It's easy to email potential customers or quickly set up a website or contact form so they can get in touch, but sometimes it's just not enough to say, "Hey, if you're interested, email us." A contact form might not be enough, and even the greatest-looking product can be easily forgotten if there are barriers between your product and their money. Here are some hidden ways to help you generate customer interest quickly, efficiently, and without jargon or bluster.

1. Make it really easy to get in touch.

When you're building your Web presence, the choices are sometimes obvious: Make a Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn profile, and have a website with a "contact us" page featuring an email and phone number. The founders of PureChat, a company based in Arizona, realized that a real conversation with someone over text-chat was a valuable way to snag new leads. This led to its creating an easy-to-install (via HTML code or Wordpress, for example) chat function that can immediately connect to an app on your phone or computer. It also released a product aimed at singular salespeople called PureChat Personal Pages, which is a one-pager with built-in live chat for anyone to ask even a simple question. Sometimes that's all that stands between you and a customer.

2. Make your sales a social affair.

While you can also data-mine potential customers, social media has become increasingly useful beyond just tweeting someone and saying, "Hey, you might like this." Forbes's Jacqueline Smith wrote about a scrapbooking software and supply company that used Facebook to show recent company designs. The designs were then shared, leading people who had never heard of the company back to where they were selling their supplies. There are even smaller businesses using plug-ins like Soldsie that allow for selling products on their Facebook pages, in places where customers are in a more casual, relaxed setting.

3. Don't rely on simplistic research.

Even the most seasoned businessperson can assume that simply googling companies or scraping LinkedIn is enough to know who your potential customers are. However, great sales are often made without selling; they involve just bringing the right person to your door. A company called LeadGenius, which started out as a crowdsourced data-research and assistant service, pivoted to focus on a combination of dispersed workers and big data technology to pull together "deep" leads. These are effectively the people who aren't just a good potential sale, but the right person, at the right company, in the right place, with the right needs to fit you. For smaller businesses, salespeople can also use companies like Charlie to scan their Google Calendars and produce dossiers on meetings they're having with potential customers, walking in with a lot more than the thought "I want your money."

4. Make current customers salespeople (by being awesome).

Zappos, one of the largest online shoe and clothing companies in the world, built itself by "delivering happiness." This mission also serves as the title of CEO Tony Hsieh's book, in which he describes "delivering happiness" as the aim of service-oriented culture that gives customers an experience that "wows" them, to quote the CEO. Zappos' social strategy involves looking for tweets about people buying shoes and other items and making sure they feel wanted, which leads customers to happily tweet about their experience. These customers not only return often; they also tend to happily refer each other. The next step can be even simpler: Offer customers a bonus if they refer. The company referral bonus program industry is huge, with large players like Dropbox and Airbnb offering their customers bonuses for helping them make sales.

Both established and early-stage companies can benefit by tweaking how they try and get more customers, even if it means trying something a little different. The results can be huge, and may help form the very foundation of a company's future.

Published on: Feb 9, 2015