How To Get Smoking Hot Leads And Referrals For Your Micro Business

Is there anything better than a warm lead or referral?

Actually there is. There are smoking hot leads and referrals.

There is a big difference.

Warm leads and referrals are a trap. They are a trap because often they are not completely aware of:

  • Who you are
  • What exactly you do
  • What your prices are
  • What your process is

These warm leads and referrals can lead to an enormous amount of wasted time for everyone involved.

Time spent on sales calls, following up on emails and phone conversations. Building proposals and quotes.

All too often this time is wasted on leads and referrals that aren’t a good fit for your business.

And time is your most precious asset as a time-starved microbusiness owner.

The definition of smoking hot

Smoking hot leads and referrals are already educated about:

  • who you are
  • how you work
  • how much you cost
  • what value you provide

Often, the first time you become aware of a smoking hot lead or referral is when they contact you to let you know that you are hired.

You can get these kind of leads and referrals but first you must understand the new way people buy today.

How the buying process has changed

Before we buy, we research.

When we need a solution to a problem we query our social networks and search engines to research what is available. We arm ourselves with information that will be needed to make the right decision.

Google calls this the Zero Moment of Truth. The Zero Moment of Truth is the time spent before the sale doing research on and off-line about products, services, brands and individuals.

In regards to leads and referrals, Zero Moment of Truth might look like this:

  • A human resources manager Google’s the name of an employment lawyer he was referred to by a member of her church.
  • A small business owner attends a webinar of a Search Engine Optimization specialist that was recommended to her via a Twitter connection.
  • A mother of three browses through the pricing page and hundreds of portfolio pictures on the website of a photographer she found in the Google search results.

In short, before we buy — we do our homework.

Those that understand and react to this fundamental shift in the way we buy are in the position to reap tremendous benefits. Not the least of which are smoking hot leads and referrals.

The key to getting smoking hot leads and referrals

When you are referred by someone on Facebook, LinkedIn or in the aisle of a supermarket, you can bet that before you will be contacted, you will be thoroughly researched.

This can be an opportunity or a threat for your microbusiness.

Will you pass or fail at the Zero Moment of Truth?

If you want smoking hot referrals, make the following easily available for those researching.

1.  Your Story

Before anyone does business with you, they will want to know your story.

Your story should be available in the form of an About Us page on your website. But your story can also be told over a longer period of time through a follow up email sequence or through articles on your blog.

If you choose the latter, be careful not to bore readers with an email or article that is little more than a biography of you or your company. Instead, “leak” personal details about your history and the history of your company into other forms of content that are more centered on being helpful to the reader.

2.  Social Proof

One of the ways that people make decisions is by looking at the decisions that others have made.

If other people have made the decision to work with you and have had success, this should be evident when your prospects search for you and your business online.

Being referred by someone is already a form of social proof, but adding more layers of social proof on the web will increase your odds of getting a smoking hot lead.

Notice how digital advertising agency Moosylvania proudly displays the logos of companies they have worked for on their home page. This is social proof at its best.


3.  Something To Invite People To

One of the best ways to generate smoking hot leads and referrals is to have some kind of face-to-face event to invite people to.

This works particularly well if you are presenting helpful information that relates to the products or services you sell. When you do presentations, you give warm prospects an avenue to learn more about you and the solutions you provide. When you speak in front of a group, you establish yourself as an expert.

And, as a bonus, the crowd that attends the event serves as further social proof.

For example, Will Hanke, a freelance SEO invites people to a seminar once per month on all kinds of topics related to online marketing.

Will Hanke

4.  How-to content

When you have been referred and your prospect moves to the Zero Moment of Truth, they will be searching for evidence that you are an expert. They want to know if you can be trusted.

When your prospective smoking hot lead searches, they should find content on your website and the website of others that demonstrates your expertise.

For example, Jan Roberg, a tax preparer, proves her expertise in her industry through her how-to content

Roberg Tax Solutions

5.  Prices

You may be wary of putting your prices on the web but, at the very least, think about it.

There is no question that people searching at the Zero Moment of Truth are looking for pricing. If you don’t provide it, you will get warm leads that don’t know your pricing. And many of these leads will not be able to afford your products and services.

You also run the risk of losing prospects that would have been able to afford you but don’t contact you because you didn’t provide enough information at the Zero Moment of Truth.

If you place your prices on your website, you will get more leads and referrals that are already aware of your pricing.

Think about it.

6.  Processes

You don’t want to give away proprietary secrets but the more you can reveal about how your product or service works, the better.

When prospective leads and referrals are researching your business, they will want to know how you work.

Similar to pricing, if you put this information on your website you will avoid conversations with warm leads that don’t know how you work.

7.  Portfolio, Clients and/or Case Studies Page

For some businesses, these web pages are mandatory. Failure to provide a portfolio, clients page or case studies page will be met with skepticism. The graphic design, photography and consulting fields come to mind.

But these types of pages are also very powerful when use d in industries where they are not the norm. Attorneys, cleaning companies or printing companies are just a few examples of fields where a page like this will create smoking hot leads.

Creating dedicated pages that outline a success story or display the work you have done for actual clients is a powerful exercise.

Alan Lescht, an attorney, provides a set of successful cases he has argued over his years as an attorney

Lescht Case Studies

8.  Comparisons to competing solutions

If prospective leads and referrals will likely be considering a competing solution to yours, face it head on.

Create a white paper, blog post or dedicate a portion of your sales page to comparing your solution to the competitors. Outline the types of prospects that should choose your solution over your competitors.

Your prospects are aware of their options. Providing a side-by-side comparison may be the best way to make your case at the Zero Moment of Truth.

9.  Call-To-Action

On every page of your website, and any other web property where you can control the message, provide a call-to-action and contact information.

You cannot predict at what point someone that is researching you and your company will decide that they want to reach out and contact you.

It may be while they are reading your About page, a white paper or researching your pricing.

No matter where they are, they should be able to find your contact information with as little friction as possible.

The elderly home modification company, LivFree, provides a call-to-action for a Free Consultation with a phone number and lead form on every page of their website.

Liv Free

It’s your decision

What’s so exciting about this new way that prospects make purchasing decisions is that we have the power to use it to our advantage.

You are in control.

What will prospective smoking hot leads and referrals find out about you at the Zero Moment of Truth?

micro business actionToday’s Micro Action

Review the 8 steps outlined in this article and identify what work you need to do to ensure you make the right impression at the Zero Moment of Truth.

Russ Henneberry

Russ Henneberry is the founder of Tiny & Mighty, a blog about generating sales, leads and referrals for a tiny and mighty business.

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  1. Thanks for the opportunity to publish this article on the Hub!
    Russ Henneberry recently posted..A Simple Trick That Reduces Public Speaking FearMy Profile

  2. Hi Russ, its great to see you on the Hub today 🙂
    I love the idea of the zero moment of truth and it just goes to show how important it is to get the basics right. You need to ensure your business is searchable, builds trust and makes potential customers want to get in touch with you. That’s one of the reasons why I love blogging and content marketing because it provides information to help customers who are at the research stage figure out if you are the sort of person who can help. I really enjoyed this post. Thanks for writing it.
    Georgina El Morshdy recently posted..Is Your Small Business Website Letting You Down?My Profile

    • Exactly. The idea here is that you can beat your competition by picking up traffic from prospects that are early on in the sales cycle. Most of your competitors will be doing SEO and PPC on keywords that indicated that the prospect in very close to the sale stage. You can “swoop” in and nab these prospects early on the process by answering their questions in the research stage. In the meantime, you are building a trusted relationship with them and educating them about your prices, process, philosophy, former successes, etc. Then, you ask for the sale by making an offer.
      Russ Henneberry recently posted..The Voice Of Negativity You Hear Is Real (Here’s how to shut it up)My Profile

  3. Haha, I can relate to this! A person can only do so much though, and often people won’t do their research before contacting me.

    That’s why I like social media as it increases the chances of smoking hot leads, as you say, because people have been aware of what I do for a while. The pricing angle is tricky as it’s only after a ‘sales call’ or a chat as I call it, that I’m able to give a quote, which is tailor made for the person and what they need, and their cash flow circumstances. That’s when you find out if a person is serious or not about getting an accurate tax return done.
    Rosie Slosek recently posted..Thinking about your tax return?My Profile

  4. @Rosie — Great points! In many cases it won’t make sense to provide your pricing. And, I couldn’t agree more — using social media to slowly educate prospects about what you do is a great method.
    Russ Henneberry recently posted..Worth Your Time: Keep This Marketer’s Thesaurus Next To Your KeyboardMy Profile

  5. Totally agree with you Russ. I’ve found LinkedIn groups very useful for generating new business because often members post questions as part of their research – being in the same group and being able to provide answers helps to show people what you know, rather than just telling people that you know a lot.

    I think listing pricing is also really important, and it’s very helpful if you don’t find the sales element easy. Rather than having to get to that point in a phone call or meeting when you reveal the price and have a negotiation, your prospect is already aware of your price before they’ve made contact and the conversation is more about how you can help them, not what you charge.

    Thanks for writing a great post!
    Robert Peters recently posted..The Easy Sales Secret for the Non Sales PersonMy Profile

  6. Russ:

    Great post as always. Just a couple additional tips to add to your piece. To address “the story,” another way businesses can do this is tell their story on a variety of platforms. For example, I have “my story” on my own domain ( and on because I figure potential clients will search my name so I want them to find my properties first. You should also have complete profiles on every major social network – all with links to your business website and to your “story websites.”

    To address the pricing issue…that’s always a struggle but I’ve finally determined that it’s best to just put it out there. Looking at my analytics, my pricing page is the #1 visited page. I’ve talked to other SEO consultants who have pricing pages and they say the same thing. If someone likes you and what you have to say on your website, the number one question they want to know is, “what’s this going to cost me?”

    If you can’t give specific prices, you can do what Dina does where you say you can’t give a price because it varies but I would go one extra step. I would give some kind of price range. If you just say “the price varies,” as a consumer I still have no idea if I can afford you so I may be very reluctant to reach out. However, if you say something like, “My price varies BUT most of my clients are paying anywhere from $15 – $50 per article,” now I know if you’re in my price range – and if you are, I will be more willing to reach out.

    Travis Van Slooten
    Travis Van Slooten recently posted..Why You Need to Start Guest Blogging Right NowMy Profile

    • @Travis — Excellent additional points Travis. You are correct, your prospects will expect to find a larger digital footprint than they find on just your website.

      And — with all of this talk about how people are handling pricing at the Zero Moment of Truth — I’ve decided to publish something next week on my own blog on the subject of transparency and pricing. Hope you guys will chime in over there when I publish that. 🙂
      Russ Henneberry recently posted..How To Turn ‘Where Are You From?’ Into a Thriving ConversationMy Profile

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