In the build-up to a first meeting, there are details and tasks that shouldn't be delayed until you are between the reception and the boardroom on the day itself. All of your investment up to now and potential revenue hinges on this meeting, so it'd be inexcusable to go in unprepared.

Having found the business you were looking for and spent some time looking in from the outside, observing all you can, it's time to make contact. There's no time to stop, in awe of the bright lights, you need to move while the lead is fresh and your research is relevant.

At the start of the sales journey, the road can look a little empty. When previous success stories are left behind and what's ahead is all that matters, there's an understandable tendency to feel overwhelmed or frightened of the unknown. For the best sales professionals though, lead generation means new business and is seen as an opportunity.

At every point during the lead generation process, structured use of social media, dovetailing marketing and sales strategies can strengthen your approach. Online technology as well as print advertising and press can be used to create and maintain relationships with leads and prospects, so not investing time in these methods can damage your sales output. Social networks and other online media give sales reps another 'in' with prospects. With LinkedIn reaching 300 million members in 2014, most of whom will have been drawn to the site for the networking potential and sharing of media; can you afford to not have a presence?

Identifying target industries can be an intimidating task if you don't perform extensive analysis and research that gives quantifiable reasons to support and drive your lead generation process. Ask yourself whether the businesses within this industry are ones you may have worked with before, or perhaps you have researched them in the past and discounted them for reasons that are now irrelevant? Ensure you take stock of ground you may have already covered. The sales landscape is one that constantly changes and therefore your strategy to approach a variety of industries should reflect that.

Constantly assessing and retargeting your marketing and contact methods to prospective customers should be a regular occurrence in every sales environment to ensure continued lead generation. Location targeting is just one aspect of this. Although locations can be seen as restricting, particularly to smaller businesses, current deals should be mapped out and analysed. If you feel your market is saturated in certain areas, taking a step back can reveal uncovered ground.

Depending on the product or service you offer, there will be unique criteria for the businesses you should target. Every lead will have a circumstance that alters how you should approach them, but what information will genuinely assist your sales team? Make your business targeting more effective by knowing what the useful details are, where to find them and how to classify potential targets.

Generating and following up on leads are both key to maintaining a successful business. However, finding those few influential decision makers you want to sell your product or service to can be difficult and time consuming, especially when it is estimated that in a typical firm an average of seven people are involved in most buying decisions. Here, we explore how online channels and influencer mapping can enable you to create relationships with the people who matter.

Lead generation is more than just a numbers game. Driving sheer volume of leads, without an understanding of their qualities or how you are going to handle them will only result in a mess. Prioritising your generation methods and controlling the flow of leads are both crucial. The volume of your leads should be scrutinised in the context of your team and ambitions - not just jammed into your sales funnel. Losing a lead can be more damaging than never finding it, so knowing your limits is crucial.

While the fundamentals of lead generation remain the same, its execution and analysis has changed in recent years. By analysing the accessible supporting data, it is possible to identify the quality of a source and improve your methods. Understanding the merits of different lead sources, thorough analysis and recognising the areas that work for you are crucial to achieving consistent results.