Lead generation often uses digital channels, and has been undergoing substantial changes in recent years from the rise of new online and social techniques. In particular, the abundance of information readily available online has led to the rise of the “self-directed buyer” and the emergence of new techniques to develop and qualify potential leads before passing them to sales.
The digital age has also made it easier for companies to research and understand their perspective leads. By understanding the wants and needs of their target customers, companies can tailor information to better draw them in, as well as qualify any potential leads based on a variety of factors, such as engagement and demographic information. It is increasingly important for companies to not only generate new leads but also develop and nurture relationships with them.
Because lead generation is the first step of the sales process, both quality and quantity are important factors. Quality leads are leads that a salesperson has a good chance of closing, which means they must at least have the potential to become customers. Every lead list will have a number of junk leads – people who are not qualified to buy the product for some reason – but the smaller the percentage of bad leads, the less time salespeople will waste while processing that list. Quantity is also important because even a salesperson with a list of 100% good leads won't be able to close every one of them.
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.