When it comes to business strategies, successful companies often attribute their most exceptional results to an ability to consistently generate high-quality leads in their market. Investing in a solid and effective lead generation process has helped business leaders from several industries to ramp up sales outcomes and boost company growth. 

What is a Lead?

In a few words, leads are individuals with the potential to convert into paying customers for a business. They can be attributed different names depending on their readiness to make a purchase decision.

Types of leads

Sales experts classify leads by their level of interest in a company’s offerings as follows:

  • Marketing qualified leads
  • Sales qualified leads
  • Product qualified leads

Marketing qualified leads (MQLs) are prospects that have shown interest in a company’s offerings by engaging with a social media content, website page, webinar, or another related channel. 

Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) are potential customers who have crossed the MQL stage and are already interested in purchasing. Sales development representatives (SDRs) flag these prospects and forward them to account executives (AE) for closing-level engagements.

Product Qualified Leads (PQL) are potential customers who have tested a product or service and are indicating strong interest in making the purchase.

What is Lead Generation?

Lead generation is the process of creating interest in a product or service and attracting potential customers to a company. It draws prospects to businesses and gives SDRs the opportunity to qualify them in preparation for sales. 

Most lead generation tactics fall into two categories: inbound and outbound. Inbound strategies involve creating content that organically attracts prospective customers to your business. Outbound techniques focus on actively reaching out to prospects to build interest in your product or service. 

The main differences between inbound and outbound lead generation are shown below: 

Features Inbound lead generation Outbound lead generation 
TargetTargeted content to attract specific audiences General content to reach out to prospects
Content FormatInteractive content Passive content 
ChannelsMultichannel approachLimited channels

The Lead Generation Process

Businesses can attract more prospects and generate better revenue by creating a structured lead generation process. You can develop your lead gen strategy from scratch or improve an existing one by following these simple steps: 

  1. Prospect identification 
  2. Content creation
  3. Data capturing
  4. Lead nurturing 
  5. Lead scoring

Prospect identification 

Identifying potential prospects is the first crucial step to building an effective lead generation process. You can create ideal buyer personas to separate your target audience from the general public. 

Content creation

After finding your company’s target audience, you’ll be able to develop content and strategies tailored to their preferences. Creating engaging, educational, and interactive materials that meet your leads’ needs is effective for building interest in your products and services. 

Content marketing is one of the most effective lead generation techniques. Businesses can leverage emails, blogs, social media posts, ad campaigns, referral programs, and free trials to attract their target audiences. 

Data capturing 

Attracting potential customers is only the first part of the lead generation process. Businesses must create opportunities to collect valuable prospect information and ultimately convert leads into paying customers. Top-performing companies use landing pages, web forms, and live chat to capture data for nurturing and qualifying prospects. 

Lead capture forms should include contact details and demographic data, which can be analyzed to understand prospects’ needs and improve the sales process. 

Lead nurturing 

The main goal of the lead generation process is to convert prospects into customers. The most successful businesses understand how to use relevant data to nurture and guide potential customers to purchase. 

Sales collateral and other valuable materials are useful for lead nurturing. You can use emails, social media, and web content to provide quality information and position your company as a solution to your customers’ pain points. 

Lead scoring

Lead qualification involves evaluating a lead’s readiness to make a purchase. Assigning a score to every action a lead has performed along the process can determine which prospects can proceed to the next level of the sales funnel. 

Leads with the highest score are those who visited your website, engaged with content, downloaded materials, replied to emails, and enrolled for free trials. The sales team uses the information gathered from the lead scoring process and works on closing deals with hot prospects. 

Bottom Line 

Creating a lead generation process increases business revenue and helps establish a highly-converting sales funnel. Sales leaders can adjust the steps above to their businesses’ specific needs and consistently review these strategies for outstanding results. 

Lead Generation FAQs

What is lead generation?

Lead generation is the process of identifying and attracting potential customers for your business. It involves acquiring the contact information of prospects and preparing them to talk to a salesperson.

What are the benefits of lead generation?

Lead generation increases business awareness, reduces marketing spending, and improves sales revenue. 

How do I recognize a hot lead?

Lead nurturing, scoring, and qualification are core steps of identifying hot leads. Combining these techniques helps companies to identify which prospects are ready for sale. 

What is the difference between lead generation and marketing?

Lead generation targets potential customers while marketing focuses on the general audience. Lead generation can be implemented as a subset of the marketing strategies to effectively grow your business. 

How do I implement a lead generation process?

You can hire a lead generation specialist to join your team or outsource the process to a reliable sales company. Businesses can also train internal salespeople to use techniques like content marketing, search engine optimization, social selling, and email newsletters for finding and attracting potential clients.