What is lead generation?

Lead generation is the process of identifying and attracting potential customers to your company’s products or services. Lead generation strategy includes the steps you take both to find leads and to turn them into prospects.

The importance of lead generation

Your lead generation strategy helps to obtain new sales leads and generate the right type of leads. It’s not enough to gather a huge number of leads. You can waste a lot of time chasing unqualified leads that will never convert. Rather, your lead generation strategy should focus on generating leads that are most likely to convert and nurturing them throughout the buyer’s process.

Lead generation is a critical marketing strategy for sustainable long-term business growth as it not only works to generate MQLs (marketing qualified leads) to later become SQLs (sales qualified leads), but also to build engagement and brand trust.

Nurturing potential customers, referred to as ‘prospects‘, in this way can establish rapport and positive brand sentiment.

As part of your lead generation process, lead nurturing campaigns can retain individuals and organizations as potential marketing leads for the future, even if they aren’t ready to convert and commit quite yet. Over time, more are likely to develop into sales qualified leads, which can then be passed over to your sales team to close the deal.

How lead generation works

Leads come from many places. Your inbound marketing strategy and content marketing efforts will help with generating leads by focusing efforts on your target audience and driving them to a landing page. Your social media and other marketing efforts can do the same.

Getting prospects to engage with you is the first step. From there, you want to nurture them through the buyer’s journey. Your lead generation process may encourage prospects to learn more about your products or services, fill out a form, sign up for a newsletter, download an eBook or Whitepaper, or connect with your sales team.

Once prospects enter your marketing pipeline, you need a way to evaluate the lead quality to determine your next steps.

What is the lead generation process?

There are more ways than ever to generate qualified leads by nurturing prospective customers across the different marketing platforms you use.

Some of the different lead generation techniques that you could use in a diverse marketing strategy include:

  • Content marketing (including blog posts, articles, eBooks, whitepapers, original research, videos, guest posts)
  • Email marketing campaigns
  • Event marketing (conferences and webinars)
  • Search engine marketing (SEM), including Pay Per Click (PPC)
  • Social Media
  • Targeted landing pages

How to generate leads

Lead generation strategies fall into two broad channels: inbound marketing and outbound marketing.

Inbound marketing

Inbound marketing is about attracting a larger audience to your website via landing pages (paid and organic) and other similar techniques.

Whether it’s written content like eBooks and blog posts or how-to videos and webinars, you need to provide informational content to educate website visitors. Most users online use search engines to retrieve information, so creating content based on your target audience’s questions will not only help provide them with answers and action items, but will also help increase your visibility online.

From there, you can educate and later persuade them of the value of your product, ending with calls to action or CTAs that direct them through to your order form, e-commerce store or enquiry page. Also consider downloadable and gated content to help capture lead information.

Read more about gated content and whether it’s right for your business goals.

Outbound marketing

Outbound marketing involves going out to meet your target audience where they are, using techniques such as event marketing and trade show kiosks, paid advertising, or even cold calling.

All these different methods of lead generation can feed qualified leads into your sales funnel, ready for your sales team to convert the lead into a paying customer.

How to qualify leads

Not all leads are equal.

The first interaction rarely leads to a sale, especially in the B2B space. B2B buyers are not likely to be impulse buyers. They instead usually take a strategic path as they research potential solutions to their problems. It’s crucial to identify where these buyers are in their customer journey to provide the right marketing messages.

The first step in your lead management strategy is defining where they are on their journey.

Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs)

Just because someone read a blog post, it doesn’t make them a marketing qualified lead. If that were the case, you could waste a lot of time on prospects that won’t ever become customers. To become an MQL, your marketing team needs to evaluate leads and surface those more likely to become customers.

Each MQL goes through a lead generation process for decision-making. Once the marketing team determines the lead is worth pursuing, leads are nurtured appropriately depending on which stage of the buyer’s journey they are in.

Your goal with MQLs is to continue to market them until they become sales-qualified leads — only then should they be handed off to the sales team to drive them the rest of the way through the conversion process.

#### MQL examples

Someone that has:

  • Completed a form on your website and provided an email
  • ‌Downloaded your buyer’s guide or viewed your demo video.
  • ‌Engaged with your website or social media

MQLs are more at the top or early middle part of the sales funnel. They require a generalized approach to build awareness and trust to drive them deeper into the funnel. Throughout the process, you are collecting data about problems and interests to help refine your marketing efforts.

### Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs)

A sales qualified lead is a lead who has met the criteria you’ve established and is ready for the sales team to pursue. They are leads that have been nurtured by your marketing team and have demonstrated a significant interest in your products or services.

SQLs are near or at the final stage of the sales funnel. Once they’ve shown enough interest or engaged in a triggering event, they’re ready for your sales team to engage and close.

#### SQL Examples

Someone that has:

  • Requested a product demo
  • Asked for a quote
  • Requested a meeting with a salesperson

## Evaluating leads

Qualifying leads involves giving them a score based on their level of interest and engagement in your product and, ultimately, their readiness to make a purchasing decision. It’s an important way to identify the best prospects so that your sales reps can focus on selling quickly to those who are ready to buy immediately.

At the same time, this can identify qualified leads who may need a little more nurturing to get them to the end of the sales process, boosting conversion rates and order values as a core component in your sales funnel.

Lead scoring provides you with a certifiable measurement to discern the lifecycle of a prospect.

Lead generation is about both quantity and quality – and one high-scoring sales-qualified lead is worth more than many low-scoring sales leads.

Evaluating leads manually is tedious at best. For many organizations, weeding through the volume of leads to find the best prospects is labor-intensive and often leads to errors. There is a better way to automate and accelerate your lead generation strategies. With inbound marketing tools and call tracking, you can qualify and score leads generated across all of your different marketing activities, giving your sales team the data they need to maximize revenues and conversion rates.

Streamline the lead generation, lead scoring, and qualifying process

Using CallRail’s unified business communication solution, you can capture and analyze prospect data from end to end. Our solutions empower your team to collect customer data in real-time to optimize lead management.

Lead Center automatically creates a detailed record of each interaction — whether it’s inbound or outbound. If it’s a call, you can easily save audio recordings and make notes. The data is all stored in an electronic database which includes names and phone numbers. No more spreadsheets and lists.

During a call, text, or chat, agents can easily identify and classify leads in real-time by marking prospects as qualified or not qualified with one click. This saves time in sorting through leads to find the best prospects. Agents can even assign a monetary value to conversations to help you better evaluate the ROI and prioritize high-value leads.

You can also set automation rules to classify your interactions automatically. Pre-determine which criteria or actions qualify as triggering events and our CallScore function can qualify, score, tag, or assign a value to the ones that meet your criteria, automatically. Triggering events can include words spoken during a call, a response to a specific marketing campaign, associated buying signals, or more.

To learn more about how call analytics can improve your business, request your no obligation demo of CallRail today.