The Complete Guide to Lead Generation

The Complete Guide to Lead Generation

Lead generation spans across multiple touch points for any business. For any business to survive, it needs to generate leads in the first instance. This article covers 10 of the best ways you can generate sales leads for your business. From inbound to outbound, lead generation companies to SEO, we’ve plenty to help you generate more sales leads. But before we get stuck in to generating leads, let us take a look at some definitions so we can provide you with a 'complete' guide on the topic...you’ll be an expert on it by the time you’ve finished reading this post!

  • What is a sales lead?
  • What is a warm lead?
  • What is lead generation
  • Who owns lead generation
  • What does MQL vs SQL mean?
  • Lead qualification
  • Top 10 tips on how to generate sales leads

What is a Sales Lead?

Sales leads are the life blood of sales teams. A lead can be either a person or company who you hope to win as a future customer for your service or product.

What is a Warm Lead?

This is where a person or company has indicated interest in your company's service or product.

What is Lead Generation?

Lead generation is the process of sourcing sales leads e.g. buying lists. For companies heavily focus on inbound, it is the creation of awareness and the initiation of a person or company’s interest into your company’s product or service.

Who 'Owns' Lead Generation?

In most organisations marketing typically owns this. Sales teams will also do their own prospecting via the internet or other data sources. There is an eternal war between Marketing and Sales regarding the volume and quality of sales leads to hit sales targets. Where there is an adequate supply, the world can be harmonious but if there are issues with lead volume or lead quality you will hear the eternal words:

Sales: "The leads are poor quality and I have don’t have enough!"

Marketing: "The sales team are burning the sales leads and wasting our budget!"

Sales vs Marketing

How Do you Qualify a Sales Lead?

Normally, the ‘perfect customer’ possesses several key characteristics or attributes that will influence their likelihood to buy your product or service. Typically, this could be:

  • Company’s Annual Sales
  • No of Employees
  • Geography
  • Industry/Vertical
  • Job Title
  • Website Technology
  • Marketing Technology
  • Currently using a competitor service/product

What Does MQL vs SQL mean?

A marketing-qualified lead (MQL) is a sales lead whose engagement levels suggest that he is likely to become a customer. In terms of your website, this could be a visitor who has demonstrated interest in your website's content. This could be the visitor has filled out a web form, have downloaded content, have signed up for a newsletter or filled up the shopping cart and then left the site. Each type of interaction is assigned a lead score, a metric that is intended to help sales and marketing personnel determine where the visitor is in the buying cycle. If the potential customer is early in the buying cycle, it is usually the marketing department's job to nurture the lead.

MQL differs to Sales Qualified Leads (SQL). SQLs often indicate immediate interest in a company’s products or services, and a best practice is for a sales representative to act on an SQL within the first 24 hours of discovery This could be a customer signing up for a trial of your platform. MQLs, by contrast, are leads of more general interest that may require more education and follow-up to be converted into sales opportunities.

How to Describe the Warmth of a Sales Lead?

You will often hear the expression Hot, Cold, Warm but there are different interpretations of what each of these terms mean:

1. Hot - Ready to buy to fulfill an immediate requirement. They have available budget to close the deal

2. Warm – Wish to purchase, may have trialled your product/service. They may actively be looking around and comparing service providers and features, or may be locked into another’s contract

3. Cold – May never heard of you or could be looking for information that defines them as a lead, but not ready to buy something now

10 Tips on How to Generate Sales Leads

Here are the 10 top tips on how to generate sales leads for your business:

1. Lead Generation Companies

If you don’t have enough of the right sales leads in your CRM or database today, you will need to assign some budget to buy sales leads. Depending on who you go to some of the main problems with buying sales leads are:

  • The data is old
  • You may be buying a lead that you already have in your CRM
  • You may be buying a lead that is already a customer
  • You may be buying a lead that is against your AUP (Acceptable Use Policy)

However, with the rapid advancements in technology companies are now beginning to overcome these issues. For example, SalesOptimize allows users to see every sales lead before they buy and the data is refreshed regularly. Here is a list of lead generation companies for you to check out:

SalesOptimize
Unomy
Hoovers
InsideView
DiscoverOrg
Found
RainKing
DataFox

2. SEO

Improve the SEO of your website so you appear on the first page of Google for keywords that describe your product or service. This will help drive traffic to your website and increase your inbound sales leads. Try these SEO tools for starters:

Screaming Frog
Ahrefs
Google Search Console
SEO Book
HitTail
Serpstat

3. Landing Pages

A landing pages is a web page which a visitor lands on for a distinct purpose. While a landing page can be used for various reasons, one of its most frequent uses is to capture leads through use of forms, offers, trials etc. Just a tip: it's better for you to house your landing pages from outbound campaigns on your own server so the traffic goes to your website and not the facilitator’s. If you do use a third party for landing pages, be mindful that your campaigns will help to increase their SEO ranking, but will not benefit your own. Nonetheless, if you would like to explore some of the great companies out there who offer landing page creation, check out these few:

Unbounce
Leadpages
Instapage
Wishpond
Lander
Landingi

4. Webinars

This is an online conference where the presenter is discussing a topic relevant to the industry where his customers live. This is typically done using slides or an interview style presentation. Here are some good webinar sites:

Cisco WebEx
Webinato
ClickMeeting
GoToWebinar
BrightTalk

5. Blogs

They are typically rich content posted on a website in the form of a post. If your blog is of high quality, you can ask other websites to publish your blog and thereby generate sales leads and backlinks to your website. B2B Marketing has great guest posts.

6. White Papers

These are a great way to attract visitors to your website or business. They are typically an authoritative report or guide on a subject that is interest to your future customers. Here’s a sample of one such report on eCommerce.

7. Directories

These are very useful if you are a B2B company selling a product or service. Many businesses obtain sales leads because of advertising or simply being listed in online directories. Here are some examples of the more popular software directories:

G2Crowd
Capterra
GetApp
CabinetM
Software Advice
SaaS Genius

8. Press Releases

Issuing press releases can help to drive traffic to your website thereby creating inbound sales leads. Consider the following online press release sites that offer a low-cost solution:

Cision
Business Wire
Market Wired
NewsWire
PR NewsWire

9. Customer/Employee/Partner Referrals

Set up a referral program where employees/customers/partners can refer sales leads to your business. Consider the following software solutions to get you up and running quickly:

Vocal References
Influitive
InviteReferrals
InviteBox
Everfave
Incentivit
Extole

10. Existing Customers

Your existing customers can be a gold mine for sourcing more sales leads. Your sales or account management team will develop a relationship base on trust and can ask for introductions to your customer’s global offices or vendors.

In Summary

In summary lead generation is not easy but it is a must have process for any business to survive. Some companies survive on inbound alone. However, for many B2B companies and start-ups this is not an option. I liken lead generation to mining for gold. You should never depend solely on one source of leads but have multiple sources for lead generation in case one vein dries up.

Over the last 30 years there has been little innovation in lead generation however this has radically changed with the introduction of new companies. As result of the big data platforms like MS Azure and AWS, companies like SalesOptimize can scan the internet to find business which can be converted into sales leads.