Lead Generation 101 – What is Lead Generation?

If you don’t have customers to pay for it, it doesn’t matter how amazing your product or service is. This is why producing leads is the most critical aspect of any sales funnel. We’ll learn everything there is to know about lead generation in this tutorial, so let’s start at the beginning. Basically, let’s go over lead generation 101

Lead generation is one of the most important processes in operating a business – this is the act of attracting prospects and turning them into paying customers. 

Without an efficient approach to lead generation, approaching and engaging with new clients would be much more difficult for your sales team. Your SDRs and BDRs will probably waste precious time blindly reaching out to individuals who have no hope of being customers instead of working on cultivating relevant prospects.

Common strategies such as email bursts or the release of a gated whitepaper are not enough today to break through the noise and create sufficient leads. That’s why a systematic approach to lead generation – one that lets you narrow down the selection of could-be leads to high-intent and highly skilled candidates – must be introduced.

What is a Lead?

Let’s clarify what we are talking about when we say “lead,” before we begin covering the ins and outs of lead generation. 

A lead is a person who has either suggested that they are interested in services, or would make a good customer. If you are a B2B corporation, leads would usually be corporate leaders or other workers with decision-making authority. If you work for a B2C company, individual consumers are your leads.

Leads can be categorized in one of two ways: 

  • Inbound: Someone who expresses an interest in your goods or services by leaving their contact details proactively. 
  • Outbound: Someone perceived by your sales staff to be a good potential customer, but who has not yet offered to make contact. 

To learn more about your value proposition and the use cases of your product or service, a new lead will need nurturing over time. Proper nurturing helps steer leads through your funnel until they are well-baked,” or ready to become a paid customer.

What is Lead Generation?

Lead generation is the method of identifying new buyers and engaging with them. The primary objective of lead generation is to pique their curiosity and get them to offer their contact details. 

With the expectation of gaining the right leads, nurturing them with valuable knowledge, and finally getting them to purchase your product or service, marketing and sales departments often run multiple promotions and campaigns. 

Considering the vital role lead generation plays in increasing your business and achieving success, many business owners are still challenged by lead generation. More than half of UK decision-makers (58 percent) cited lead generation as a key business problem. That’s why it’s important for both beginner and veteran salespeople to acquire a clear understanding of lead generation and build efficient, scalable strategies.

Why is lead generation important?

At the most simple level, the response to this question is that it eventually contributes to buyers who create sales for the business. This income pays all the operating expenses of the company, including wages for workers. It also helps the organization to refine its goods or services over time. 

If we go further though, we can name a few other significant advantages of lead generation:
  1. Brand awareness: Publishing collateral such as advertising, social media posts and blog posts are typical ways to produce leads. But this type of content has another purpose – it builds your brand. Anything from the photos that you use, to the sound of your copy and the issues that you address, determines how your business will be viewed by people. 
  2. Targeted nurturing: Initiatives to produce leads also help to cultivate and nurture leads, making it easier to qualify them. For instance, an individual who becomes a lead because they downloaded your eBook, considers it relevant, and actually reads it can be called a well-baked, or qualified, lead.They are more familiar with what your business sells after reading this content and have probably already considered how it might offer them value. 
  3. Competitive analysis: Doing a kind of competitive analysis always goes hand-in-hand with the practices of lead generation. What sorts of outbound methods or promotions do your rivals use, and who are they targeting? What kind of language are they using? Whose consumers did they win over? All of this data will assist you to build more strategic and effective strategies for lead generation. 
  4. Tips for quality improvement: Sales reps will obtain useful data when communicating to leads. This data can strengthen the product or service. If reps find that leads sometimes inquire about similar features or lament about the same pressure points, they can pass on this data to your product team, who can integrate it to create a more sustainable service.

All Leads Are Not Equal

It is important to remember that not all leads are worth following up with, even if they show an organic curiosity in being a client. 

For example, the CEO of a small technology startup with seven employees could well leave their contact details on your lead form, but their company would not be appropriate if your company offers SaaS software with a minimum annual licensing contract of $150,000 for 500 users. In this case, you would want leads from big companies. 

That’s why it’s important to have a framework in place for qualifying leads, in addition to generating them. Although these meanings could vary slighty for each company, lead qualification is most often broken down as follows:

Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)

The marketing team is responsible, just as the name suggests, for deciding which leads will become MQLs. This is mainly important for inbound marketing, as  marketing campaigns, content, and social media messages can also create some organic interest in a business. 

Marketing departments normally use more than one technique to qualify their leads. Many use lead enrichment and lead scoring methods to automatically score leads depending factors such as the company’s name, the number of workers, and the position of the person enquiring.

They might also view the lead’s journey as an indicator of intent. A lead who previously interacted with some of your advertisements and then went straight to your website and clicked on the “Request a Demo” button is likely to be really interested in your company’s product or service and may have already studied its value proposition and competitors.

Sales Accepted Lead (SAL)

When the lead has become an MQL, the marketing staff turns it over to the sales team, who performs a deeper assessment to ascertain the value of the prospect. This is the start of the sales pipeline process. 

At this point, the sales team is searching for more details that can help them decide if the lead needs more assistance from the marketing team or whether sales can take care of them. Sometimes, the sales reps will decide that the lead isn’t important, and it doesn’t go any further.

Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)

A lead becomes a SQL after the sales team decides that the lead is willing to purchase your solution. This means: 

  • The rep has already determined that the lead is the best point of contact for the development of the deal 
  • The lead has the decision-making power or can bring the decision-maker into the discussion. 
  • The lead requires a sufficient budget to potentially purchase the product or service.

What Are the Lead Generation Channels?

There are two methods of generating leads: through marketing and through sales. We’ve expanded on this above, but now we’re going to take a closer look at each of these lead generation streams.

Marketing Leads

Often referred to as “inbound leads,” marketing leads are prospective consumers who provide their contact details when engaging with your content. Popular examples of marketing leads include individuals who: 

  • Click on your ads, go to the landing page, and fill in the contact form. 
  • Sign up for your blog or newsletters. 
  • Download a gated piece of content, such as a whitepaper or ebook. 
  • Take part in a survey that your marketing staff has developed. 
  • Go to the website and leave their details in a contact form.

Lead Generation Strategies For Marketing Leads

The key to a successful lead generation strategy is to make conscious decisions on the material you create. Every blog post, ad campaign, landing page, eBook or webinar should serve a particular function. When determining which material will help you produce the highest quality leads, consider the following questions:

  • Who are we trying to target? 
  • Which problems or challenges are they facing? 
  • What the heck do they care about? 
  • What kind of benefit could we give them? 
  • Which “language” do they speak? i.e. what kind of vocabulary, jargon, and voice are they accustomed to reading)? 
  • What sort of graphics are the most compelling? 
  • How do we separate our content from those of our competitors? 
  • What’s our main message? 
  • What’s our call to action?

Solidifying responses to these questions will enable you to develop tailor-made, on-the-spot, lead generation campaigns that speak directly to your audience, grab their interest, and generate real value.

Sales Leads

Sales leads, or outbound leads, are individuals marked by your sales reps as relevant, potential future customers. 

Imagine you’re working with a human resources management (HRM) tech firm that offers its products to big businesses. Your sales staff will draw up a list of the appropriate Chief Human Resources Officers as outbound leads and email them personally to pitch the product, even though the CHRO had not previously expressed any interest in it.

Lead Generation Strategy for Sales Leads

Sales departments use a range of methods and techniques to create outbound leads cohorts. For example, often sales reps attend business activities where they network with future leads and compile their contact details so that they can set them up later. LinkedIn is a common platform since it enables users to search for individuals based on key criteria such as business, job title, number of employees, etc. 

SimilarWeb provides a platform specially tailored to automate the process of finding the related B2B outbound leads and evaluating their business. The SimilarWeb Lead Generator enables users to generate curated lists of related businesses based on a wide variety of dynamic website metrics, such as how much domain traffic the website attracts, the amount of interaction with the website, the technologies used to create the website, the geographical origin of traffic, among several others.