There was a time when salespersons and marketers had to physically visit offices to arouse interest in their products or services.
Thankfully, this is now a thing of the past.
Currently, there are more advanced ways of generating leads that are not only time-saving but also cost-effective.
The good news is that if you are successful in getting quality leads, you’ll be able to boost your revenue as well as create a loyal customer base.
In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about lead generation and other related aspects to maximize your marketing and sales efforts.
Let’s get to it!
What Is Lead Generation?
To put it simply, lead generation refers to the process of identifying customer prospects to sell your businesses’ products and services.
Developing a sales pipeline will always be on your to-do list, irrespective of your place in the company. At the same time, you will be able to cultivate a steady relationship with your customers, keeping them invested in your brand.
Lead generation is vital to drive the business further.
This is mostly because of how the buying process has changed over the years, which is why marketers had to find more efficient ways to enhance their reach, and this is exactly what lead generation does.
But… hold up: what is a lead?
What Do We Mean By A “Lead?”
A lead is a person who shows interest in your company’s product or service.
This interest can be in any shape, weight, or form.
Generally, marketers or salespeople contact leads whenever the said person expresses interest by opting for a subscription, trial, offer, or submits their personal information.
The Different Types Of Leads
There are four different kinds of leads that you should know: MQL, SQL, PQL, and SAL.
Let’s review these terms in greater detail below:
Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)
Marketing qualified leads, or MQLs are those leads that engage with your marketing team’s efforts.
This can include chatting on your website, filling out a landing page, or calling your company representatives to learn more information about your offer.
That being said, it’s also important to note that MQLs aren’t really ready to receive a sales call.
To make these leads interested in your offerings, your marketing team has to nurture them to get more serious about purchasing.
Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)
Sales qualified leads or SQLs have shown interest in your company’s offerings, and are past the engagement phase.
The interesting thing here is that SQLs are considered leads from the perspective of both the sales team as well as the marketing team. This is also the primary difference between SQLs and MQLs.
The sales team does not regard MQLs as active leads as the latter isn’t ready for a direct sales push.
Hence, both the marketing team and the sales team must work in harmony to differentiate between SQLs and MQLs.
Product Qualified Lead (PQL)
Product qualified leads, or PQLs are prospects that have used your product and expressed interest in becoming a paying customer of your company.
This can be done after they have taken a trial or a free service offered by you for a limited period.
Imagine this: you have a contact who is currently using a free version of your service.
This person then contacts you to learn more about features that are a part of your paid plan, which is why the contact will be termed as a PQL.
Sales Accepted Lead (SAL)
Sales accepted leads, or SALs are essentially MQLs that have been reviewed and found to meet predetermined criteria.
These leads are then passed on to the sales team for approval.
B2B Lead Generation Vs. B2C Lead Generation: What’s The Difference?
Business organizations are different from consumers.
Despite sounding so obvious, there are multiple people who mistake enterprises to be the same as consumers.
While in essence, it‘s true that businesses are made out of people, but your approach when reaching out to a business owner and a customer cannot be the same.
When you reach out to a customer, it’s called B2C lead generation, and when you approach businesses for building relationships, it‘s known as B2B lead generation.
The following are the main differences between these two concepts:
The audience scope for B2B lead generation is narrower when compared to that of B2C lead generation.
In a B2B setting, marketers need to target the decision-makers or top-level management of the company who make purchasing decisions.
The approach here has to be more proactive and personalized, and can also delve into the technical aspects of the offerings.
In a B2C landscape, the customer scope is much broader; anyone who has purchasing power can be a good fit.
However, even the competition is more intense, which is why it’s necessary for brands to attract the customer’s attention towards their products and services.
Under B2B lead generation, you have to earn the trust of your prospects since decision-makers have an inclination towards people whom they know personally or professionally.
This isn’t the case in B2C lead generation because of the perspective of customers.
For customers, any seller who gives higher-quality products at a lower price is more attractive.
Customers rarely know the person who sells the products. Hence, they are more prone to making impulse-driven decisions.
Sales Cycle Length
B2B customers involve a longer sales cycle as the contracts are more elaborate and involve higher investment.
On the other hand, B2C customers don’t spend a lot of money and have limited resources, which makes the B2C sales cycle much shorter.
Targets And Goals
Marketers in B2B lead generation try to establish personal relationships with prospects to create long-term partnerships.
The idea behind chasing B2B customers is that when they’re ready to make a purchase decision, they should consider your products or services before your competitors.
In a B2C landscape, marketers mostly focus on attracting customer attention in a market that is already saturated with relevant competition.
Since the exchange is more immediate in nature, a long-term commitment is rather unlikely.
Price is another point of difference in B2B and B2C lead generation.
B2B customers are well aware that B2B products and services aren’t going to be available at a lower price, and if it is, they consider it as a bonus.
You only need to convince them that what you are offering is worth the investment, and they will buy it.
Of course, your product or service should fit within their budget constraints.
For B2C customers, as mentioned before, the lower the price, the more attractive your product or service.
Since the clients are spending their own money, they appreciate more pocket-friendly price tags.
Attitude Towards Unsolicited Calls And Visits
B2B customers are aware that marketers and salespersons will make unsolicited as well as solicited calls and visits during business hours.
Moreover, if they’re interested in the offer, they can ask for marketing materials to learn more about the products or services.
B2C customers don’t share the same sentiment. In fact, they view unsolicited calls and visits as an invasion of their privacy.
Keeping this in mind, it’s much better to schedule prior appointments before reaching out to them.
Developing content plays a huge role to attract customers, whether B2B or B2C – it’s the uniqueness of the published content that is different.
For instance, to get more B2B leads, you need to be more technical and carry out abundant research. You can also use industry-specific jargon.
You see, the customers in a B2B landscape are more knowledgeable that also make them fussier while making purchasing decisions. They consider the pros, cons, features, and overall value of the content. Hence, it’s much better to incorporate infographics, case studies, and white papers when approaching B2B customers.
Contrarily, B2C customers give more emphasis to “eye candy” content. You have to develop marketing collaterals that can tempt them in their buying phase.
This is precisely why personal messaging, offering discounts, doing promotions, etc., are more beneficial for B2C lead generation.
The Relevance Of Lead Generation Today
Now that we’ve discussed the different aspects of lead generation, let’s also talk about why exactly is this process so crucial in today’s time, especially in matters of driving revenue.
Companies that are successful in creating a successful lead generation strategy are assured of more traffic and higher conversions that ultimately boost sales.
This is mainly because lead generation helps sales and marketing teams understand the customer journey and attract owned attention.
The following are the main aspects of generating leads:
Developing A Lead Generation Funnel
Potential customers are going to find your website at different phases, according to their needs.
You need to make sure that you are able to capture leads at every stage of their respective journey if you want to achieve your goals.
To understand these different stages, you have to first learn about the lead generation funnel.
After creating this funnel, you‘ll be able to make tweaks in your lead generation campaign to make it more effective.
Stage 1: Top Of The Funnel (TOF)
This stage is mainly focused on generating awareness about your products or services as well as the brand. Most marketers try to get the email address of prospects in this stage.
After that, they forward lead magnets like infographics, educational videos, tutorials, mini-courses, and so on.
In TOF, the prospect knows that he has a problem. And while he’s looking for an effective solution, he isn’t aware that you have products and services that could solve his problem.
Here, you need to introduce your company and its offerings to the prospect by establishing the first contact.
You have to make them aware of how using your product or service will solve their problem.
Stage 2: Middle Of The Funnel (MOF)
In the middle of the funnel stage, also known as the evaluation stage, the good news is your prospect is aware of your brand and what you offer.
But they are also considering other options.
As you might have understood, you need to convince the prospect that they should select your product or service, and the only way to ensure this is by establishing your authority. You can do this by constantly engaging with your prospects, nurturing them.
To help you convince them, you can use templates, checklists, toolkits, and white papers to capture your prospect’s attention.
Stage 3: Bottom Of The Funnel (BOF)
Many people consider the BOF stage as the conversion stage.
Here, your prospect is almost ready to buy your product or service, and the only thing you need to do is clear all their existing doubts by giving them that one final push.
Try to maximize your customer value instantly by taking necessary measures to clear any reservations your prospect might have.
Lead magnets like discount offers, free courses, consultations, free trials, and coupons can be best for converting prospects into customers.
Locking In More Owned Attention
In the world of marketing, there are two different types of attention – rented attention and owned attention.
In the past, marketers have mostly “rented“ the attention. The reason why it’s called rented is that business owners purchase an advertisement – either in a newspaper or a billboard – to make people aware of their products or services.
While it worked for some time, it’s the attention scarcity that forced them to shift from rented attention to owned attention.
In present times, owned attention has more value as not only does it help to earn the trust of your prospect, but it is also more cost-effective.
The idea here is to publish content that helps your prospect to solve their pain points, so you need to make sure that whatever you create and publish is useful for your target audience.
Still, we would recommend you merge the efforts of creating rented attention and owned attention for a foolproof lead generation strategy.
Checklist To Build A Successful Lead Generation Funnel
Making a checklist can be a very effective tactic to ensure success.
Similarly, you can use it for creating a lead generation funnel as well.
Let’s dive in as we discuss the steps for making one:
Step One: Creating Lead Magnets
We’ve already discussed how you can use lead magnets to generate more attention and eventually convert your prospects into customers.
Naturally, developing these is the very first step in your lead generation funnel.
For those of you who aren’t aware, a lead magnet is an attractive incentive offered by marketers to potential buyers in exchange for their contact information or email address. The most prominent examples include e-books, webinars, PDFs, and free trials.
We would also like to point out that simplicity of the lead magnets is crucial here.
Prospects may get confused if your lead magnet is too complicated. So try to make your lead magnets as simple and actionable as possible.
Step Two: Develop An Excellent Landing Page
With your lead magnets in place, you need to create an opt-in landing page to promote them. This will enable the lead magnet to convert.
Your landing page should explain the lead magnet, along with how downloading it will help your prospect. Try to focus the copy on advertising the end benefit without sounding too sales-y.
Keep the ‘download’ button more prominent – it should be big and attention-grabbing.
Another good tip would be to add statistics and numbers to make your content more credible.
Step 3: Mastering The Art Of Sending Follow-Up Emails
At this stage of the lead generation funnel, your prospect is now converted and is successfully a part of your email list.
The next thing that you need to work on is automatically following up with them through an email group sequence.
Make a point to send at least three follow-up emails to engage with them.
Your first email should be focused on the value of your product or service. Your second email should establish your authority, and your third email should be a call to action that provokes the user to place an order for your product or service.
Remember, your follow-up emails should bring your lead back to your website and to your core offer.
Step 4: Create A Service Page
Generally, whenever a prospect downloads a lead magnet, they should be directed to your service page since this is the page whether the real action happens.
We would also like to emphasize the importance of offering something good to your prospect to start a trustworthy relationship.
Returning to the relevance of the service page, you need to add specific elements to it in addition to a great copy such as a CTA, your contact form, and personal details (like phone number, email address).
Step 5: Setting Up A Funnel Tracking System
It’s vital to have a tracking system in place to understand what is working and what isn’t.
Moreover, you get access to important information that can help you enhance the overall efficiency of your lead generation campaign.
Some of these include:
The number of people who visited your opt-in landing page
The number of people who downloaded your lead magnet
The number of people who clicked on the sales page
The number of people who booked a consultation on the sales page
Step 6: Running Ads For Promoting Traffic
At this stage, you have everything in place – the only thing you now need is to get traffic to your website.
The best method to increase traffic is by running ads on Google Adwords or Facebook. You can also opt for both these options if you have the budget.
To give you a little perspective, Google Adwords is a bit more expensive with a higher cost per click. But it gives you the option to start with a budget as low as $20 per day.
The traffic generated from Google Adwords is directed straight to your service page as well.
As for Facebook, you need to approach the lead and get them interested in what you have to offer first.
Also, the traffic you get through Facebook is directed to your lead magnet landing page.
While these are the main steps of creating a lead generation funnel, you can always adjust and make tweaks as you proceed.
In the end, you should optimize and grow sales by running an effective lead generation campaign.
What Are The Steps For Establishing An Effective Lead Generation Process?
The marketing team and the sales team need to work unitedly for generating leads. In fact, the proper alignment of both these teams will help your company close deals nearly 67 percent more effectively.
Having said that, let’s take a quick look at the different steps of lead generation:
Step 1: Identifying And Acquiring Leads
The only person who can actually be a lead for your company is one who matches your target audience.
So, the very first thing you should do is research and find relevant networks where you can find your target audience who might be interested in your offered product or service.
Word-of-mouth publicity, for one, is an effective means to acquire leads. You can ask your current customers to refer to your product or service. In exchange, you can offer them discounts or other exclusive benefits.
You can also publish e-books, blog posts, photographs, and infographics across your social media platforms.
Cold calling, giveaways, or sending direct emails are a couple of other tactics that can help you acquire more leads.
The idea here is to arouse enough interest that your prospect automatically fills up your landing page or gets in touch with you to learn more about your core offer.
Step 2: Qualifying And Scoring Leads
You might have already heard this statement: all leads are not equal.
This is exactly where qualifying and scoring leads come into the picture.
To make things easier for you, here is a list of questions you should consider before proceeding with a lead:
Does this prospect match your ideal customer profile?
Does your product or service solve the pain points of your prospect, or meet his needs?
Before making a decision, what are the different factors that your prospect might take into consideration?
Has your prospect worked with any of your competitors?
Answering the above questions will help you qualify your leads much better. After that, score them by assigning them points to understand which ones are actually worth chasing.
Step 3: Following Up And Nurturing Leads
Nurturing and following up with your prospects will lay the foundation of trust, which will eventually create feelings of loyalty. When you “nurture“ your leads, you make them feel special by ensuring they have a positive customer experience.
In a lead management system, nurturing your customers is the only way you can move up the sales funnel. Offer incentives like free product trials, demos, or discounts for this.
The nurturing process is also variable where duration is concerned.
For instance, it can take you anywhere between a couple of weeks to even a whole year to convert your lead into a customer. Just be proactive and stay dedicated, and it’ll work out in the end.
Step 4: Passing Leads To Sales
Lead generation is a process that involves a continuous flow of leads from the starting point to the endpoint of the sales funnel.
The endpoint, of course, is lead conversion.
Once your customer has purchased your product or service, it’s the job of the sales department to give them a positive customer experience to retain them in the long run.
In other words, post-sales service comes into play here.
How Can You Qualify A Lead?
We already mentioned the importance of qualifying leads.
After all, is the only way you can find out prospects who are genuinely interested in what you have to offer.
For this purpose, you have two approaches: BANT and lead scoring.
BANT is an acronym standing for budget, authority, need, and timeline.
Think about your prospects’ expectations with regard to the price.
What is their budget and just how much are they willing to spend? Do you think they can be flexible in their approach where pricing is concerned?
You see, it makes no sense to pursue a prospect who cannot afford your product or service. As such, there is no point in trying to persuade him otherwise.
It’s better to get in touch with a person who makes the purchasing decisions to convert your leads quickly.
Think about it: wouldn’t it be better to direct your efforts towards a person who will make the final decision about buying your offering?
Comprehending the pain points of your prospects is the best way to get them to try out your products or services.
Find out the challenges and problems that your prospects face, and then figure out solutions to make their lives easier. You can use this information when leveraging your product or service.
It should also be noted that if your product or service doesn’t solve a specific problem of your prospect, they might not be interested in purchasing at all.
Timeline, in this case, refers to the total time within which you should operate. This will help you prioritize your leads accordingly.
For example, if you have a prospect who is looking for urgent solutions, it would make more sense to pursue him right away as opposed to somebody who plans to make purchases the next year.
You can send the latter lead helpful resources and then follow up later.
Understanding Lead Scoring
Lead scoring is the process of assigning numerical values to each of your qualified leads to determine the perceived value of your company‘s viewpoint.
You can allot these scores based on different attributes such as professional designation, age, behavior, and so on. Also, don’t try to group your prospects since every leader needs to get their individual score.
Let’s take an example to help you understand lead scoring better. Imagine you have two prospects – one is a CEO, and the other is a manager. You can give +80 to the CEO and +30 to the manager. In a similar fashion, if someone downloads your lead magnet, you can give them +10 points, and if somebody books a consultation, you can award them +50.
You can also have a negative marking scheme for specific actions. For example, if a prospect isn’t opening your emails for the past three follow-ups, you can give him -20.
Doing this will help you know which lead would be best suited for your efforts and which won’t.
Having said that, this doesn’t mean that you should ignore the rest of the database.
Lead scoring isn’t a standalone marketing process. Instead, it’s an additional tactic to help you improve your lead generation campaign.
The Best Ways To Generate Leads
With all the basics ticked off, we’ll now discuss the different ways in which you can generate leads.
We cannot emphasize enough the importance of establishing a strong online presence if you want to attract your target audience through organic sources.
Setting up a website does exactly this in addition to offering a personalized user experience by delivering relevant information to your visitors.
When creating a website, make sure you add informational and actionable content in the form of blogs, long-form articles, and case studies.
In paid advertising, you secure ad space in exchange for money. There are several options under this category of outbound marketing as well such as pay per click (PPC), pay per impression (PPI), and more.
When you get prospects to subscribe to your email list, you get a chance to engage with them, which makes it easier for you to get direct access to them.
Emailing can include warm emailing as well as cold emailing.
he former is when you send emails to people who are already there on your email list, while the latter is when you send emails to complete strangers.
Sending emails is also an art where you need to be careful when drafting your mail. Make sure that you always include a CTA to every outgoing mail.
Under the freemium model, you first of all your products and services for free in hopes of making money later on. While this may sound ironic, giving free trials can actually lower your customer acquisition costs.
When you give a free version of your product, you are able to attract more customers while simultaneously creating awareness. If the customer is happy with your product or service, there are higher chances for them to try out the paid version as well.
A landing page can help you acquire leads by collecting information of people – provided it’s been set up in an effective way with a CTA. As mentioned before, you should invest time in making a great landing page for more leads that will actually convert.
There are times when your prospect might not want to read your content, but they might be interested to see it. In fact, 72% of customers would prefer watching videos to learn about our product or service rather than going through the text.
Plus, video marketing is a more effective way to communicate with prospects from the company‘s point of view too. They are more actionable and creative to really lock in the interest of the customer.
Affiliate marketing refers to the process of offering customers or blog writers a predetermined amount of commission in exchange for the promotion of their products or services.
You can also use influencers for this purpose that can help you get more brand exposure.
Affiliate marketing is often mistaken for referral marketing, which is another genius way to get more leads, but it isn’t the case.
Referral marketing is basically word of mouth publicity where your customers refer your products or services to their contacts.
Field marketing refers to activities carried out by companies through advertising in public locations, college campuses, malls, and events.
This tactic can be useful for developing and managing customer relationships while also building a positive brand image.
Lead generation is a multifaceted vehicle having different parts.
Each of these parts is essential for identifying, capturing, nurturing, and eventually converting leads into customers.
The ever-changing and highly volatile market trends, especially in the current pandemic situation, makes it necessary for individuals to have an open mind when running this process.
You have to keep evolving and implementing new ideas to improve lead quality.
Additionally, in a successful business organization, the marketing team and the sales team need to work together to boost the efficiency of lead generation that will ultimately boost traffic and sales.