The Monday morning huddle at Delridge & Co. was gloomier than usual. It was getting progressively difficult for the sales executives to reach out to the clients. They were wasting significant time cold calling with a low conversion rate. The sales management trainee, who was entrusted with the responsibility of formulating a new list of leads, noticed that the contact details of potential customers were scattered and outdated. She decided to create a new consolidated database of prospective clients. However, most of the contact details that she received from the team were not valid anymore. She was also unable to find accurate information of new target clients whom she thought could be converted into customers. As she reported the issue to the management, three challenges came to the limelight: absence of accurate information, ambiguous targeting leading to low conversion ratio, and lack of innovative ways to pursue new clients. In essence, the company did not have an efficient sales pipeline.
These are some of the common challenges faced by the business development teams of several B2B companies. If you relate to any of these challenges, this article’s for you. In this article, we will deep dive into various aspects of B2B lead generation including the best lead generation platforms that could be a game-changer for you.
What is a Lead?
In a business scenario, a lead is any individual or entity who has shown some indication of interest in the services provided by you. It can be an inquiry call, a query text on your website, comments on social media, or any platform where you advertise. Other than explicitly being interested in your company, they could be someone looking for direction where your services and products are positioned. Assuming you get a comment on the Google My business page asking about the service prices, go ahead and pursue the lead. They are probably evaluating options available to them. This does not mean that you can sit passively and expect good leads to come to you. As competition hits peak, you will have to proactively approach customers and identify challenges for them before they can. The process of identifying these potential customers is called lead generation. You take your customer through a journey once they knock on your door. Customers may leave at different points in this journey, and some might stay with you until the end. A lead is any customer taking the journey from being interested in your business to becoming your paying customer.
What are the different types of B2B Leads?
As discussed above, leads come from multiple sources, and these leads are of different types; not all leads are at the same level in the sales funnel. In order to effectively respond to a lead, you need to classify these leads according to their level of interest. That’ll help you prioritize and understand which lead needs immediate attention.
Warm leads include people or companies who have explicitly shown interest in your products/services with a possibility of converting them to being paid customers. The interest could be indicated through:
- social media networks
- filling up query forms
- subscribing to your newsletter, etc.
These leads want more information and are highly likely to convert to customers. They require timely nurturing before they translate into sales.
They outrightly reject your calls/emails/other marketing outreach initiatives. They do not have an interest in your products or respond to your efforts. As you nurture them over a long period, only a few of them may transform into warm leads.
Information Qualified Leads (IQL)
They are ready to provide initial contact details and are looking for more information on what you have to offer. They might not be completely aware of your solutions and are looking for information more than anything. Once the IQL would provide their contact, your marketing automation platform will lead them to the page to download the offer. Further,
the lead will receive extra information. These cold leads have a very low priority when it comes to follow-ups. The sales and marketing team can then offer the lead the opportunity to understand more about the company and how the company can help them solve their problem. Many IQLs will not move on to the next stage once they get their required information.
Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)
This type of lead is a prospect who has interacted with the marketing team's efforts. MQL is a contact who fills out a landing page form for an offer. The marketer can continue marketing to this lead, providing more information and awareness about the company, or could guide the MQL to the decision stage by offering demos, free consultations, or coupons.
Sales Ready Leads (SRL)
An SRL is a lead qualified by the marketing team for proactive conversion as the lead has specific pre-decided criteria. Both marketing and sales teams agree on these criteria. There needs to be a high synergy between the sales and marketing teams. Different companies have different standards for qualifying a lead as SRL. It can be formed according to the flow of the leads you have. Some of the commonly used criteria are:
Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)
SQL is when an individual has moved from MQL and is ready to take your service or buy your product.
Member Service Request Leads (MSR)
An MSR lead is a consumer-generated lead when a new member signs up for your service. They can be valuable, as they allow you to engage with them straightaway. The company would allow its consumers to interact with their agents in their area. Although these leads will have less information than other leads you may receive, they are an excellent opportunity to begin working with a new client in your area.
Lead Generation: A Deep Dive
Now that we have understood what leads are and the different types of leads, let us take a closer look at the process of lead generation. Lead generation involves collecting potential customer information such as name, email, company name, and job title, and utilizing that information to target them with customized sales pitches or ad campaigns. Earlier, lead generation was random and non-strategized, and the number of conversions depended on unpredictable factors, resulting in low conversion rates despite significant efforts and resources. The current lead generation model aims to reduce the gap between resource spending and practical conversions.
Understanding Lead Generation in this day and age
Lead generation is the process of attracting potential customers and creating opportunities for future sales. Initially, many companies relied on cold calling for generating leads, but this approach had a lower conversion rate and relied heavily on sales representatives. As marketing and sales philosophies evolved, companies recognized the importance of lead generation, leading to a more structured approach where marketing and sales departments work together. Marketing plays a vital role in the process, tailoring methods to prospects' needs or identifying areas of challenge for customers. These activities are largely carried out through digital channels, employing a mix of inbound and outbound marketing methods.
Two reasons contributed to a complete revamp of the lead generation process:
1. Accessibility of information
2. Scope of the internet
Previously, sales representatives reached out to potential buyers to educate them about products and services. Today, customers have access to abundant information and proactively search for solutions. They use various online and offline channels to research and educate themselves about challenges and potential solutions before engaging directly with company representatives. Customers are no longer interested in traditional sales pitches; they seek companies with a strong internet presence and engage in inbound marketing methods utilizing SEO and content marketing techniques. The internet explosion has made it easier for companies to research and understand prospective leads. Lead generation also involves nurturing relationships with existing customers, and marketing automation tools have simplified the lead generation process.
Why does your business need Lead Generation?
Compared to how lead generation was done in the past, it has become more structured and effective, making it a top priority for marketers. It is beneficial for companies of all sizes and durations. Here's why you need to have a lead generation process:
journey from consumer to customer and creates a more structured process where customers themselves provide contact details on the landing page.
To generate leads, you can utilize various strategies. Here are two main categories of lead generation methods:
1. Outbound Lead Generation
Outbound lead generation involves reaching out to potential clients who may not be aware of your products or services. It typically involves salespeople initiating communication with potential leads. Some specialized strategies used for outbound lead generation include:
2. Online Lead Generation
Online lead generation is a popular method that utilizes digital channels to attract and convert potential customers. Here are some approaches to online lead generation:
By implementing a combination of outbound and online lead generation strategies, you can effectively attract, engage, and convert potential customers into leads for your business.
Lead generation is a crucial aspect of business growth, and there are several strategies and techniques you can utilize to generate leads effectively. Here are some key methods and tips for maximizing your lead generation efforts:
- Outbound lead generation: This involves reaching out to potential clients who may not be aware of your products or services. Strategies like cold calling, outbound email marketing, and social selling can be used to create interest and build a sales pipeline.
- Online lead generation:Leverage digital channels to generate leads. Content marketing, email marketing, pay-per-click advertising, LinkedIn lead programs, and engaging with paid third-party services are effective methods. Focus on creating valuable content, leveraging email marketing's high conversion rate, running targeted campaigns, and utilizing LinkedIn's professional network.
- Events: Participate in industry-specific events, trade shows, and webinars to connect with potential customers. Webinars, in particular, have proven to be an effective format for generating high-quality leads.
- Branding & Advertising: Build a strong brand and utilize advertising and promotions to attract inbound leads. Incorporate causes or values that resonate with your target audience to enhance your brand's appeal.
- Direct mail: While digital marketing is prevalent, physical mailers or white papers can still be effective, especially for audiences who prefer traditional forms of communication.
- Referrals: Encourage your existing customers to refer your products or services to others. Implement referral marketing programs with incentives to motivate customers to promote your brand.
To make the most out of your lead generation efforts, consider the following:
The importance of lead generation lies in its ability to:
- Expand your customer base: Continuously target new personas and demographic categories to expand your market reach and identify emerging trends.
- Grow your following: Content marketing and lead generation efforts help increase your following, spread awareness, and position yourself as a thought leader, fostering a loyal community around your brand.
- Increase revenue: A structured lead generation program enriches your sales pipeline, providing more business opportunities and access to new consumer categories, ultimately leading to increased revenue.
- Enable collaborative opportunities: Lead generation can facilitate partnerships and collaborations with complementary businesses, allowing you to leverage each other's audiences and reputation.
- Improve lead quality: By focusing on lead generation efforts, you take a targeted approach to content and marketing, attracting qualified leads and nurturing a broader audience interested in your offerings.
- Build awareness and visibility: Lead generation techniques and tools help create buzz and generate an interested audience, whether you're an established business or a startup seeking visibility in the market.
By implementing effective lead generation strategies and leveraging the right tools and techniques, you can generate quality leads, expand your customer base, increase revenue, and build a strong brand presence.
A lead generation funnel is a marketing concept that represents the journey a potential customer takes from being aware of a product or service to becoming a paying customer. It is called a funnel because the number of leads decreases as they move through the various stages, ultimately resulting in a smaller number of customers.
The lead generation funnel consists of three main stages, often referred to as TOFU (top-of-the-funnel), MOFU (middle-of-the-funnel), and BOFU (bottom-of-the-funnel).
- Top of the Funnel (TOFU): This is the initial stage where the focus is on creating awareness and attracting potential leads. Marketing activities such as content generation, advertising, and promotions are used to introduce the business or product to a wide audience and generate interest.
- Middle of the Funnel (MOFU): In this stage, leads have shown interest and engaged with the business. The focus is on nurturing the leads by providing more information, addressing their doubts and reservations, and showcasing the value and benefits of the product or service. Free trials, demos, and educational content can be used to further engage leads.
- Bottom of the Funnel (BOFU): At this stage, leads have progressed further and are close to making a purchasing decision. The focus is on converting them into paying customers. Strategies such as offering trial extensions, consultations, pricing discussions, or incentives can be employed to encourage the final purchase.
Throughout the funnel, it's essential to provide the right information at the right time, address customer concerns, and maintain a smooth transition from one stage to another. By effectively guiding leads through the funnel, businesses can increase the likelihood of conversion and maximize their sales revenue.
It's important to note that the specific steps and activities within each stage of the funnel can vary depending on the business and its sales model. The key is to understand the customer journey, identify potential touchpoints, and tailor the marketing and sales efforts accordingly.
Regarding the cost implications of lead generation, there are various expenses to consider:
- Media & Advertisement: This includes the cost of running campaigns and promotions to reach potential customers. It also encompasses the mechanisms used to capture contact information, such as landing pages or lead generation forms. Advertising on platforms like Facebook or LinkedIn may also incur costs.
- List purchase: Companies may choose to buy or engage third-party vendors to obtain or generate potential customer lists. The cost of purchasing or creating these lists needs to be taken into account. However, it's important to evaluate the credibility and conversion potential of these lists to ensure a worthwhile investment.
- Agency and labor: Some companies may outsource certain lead generation activities, such as cold calling or search engine optimization, to agencies or specialized firms. The cost of engaging these external resources should be considered.
- Campaign Costs: Creating and executing campaigns, such as email campaigns or visual commercials, involves expenses. These costs can include content creation by agencies or freelancers.
- Incentives: Offering incentives to prospects, such as white papers or gift vouchers, to obtain their contact information can be an additional cost to factor in.
It's crucial for businesses to measure their return on investment (ROI) and assess the effectiveness of their lead generation efforts. Using AI-based lead generation software, like Clodura, can help streamline and optimize lead generation processes, providing actionable insights and increasing the chances of success.
Remember that the cost of lead generation should be viewed in relation to the potential revenue and growth opportunities it can generate for the business.