Lead generation is the lifeblood of all businesses. That’s because if you don’t get regular qualified leads you won’t be able to generate revenue.
And it doesn’t take decades of business experience to know that without revenue you last long.
“Lead generation” is one of the most commonly thrown around marketing buzzwords. If you’re in sales, are a marketer, or an entrepreneur you’ve seen this phrase thousands of times.
But with the rise of “guru” marketers filling up your social media feeds and video players over the last 8-9 years it feels like more and more people have a warped definition for “Lead Generation.”
So, again, this may seem obvious to some of you. But if it isn’t, then I am glad you are reading this.
Let’s dig in.
What is Lead Generation?
Lead generation is defined as the different processes, tactics, and actions that you implement to…
- Catch the attention of and attract your ideal customers/clients
- Indoctrinate your best prospects to gain their trust
- Get your prospect to take a “High-Intent” next step (add to cart, schedule a meeting, etc.)
- Convert into paying customer or client
But before we talk about how to do this let’s first define what a “lead” actually is.
What Qualifies As A Lead?
I typically suggest, at a high-level, categorizing your leads into two categories based on their level of intent.
- Prospects who’ve shown interest in what you solve.
- Prospects who’ve agreed to talk about how you do it.
I’ll break down the difference:
Lead Type #1: Prospects who’ve shown interest in what you solve.
This is often referred to as a Marketing Created Lead (MCL) and represents those who’ve taken actions that show that they are interested in something that your business or products solve.
They may have visited your blog, opted in for some additional content, registered for a webinar, met you at a conference or networking event, etc.
Effectively what they’re doing is “raising their hand” and saying they are interested in achieving >>INSERT PAIN POINT YOU SOLVE<<. But are not at the consideration phase of buying from or working with you.
To get them to take that next step you will need to have a sales follow-up process to stay top-of-mind and further develop the relationship.
Lead Type #2: Prospects who’ve agreed to talk about how you do it.
This lead type is most regularly referred to as a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) and is used for prospects who’ve entered the consideration phase of the lead generation process and have requested more information on your products or services.
This typically manifests in a sales call or meeting to talk through the specifics.
The big difference here? One group is interested in topics related to what you solve, the other is interested in your products or services.
Both are valuable but since they have different levels of intent it’s important to categorize them accordingly.
What Are The Different Ways To Get More Leads?
Lead generation comes in many shapes and sizes. There is not a single way to get leads interested in working with you.
But here’s where most businesses start…
Online Advertising Lead Generation (Social & Search)
Now if your business is more established and you are needed thousands of leads and meetings every month then investing your time and money in running ads on social media or search engines can absolutely make a big difference.
It’s no secret that ad costs are rising and many small businesses are no longer getting the return on investment needed to justify the budget. They are getting priced out.
If you are like many businesses and don’t have a budget or complex sales funnel in place I suggest you start elsewhere.
Referral Marketing Lead Generation
Getting referrals from friends, family, clients, and other centers of influence who work with similar clients as you is one of the best ways to generate leads and increase your bottom line revenue.
Because referrals are easier to sell, typically have a higher lifetime value, and have an acquisition cost of $0.
The issue is that most businesses don’t have a proactive approach to building relationships with referral partners and an ongoing system for getting them to actually… you know… send you referrals.
Simply relying on people to send business your way on their own volition is not a viable growth strategy. That being said, if you have a documented system in place, referral marketing can be a wildly effective way to get new clients and customers.
You can learn more about how to build your own referral network on my upcoming referral marketing masterclass here.
Personal Outreach Lead Generation
Simply put, the best way for most businesses to generate leads and get more sales opportunities is reaching out directly through social media or through outreach emails.
These potential leads could be connections here on LinkedIn, previous business contacts, people you meet at events, your existing email list, or prospects engaging with you on your social media pages.
People are less trusting than ever right now. You need to build relationships with them before they are going to consider spending their money with you. They’re getting hit with thousands of ads every single day. Billboards, banner ads, social ads, youtube pre-roll videos, TV commercials, advertorials, etc.
The key here is to not go for the sale (or ask) right away. You first want to gain their trust through content, resources, and conversation. If you can get them to positively engage with you one time and mention their pain points or wants you’ll be in a great position to break down their walls and get them to agree to a meeting to talk about how you can help them.
This issue in the past was that this kind of lead generation took time as it’s a numbers game that requires consistent follow up to achieve success at scale.
But with tools like Connect 365 you can leverage email automation for your outbound lead generation to automate 90% of the work involved.
What Lead Generation System is Right For You?
Only you can answer this question. I listed three options above but there are hundreds of lead generation strategies that you can try.
For most B2B businesses who sell a service or high-dollar product, you need to be more deliberate with your lead generation strategy.
You aren’t going to run an ad to an order form and expect someone to spend thousands of dollars without getting your prospects to trust that you’ll deliver on your promises.
That’s why I suggest to most businesses who are newer, have little marketing experience, or low budgets start with direct email outreach.
This strategy allows you to generate leads with highly targeted prospects that you’ve hand-picked, can be largely automated inexpensively with Connect 365, and doesn’t require a team of specialists to design ads, landing pages, writing content, etc.