Introduction to lead generation

Sales funnel

We’ll start by explaining what a “lead” actually is, then go over how those leads are generated, why you need them in the first place, when you can tag someone as a lead, how to tag lead types, and why getting leads the inbound way is so effective.

 

What is a lead?

A lead is any person who indicates interest in a company’s product or service.

Leads come to companies through passing on some personal information when they create an account, try a free trial, or even pay for a subscription.

For example, you can fill out an online survey to learn more about how to take care of your car. A day later, you’ll get an email from the same car company saying they’d love to help you to take care of your car. This process feels far less forced than if they would simply call you without knowing if you were even interested in their services.

From a business perspective, the information that the car company collects from a survey is very valuable. It allows them to tailor the offer directly to your problem, and they don’t have to make unnecessary calls to people who show no interest in the car company’s services.

Leads are part of the cycle that customers follow as they convert from visitor to customer. However, not all leads are created in the same way. There are several types of leads based on which part of the cycle the customer is currently in.

Sales funnel

 

Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)

These are leads who, based on marketing activities, have shown interest in a brand’s offers or have had other experiences with brand touchpoints that make them more likely to become a customer than other leads. They may not yet be ready to buy your product or service.

 

Sales Accepted Lead (SAL)

The Sales Accepted Lead stage is often overlooked in the sales funnel.

This is the stage between MQL and SQL. We refer to it as the “handshake” stage. During the SAL phase, the sales team can take a closer look at the leads and assess their actual quality.

Inevitably, false positives will occasionally appear in the sales funnel. Some leads may look like a good fit based on sales parameters – in reality, they may not be. Other high-quality leads that didn’t qualify for SQL based on existing criteria may be held back due to internal operational issues or data inconsistencies.

Ideally, leads will only be in SAL status for a very short period of time. After review, sales development representatives (SDRs) will likely move these leads to SQL status or return them to MQL status.

 

Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)

A Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) is a lead that has moved through the sales funnel – from a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) to a Sales Accepted Lead (SAL) – to a state where the sales team can work to convert him into an active customer.

 

 Product Qualified Lead (PQL)

These are customers who have already used your product and are interested in becoming paying customer. PQLs are usually found with companies providing a limited version of their product for free (free trial/freemium). So, an example is a customer who uses the free version and has questions about the paid version.

 

Service Qualified Lead

There are customers who have contacted your service team with questions, saying they would like to become paying customer. An example would be a customer who calls a support service saying that they would like a better version of their subscription.

  

What is lead generation?

Lead generation is the process of luring contacts to your business and increasing their interest in your product or service in order to gain new customers. There are many ways to generate leads, for example through job applications, blog posts, coupons, live events, or even online content.

These ways of generating leads are just a few examples of lead generation strategies that you can use to generate new leads that you can then lead to your offers.

Simply put, lead generation is nudging potential customers towards your business and then directing those customers to buy your product or service.

 

Why do we need lead generation at all?

If a person spontaneously shows interest in your brand, the transition from stranger to a customer is then much more natural. Lead generation fits into the second phase of the inbound marketing methodology before a visitor becomes a customer.

 

The lead generation process

Now that we know how lead generation fits into the inbound marketing methodology, let’s take a look at the lead generation process.

  1. A visitor discovers your business through your website, blog, or perhaps social media.
  2. They then click a button that redirects them to perform an action on your website.
  3. The visitor is taken to a page that is designed to acquire a lead in exchange for some offer, such as a course, a book, anything that is of interest and value to the visitor.
  4. The visitor fills out a form on that page and you get a lead.

Simply put: the visitor clicks on a call-to-action (CTA) button that takes them to a page where they can fill out a form, for which they get an offer, and thus become a lead.

 

Which methods should you use to bring visitors in?

Content marketing

Content creation is a great way to drive users to your site. Most often, you can create content that provides visitors with some useful information. Ideally, you want to create content for specific groups of potential customers and for a specific stage of the buying decision. You can also incorporate a button in the content that invites them to redirect to your site. The more you engage the visitor, the more likely they are to click the button.

Email

Email is a great tool to reach people who are already aware of your brand or product. Emails can blend in with each other, so make sure that the button to move to your site is engaging and interesting. At the same time, there is a lot of room in this area for personalizing content based on the type of potential customer or specific actions on the site. Smarter marketing automation tools like Hubspot or ActiveCampaign can also be used.

 Ads and remarketing 

The most important thing is that your site really does deliver on what you mention in your ad and that everything is clear. You can read more about this part in the article SEO vs PPC in B2B.

Blog

The biggest advantage of a blog is that you can detail your offers in it. For example, if you’re offering an instructional video on how to work with a certain type of software, you can add a button to the article (with a similar topic) that takes the visitor to the page with the video. 

Social networks

Social networks are a valuable source of leads, whether through paid activity or organic activity. Social networks are designed to easily navigate the visitor, for example on Instagram you can add call to action buttons to stories or your profile description (bio). Of course, advertising activities and content are very important here too.

Why not buy leads?

Even though it’s very easy to buy leads, compared to organic lead generation it’s a bad idea. The main reason why this is the case is that the contacts don’t know you, they have nothing to do with you and it feels very forced, so you’ll probably end up in the spam or on email operators “blacklist”. That’s why it’s always better to generate leads organically.

 

How to find out if a customer is interested?

Through various information, we can find out if it is a lead we need. Here are some examples:

Job application: a person who is interested in a job position is willing to give a lot of information about themselves, such as name, email, phone number and so on. It is then possible to tag the person as a lead, but only for the recruiting team, not the marketing team.

Coupons: if a person discovers an online coupon that interests them, they are then willing to share some of their information in exchange for the coupon. While this is not a lot of information gained, it is enough for the store to know that the person is interested in their products. 

Lead scoring

Lead scoring is a way of finding leads quantitatively. Leads are categorized by engagement level and other criteria, levels can be divided into “interested” or “ready to buy” for example.

Lead scoring is a methodology used to rate leads on a scale that represents the perceived value of each lead to the organization. The resulting score is used to determine which leads receiving functions (e.g., sales, partners, teleprospecting) to engage in order of priority. The higher the score, the closer the visitor is to becoming a customer or helping move from a new lead to MQL status. 

Acquisition channels for lead generation

We’ve already talked about how to turn a visitor into a customer in this article, but how do we even get visitors in the first place? 

Let’s take a look at a few popular platforms where we get those visitors.

Facebook

Facebook has been used to generate leads since its inception, but a change occurred in 2007 when its algorithm started to suit paid ads more. Facebook has therefore created ads specifically targeting lead generation for this purpose. 

Twitter

Twitter has a special feature called “Twitter lead gen cards” that lets you get leads directly from tweets without leaving the page. The user’s name and email address are automatically saved, and all the user has to do is click the “submit” button.

Linkedin

Another very effective platform to generate leads since its inception. Linkedin has created forms that automatically connect the user’s data after they click the call to action (CTA) button.

PPC

PPC campaigns are used for various types of campaigns, including those for lead generation. There are 3.5 billion searches a day on Google, making it a very effective lead generation tool.

  

By now you know the basics and prerequisites of lead generation. The most important thing is not to be afraid to try new things, constantly test and adjust your lead generation process, this is the only way to improve the quality of your leads and therefore your income. At the same time, it is necessary not to underestimate the technological side of things.

And with all of that, I will be happy to help you. 🙂

Table of Contents

About Lukas Liskovec

About Lukas Liskovec

I help to my clients grow their companies by implementing data-based marketing, digitized sales processes and technologies that add value to the process.
Read one of my articles! It will only take you a moment, but it will enrich you all the more with lots of new information!

Find out more

We’ll start by explaining what a “lead” actually is, then go over how those leads are generated, why you need them in the first place, when you can tag someone as a lead, how to tag lead types, and why getting leads the inbound way is so effective.

 

What is a lead?

A lead is any person who indicates interest in a company’s product or service.

Leads come to companies through passing on some personal information when they create an account, try a free trial, or even pay for a subscription.

For example, you can fill out an online survey to learn more about how to take care of your car. A day later, you’ll get an email from the same car company saying they’d love to help you to take care of your car. This process feels far less forced than if they would simply call you without knowing if you were even interested in their services.

From a business perspective, the information that the car company collects from a survey is very valuable. It allows them to tailor the offer directly to your problem, and they don’t have to make unnecessary calls to people who show no interest in the car company’s services.

Leads are part of the cycle that customers follow as they convert from visitor to customer. However, not all leads are created in the same way. There are several types of leads based on which part of the cycle the customer is currently in.

Sales funnel

 

Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)

These are leads who, based on marketing activities, have shown interest in a brand’s offers or have had other experiences with brand touchpoints that make them more likely to become a customer than other leads. They may not yet be ready to buy your product or service.

 

Sales Accepted Lead (SAL)

The Sales Accepted Lead stage is often overlooked in the sales funnel.

This is the stage between MQL and SQL. We refer to it as the “handshake” stage. During the SAL phase, the sales team can take a closer look at the leads and assess their actual quality.

Inevitably, false positives will occasionally appear in the sales funnel. Some leads may look like a good fit based on sales parameters – in reality, they may not be. Other high-quality leads that didn’t qualify for SQL based on existing criteria may be held back due to internal operational issues or data inconsistencies.

Ideally, leads will only be in SAL status for a very short period of time. After review, sales development representatives (SDRs) will likely move these leads to SQL status or return them to MQL status.

 

Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)

A Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) is a lead that has moved through the sales funnel – from a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) to a Sales Accepted Lead (SAL) – to a state where the sales team can work to convert him into an active customer.

 

 Product Qualified Lead (PQL)

These are customers who have already used your product and are interested in becoming paying customer. PQLs are usually found with companies providing a limited version of their product for free (free trial/freemium). So, an example is a customer who uses the free version and has questions about the paid version.

 

Service Qualified Lead

There are customers who have contacted your service team with questions, saying they would like to become paying customer. An example would be a customer who calls a support service saying that they would like a better version of their subscription.

 

 

What is lead generation?

Lead generation is the process of luring contacts to your business and increasing their interest in your product or service in order to gain new customers. There are many ways to generate leads, for example through job applications, blog posts, coupons, live events, or even online content.

These ways of generating leads are just a few examples of lead generation strategies that you can use to generate new leads that you can then lead to your offers.

Simply put, lead generation is nudging potential customers towards your business and then directing those customers to buy your product or service.

 

Why do we need lead generation at all?

If a person spontaneously shows interest in your brand, the transition from stranger to a customer is then much more natural. Lead generation fits into the second phase of the inbound marketing methodology before a visitor becomes a customer.

 

The lead generation process

Now that we know how lead generation fits into the inbound marketing methodology, let’s take a look at the lead generation process.

  1. A visitor discovers your business through your website, blog, or perhaps social media.
  2. They then click a button that redirects them to perform an action on your website.
  3. The visitor is taken to a page that is designed to acquire a lead in exchange for some offer, such as a course, a book, anything that is of interest and value to the visitor.
  4. The visitor fills out a form on that page and you get a lead.

Simply put: the visitor clicks on a call-to-action (CTA) button that takes them to a page where they can fill out a form, for which they get an offer, and thus become a lead.

 

Which methods should you use to bring visitors in?

Content marketing

Content creation is a great way to drive users to your site. Most often, you can create content that provides visitors with some useful information. Ideally, you want to create content for specific groups of potential customers and for a specific stage of the buying decision. You can also incorporate a button in the content that invites them to redirect to your site. The more you engage the visitor, the more likely they are to click the button.

 

Email

Email is a great tool to reach people who are already aware of your brand or product. Emails can blend in with each other, so make sure that the button to move to your site is engaging and interesting. At the same time, there is a lot of room in this area for personalizing content based on the type of potential customer or specific actions on the site. Smarter marketing automation tools like Hubspot or ActiveCampaign can also be used.

 Ads and remarketing 

The most important thing is that your site really does deliver on what you mention in your ad and that everything is clear. You can read more about this part in the article SEO vs PPC in B2B.

 

Blog

The biggest advantage of a blog is that you can detail your offers in it. For example, if you’re offering an instructional video on how to work with a certain type of software, you can add a button to the article (with a similar topic) that takes the visitor to the page with the video.

 

Social networks

Social networks are a valuable source of leads, whether through paid activity or organic activity. Social networks are designed to easily navigate the visitor, for example on Instagram you can add call to action buttons to stories or your profile description (bio). Of course, advertising activities and content are very important here too.

 

Why not buy leads?

Even though it’s very easy to buy leads, compared to organic lead generation it’s a bad idea. The main reason why this is the case is that the contacts don’t know you, they have nothing to do with you and it feels very forced, so you’ll probably end up in the spam or on email operators “blacklist”. That’s why it’s always better to generate leads organically.

 

How to find out if a customer is interested?

Through various information, we can find out if it is a lead we need. Here are some examples:

Job application: a person who is interested in a job position is willing to give a lot of information about themselves, such as name, email, phone number and so on. It is then possible to tag the person as a lead, but only for the recruiting team, not the marketing team.

Coupons: if a person discovers an online coupon that interests them, they are then willing to share some of their information in exchange for the coupon. While this is not a lot of information gained, it is enough for the store to know that the person is interested in their products.

 

Lead scoring

Lead scoring is a way of finding leads quantitatively. Leads are categorized by engagement level and other criteria, levels can be divided into “interested” or “ready to buy” for example.

Lead scoring is a methodology used to rate leads on a scale that represents the perceived value of each lead to the organization. The resulting score is used to determine which leads receiving functions (e.g., sales, partners, teleprospecting) to engage in order of priority. The higher the score, the closer the visitor is to becoming a customer or helping move from a new lead to MQL status.

 

Acquisition channels for lead generation

We’ve already talked about how to turn a visitor into a customer in this article, but how do we even get visitors in the first place? 

Let’s take a look at a few popular platforms where we get those visitors.

Facebook

Facebook has been used to generate leads since its inception, but a change occurred in 2007 when its algorithm started to suit paid ads more. Facebook has therefore created ads specifically targeting lead generation for this purpose. 

Twitter

Twitter has a special feature called “Twitter lead gen cards” that lets you get leads directly from tweets without leaving the page. The user’s name and email address are automatically saved, and all the user has to do is click the “submit” button.

Linkedin

Another very effective platform to generate leads since its inception. Linkedin has created forms that automatically connect the user’s data after they click the call to action (CTA) button.

PPC

PPC campaigns are used for various types of campaigns, including those for lead generation. There are 3.5 billion searches a day on Google, making it a very effective lead generation tool.

 

 

By now you know the basics and prerequisites of lead generation. The most important thing is not to be afraid to try new things, constantly test and adjust your lead generation process, this is the only way to improve the quality of your leads and therefore your income. At the same time, it is necessary not to underestimate the technological side of things.

And with all of that, I will be happy to help you. 🙂

About Lukas Liskovec

About Lukas Liskovec

I help to my clients grow their companies by implementing data-based marketing, digitized sales processes and technologies that add value to the process.
Read one of my articles! It will only take you a moment, but it will enrich you all the more with lots of new information!

Find out more
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