How does lead generation work?
These are questions that we frequently hear.
Most businesses understand that they need to generate more leads, but when it comes to implementing specific strategies, the confusion starts.
61% of B2B marketers name lead generation as their biggest obstacle to growth, it’s no surprise that there’s so much contradicting information about the subject.
To help with this, we’ve created a deep dive into the topic of lead generation and its best practices in 2020, going through everything you need to know to ensure that you never run short on leads again.
But before we explore how to obtain leads in the new business era, we’ll begin with the basics.
What is Lead Generation?
In a nutshell, lead generation refers to the process of identifying ideal prospects for your products or services.
If you’re a sales rep or a founder of a B2B business, you have at least some experience generating leads.
Contrary to popular belief, lead generation isn’t just about cold-calling or sending out a bunch of emails. It’s a potentially complex process that requires a diverse range of strategies and skills to be effective.
This post walks you through what lead generation entails, and outlines some of the best lead generation strategies you can implement in 2020 that will boost your revenue.
What Is A Lead?
This may seem obvious but definitions are varied, at Virtual Sales Team a lead is a prospective buyer who has shown interest in the services or products you offer.
Their interest is expressed through sharing their contact information such as an email or a phone number.
Why Lead Generation Is Important
Lead generation is essential for both marketing and sales teams as it aims to:
- Obtain new sales leads
- Generate the right leads
While lead acquisition, by definition, involves using both inbound and outbound tactics to generate leads, most sales reps and marketers have previously relied on inbound strategies, this is changing in the current business climate.
What are the abbreviations all about – MQLs And SQLs
MQL – Marketing qualified lead
SQL – Sales qualified lead
MQLs are prospects that the marketing team feels have promise but who are not yet ready actually buy – these are people who have shown interest but have not been qualified for their level of interest to buy.
These leads are handed over to the marketing team which then engages them, providing relevant information, usually scoring the leads based on their response and actions.
When these leads are qualified and possibly ready to buy something, they are handed over to the sales team and become SQLs.
SQLs area leads whose interest level has been qualified and as such are past the engagement phase. They’ve been reviewed by both the marketing and sales teams, and are now ready for the next stage of the process – the direct sales push.
It is recommended that each lead reviewed by both the teams to determine where they are in the buyer’s journey and how to make an approach.
Lead Generation Channels
Not all lead generation is the same. The differences between inbound and outbound, specifically the channels within these and how they compare!
Outbound VS Inbound Marketing
There are two main marketing lead generation channels:
- Outbound marketing
- Inbound marketing
If you are not totally clear on the difference between inbound and outbound leads, this is discussed below:
Outbound marketing interrupts your customer’s daily activities, and “demands” their focus. By contrast, inbound marketing draws your customer into your funnel and aims to “earn” their attention. This has become more challenging in the current market as there are fewer people actively taking the buyer’s journey.
Now that we’ve figured out the main types of leads and identified the two main lead generation channels, we’re almost ready to jump into the best strategies for generating leads in 2020 and beyond.
But before we get started, let’s have a quick overview of how lead generation changed over time so that we have a better understanding of the direction lead generation is heading in today.
Then And Now
Back in the day (2019!), lead generation techniques were pretty straightforward.
Marketers would typically do one of these things:
- Create a TV or radio commercial
- Publish an advertorial in a magazine, or
- Buy an email list, and spam the list with promotional offers
Today, the landscape or lead generation is hugely more complex.
The goal is no longer to hit your customers with as many ads as possible and hope something sticks, but instead to increase your visibility so that your customers finds you.
So, what changed between then and now? Web 2.0!
Before the internet became so ubiquitous, information was scarce and people relied on the information provided by the salesperson or marketing channels to become informed.
But when Web 2.0 (let’s be honest – Google) became universally available, information was everywhere and instantly available.
In 2020, where buyers have information available at the click of a mouse or tap of a screen, they are constantly bombarded by brands trying to sell to them.
The pressure is now applied at both ends: the average buyer’s attention span has reduced, and they’ve also become more selective about where they focus.
Just think about the last time you logged into LinkedIn, for example.
Did you read every single update while you were scrolling through? Did you pay attention to every sponsored post that you saw? Definitely not. People are so sick of getting bombarded by promotional material everywhere they turn, we have become immune to it.
So how do you Generate Leads In the New Reality?
The significant change we absorb promotional material has meant that companies have adapted their lead generation tactics.
You need to be constantly testing and implementing new strategies to identify those that work for you.
Have An Online Presence
Without a website, it will be almost impossible to establish a strong presence online and attract targeted buyers using organic traffic sources.
With a website, you provide valuable information to your target audience through content that has value for them and aims to provide a reason for them to come back.
What’s more, a website makes it easier to personalise the experience for visitors and ensure that they’re seeing information that’s the most relevant to them, depending on where they are in the buyer’s journey.
Make Contact Information Visible And Use a Contact Form
When developing your website, every decision needs to be made from the perspective of the leads that you want to attract.
You need to make it as easy as possible to get around and find the information they want, an important part of that is to make it easy to get in touch.
Acquiring qualified leads from your site is an expensive and time-consuming process, so you can’t risk losing them because of something as simple as a badly placed contact form.
If you have the resources you could even incorporate a chatbot or live chat functionality so that your leads can reach you using a method that’s the most convenient to them.
Gated content or opt-in forms
Some of your visitors won’t be willing to leave their contact information on your site unless they’re getting something of value in return.
That’s why it’s essential to have a way to capture leads and have an appealing incentive for leaving their email address.
The exact offer depends on your audience, but it must be something that they will find valuable such as industry insights or insights they can share with colleagues.
Landing Pages and CTAs
A landing page is a crucial element of any successful lead generation strategy because it is the place where you capture the leads by collecting their contact information.
Consistent Follow-Up & Lead Qualification
A recent Harvard Review suggests that a whopping 71% of leads are not followed up, which does negate much of the work that all this inbound investment has created. Proving the less fashionable Outbound sales approach is so crucial. Following up leads means being ruthlessly organised so no lead is wasted.
At Virtual Sales Team, we strictly adhere to a policy that every lead has a cost, and wasting it is near to a sin. We qualify every lead, ask questions and engage in business conversations that provide either direct value to generate appointments or insights to continuously improve our learning.
Lead qualification means having a short set of criteria that will help improve the chances of a sale at the end of the buyer’s journey. The BANTA approach that questions available Budget, decision-maker Authority, business Need, purchase Timescale, and overall Attitude provides a simple and invaluable framework to measure and qualify sales leads and is only really possible when a human conversation occurs.
Another crucial part is timing. Sales reps need to strike while the iron is hot, it is entirely possible that the potential buyer will now take steps to speak with your competitors but that is usually limited to one or two – so getting in early and remaining visible is crucial.
Virtual Sales Team have been running lead generation campaigns and appointment setting since 2007 and we know it needs a special kind of salesperson to be organised, focussed, and dedicated to the task. Outsourcing the early stages of identifying and qualifying leads provides your business development team with time to focus on what they are best at – closing deals.