Lead generation is the use of a computer program, a database, the Internet, or a specialized service to obtain or receive information for the purpose of expanding the scope of a business, increasing sales revenues, looking for a job or for new clients or conducting specialized research. Leads can consist of the names and addresses (or e-mail addresses) of individuals, corporations, institutions or agencies. Lists of leads can be gathered or filtered from targeted databases such as telephone and Internet directories.
As a business owner, imagine that I’m just doing a research, I don’t know exact dates of my holiday (it mostly depends on your availability) and I’m not sure how long I want to stay. I need to find out the options, consider them and talk with my partner. If we would talk on the phone, you would give me dates but what’s next? I would hang up anyway to think about these dates. And that’s not closing a deal. That’s inconvenience for me, because I need to write them down anyway.
Gone are the days that a marketer only relied on outbound techniques like trade shows, cold calling, and advertisements to get leads. Today’s buyer is in control. According to Forrester, buyers seek out three pieces of content about a vendor for every one piece sent by a marketer, and for every one piece sent by sales. Because of buyer self-education, your job as a marketer is to be heard through the noise and come up with new ways for leads to find you. To be a marketer in today’s world, you need a solid grasp of inbound in order to truly amplify your lead generation impact.
Depending on the organisation, the definition of the term “lead” may vary. For some companies, a “lead” is a contact already determined to be a prospective customer, whereas other companies consider a “lead” to be any sales contact. But what remains the same across definitions is that a lead will potentially become a future client. Sales teams therefore have a responsibility to convert a maximum amount of leads to maintain a good conversion rate.
Search engines also provide lead generation options. Any business with a website can appear on a search engine listing for related searches, and visitors can then click a link and be taken to that company's website. However, some search engines also offer a pay-per-click lead generation option. The search engine posts a link to the company's website at the top of the search results form, making it much more likely that prospective customers will choose to visit that website. However, when a visitor does click the link the search engine charges that company a small fee, as opposed to the free 'general' listings.
Sales leads are generated on the basis of demographic criteria such as FICO score (United States), income, age, household income, psychographic, 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 industries.