Lead generation is a challenging yet highly rewarding task. In fact, 61% of B2B marketers find that generating high-quality leads is a key challenge they face. When it comes to lead generation, you need a plan if you’re going to succeed. So here’s the ultimate B2B & B2C guide for 2019…
What Is Lead Generation?
Lead generation is the process of acquiring new prospects who will eventually be nurtured and hopefully transformed into paying customers for your product or service.
Once a lead has been generated and registered within your CRM, they’ll be moved along the “sales funnel.” This funnel is composed of various stages, each one moving your prospects closer to becoming a customer through the use of calls to action.
The structure of each sales funnel is totally unique. Its structure and length often depends on a range of factors, including the business’ mission statement and the specifics of its marketing and sales departments.
Likewise, the techniques and professionals responsible for managing the sales funnel will vary. In some businesses, the nurturing process is automated by marketing departments that use a range of sophisticated tools. In others, sales professionals are assigned leads, so they work their magic to build a lasting relationship.
These leads come from a wide range of sources. In fact, marketing managers and lead generation professionals must use their experience and ingenuity to generate promising leads by using a range of tools and platforms.
What Does a Lead Generation Funnel Look Like?
Lead generation funnels look different, depending on a range of factors such as the business, its products, and its strategy for sales and marketing.
But the average sales funnel has at least three critical parts:
Top of the Funnel
New leads are fed into the top of the funnel. These leads come from a range of sources that can be divided into three groups:
- Paid leads are generated through channels such as advertising and PPC campaigns.
- Earned leads are generated through sources like referrals, recommendations, and reviews.
- Owned leads are generated by initiatives such as content, social media, and search engine marketing.
Middle of the Funnel
These leads are placed into programs according to key characteristics. For example, you might place warmer leads interested in a particular element of your offering in one program, and cooler leads in another.
Various stages link the top of the funnel to the bottom. It’s possible for leads to make leaps throughout the funnel, skip certain stages, and emerge as paying customers.
Bottom of the Funnel
Once a lead commits to your service or product, he or she emerges from the funnel as a paying customer.
Looking to get a closer look at the sales funnel? Read about ways to create a lead generation funnel that actually works.
How to Generate Leads
Every successful B2B or B2C business focuses on generating new leads and creating a strong sales funnel. Here’s a closer look at the key ways these businesses generate leads…
Inbound Lead Generation
Inbound sales generation refers to activities that bring your leads to you. This strategy is often more important to B2C businesses, which can vary. Here’s a closer look at the key inbound channels…
Various lead providers have emerged to satisfy the high demand for quality leads. These providers come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and they fulfill a range of important tasks. SalesRipe is a prominent provider that helps clients identify and connect with their next customers.
Even though SEO is hard work, it’s still a top priority for marketers. 61% of marketers say that improving SEO and their organic presence is a top priority for inbound marketing. So these leads are often engaged and informed.
Content marketing can help businesses forge lasting and organic links with their audience, which is why 60% of marketers create at least one piece of content every day. But only the best content can stand out from the crowd.
Ads are important parts of lead generation. But to get the maximum value and generate quality leads, marketers must develop a range of technical skills and constantly tweak their budgets.
Social media is currently down, but not out. Organic reach is lower than ever before, but inventive and dedicated social media managers can still get results for their businesses and generate organic leads.
Outbound Lead Generation
Sometimes, businesses reach out to their prospects to generate new leads. Here’s a closer look at the key channels…
This marketing is currently used by 82% of B2B and B2C companies. It gets some brilliant results, even with a minimal investment. And it offers a direct link to the inboxes of prospects. So email marketing is important.
Cold calling might be somewhat waning in popularity. But in many industries, it’s still a proven tactic for outbound lead generation. In fact, 69% of buyers have accepted calls from salespeople over the course of the past 12 months.
From an outbound marketing perspective, social media is still a viable lead generation channel. Many businesses call on the sophisticated data available on social media platforms, which dispense rich, engaging PPC ads.
That’s a general view of how B2B and B2C businesses use inbound and outbound lead generation. But it’s so much deeper. If you’d like to learn more about ways to generate both inbound and outbound leads, you can’t miss our ultimate guide for generating leads in 2019.
How to Capture and Manage Leads
Generating leads is just a small part of the battle. You must have a solid strategy for capturing and managing them.
Capturing leads involves providing a way for leads to leave their information, which will require them to fill out a form. Therefore, many marketing professionals use a suite of tools to facilitate this process.
Many of these tools for landing pages and forms also offer integration with your chosen customer relationship management (CRM) tool. In other words, the information can be parsed, and a new entry will be created directly in your CRM.
When it comes to managing those leads, things get very interesting. So tech-savvy marketing and sales professionals make the most of sophisticated CRM functionality, update information, and manage leads.
It’s absolutely critical for you to develop a foolproof lead management strategy. This strategy will lay down the ground rules for your marketing and sales team, so they can predictably and harmoniously get the most from your leads.
These ground rules cover important factors, such as the best methods and timing for updating leads.
How to Qualify Leads
The lead qualification process helps you determine how hot or cold a particular lead is. This designation will help you group your leads together and develop distinct strategies, depending on how qualified they are.
It’s important for your sales and marketing teams to understand how qualified a lead is at a glance. Therefore, businesses take the time to develop their own qualification categories, which directly relate to their own sales process.
While the qualification groups will vary from one business to the next, there are three common groups that can be seen across most industries:
- Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL)
As the name suggests, these leads are generated by the marketing department. This department will use a blend of inbound and outbound marketing techniques. So these leads have already demonstrated some level of interest in your product or service.
- Sales Accepted Leads (SAL)
Once marketing has fed a lead into the sales funnel, it’s time for the sales team to take a closer look at this information. A salesperson will run a deeper investigation, in order to make sure the lead has demonstrated a sufficient level of interest to be considered “qualified.” Once this status is confirmed, the lead will be accepted by sales.
- Sales qualified leads (SQL)
After the lead has passed through the sales funnel, the salesperson will be satisfied that the lead is ready to buy and has exhibited the appropriate interest. Then the lead will be converted to an SQL. At this stage, the sales team will prepare to make the final push and convert the lead to a customer.
A range of criteria is used to qualify leads, in order to move them from one stage to the next. Parts of this process can be automated according to the activity of the lead. But other parts depend on sales and the interactions that are shared with leads.
Ready to take a look at some industry-specific lead-generation strategies that will fuel your inspiration?
Real Estate Lead Generation
It’s important for realtors to focus on personalized lead-nurturing, rather than earning a large number of leads. Since the potential range of qualified leads is actually narrower, these leads often require a warm, intimate relationship to move ahead.
Local Lead Generation
If you’re running a local lead-generation campaign, there’s a lot of potential, thanks to the comparative lack of competition that comes with a larger scale. So you should really focus on mastering local SEO. Since “near me” searches are on the rise, Google strives to deliver local, targeted results. So make sure you’re prepared for local SEO success.
Mortgage Lead Generation
Social media can help mortgage lenders forge authentic, lasting relationships with their customers. It can also build a level of trust that’s required between the two parties. Therefore, mortgage lenders should really consider building a visible, consistent social media presence across key channels.
Multilevel Lead Generation
Multilevel marketers need a consistent flow of new leads to pitch their product to. Therefore, multilevel marketers should blend a range of inbound and outbound lead-generation techniques while they invest in quality CRM that can help them track and qualify leads over the course of the sales funnel.
Attorney Lead Generation
Since attorneys are in high demand, they must spend a significant amount of time sharpening their skills and focusing on a range of cases. Therefore, it’s important for attorneys to find a way to automate their lead generation as much as possible. This tactic often involves taking advantage of the key lead-generation services out there.
Realtor Lead Generation
Realtors often work with customers who are going through dramatic, transformative times in their lives. So why not take communication offline? For instance, realtors could send handwritten notes to add a personal touch that will move their prospects through the sales funnel.
Automotive Lead Generation
While the automotive industry is incredibly competitive, the rewards are very high. Therefore, this industry pays some of the highest prices for PPC ads. So you should really make sure you’re getting the ultimate level of value from your PPC campaigns and constantly assessing your performance.
Solar Lead Generation
The solar industry is now targeting a more mainstream audience. Reports suggest that solar panels and related technologies are becoming more popular, so it’s time to start adjusting your lead-generation strategy to make sure it accommodates a B2C focus.
B2B Lead Generation
To succeed, B2B marketers have to make the most of every single lead-generation opportunity. A competitor will be sure to make the most of every opportunity you miss. SlideShare is a slide-hosting service that can help businesses generate quality leads, but many businesses fail to make the most of it.
SaaS Lead Generation
To thrive, SaaS businesses rely on volume and a consistent base of loyal customers. If you’re going to create these customers at scale, you’ll need to focus on structuring a highly organized and automated lead-nurturing process. So make the most of the cutting-edge tools that will help you achieve hands-off conversions.
Small Business Lead Generation
Small businesses tend to think that content marketing is a lead-generation technique reserved for the biggest businesses. However, even the smallest businesses can create effective content marketing that will generate leads—if they have the right strategy and motivation.
Credit Repair Lead Generation
While credit repair is a thriving industry, many customers are concerned about the legitimacy of the businesses operating in it. Therefore, you should make sure to incorporate social proof into your marketing collaterals as much as possible. At each stage of your sales funnel, be sure to include an emphasis on social proof and customer reviews.
5+ Proven Lead Generation Tips
If you want to succeed at lead generation, you have to follow the best lead generation tips. Here’s a closer look at five proven tips that can help you grasp success…
#1 Respect your leads.
The golden rule of lead generation is respecting your leads during every step of the process. If you focus on creating authentic and organic relationships with your customers, you’ll increase your chances to succeed. If a business captures a lead by tricking them, the whole process gets off to a bad start. Perhaps some businesses place their leads in frustrating programs that automatically send a range of low-quality emails that waste leads’ time.
When you’re considering ways to change your sales funnel, you should be sure to ask how it drives value to your leads and helps them make informed decisions.
#2 Focus on the organization.
Lead generation and nurturing are two very complex exercises. It often requires you to use a wide range of tools, create a huge variety of marketing collaterals, and achieve close cooperation between sales and marketing. And this list doesn’t cover all of the key challenges. So to make sure everything goes smoothly, you’ll want to focus on the details and make sure you’re working in a predictable, logical way.
If you focus on being methodical, you’ll also protect yourself for the future. Then it will be easier to make adjustments when you have a good understanding of the landscape.
#3 A/B test your CTAs.
The CTAs throughout your sales funnel should really receive a huge amount of love and attention. Since these CTAs really have the potential to make or break your sales funnel, be sure to invest the appropriate amount of effort into them.
One good way to get the most from your CTAs is to A/B test them. A huge range of tools out there can help you adjust your landing pages and split your traffic over time, which can give you a good indication of how your CTAs differ.
You should also be sure to check out best practices and don’t be afraid to experiment. If you see something you like, you should incorporate it into one of your variants and see how it performs.
#4 Use social proof.
As social creatures, it’s normal to look for social proof when we’re making decisions. We want to understand what our peers have done in the past and whether they regret their decisions.
You should be sure to incorporate social proof into your sales funnel. You can accomplish this goal by showcasing case studies and reviews as collateral and featuring testimonials throughout your website.
The more you can work to accurately legitimize your service or product, the more likely your leads will be to invest in your product or service.
#5 Know your data obligations.
Lead generations are fraught with risk as well since rules enforced by the dreaded General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) are forcing businesses to responsibly collect and manage their data.
You should be sure to properly investigate your obligations and make sure your business is functioning legally. This research will be beneficial, given that these regulations help businesses clean up their data.
Best Lead Generation Software
Simply put, you need to use the best lead generation software out there. Here’s a look at some of the top tools you should use…
SalesRipe is a cloud-based solution that contains a rich database of 200 million consumer sales leads spread across more than 20 million businesses. Our users have the ability to filter and search through this database, in order to identify the right sales leads and prospects.
Our users have a huge range of filtering options, including company size, contact methods, technologies, industries, locations, and many more.
Our built-in CRM adds additional value by helping our users prioritize leads, set statuses, and create rich lists. These lists can then be exported and imported into a suite of other tools.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator
LinkedIn Sales Navigator is a social-selling solution that fully features sales-prospecting tools, helps premium LinkedIn users identify their prospects, and nurtures sophisticated relationships with them.
Social selling is a powerful technique that revolves around using social media channels to forge close relationships. If you work within a high-value B2B industry, you might find that social selling deserves a place within your lead-generation strategy.
This tool helps you focus on the right prospects and build relationships with them. In addition, you can leverage a range of insights to make the right decisions and moves.
Intercom is a customer-messaging platform that offers a suite of messaging-first products to businesses. These tools help salespeople nurture their prospects, and they drive value over the course of the sales funnel.
This kind of chat application is so effective because it helps personalize customer communications and create closer and warmer connections that move prospects through the sales funnel.
This option is very customizable, and it can help you make the right choices at the right time, in order to drive value to your leads.
Agile CRM is all-in-one CRM that gives both sales and marketing teams the chance to automate their activities within a single platform. It helps facilitate a range of important tasks, including sales-tracking, contact management, and marketing automation.
This CRM prides itself on its modern, clear interface, which helps new team members get started and drive value to their teams as quickly as possible. This wide range of integrations is also very handy.
Its reporting is sophisticated here as well, and it can help sales and marketing teams adjust their strategies according to data and real-time feedback.
Calendly helps salespeople quickly and easily schedule meetings without the constant back-and-forth of email. This truly elegant solution helps salespeople save time, and it helps prospects feel valued.
The power of this tool is hidden behind its simplicity. It can help salespeople save a lot of time and accomplish more. It also integrates with a range of popular calendars, such as Google, Office 365, and Outlook.
Calendly’s seamless user experience extends itself to a suite of sales and marketing tools, such as Salesforce, Stripe, and GoToMeeting.
Lead generation is critical to the success of your business. We hope that this guide to B2B and B2C lead generation has helped you develop new strategies. If you’d like to start fueling your sales funnel with quality leads today, be sure to learn more about what SalesRipe can offer you.