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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 pros will call Lead Generation a "process of building pipeline." The more prospective buyers interested in what you are offering, the more customers you will close.

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 which can be split into two main strategies: inbound and outbound.

Inbound strategies are efforts to place yourself where your prospective customers are looking.

Inbound can be showing up in relevant search results through search engine optimization. It can be distributing sign up forms that will give folks access to content of value, events, or mailing lists. And inbound strategies can be developing a social presence through social sharing. All inbound strategies ultimately try and capture an interested party's 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 emails and phone calls. Newer channels are developing around LinkedIn and texting, however both of these typically still move to email and phone. Two great sources of emails and phone numbers for your database are 1) your customers and 2) purchasing lead lists from a company like DiscoverOrg.


Step 2: Create Your Message In Email Templates

Whether you are in marketing, sales operations, or 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 a several messages that will help your prospects identify their problem and think of 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. 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, VipeCloud calls these 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.

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 haven’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 to focus on here. You’ll want to determine when is the best time 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 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. 1. They return your email showing interest (best case!).
  2. 2. In some cases they might "respond" by clicking the unsubscribe link. VipeCloud will automatically remove them from future emails if they unsubscribe.
  3. 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.

Pipeline Management KanBan Board

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