Lead generation is the lifeblood of every business, big and small. Without leads, there are no new customers, and without new customers, there is no long-term growth.

Few business owners have to be convinced of the importance of lead generation. In fact, many of the business owners I know spend a great deal of time each day thinking about lead generation.

But what should you do about it?

How do you go about creating effective systems of lead generation that will allow your business to grow consistently?

Most business owners that I’ve worked with have no problems finding new tactics to try, from direct mail to social media marketing, from face-to-face networking to cold-calling, there is never a shortage of options.

Yet, many business owners have been operating for five, ten, even twenty years… and have yet to identify a system of lead generation that works consistently.

Why not?

In most cases, the problem is simple: they are trying everything they can think of, essentially throwing things at the wall and hoping some of them will stick, but they aren’t analyzing their results before moving on to the next idea. They have no idea what type of ROI (Return On Investment) each tactic provides, and as a result they make decisions based on feelings and emotions.

So here’s the solution.

Start by jotting down a list of ideas, like social media, direct mail, paid online advertising (like Google AdWords), and so on. Once you’ve created a sizeable list, identify 3-5 of the most promising options. (I’d be glad to help you with this process!)

Determine which of the tactics you’d like to start with, and resolve that you are going to commit to the tactic until you’ve determined whether or not it will ultimately yield a positive ROI. This often means months, and I know it’s hard for many business owners to stay focused on an initiative for that length of time. But it’s better to do one thing right than to do ten things poorly.

As you pursue your first tactic, track your data. Record how much you time and money spend. Record each lead generated. Record how many leads are converted into clients. Determine how much each lead costs. Determine how much each new client costs. Calculate how much profit each new client is worth.

After you’ve gathered this data, it’s easy to make a decision: if the tactic has a positive ROI, systemize it and continue to execute. If it has a negative ROI, scrap it and move on to the next idea.

Simple trial and error, as long as you have the discipline to stay committed, will help you determine your optimal channels of lead generation. But it won’t happen unless you track the data. So start tracking!