What is lead generation? Or is there another question?

Lead generation

by Margery Murphy on August 6, 2020

What is lead generation?

  • It’s how you fill your sales pipeline.
  • It’s how you find prospects and develop their interest in your brand, product, or service.
  • It’s the conversion of a stranger to a visitor to a lead to a customer to (hopefully) a promoter.

Maybe there’s a different question

You may be thinking, well I knew that. What you might actually be asking is how to do it. In other words, what actions must you take to attract people to your brand, product, or service to build their interest and with the goal of winning a paying customer?

Recognize that there’s more than one way to generate leads. And that you’ll have more success by diversifying your methods. But no matter if you use the phone, a trade show booth, email, or something else, the key to good lead generation is the same: present a call to action – a positive step they can take to indicate their interest. Examples of calls to action are:

  • Taking your business card
  • Signing up for your email newsletter
  • Subscribing to your blog or YouTube channel
  • Attending a webinar
  • Booking a consultation
  • Scheduling a phone call with an inside sales rep
  • Replying to email
  • Clicking a link on your website or social media post
  • Completing a form in order to download an eBook

Calls to action usually require a prospect to give you some personal information in exchange for an asset they find valuable. As a result, you are able to learn more about them and continue to build the relationship.

The growth of inbound lead generation

Traditionally, lead generation was done largely with direct, one-to-one interactions such as phone calls. This approach is known as outbound lead generation, in which sales reps reach identify and reach out to prospects. This is still a valid and common approach, but inbound lead generation is growing in popularity. Diversifying your lead  generation efforts means embracing both approaches.

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What’s driving the growth of inbound? Most companies have some sort of web presence, usually with brand, product, and educational information. Industrial buyers in this day and age approach their product research the way they do in their personal lives – searching online and clicking around to discover options and learn background information. This is the idea behind inbound marketing – relevant content that pulls prospects into your site.

But they’re not just looking for spec sheets and catalogs. This is because in most cases they’re not making buying decisions alone – most industrial buyers are part of a purchasing team composed of purchasing agents, operations managers, technical experts, and engineers. This diverse group also wants to see that companies they’re considering understand them and actually have the expertise to meet their needs. And if you provide what they need, they’ll act on your calls to action.

If you’ve done any product research yourself you know just how much information there is online in the manufacturing and industrial space. You’re competing with others in your industry for market share and also for prospect attention. You might think something like search ranking isn’t that important, but how many people scroll through several pages of search results? It’s in your best interest to diversify your inbound lead generation: create content with good odds of ranking well in a search as well as using other channels to reach prospects such as social media and email.

Another thing to keep in mind with inbound marketing is the long-game. For example, if you see over time that certain of your web pages are getting higher amounts of traffic, that content is performing well and you can conclude this is a topic or type of information that resonates with prospects. Consider making more of it or expanding on that topic or theme, which could drive more traffic and interest and generate more leads.

New Call-to-action

Developing a comprehensive plan

Many companies have the goal of generating more leads, and many companies also struggle to manage the process. It’s not always a direct path from point A to point B through the pipeline or the flowchart, and this is where difficulties can arise. Your plan must include what you will do if a prospect shows interest but is not ready to buy, and how you’ll respond based on the extent to which they are interested. For example, do they need to learn more about your technology, do they have an upcoming project with a long time frame for decision, or are they ready to make a deal).

Generating new leads is largely a process of first finding and then continuing to nurture prospects. Most of the time that process involves twists, setbacks, and opportunities for re-engagement. So plan for that because that’s what’s most likely to happen along the way – build in tactics for nurturing and opportunities to re-engage by creating more calls to action such as:

  • Drip email campaigns to stay top of mind
  • Calling campaigns to inquire about current or future needs
  • Regular, well-promoted new blogs, eBooks, and valuable content
  • Webinars
  • Surveys to uncover content gaps and pain points\

Prospects generally don’t become leads overnight or in a steady, forward path, but strategic nurturing and calls to action are a way to keep them from straying too far. No matter how you approach it, lead generation takes time and commitment for direct follow up and content creation. Planning what you’ll do at each stage of the journey and how you’ll do it is critical to managing your pipeline – we can help; contact us!

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