Lead generation is the process of making contacts which may lead to a sale or other favourable outcome. Digital lead generation, i. e. via email and online forms, is the most up-to-date and efficient method. A 2014 study found that 78% of respondents cited email as the most-used channel for generating leads.
A lead usually is the contact information and in some cases, demographic information of a customer who is interested in a specific product or service. There are two types of leads in the lead generation market: sales leads and marketing leads.
Sales leads are generated on the basis of demographic criteria such as income, age, HHI, etc. These leads are resold to multiple advertisers. Sales leads are typically followed up through phone calls by the sales force. Sales leads are commonly found in the mortgage, insurance and finance leads.
Marketing leads are brand-specific leads generated for a unique advertiser offer. In direct contrast to sales leads, marketing leads are sold only once. Because transparency is a necessary requisite for generating marketing leads, marketing lead campaigns can be optimized by mapping leads to their sources.
Create, nurture, and discover interest among your prospects so that your sales team can engage them proactively in conversation.
The Changing Face of Lead Generation
The discipline of lead generation has fundamentally changed. It used to be that B2B marketing departments would focus mostly on awareness and branding activities, while a telephone-based group would contact prospects and identify those who were ready for a conversation with Sales. But now that prospects typically have access to all the product and solution information they need, things are different.
Today’s marketing departments realize that their role has shifted from pushing a sales process to facilitating a buying process with the help of marketing automation platforms. In response, they’re taking a dramatically different approach to the way they cultivate and nurture leads before flagging them as ready for follow-up from Sales.
Educating Prospects Over Time
The modern lead generation process begins much earlier in the buying cycle than it used to. Through social media and sharing, educational webinars, and search, marketers seek to be found wherever their prospective buyers may be looking for relevant information on the business challenges that the marketer’s solutions can solve. As a prospect engages with the organisation, the education process can move into lead nurturing. By providing valuable content over time, the marketer will be able to remain top-of-mind and slowly educate the prospect on the key considerations for the purchase decision.
At a certain point, the prospect’s online behaviour – their digital body language – will indicate that they’re ready to engage with Sales in a later-stage discussion about purchasing. Marketers can identify this readiness through lead scoring, which matches the individual’s behaviour to activities that are known to indicate buying intent. The resulting conversation with Sales will involve contracts, pricing, and service levels, and will rest on a foundation of buyer education that has been built in the earlier stages of the lead generation process.
So, Are Phones Obsolete in Lead Generation?
Although lead generation no longer revolves around using the phone to identify qualified leads, that doesn’t mean the calling has stopped entirely. To engage and qualify prospective buyers, inside or outsourced teams will often still call prospects who have shown some level of interest. Sometimes they’ll call to highlight a value proposition or event as part of the lead nurturing and engagement process. In other cases, they’ll call simply to ask questions and determine interest as part of the lead qualification process.
Today’s lead generation software focuses on managing the entire lead lifecycle – from initial engagement, through lead nurturing, to lead scoring and sales handoff. And although phone-based teams often remain part of the lead qualification process, they’re no longer the only means of identifying the prospects who truly have interest.