If driving business and looking for new leads has felt like a frenzied hunt lately, you—and your feelings—are not alone. Tough times sometimes call for tough measures. But the struggling economy has also set some off into a mode of panic, grasping at any new prospect that comes about. Anyone who is breathing seems like a potential lead—or at least that’s what panicking about sales can lead you to believe. Stop grabbing at straws and slow down for a moment to look at the big picture. Just because the poor economy is making it harder to do business doesn’t give you the license to create quick fixes that could potentially result in wasted time and efforts. Now more than ever it’s important to look at the big picture and determine the best plan—yes, plan—for generating leads for your business. Who do you really want as long-term customers? List the attributes of your ideal customers with and then approach those who match that criteria. Think like your leads. If they are always on social networking sites, join those sites. If they gravitate toward traditional media, consider placing an ad for your services or offer to write a solutions-based article for the publication. Create a way of measuring and tracking the leads that do come in so that you can see which type of lead has the best return on investment. It’s hard to plan when you’re feeling the pressures of your day to day operations. But take a minute to step back and look beyond the immediate sale. You just may find a more prosperous pool of leads waiting for you.