How to Find Free Sales Leads Online

Businessmen Exchanging Business Cards
••• quavondo/Vetta/Getty Images

It's easy to find free professional business leads that are industry or trade specific. All you have to do is go online and start visiting trade association websites. There are literally thousands of associations out there—from associations that represent the chocolate industry to those that represent the jewelry industry to associations that represent the tourism business.

And, every one of these industry associations has a website where you can easily uncover leads simply by following a few steps. While you can make a big dent in as little as three hours, you may want to make this an ongoing project and assign say, one hour a day, to perusing websites.

Steps to Uncovering Leads Online

Decide what business or trade it is that you want to gather leads from and then type into your search engine box the words "industry (by name) association member business directory." Of course, you want to make sure that you remove the quotes from around the entire phrase. Also, you can try adding to this phrase a state or city if you wish to only find associations in a particular area. Your search terms will then look something like this:

"packaging association chicago illinois member business directory"
  1. After you run your search, you should have several association sites that fit your search terms. Select one and click on it. You will most likely be on the page of the site that contains the member's directory because you requested that as part of the search. If not, then look on the site for a link that says something like "members" or "directory" or "directory listing" and once you find that link or button, then click on it.
  2. Once on the page where the member's directory is located, your next step is to find the various ways names are sorted. Some sites may list the members in alphabetical order according to the name of the business. Others may list the members according to the city and state they reside in. Others may list members according to how large the company is. In many cases, you will find a drop down box where you can choose how you want the list sorted. Select how you want to sort the list and then hit enter to view your list of leads.
  3. Each association member in the listing should have at least the name of the business, the address, and preferred phone number. This is the basic information that you will need to make contact with the prospect. However, you may find even more details about each association member such as website addresses, their social media handles, details about the best way to reach them, and the number of employees. Again, each site is different in terms of how the information is organized and displayed for each of its members.
  4. Finally, copy the appropriate information into whatever type of format you have decided to use to organize your leads. If you are using a computer to gather leads, then you may be able to copy and paste the information right from the website. Otherwise, you'll need to go old-school and hand write the information and then input it into your computer.

As you can see, the cost (other than your billable time) to develop these leads is non-existent. All you need is a computer with Internet access and some kind of system to store and organize your leads into—such as a google or excel spreadsheet.