A Beginner’s Handbook to Get Started with Lead Generation
“The sales team owns the sales funnel. But as a B2B marketer, you feed the top of their funnel.”
– Doug Kessler, Velocity Partners
This quote by Doug Kessler summarizes the idea of lead generation. Let’s break this down. What is the most important factor that defines the growth of a business? Customers, right? The more customers you have, the more you grow. To get customers, you need to make more sales–and to make more sales, you need to reach out to more and more people and convince them to buy your product or avail your service.
Now, would it be easier for your salesperson to convince someone who’s already interested in something related to your product to buy it or to convince a random stranger who’s taking a stroll in the park? It’s a no-brainer that the first person is more likely to convert into your customer.
Such interested prospects are leads. Let us elaborate.
What Is A Lead?
Any person who shows interest in your offering or your brand is a lead. In simpler words, they’re keen on buying your product or service but you need to convince them. They may choose to show this interest in various ways. It could be by sharing a piece of the contact information or downloading a resource owned by you.
Needless to say, leads are fed at the top of the sales funnel and then nurtured and persuaded to buy whatever you’re selling. But all leads are not the same, and every lead requires their own level of persuasion. Broadly, leads can be classified into four categories.
Types Of Leads
Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)
Any lead or information about an interested prospect that you get due to the campaigns and efforts of your marketing team are
marketing qualified leads. These could be leads via social media engagement or even those via forms on your landing pages built to record some information. As long as a marketing initiative has convinced a person to share their information with you, the lead would be a marketing qualified lead or MQL.
Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)
Any person that has clearly stated to your sales team that they may be interested in purchasing your offering, would be a sales-qualified lead. You could say an SQL is one step stronger than an MQL and they indicate their direct interest in becoming a customer. For instance, a person who has talked to your sales team and requests them for a sales brochure to know more about your product or services would be an SQL.
Product Qualified Lead (PQL)
Any person who’s used your product and has indicated their interest in becoming a paying customer would be a product qualified lead. For instance, if you avail the free trial for Spotify Premium, you’re a product qualified lead. It is now the sales team’s tact to convince you to continue your premium membership even after the trial period is over.
Service Qualified Lead
Similar to the Product Qualified leads, Service Qualified Leads too are people who’ve tried out your service and have shown some sort of interest in paying for that service. For instance, you availed a free car wash service and asked the manager about the cost of getting your car washed regularly because you liked the experience–then you become a service qualified lead for them.
In terms of conversion, product qualified leads and service qualified leads are comparatively easier to crack than marketing qualified leads.
Now that you understand what leads are, let’s talk about how you can ensure your sales team has a continuously filling top funnel to work with. This is where lead generation comes in. Here’s what it’s all about.
What is lead generation?
Everything requires a little nudge in the right direction. Lead generation is that nudge you give to identify, attract, and convert people into prospects by using the right marketing tacts and techniques. This could be running a social media campaign that leads people to sign up a form or preparing an ebook that people download after sharing their emails, all are ways to generate leads.
Some of the common lead generation tacts include social media marketing, email marketing, and website flow. All of these ways can be broadly classified into two types.
Types of Lead Generation
You’d often come across two words in marketing–inbound and outbound. Lead generation is also categorized into these two types.
Inbound Lead Generation
Inbound Lead Generation is basically setting up an ice-cream parlour and expecting people to get attracted to it and visit your store. In Inbound lead generation, you set up the right content, campaign, and website flow that brings people in and persuades them to become a lead. Inbound lead generation uses the pull strategy to get prospects.
In this kind of lead generation, it is your prospect who decides when and how to engage with your bread. All you can do is build the right channels for people to find and reach you. More often than not, inbound lead generation has no direct selling efforts.
Instead, it is more focused on helping people out in making better decisions and building a bond with your brand. For instance, as an inbound lead generation effort, an insurance company can launch an ebook to help people find the right insurance plan for them and then subtly pitch their own brand.
Outbound Lead Generation
Unlike the first type, here you push direct selling messages to strangers and try to gauge their interest in the service or product. Here you send out the communication to them–the time and channel are completely decided by you. This communication talks about your offering to people who may or may not be interested in knowing about it. Outbound lead generation uses the push strategy to get prospects.
Traditional outbound lead generation tacts include mass email, cold calling, display advertising, and direct mail. More often than not, you’d have to pay for using these outbound lead generation tacts.
Moving on, you may be wondering, why there’s a need of putting so much effort into getting leads–they’d come on their own when they have to. Here’s why.
Why Lead Generation Matters?
Here are three reasons why lead generation is important for any B2B or B2C business:
Referrals can take you only so far.
There’s no denying that word-of-mouth is a strong tool which can help you expand your customer base. However, there’s only so much you can grow based on referrals. Lead generation is your way to exponential growth by reaching out to a much larger audience.
A filter you need to grow fast.
Lead generation is the qualifier you need to segregate people who’re more likely to convert over those who’re completely disinterested in your brand. This allows you to focus your efforts on interested buyers and not random cold-calls to strangers who’d simply be put off by your constant nagging.
Lead Generation makes consumers convert organically.
If done right, lead generation efforts can lead to an automated customer journey where consumers easily find your brand, share their interest and move to the conversion funnel. This way they feel more empowered and make decisions at their own pace instead of feeling coaxed.
In the end–There’s no shortcut
You’d come across several hacky ways of generating leads like buying them from certain providers. But you must always remember, there are no shortcuts to success. First of all, it is a complete data privacy violation to buy leads as these are not people who’ve willingly shared their information with you. Secondly, the idea behind leads is to qualify consumers who’re interested in your brand–buying data of people with their contact information takes away the filter that lead generation offers.
So, take the longer path, and build a process around lead generation. Hope this article helps you in getting started.