Using inquiry generation techniques to find new markets and the right customers is the most inexpensive and practical method to increase sales. It is ideal for small manufacturers who do not have field sales organizations or are being forced to find new markets and customers for the first time.

I like to use the words “inquiry” and “lead” to define different aspects of the sales prospecting process. An inquiry is simply an unqualified prospect you may have picked out of a database or someone who may have requested some information. A lead is someone that has been qualified as a prospective buyer who has a need for the product, has a budget for the product or has the authority to specify or buy.

I can explain inquiry generation techniques with a real-life example I will call General Material Handling (GMH). It shows how a small industrial manufacturer without a sales organization found new customers and markets on a very small budget. The lead generation and sales prospecting program made it possible for one inside sales person to get a new product line off the ground and reach the sales forecast in the very first year of operation.

Finding the Target Markets - By coding the quotation list and prospect list with NAICS codes from the previous year's sales efforts, the company was able to determine the markets and the total number of prospects in the markets. The initial list looked like the following

Target Markets Market Prospects
Frozen Vegetables and Dinners 479
Cheese and Yogurt 223
Meat Packing plants 734
Bottled Water 1,114
Drugs and Pharmaceuticals 500