Business growth for B2C and B2B companies is becoming more reliant on value and relationships. Customers have limitless options and information nowadays, so they can be picky with how they buy. They can opt for the business that offers the best value, the most precise solutions or the deepest connection.
Supplying value and building relationships is the whole point of inbound marketing. B2B sales thrive on inbound, bringing potential customers into the sales funnel to nurture and, hopefully, close.
Working through a sales cycle takes effort, so it is critical that sales teams identify customers with true buying potential. Raising awareness is an important first step, but genuine interest is the real target of a revenue generation scheme. This is why lead generation is so crucial — it creates and captures that interest.
Effective lead generation techniques pinpoint buyers worth engaging in the sales cycle. To many, lead generation is the most important part of maximizing sales effectiveness. When you have quantity and quality in your leads, you close more deals at a higher win rate.
Marketing automation and an abundance of tools have made earning leads online easy for even the smallest business. However, with numerous available lead generation avenues, it is more difficult to confidently choose the most efficient tactics. This article will define sales leads, explore lead generation and detail how to make a lead online the easy way.
What Is Lead Generation?
Attracting and interacting with members of your target market is the first stage in filling a sales funnel. Lead generation is the collection of sales tactics that marketers and sales teams use to initiate that interaction. It sparks and amplifies the consumer’s interest in a company’s solutions, drawing them closer to a purchase.
B2C and B2B lead generation in modern inbound marketing often take a value-based form. Advertising delivers a promise of value but lead generation usually provides it upfront. Customers may benefit from lead generators like blog posts or coupons, incentives that encourage a positive brand image.
Most lead generation tactics hope to capture contact information to help businesses build ongoing relationships. If they can get an email address, they can send relevant follow-up emails, adding more value. When the customer is ready to buy, the effort expended to maintain the relationship will pay off.
More than brand personas but not quite prospects, sales leads exist in a specific place in strategic selling processes. Leads and prospects are often confused, so it can be helpful to accurately define their particular characteristics.
What is a Sales Lead?
A target audience is the “awareness level” group that you are hoping to reach to push your brand and earn attention. They are the rough collection of consumers that would ideally buy your product.
Of course, it is highly unlikely that every single member of this group would possibly buy. You need to separate the wheat from the chaff, identifying people or businesses that are interested in your solutions. These are your sales leads, the possible buyers within your target market.
Sales leads are highlighted primarily from inbound marketing efforts. Advertising may make people aware but individuals need to indicate their interest to become a lead. They may click on an ad and be taken to a landing page or engage on a company’s social media account.
Sales leads pass an initial qualification test. By engaging with a brand, they show at least minor interest in the brand and its products or services. However, this is not enough to make a lead a full-blown sales prospect.
Leads vs. Prospects
Leads are picked out from your target market and prospects are picked out from your leads. Although leads may show interest, they may still not be ready to buy. They need more qualifications to gauge their willingness and ability to make a purchase.
Prospects are those qualified leads, the narrowed down customers that have a need and the buying potential. At this stage, they are ready for direct contact with a salesperson.
Although prospects are the focus of the sales team, accruing those members can only be accomplished through sound lead generation. With a blend of lead generation techniques, you can better evaluate leads and convert them to prospects.
Ways to Generate Free Leads Online
Working with lead generation companies to buy leads is a shortcut to leads but hardly the most cost-effective. In many ways, the free methods to generating leads online create a better pool of potential buyers and will bolster your value. Use these top three ways to generate free leads online and enjoy their ongoing benefits.
1. Use Third-Party Listings.
The broader your presence, the more awareness and interest you can generate. Getting on job boards can immediately get your name in front of customers who are actively seeking solutions. Third-party listings on sites like Upwork can supplement your social media and website presence to gather leads.
Users on job boards are searching because they have an immediate need for a solution. When they see your company, they are more likely to engage if their needs align with your products.
Third-party sites are great for expediting deals. Customers on these sites are already bucking the status quo by seeking solutions, removing many common sales hurdles.
2. Create Content.
Content is always there, so any that you create can potentially generate leads forever. It takes time and discipline, but creating regular content greatly enhances your value and broadens your reach.
As you build your content catalog, search engines will perceive greater authority and subsequently boost your page rankings. Over the long term, this means your brand gains more exposure.
Quality content is value-rich, which can spur immediate web traffic and interest in your company. Posting your content on social media, for example, will draw consumers to your site, providing more opportunities for engagement. From there you can accumulate leads and begin to prospect customers.
3. Network Online.
Networking on social media sites like Twitter or Facebook can open you up to free leads and valuable market insight. You can engage in dialogues with customers, understanding their pain points to better position your solutions. If you use LinkedIn, you can create industry connections that may open you up to even more potential customers.
Getting online and building a network will add authority and credibility to your brand. Soliciting feedback, pursuing strategic contacts and offering value fosters satisfying sales experiences. It takes time and effort, but customers in your market will recognize and reward that effort with their attention.
10 Surprisingly Easy Ways to Make a Lead Online
For something so wildly important, lead generation can be surprisingly simple. It may seem like inexpensive methods require intense focus, but you can actually accomplish a lot with small efforts. Try these effortless lead generation tactics to start boosting your customer base.
1. Boost Your Social Media Profiles.
Updating your social media profiles is a one-off way to start attracting more leads. B2B salespeople get a ton of utility out of LinkedIn especially. By crafting a unique headline and captivating summary, you can position your benefits and define those you can help. This can help you connect with more targeted customers and industry contacts who can promote your brand.
Twitter, Facebook and even Instagram can add to a comprehensive blend of professional social media platforms. Salespeople can fine-tune their social media personality to stay relevant and valuable to their ideal customer.
Make sure you have a high-quality professional photo leading into a concise display of the value you offer. Reference your company’s profile and website as well as links to your other social media accounts. Use relevant hashtags and search keywords in your descriptions to make it easier to find you in search.
2. Seek Prospects on Social Networks.
Your activity on social media can quickly generate leads. Connecting with industry insiders and businesses will broaden your reach and expose you to other followings. You can also post valuable content or even solicit projects in LinkedIn’s “Share an Update” section.
3. Look for Referrals.
Proper CRM entails ongoing follow-up, so you can leverage your healthy client relationships to add more business. Find customers that had exceptional experiences and reach out for a quick conversation.
Discuss the value your clients may desire from you and reinforce your passion for meeting their needs. Ask them if there are any businesses or contacts that may benefit from the solutions you provide. Get their information and try to get your customer to introduce you. Be sure to follow up with a personal thank you gesture to show your appreciation for their help.
4. Find Leads Through Your Personal Network.
Work can permeate your personal life in useful ways. Leaning on your friends, relatives and acquaintances can open you up to unexpected business opportunities. Members of your network already trust you, so they can make powerful recommendations to their connections for you.
Talk about the type of customer you are looking for and the solutions you supply. If anyone in your network knows someone who could be a fit, see if they can reach out on your behalf.
5. Return to Past Opportunities.
Sales lead management should include individuals moving through the sales funnel but also those that left long ago. Keeping in touch with past leads and closed customers maintains valuable relationships and lets you capitalize on change.
Maybe your lead did not have the budget to buy nine months ago but they need you now. Perhaps a business thrived on your solution and is ready to scale now that they have grown. Following up every few months to requalify your contacts can reveal unexpected and exciting new sales possibilities.
6. Add Value to Your Website with Live Chat.
There are a plethora of low-cost chatbot add-ons to add layers of brand personality and value to your website. You can customize your chat pop-up to match the look and voice of your brand. Have them lead with a CTA to start the conversation. You can use bots to answer common questions, identify leads and set up meetings.
7. Host a Webinar or Workshop Online
Video is ideal content because it provides digestible information and a look into your personality. You can actually put a face to your brand, which often builds trust much quicker than a blog post.
Host a workshop or webinar on a relevant topic to share your expertise. By educating your target audience on a specific topic that holds major value, they will be much more willing to give you their information.
8. Use Giveaways to Build a List of Leads.
With a new product or service, you can fuel interest with current and prospective customers by featuring a giveaway. Offer a chance at a free consultation or product discount in exchange for their contact information.
Having a contest keeps your costs low and your audience excited for the chance to win. On the lead form, give entrants the option to sign up for emails for more information on your business.
9. Meet Industry Professionals in Networking Communities.
Industry associations are a great place to find valuable connections in person. Joining a networking community like SalesTO or Sales Confidence can connect you with individuals focused on similar solutions. This can help you find not only new clients but also new ideas and ways to locate more business.
10. Set Up a Google My Business Account and Seek Reviews
Google My Business is too easy, effective and inexpensive to not use. Setting up a free account gives you SEO opportunities and better rankings in search engine results.
Once you set up your profile, reach out to satisfied customers for brief reviews to feature. Online searchers take these seriously when vetting their options, so better reviews will almost assuredly translate to more business.
Lead generation is obviously a much broader discipline than a single article can encompass. However, following these straightforward, inexpensive lead generation tips will expand your influence and create more customer conversations. With simple efforts, you will begin to see substantial changes in your leads, revenue and industry footing.
Are you ready to maximize your lead generation potential? The Selling Revolution specializes in lead generation services, setting our clients up for long-term success in building their business. We work closely with brands to identify opportunities and establish processes that pay off from day one. Contact our sales experts today to learn how we can give your sales team the winning edge.