To a group of energetic salespeople during the Sales Blazer event in New York City, Debbie Madden, CEO of Stride, shared key steps to growing a business with lead generation. Here are the highlights.

1. Identify your target

Knowing your target means understanding their biggest challenges. According to Debbie, “Consider your target as a group of people who share specific needs and reference each other.” Your audience shares their problems with each other, they attend the same events, and they’re in the same LinkedIn Groups.

To identify your market, consider their key locations, industries, titles, company size, etc. “When it comes to marketing and sales, you have to be realistic, “ shares Debbie.

Uncover the personas of the individuals you want as clients. This enables you to define your real client. “Think of existing and past clients,” shares Debbie, “Think of the ones you love and the ones you wish you didn’t have.” Personas include understanding your audience’s values, beliefs, hobbies, interests, dislikes, deal breakers, etc.

It’s very hard to sell something just because you want to sell it. It’s much easier to solve a problem. Therefore, understand the urgent need you’re solving for your client.

2.  Create a portfolio of offerings

It’s important to build trust over time by continuously offering value. You cannot push too hard, but instead, offer helpful information and content to assist your prospect in making a decision. “In the world of starting sales outreach, there’s marriage and there’s dating. Your goal is to date,” said Debbie. 90% of your target market isn’t ready to buy right now and that’s OK. Don’t ask for marriage on the first date. Your audience is in an early research phase, so understanding this concept and providing valuable content will help them make a decision.

3. Implement a strategic plan

“Understand where your target market looks for you,” says Debbie, “For example, are they online or offline? What do they read?” Don’t worry about getting it 100% right, instead, brainstorm and develop a list.

Debbie recommends choosing three core strategies to start. These can range from networking, to direct outreach to marketing campaigns, or anything else. “Do things that you’re psyched about doing and you’ll have better results, “shares Debbie.

Debbie closed by saying that if you do a little bit every week, you’ll see results.