, connect with them socially, and even seek their advice from time to time.

4. Close sales

This step is self-explanatory. A potential customer needs your service. You provide a quote or estimate, answer questions, overcome objections, and eventually close the sale.

This is your end game, the goal of your efforts. And if you’ve set up a good lead generation system and kept your sales funnel consistently full, it will actually be the easiest step in the process.

Easy ways to generate inquiries from your blog

The hardest part about generating sales leads is getting people to contact you in the first place. If you’re just starting out and no one knows who you are, this may seem impossible.

As a blogger, you may know a variety of ways to promote your blog. Obviously, the more blog traffic you get, the easier it will be to generate leads. But you don’t need a ton of traffic to make it work.

According to Alexa, my business blog is ranked at around 100,000 or so. That’s not bad, but it’s nowhere near superstar blogs such as Copyblogger. However, I get enough of the right kind of people reading it to generate a steady stream of inquiries for my services.

So don’t worry about becoming a top-ranked blog. To successfully sell your services, you just need regular inquiries from the right kind of people. The more specialized you are, and the more targeted your blog posts, the more likely this will happen.

Of course, bringing people to your blog is one thing. Generating inquiries is another. Here are some simple things you can do to make those inquiries happen.

Contact Form — If you have a blog, you almost certainly have a contact form. However, the standard contact form is not enough. You should modify your form to match the service you sell. Take a look at the highly specialized form I use.

E-Newsletter — This is an easy way to stay in touch with many people and provide great value while you’re at it. Since I specialize in copywriting for direct mail and direct marketing, my newsletter features articles and information on the subject. I have several thousand subscribers and about half of my new clients say they became pre-sold on my abilities by subscribing.

Free White Paper — While a newsletter requires an ongoing commitment, a white paper is a one-time effort. Write it, post a contact/request form, and send a link to the PDF when requests come in. You could also automate the process with an auto responder, but I like to fulfill these requests personally so I can watch for hot leads from companies I want to work with. My white paper on improving direct mail response generates many requests every week.

Information Kit — If you’ve built a blog or site around your services, you should provide plenty of information online. However, you can offer pricing, forms, a client list, and other information in the form of a downloadable PDF. Remember, when someone requests information, it gives you the opportunity to capture contact information.

Webinars — These days it’s fairly simple to put together a webinar using services such as GoToWebinar. You can also create non-interactive presentations with software like PowerPoint or OpenOffice. The idea is to provide something of value that enables you to collect contact information.

Videos — Using software and hardware built into many computers, you can create simple, informative videos. They don’t have to be fancy. Just look into the camera and talk. Or edit together simple footage demonstrating your work or how you solved a problem. Video can also be a helpful tool to encourage people to sign up for your newsletter, webinar, or other information.

Pay Per Click — If you write and promote a good blog, you’re probably getting a fair amount of natural traffic. But pay-per-click ads can give you a boost for people looking for your particular services. Your results will vary depending on the level of competition and amount you’re willing to spend, but it’s worth a test.

Just remember: Your blog is a means to an end. If you use your blog to attract the right kind of traffic, and follow the advice above to generate sales leads, you should see a dramatic increase in your business.

About the Author: Dean Rieck is one of America’s most in-demand direct marketing copywriters who shares his writing and freelancing know-how at Pro Copy Tips.

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Comments

  1. Thanks for laying this out so simply. The industry in which I work is still very solidified in the “It’s who you know”/face-to-face way of networking. Generating inquiries still happens the “old-fashioned” way, but I’ve found that using my website/blog for steps 2-4 really sets us apart.

    By having the content available, I can discuss their immediate need on the phone/in person, then follow up with links to other services they might find useful. It’s a great way to cross-sell/up-sell by simply educating them. And when they see the value of the info on our site, they are much more inclined to share/follow up on their own to become a lead.

    • Educating seems to be the way to go. I’ve found it works best for those who remember to make it from the viewpoint of the customer – as in, what a freelancer can do for them. Do you have a high success rate of upselling or cross-selling?

  2. Dean,

    What I got out of this, is that you dont need to get hordes of traffic to get high ticket sales…

    That’s a relief.. Thanks for the simple 4 step process..

    Talk soon
    Hector

  3. “To successfully sell your services, you just need regular inquiries from the right kind of people”

    This sooo true in any kind of business. As online folks, we tend to get so caught up in our stats and not WHO those stats are.

    You can be a small fry and make $3000 with a list of 5 people and you can make $5 with a list of 3000 people.

    Finding the people who need AND want you is crucial to real success.

  4. Hey Dean,

    You put together a nice clean and precise way to use a sales funnel for a traditional business. A lot of individuals are going to be able to breathe again since you put this simple process. Thank you!

    Chat with you later…
    Josh

  5. Great point! Funny how we get all wrapped up in our own little perspective. I was putting together a teleseminar for moms, and I totally missed out on promoting it to parents at my kids’ schools. I kicked myself afterward — duh! Perfect, targeted audience. Plus they know me so hopefully the trust factor would have been stronger!
    Thanks for the reminder.

    • I was thinking the exact same thing as I was reading. I KNOW what Dean’s saying is true, it’s even advice I’ve given other freelancers and even clients in the past, but more than once I’ve found myself completely overlooking the obvious offline connection I should have exploited!
      Ugh! Perfection is tough to maintain…

  6. Webinars the things I am yet to try.
    Hope I will get some idea soon.

    However, great article :-)

  7. Thanks Dean,

    The part that used to scare me, was the objections – then I found that once I understood the client, I could ask questions about those objections and get back into the flow. I enjoy working the puzzle.

    I have just started a blog as a Business Coach and my own experiences on the front line are so helpful along with your blogging info. Really- really appreciate your info. Thank you! :0)

  8. As someone just starting out in the social media writing business, I really appreciate this post. It has tons of good information I can apply to growing my business and finding clients. Thanks for the help!

  9. THe Lovely thing about this is that you don’t even need much traffic. You can earn 6 figures with an alexa rank of 11,000,000,000 or whatever. You just need to connect with and help out people.

    • Totally agree, Chris. People get very intimidated by “big blogs,” but you can make a great living from quite a small blog, if it’s got the right readers.

  10. This is awesome post again.This point will really going to help me a lot.

    Thanks For Sharing Them
    -Abhishek

  11. Thanks Dean.

    As an offline/online business owner it’s easy to get trapped in one environment or the other.

    But the majority of people still spend a lot more time offline than online. They want the connection, the phone call… and… so I’ve heard… some still use the fax machine. (Not making that up!)

    Our blogs are the perfect tool to showcase our services without looking like a sales sites. Blogs help customers decide to buy more easily. They learn the ton and style and decide that they like you before knowing what’s being offered.

    But like you say. That doesn’t amount to much if our follow-up system isn’t in place.

    Success is NOT an Accident,
    Paul

  12. This is a great post. I really like the part about nurturing contacts. My business model is still in the planning stage, but I had the thought recently to nurture contacts. The thought was to interview small business owners that I’m interested in doing business with first instead of offering them a service first. After this, the business owners may be more interested in checking out what services I offer and be more likely to recommend them to other business owners. Does anyone have any experience with this type of relationship nurturing? I’d love to hear about it.

    p.s. I highly recommend checking out Dean’s blog. He’s got a lot of great content.

  13. I couldn’t agree more with Step #3. The best way to create consistent, scalable means of producing sales is to keep someone interested, interested (if that makes sense). The problem is soooo many people skip this step because “they have more important things to do.”

    Many leads aren’t going to buy now–but any expression of interest is an opportunity to continue building trust and engagement, and “dropping a lead” because they’re not ready to hand over their credit card on first impulse is a mistake a lot of people make.

    There’s tons of software available too that can help with this, a lot of it free.

  14. @Joseph: Thanks for the blog mention. Your interview suggestion is interesting. I read a book many years ago explaining the concept of “consultative selling.” It changed everything. It’s really about approaching the sales process as a way to help people rather than just sell something to them. So I think your interview idea would dovetail nicely with that.

    Also, you can make contact with people by asking for their professional advice. It’s flattering and gets people to notice you.

  15. Very clever and funny opening dialogue. Loved it!

  16. Andy Richards :

    Very informative. It seems that nearly everyone with a laptop and an idea has a blog these days. But it does take some specific skills in order to get others to buy into your idea no matter how good it is. Thanks for the step by step for some of us who do not know much about sales.

  17. The truth is that there are too many bloggers out there looking for that proverbial quick buck… one that they will never find. Due to that, there is a lot of junk out there. Follow Dean’s advice and people won’t think you are selling that same, over-hyped junk.

    I think that your method of lead generation is right-on. Pretty standard stuff for people that are already in the business of making money, but I’d like to emphasize your point about the importance of an information kit (something I am currently working on myself).

    Your potential customers want to do as much research about you as possible before pulling the trigger. If you can hand them EVERYTHING that you are about in a media packet etc. Then all you have to do is close with the occasional phone call (if you own a service business).

    The more samples and credibility-builders you can show, the better.

    -Joshua Black
    The Underdog Millionaire

  18. Great post, Dean.

    This stuff does work, it just takes some time and consistency.

  19. Great post Dean! I enjoyed reading your post. This is one of the very few posts that have captured the whole essence of lead generation that works! I agree with you how important it is to nurture leads.

    Thanks,
    Laura

  20. Great idea Dean. Most of the people forget some of the main point that you have highlighted here. (and not the mention the some people is “including me”)

    I think besides video, there is another way to generate inquiries which is through podcasting.

    Just my 2 cents, but great post you have there Dean.

  21. I’ve got to say that I do love the way that you guys present your posts. This is another catchy one with great content.

  22. G’Day Dean,

    May I say, in my best “Laugh In” voice…. “very interesting.” In particular, I liked your approach to the customer contact form as this is something I need to improve.

    Brian and Sonia, you really do continue to provide outstanding stuff. Just when I think I’m starting to get a handle on something, you introduce an excellent post such as Dean’s.

    As the great John Wooden said, “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.”

    Make sure you have fun,

    Regards

    Leon

  23. It is all true but so-o-o hard to follow at times

  24. Have you ever used lead generation and resale networks, like LeadPoint.com, DoublePositive.com, LeadSubmission.com, etc.?

    Would you recommend to other bloggers?

  25. I had someone ask me about the difference between selling a product and selling a service just the other day. I gave them an answer … but nothing like this!

    Now I know where to send them to show them how to make the most of both. Thanks, Dean: great stuff as always!

  26. Ahh the information kit. Forgot about that one!

    As a freelance writer, an information kit gives you that extra space to sell yourself to potential clients. Writing samples might not tell the full story of why to choose you.

    Thanks for reminding me!

  27. I am busy implementing this system and I’m having fun doing it. One day I will work and hour or two a day and get income from that passively. I guess the key is in building and implementing the systems first.

  28. Really nice piece. The points which you have high lighted would definitely help webmasters to drive huge traffic to their website.

  29. Dean, really love the post. I hope you submit another however, that talks specifically about blog posts and quality/lead generation numbers.

    I realize it’s different for everyone. But I feel like many company blogs especially struggle with trying to figure out how much work they should put in for X results.

    Thanks,
    Patrick

  30. Thanks Dean for clarifying this difference. I’m thinking of taking Dave Navarro’s class to help me walk through the process. I will try some of the methods you listed here to start.

    My blog is listed at a 600,000 rank. So, I suppose I can use all the information I can get on this topic to specialize and find the right market. :)

  31. I think you pretty much nailed the process. I have been trying to use my blog and web presence to nurture my consulting brand and have found quite a bit of success. I just wish I was better at the web stuff so that I could be more efficient with with it. Great guest post!

  32. Good point about nurturing leads. This is more often than not, a step professionals tend to rush through. Always allow your client to familiarize themselves with you!

  33. This was a great article. It provided sound information that I can use t help my business to grow. Thanks for taking time to offer such great advice.

  34. That is one thing I have always thought about. Blogs are a great way to connect with many different people, from all walks of life (possibly). You have so many potential clients for another business. Blogs are a great way to help you grow your other businesses if you have one. Of course, you need a post like this to work out some of the details. :)

  35. Most of the time, blogs do not make enough income for pro blogger! Using ideas on off line, online combination has worked for me, but I am still trying to find tweaks so it can work better. It is all about experimenting and changing with time. Thanks, this was very useful.

  36. Thanks for the post. Since starting our blog, Google’s been kinder to us. I also find that it’s been helpful when trying to build our brand and reputation; we’ve had more positive feedback from clients. You are right, selling services are completely different, especially B2B services, and I think ongoing efforts to build a reputable brand are vital in this case. A targeted blog certainly helps.

  37. Hi Dean,

    I really like the way you laid out this post — brief and simple, yet plenty of valuable information that can be immediately put to use! I’ve been blogging for quite sometime now and still, there’s so much to learn!

    I think nurturing leads is very important. It can be easy to get carried away with making a sale. Getting someone’s attention and interest is just the beginning. Nurturing them to actually get them to say YES and buy is perhaps the biggest challenge of all! Thanks for these great tips!

  38. Thanks for the tips, these are indeed great quick fixes that are fairly easy to execute and remember. I see a lot of people talking about how to optimize their MLM sites and blogs for inquiries and possible sales of course, and that’s great, you definitely should be doing that, but don’t stop there. If you stop there, you’re not letting your site live up to it’s potential. Find relevant topics, socialize with your readers…these are just some of the things we should do as well.

  39. I completly agree. Now my sales page could/will be more profitable.
    Thanks! I’ll keep reading all of your posts.
    Bye!

  40. Get tips. I think the most important one is following-up. I like to add all leads to our client newsletter. I’ve landed 3 clients doing just this… one of them took over a year! But, all of them enjoyed getting updates (one form of a folow-up). Thanks!

  41. hey Dean,

    thanks for this great post..now m bit relaxed that you don’t need lengthy post to increase traffic..small blogs can too do this…

  42. “The hardest part about generating sales leads is getting people to contact you in the first place.” Yes, it is hard; and frustrating at times. I think targeting the right client base helps as you’re specifically calling out to people who are genuinely looking at services that you offer.

  43. Ok, so you get the leads, but the most important thing in creating business for yourself is the follow up. You can’t assume that because of your increased visibility, sales are a given, you have to follow up on leads, show people that you actually care that they have inquired.

  44. Nice post here. I am getting more and more excited to focus on building subscribers than getting more hits.

    Thank you.

    jef menguin
    inspirational speaker, Philippines

  45. For me, offline sales have always been difficult. Which is why internet marketing devoted to online sales works better for me. That said, I also run a service based business through a website (where customers come to me via email or phone direct), but the info you’ve provided here has given me a lot to think about in terms of capturing and going after qualified leads.

  46. Excellent information.

    Thank you.

  47. Nice blog. People shouldn’t overlook contacting existing customers as a source of sales leads. Also be aware that you are in control of the opinion that people have of you and your business.

  48. Thanks for making your guide easy to follow and full of great tips! I especially liked the point about attracting the right kind of traffic to your blog. Just because traffic is being driven to your page, does not necessarily mean it will help you meet yours intended goals.

  49. What I got out of this, is that you don’t need to get hordes of traffic to get high ticket sales and also be aware that you are in control of the opinion that people have of you and your business.

  50. Great stuff here Dean. Thanks for taking the time to step through the process. I think it should give anybody a good start with creating their own ideal business blogs. Well done.