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.
Build an email list. There is a system for working with leads. The first step is getting them to be aware of and take an interest in what you have—by visiting your website, for example. The next best step is to ask your leads to sign up for your email list. You can get them to sign up by offering something for free, such as a report or something useful, from your website. For instance, if you're selling wellness products, then you might offer a guide to good-for-you ingredients or recipes. This will allow you to communicate with your prospects and provide valuable information related to your business and the general field that it's in, such as special sales, events, news, and research—and stay top-of-mind to your past, current, and possible future customers. Just be sure that you're following the laws and regulations regarding email marketing.
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Because search engines equate high-quality content with a high-quality website, creating content with value is very important. Conduct a content audit to see how many of your assets fall into the thought leadership vs. promotional category. That means making sure that your thought leadership content has substance to it. Lots of companies are jumping on the content bandwagon, so do it right: focus on quality over quantity, and on providing useful – not promotional – information.
Lead Qualification and Filtering is the process of determining whether a lead is ready to be passed on to sales based on things like customer demographics and behaviours. Some leads will be filtered out, because they are not yet at that stage or appear less promising than others – focussing on unqualified leads is a waste of time and resources. Customer relationship management (CRM) software can be used to track and evaluate leads before distributing them to sales.
In B2B, inbound is the preferred channel of lead generation. The whole process of drawing a lead into doing business with you—by educating first and selling later—matches the B2B business model, where businesses don’t make impulsive purchase decisions. Which is why inbound marketing in B2B takes leads through three levels of the sales funnel: ToFu (top of the funnel), MoFu (middle of the funnel), and Bofu (bottom of the funnel).
Lead scoring is a way to qualify leads quantitatively. Using this technique, leads are assigned a numerical value (or score) to determine where they fall on the scale from “interested” to “ready for a sale”. The criteria for these actions is completely up to you, but it must be uniform across your marketing and sales department so that everyone is working on the same scale.
Lead generation is the method of getting inquiries from potential customers. In the old pre-Internet days of sales, lead generation occurred at places like trade shows – visitors to a company's booth would fill out a card with their contact information and turn it in to receive a call back from that company's sales team. Since the rise of the Internet, many businesses use their websites as a lead generation option. Email also offers lead generation potential, since companies can buy another company's email marketing list or pay them to promote the company on their own marketing emails.
Companies that pay attention to each of these steps, especially in the early planning stages, and devote the right resources and budget, tend to perform better than the competition. The process isn't simple, and ignoring any of these steps can lead to poor outcomes. Building a killer process, on the other hand, leads to sustained growth and profitability.
For B2B companies or those who offer very complex services or products, lead nurturing is often a very important part of the relationship with their customers. There are a variety of ways to nurture a lead, and grow them into a buyer, but email is often considered a failsafe solution. It’s inexpensive, endlessly customizable, and can help you deliver the right message at exactly the right time, opening doors and starting conversations that will eventually create a sale.
Each lead generation technique usually has a tradeoff between quality and quantity. For example, a form on the company website that visitors can fill in to request a call back will generate high-quality leads – these visitors are very likely to buy since they're interested enough to want to hear more – but probably won't generate a lot of leads. On the other hand, a lead list that's based on a newsletter subscription list from another company may generate a lot of leads, but they won't be nearly as interested or qualified.
"The number of Cyberchondriacs has jumped to 175 million from 154 million last year, possibly as a result of the health care reform debate. Furthermore, frequency of usage has also increased. Fully 32% of all adults who are online say they look for health information "often," compared to 22% last year." said Harris Interactive in a study completed and reported in August 2010 with demographics based in the United States of America.