If you want to attract potential customers and build a pipeline of genuine new business opportunities, there’s a high chance you’ll need to put some work into a lead generation strategy. Lead generation goes hand in hand with your existing inbound marketing strategy, and is the way you’ll generate potential customers for your sales team to convert. But what exactly is lead generation?
Read on to learn more about lead generation, how to generate quality leads, and how to increase your chances of converting them to a sale.
What is Lead Generation?
As part of the pre-sales process, lead generation involves attracting and engaging prospects, with the goal of converting them into a customer. In its simplest form, it’s about engaging with decision-makers and businesses who you may be able to help with your service/solution.
For lead generation to take place, you should first be able to identify your ideal customers, exploring their goals and challenges to understand if they have a need and motivation for the kind of product or solution that you provide.
Types of leads:
For a prospect to become a ‘lead’ all you need to do is identify that there is a possibility they may look to purchase soon. However not all leads are created equal, and more importantly, they are all qualified to different levels.
What is an MQL?
MQL stands for ‘marketing qualified lead’ and is a type of lead that has not been qualified, instead just basic details have been captured by the marketing team. This typically means they have been generated either through the website, email campaign, or other marketing efforts, and need to be explored to check they fit your qualification criteria.
An MQL can become an SQL, but at this stage, it’s likely you are missing information about certain characteristics such as whether they are a decision maker, when they may look to purchase, or whether they have a definitive need for your solution or if they are just researching.
What is an SQL?
For a lead to become an SQL, it must be a sales qualified lead, meaning a member of the team has reached out to the lead and engaged with them to qualify the opportunity and identify whether there is a requirement for your solution, and most importantly – why.
You can find out more about the difference between an MQL and an SQL in our article.
How Do I Qualify a Lead?
Arguably the most important aspect of lead generation, lead qualification is the process of assessing the potential of a lead, based on a checklist of ‘must-have’ criteria which make the opportunity a good fit for your business. To qualify a lead, you may use the following criteria as a start point:
- Budget: Determine whether the lead has the budget to purchase your product or service.
- Need: Determine whether the lead has a genuine need for your product or service.
- Authority: Determine whether the lead has the authority to make purchasing decisions, e.g. are they a decision maker or influencer, do they have purchasing power? Who else in their team would get involved?
- Timescale: Determine when the lead will make a purchase, now or in the future? Or at this moment are they simply gathering information?
- Motivation: Determine why the lead is looking to buy, what challenges or needs are they looking to address? Why are those challenges and needs a priority? Can you help with their other priorities?
Whether your business receives a consistent flow of inbound leads via the website, or is looking to qualify just a small number of leads received over the phone or by existing customer referrals, lead qualification is essential to every sales and marketing team.
To be sure teams do not waste time on opportunities which are not a good fit for the business model or do not have a genuine need for the solution they provide, lead qualification can help both sales and marketing understand the potential of a lead, before any time is wasted.
When new leads enter the sales pipeline, follow up teams should be proactive in either qualifying or disqualifying the lead. Remember, from the prospective customer’s point of view, you are saving their valuable time by openly discussing their requirements and if a follow up conversation is worth both of your collective time.
What is the Lead Generation process?
The lead generation process is a crucial part of any business strategy as it helps to identify potential customers and convert them into paying customers. Here are the key steps involved in the lead generation process:
1. Determine your strategy:
Before starting any lead generation activity, it is important to determine the strategy. This involves setting clear objectives, identifying the target audience, agreeing a lead qualification criteria, and deciding on the messaging and methodology that will be used to attract potential leads.
2. Begin outreach activity
Once the strategy has been set, it’s time to begin outreach. This can be done through various methods such as telephone prospecting, paid channels such as social media advertising or through organic channels such as search engine optimisation (SEO). By utilising these channels, potential leads will begin to discover your business.
3. Lead discovers business and shows interest:
A lead can engage with your business through various means, such as having a conversation with your pre-sales team, replying to an email, or submitting a website form. At this point, the lead has shown some level of interest in the business but you will know limited information about their needs and priorities.
4. Qualification and Nurturing:
Once the lead has taken action and shown interest, the pre-sales team ensure the lead is qualified to your bespoke criteria. As part of qualifying, the lead’s timescale will be determined – if it is uncovered that a sales appointment/demo would be best set later down the line, the lead will be nurtured by the pre-sales team ahead of arranging a sales appointment for the sales team.
Overall, the lead generation process involves identifying potential customers, attracting their interest, and nurturing them until they become paying customers. By following these steps, businesses can create an effective lead generation process that helps to drive revenue and growth.
Lead Generation Strategies
Generating leads is essential to any business that wants to build a healthy sales pipeline. There are a number of lead generation methods that businesses can use to attract and engage prospects. In this section, we’ll explore some of the most effective lead generation strategies that businesses can use to generate leads online.
Phone Prospecting/Outbound Calling
Phone prospecting (also known as telemarketing) is a strategy involving contacting your prospects directly over the phone. Speaking with prospects directly on the phone can help with relationship-building, increasing brand awareness and making your brand and team immediately more memorable to the prospect compared to competitors.
It also provides an opportunity to have an in-depth conversation and let the prospect guide you on what they are looking for and why. This makes lead generation via phone prospecting much more likely to generate sales-ready leads compared to other more marketing-based methods. Phone prospecting can be an effective and quick way to qualify inbound leads that have been generated through the methods listed below.
Search Engine Marketing/PPC/Paid advertising:
Search engine marketing (SEM) is a paid advertising strategy that involves placing ads in search engine results pages (SERPs). With SEM, businesses bid on keywords that potential customers might use when searching for products or services online. This is a highly targeted approach to lead generation, as the ads only appear to users who are actively searching for the keywords you have bid on. This strategy is particularly effective for businesses that are looking to generate marketing leads quickly.
Search Engine Optimisation/Organic traffic:
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is a strategy that involves optimising your website and content to rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs) for relevant keywords. SEO can be a highly effective lead generation strategy, as it can drive organic traffic to your website and increase your visibility to potential customers. This is a long-term strategy that requires patience and persistence, but it can be highly effective in generating marketing leads over time.
Social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter can be highly effective for generating marketing leads. By creating engaging content and building a following, businesses can attract potential customers to their social media profiles and website. Social media is particularly effective for businesses that are looking to build relationships with their customers and create brand awareness.
Referrals are a powerful lead generation strategy, as they rely on word-of-mouth marketing and the trust that customers have in their networks. By encouraging satisfied customers to refer their friends and family to your business, you can generate high-quality leads that are more likely to convert into customers. Referral programs can be highly effective for businesses that have a loyal customer base.
Offline events, such as trade shows, conferences, and networking events, can be highly effective for generating leads. These events provide businesses with an opportunity to meet potential customers face-to-face and build relationships with them. By providing valuable information and engaging with potential customers, businesses can generate high-quality leads that are more likely to convert into customers. After offline events, phone prospecting can be used to follow up with any leads who have gone quiet, need further qualifying or could benefit from further communication.
We hope our Ultimate Guide to Lead Generation has proven useful! By exploring the ins and outs of lead generation we can help you master this essential aspect of business growth. From understanding the importance of lead generation to implementing effective strategies and leveraging digital marketing tools, you now have the knowledge to take your lead generation efforts to new heights!
However, we understand that executing a successful lead generation campaign can be a complex and time-consuming task, especially when it comes to managing a lead pipeline long term. If you’re looking for expert guidance and support to maximise your lead generation potential, we’re here to help.
At Fast Track Solutions, Lead Generation is our speciality. Whether you are looking to uncover new leads, or better manage your existing pipeline, we provide additional resources to generate new interest and actively follow up on existing leads. Our experienced team of experts understands the intricacies of lead generation and because we’ve worked with all sorts of industries, we can tailor strategies to suit your unique business needs. Why not find out more about how we work with you?
Don’t let your lead generation efforts fall short. Contact us to discuss how we can collaborate and propel your business forward. Let us be your trusted partner in achieving lead generation success and unlocking the full potential of your business.