What Is Lead Generation?
Lead Generation is a series of efforts designed to increase the number of potential customers interested in buying your company's products and services. Sales professionals call Lead Generation a "process of building your pipeline." The more prospective buyers interested in what you are offering, the more customers you will close--and the more revenue you will generate.
Below is a list of Six Steps To Lead Generation for your small business. Every step below can be managed from within your VipeCloud account.
Six Steps To Lead Generation
Step 1: Build Your Database
Building your database of contacts is the broadest topic within Lead Generation. However, it's also the most important. Assuming you have defined your target customer profile, there are several ways you can build your database. Your database can be split into two main strategies: inbound and outbound.
Inbound strategies are efforts in which you place yourself where your prospective customers are looking.
Inbound strategies can include showing up in relevant organic search results through search engine optimization. It can be distributing sign-up forms that will give potential customers access to valuable content, events, or mailing lists. And inbound strategies can include developing a social presence through social sharing. All inbound strategies ultimately try and capture an interested party's contact information (email address and possibly even phone number) so you can build your contact database.
Outbound strategies are efforts to introduce yourself to prospective customers who aren't necessarily looking.
Outbound database-building efforts typically revolve around email campaigns and phone calls. Newer channels are developing around LinkedIn and texting, however both of these typically still eventually move to email and phone. Two great sources of emails and phone numbers for your database are first, your customers and second, purchasing lead lists from a data collection company like DiscoverOrg.
Step 2: Create Your Message In Email Templates
Whether you are in marketing, sales operations, or are a sales person leading your own charge, it's important to get your pitch in writing. Customers don't tend to buy the first time they hear from you, so plan on drafting several messages that will help your prospects identify their problem and be able to picture you as a solution.
If putting a face with your name might help you stand out, consider video email as an arrow in your quiver of strategies. Video email--web and mobile-- is fully built into VipeCloud.
Step 3: Design A Series Of Touch Points
You've got your database and your email templates, now it's time to automate your outreach by creating a series of touch points. This is also known as a Drip Campaign or Series. Whether you are in marketing, sales operations, or sales, you can make use of Series Templates. Because lead generation is best with a combination of emails and phone calls, we suggest and support including a combination of emails and call tasks in your Series Templates.
While it might be tempting to ping your prospects every few days, as a best practice we have found that one touch per 7-10 days results in the best combination of responses to unsubscribes. If you'd like to test different methods to identify the best for lead generation, VipeCloud has the ability to split your list for A/B testing.
Step 4: What is a Lead? Defining Your Lead Types
What are your lead types and how do you define the all-important timing of the Marketing-To-Sales handoff? Sample lead types:
Information Qualified Lead – IQL.
The prospect has engaged with marketing in some capacity but hasn’t expressly shown interest in the product/service itself. They might have downloaded a PDF, signed up for a webinar, gotten a free sample, but they haven’t yet explored what your company could offer them. At this stage they’re still a cold lead.
Marketing Qualified Lead – MQL.
This is a lead that is engaging with your marketing materials, but unlike an IQL, their actions have shown a higher level of intent. These leads are being nurtured by marketing until they have met the minimum requirements to be passed off to sales.
Sales Qualified Lead – SQL.
Sales qualified leads can be MQLs that have been determined to be ready for the sales team, or they can be the product of outbound prospecting.
Product Qualified Lead – PQL.
People who have used the product and have shown interest in becoming a paid customer. Free trials, demo products and freemium services all produce PQL’s.
Marketing qualified leads (MQL) and sales qualified leads (SQL) are the key ones on which to focus. You’ll want to determine when the best time is to transfer a lead from marketing to sales. Why is this important? There are several reasons:
- 1. An early handoff could simply be a waste of a salesperson’s time – if your sales team is already short on time, they should be talking to people who are as late in the sales cycle as possible
- 2. If a prospect is still “just browsing”, they might be turned off by talking to a salesperson
- 3. Consistently late handoffs will almost certainly result in lost opportunities
Step 5: Handle Responses
As your outreach series run, there are three possible ways your contacts will respond:
- 1. They return your email showing interest (best case!).
- 2. In some cases they might "respond" by clicking the unsubscribe link. VipeCloud will automatically remove them from future emails if they unsubscribe.
- 3. They don't respond, but perhaps they open the email or click on a link. This, unfortunately, will most likely be the largest percentage of your contacts. Measuring and ranking their engagement - at VipeCloud we track that as Lead Scoring - will help your team prioritize their follow up efforts.
Step 6: Build Your Pipeline
As conversations occur and Lead Scores continue to rise, turn your contacts into opportunities! With pipeline management fully built into VipeCloud, your team can work your opportunities from the top of the funnel through the close.