You probably have heard that saying over and over, “Build it, and they will come.” However, it would be best if you did not assume that it is right to run your business. You are not able to sit back and believe that customers will find you. Effective lead generation can help your business attract potential customers, build brand awareness, draw traffic to your site and show people why they should buy your products.
Unless you are equipped with a strong understanding of marketing know-how, lead generation can feel hard to understand and use the first time around. The good thing is that you can follow all of the best-proven practices to increase your sales and grow your customer base.
Learning the fundamentals of effective lead generation is one of the biggest things that you can do for your business. Every company needs to have a continuous influx of leads and a healthy pipeline. Lead generation is not something that you leave to chance.
What are Leads?
Before you start building a lead generation process, you must understand a few of the concepts first. The first step is to know what a lead is.
A lead, or what may be called a prospect, will be a potential customer who can be found within your targeted audience. Some companies could consider a lead to be a prospect with a high likelihood of converting, while others may treat any sales contact as a lead. You will need to decide on the definition that will be accepted for a “lead” in your business. That will help you avoid confusion among your stakeholders and measure the success you have when it comes to getting new potential customers.
Four Types of Leads:
- Service Qualified Leads (SQLs): It is where you will find the leads that have shown an interest in your services, and they now want to talk to your sales department and become a paying customer.
- Product Qualified Leads (PQLs): Here is where you will find leads that include potential customers who may have tried the free version of a product like software and now have expressed a desire to turn into a paying customer.
- Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs): Here is where you will find leads that sales professionals have vetted. These could include prospects that meet specific criteria that make them more likely to be customers of your business. These may also be called sales accepted leads.
- Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs): Here is where you will find a lead that has come through marketing outreach like content marketing, organic searches, and social advertising. These customers have expressed an interest in your business by completing a survey, signing up for newsletters, or another action. However, they have not interacted with your sales team.
What is Lead Generation?
When you start to strategize about getting new customers, you also need an understanding of lead generation. You can generate leads whenever a prospective customer asks about or takes an interest in your services or products. Lead generation is a process that you can use to draw people to your business and let them know why they should purchase a business service or product.
Often you will get your first contact with a prospective customer through marketing outreach like social media or digital advertising. There will be times when you may get a lead from a more traditional method like networking, in-person events, and cold calling.
Customer Acquisition Versus Lead Generation
You may be asking yourself at this point what the difference between customer acquisition and lead generation is. That is a question that you should be asking as these terms are connected.
Customer acquisition is the process of understanding the interests and needs of your leads to help you get them as customers. A customer acquisition strategy should include knowing what the pain points are for your customer and have a sense of their budgets. Keeping those insights in mind, you can develop a targeted outreach that will speak to your customer’s needs directly and lets them know that you can solve their problem at prices they can afford.
Some businesses see lead generation as the first step to attracting prospective customers, like generating site traffic, building brand awareness, and converting anonymous web visitors into a known lead. When you use this model, customer acquisition will motivate an identified lead to be a customer.
You do not have to think of customer acquisition and lead generation as a separate process. However, if needed, then you can if it makes sense for your business. Defining your terminology is essential because you need to ensure that everyone on your team understands the approach to be taken and can follow through with them.
What is Lead Qualification?
Another important concept to understand is the potential customer qualification, as it is the process by which you assess whether a potential customer is likely to become a customer soon.
How do you know if the lead is close to sales? You need to contact potential customers directly and assess whether their potential customers meet your minimum eligibility criteria. There are multiple ways to complete this step, such as email, phone, lead capture form, and survey.
You can use the checklist to simplify the certification process. Make sure to get insights from each potential customer to answer five questions. Each of these issues is related to the widely used lead qualification standards. In many companies, sales teams use the following five elements to determine whether a sales lead is qualified:
- Decision-making authority: Will they be the ones to make the purchase decision?
- Timing: Do they want to buy now, or will it be soon?
- Budget: Do they have the budget to purchase from us?
- Need: Do they need one of my products?
- Interest: Are the genuinely interested in what I am selling?
You can adjust the meaningful questions to your business, but these areas will need to be covered when you begin to evaluate a potential customer. Qualified potential customers will go further in the sales process, and you can focus more on helping them become customers.
Lead qualification is an essential step in the sales cycle, but it can be very time-consuming. Outsourcing qualifications to experienced professionals can help you evaluate sales leads more effectively to ensure that your channel has high potential customers.