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Lead Generation: A Complete Guide for Beginners

Everything you need to know about lead generation

· Sales 101

What is lead generation?

Literally, generating leads means producing and creating leads. However, the term lead generation is broad and vague. So, Mike decides to describe it as a unique way to attract people (customers) to his company by providing them with enough deals to get them naturally interested in his company. Basically, lead generation is the concept of attracting customers to ABC company so that it can help Mike achieve sales goals by getting the leads naturally interested in their product or service.

Inbound vs Outbound Lead Generation: What are the differences?

There are many ways to cultivate leads. Mike can choose to do inbound or outbound lead generation and both can be done online and offline.

The table below shows the main difference between inbound and outbound lead generation:

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The major difference between the two types of lead generation is that inbound lead generation requires the first move from the potential customers to subscribe to a newsletter, sign up an account or download a document online, while outbound strategy is the traditional way where salespeople meet potential clients directly and make them engage with the business.

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When implementing inbound lead generation, Mike captures the leads through deliberate marketing efforts to attract potential leads by creating purposeful content that he thinks will be relevant for people who might eventually purchase his product or service. On the other hand, he needs to meet the leads or contact them directly either online or offline through meetings, events, emails and some social media direct messaging to carry out outbound lead generation.

Both ways of generating leads bring different importance. For inbound lead generation, it helps to educate people on the company’s value proposition. Once Mike reaches out to the leads, he doesn’t need to spend a lot of time explaining his company and value proposition because they have already consumed relevant information through online platforms (blog, website, social media). Next, it also helps to maximize online reach. Through these ways, Mike can easily reach many people and cast a wide net by bringing in numerous leads in exchange for quality content.

While in terms of outbound lead generation, Mike has a higher chance to get high quality leads. This is because he gets to pick suitable or high potential leads before contacting them. Hence, he has some level of certainty that they are worth his time and effort every time he reaches out to someone. Besides, Mike can be proactive about his own sales pipeline rather than being reactive. He can decide who to contact, at what time, through what medium and provide what kind of information. Everything is under

How and Where to generate leads?

Lead Generation Process in detail

A. Inbound Lead Generation

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(i) ABC company will be discovered by a potential lead online – A lead may encounter a content created by Mike or ABC company by searching for a sales term and end up reading their blog, or scrolling through their social media and saw an ad.

(ii) The lead clicks on a call to action (CTA) – ABC company’s blog post is so interesting and the lead subscribes to the blog to get notified on future posts. Otherwise, the lead may find ABC company’s social media ad content engaging and click on it to find out more.

(iii) The leads will be redirected to a landing page that requires their details – After clicking on the CTA, the leads will be required to provide their details in return for certain information. For example, they should fill in their names and email addresses if they want to subscribe to ABC company’s blog.

(iv) They become actual leads – Once Mike receives relevant information of the leads, he can start to nurture by following up with them.

(v) Mike has to enrich the leads – Lead enrichment is important to better understand the leads by verifying, correcting, and including additional information to them.

B. Outbound Lead Generation 

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(i) Choose a correct timing – Mike learns that timing is very important in order to close or lose a deal. So, he has to select a suitable timing for lead outreach based on the most critical concern, the buying signal.

There are more signs to be taken into account when Mike chooses the perfect timing to contact a prospect (a qualified lead that has high potential to buy from Mike’s business):

  • Did his prospect’s company just receive funding? – This could possibly mean more budget for ABC company products or service, and it might be a good time for Mike to reach out. 
  • Did their website just go up beyond a certain user threshold? – Mike can start to invite the prospect for a call or meeting. 
  • Did his prospect’s company start to bring in new traffic from paid channels (paid search, ads, etc.)? – This is a sign that the company begins to invest in performance marketing and Mike can reach out to offer his product or service.

(ii) Select a suitable medium – A suitable medium plays a big role in reaching out to the prospect. Although face-to-face meetings would be the best way to convince a prospect, Mike does not always have time for that. Instead, he reaches out to his prospects through email, cold-calling or even direct message on social media.

(iii) Create and send relevant messages – The effectiveness of a message is solely based on the relevance of the message and the prospect’s interest in the message. Hence, Mike always identifies their needs and ties ABC company’s value proposition to a real-life example of their issue hand in hand with his proposed solution. In this way, he is able to achieve more with less effort.

Common Methods for Lead Generation

A. Inbound Lead Generation

(i) Blog – Mike realises that blog is a good place to learn and grow with the leads. So, he works hard to produce quality and engaging content that is suitable for his target audience. He also adds CTAs at the end of the article or the web page to connect with the audience.

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(ii) Website – There is a slight difference between blog and website. Website consists of essential elements and information of Mike’s company while a blog is just part of the website that serves as an additional source of knowledge.

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Since websites are static in nature where content is organized in pages, and is not updated frequently, Mike decides to put all his best conversion efforts here because this is where leads will either come to convert or bounce right out. He also fills it with interesting content where his company value proposition is at the centerfold, and inserts CTAs at the end.

(iii) Content & SEO – If the content in the blog and website is engaging enough, ABC company will rank highly on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and eventually boost visitor impressions and bring in traffic.

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(iv) Social Media – On social media, everything is casual. Mike often publishes short and engaging short content to encourage casual and two-way conversation.

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For example, Mike replies to comments and mentions as soon as possible to make sure prospects enjoy interacting with him.

B. Outbound Lead Generation

(i) Meetings & Events – The most ideal way to reach out to a prospect is through face-to-face meetings. It is easier for Mike to start a conversation or even a casual friendship with prospects at meetings and events.

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(ii) Email – When Mike has no time for meetings, or when he is not ready to talk face-to-face, he sends emails to initiate first contact. It gives Mike enough time to think about what to say, and how to convince the prospect.

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(iii) Social Media – There are prospects who are more active online. Mike follows them on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and constantly likes and leaves a comment under their posts to make them remember his name. Eventually, it becomes easier to build a positive relationship and establish trust.

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The complete process and some of the ways to generate leads have been demonstrated by Mike in the content above. Next on, Mike will continue to learn about why people generate leads instead of buying them.

Why don't buy leads?

Lead generation takes a long time and this makes Mike start to think: “Why don’t I just buy leads?”

Although buying leads is expensive, it is definitely easier and faster. So, why do people still spend so much time and effort to generate leads?

First of all, purchased leads have no idea who Mike or ABC company is. Usually, this kind of leads are sold after they click on the CTA on other websites and submit their details, instead of opting into receiving any information from ABC company.

If ABC company chooses to buy leads, any messages or emails sent by Mike will be viewed as spam messages because they do not expect to receive information regarding something they are not interested in. Ultimately, it is hard for Mike to even turn the leads into prospects, and impossible to convert them into sales.

So, why waste time and money on something that brings no return? It is always better to generate leads slow and steady, rather than purchasing useless and unhelpful leads.