For any strategic business-to-business (b2b) marketing team, driving leads should be the end goal of all of your marketing efforts. After all, leads are what fuel your business and the higher quality of leads you get, the more goal conversions you will ultimately achieve. First things first, what is a lead? A lead is a person or a business that may eventually become a client, but can also encompass the data of an entity that will lead to a sale. In the digital world, getting leads may come easy to you; however being able to qualify those leads is a whole other ball game. So, what can a business do to ensure healthy lead generation? And why is lead generation so essential?
The following article looks at ways to ensure your business is driving qualifiable leads that have a potential to convert to a successful sale.
Why is lead generation important to your business?
Lead generation is essential in order to enable your sales team to build up a full pipeline of work. Whilst traditionally, salespeople were the ones to generate their own leads by knocking on doors and cold calling, today’s digital marketing practices mean that the majority of lead generation activities fall onto the shoulders of the marketing department, leaving more time for the salesperson to actually sell.
Ways to generate leads
Now that lead generation has become a priority of marketing teams, there are a number of different options to use, from social media activity, to email marketing campaigns and blog posts; all of these channels can be used to drive traffic back to your website where you can capture the details of the potential client.
Some of the best ways to encourage leads include offering a freebie or a discount, ensuring continual follow-up to every lead, optimising your web experience, creating effective calls to action, and following the sales conversion funnel as a guide. In addition, an effective tool for ensuring good digital lead generation is the Digital Value Creation Framework. This framework is split into three areas that consist of ‘Experiences’, ‘Relationships’ and ‘Evolution’ to help support business longevity. Following this framework can help an organisation to be prepared to respond to new and emergent opportunities as leads come in.
The lead conversion funnel explained
The lead conversion funnel is the process your leads go through from the initial collection of a lead, through to point of sale. There are four aspects of the lead conversion funnel, which include awareness, interest, decision and action – each one being crucial to the success of turning a lead into a sale.
The first stage of the lead generation funnel is down to your marketing team, in which it’s essential to be able to attract high quality leads that have the potential to convert. This means attracting the right attention. In order to attract the right target audience, it is essential to ensure you are targeting the right demographics through your content, SEO and paid ad strategies.
Generating interest is the second challenge that marketers and sales professionals encounter and often involves creating a multitude of digital touch points to retain your visitor’s interest.
One of the most common things that can cause a potential lead to lose interest is a poor digital experience. Websites that are difficult to navigate, unclear CTA’s and forms with too many sections to fill out are all culprits for losing a potential lead before you’ve even grabbed their details.
The third aspect of the lead conversion funnel is the part of the journey where you have successfully captured the individual’s contact details, and now its down to sales and marketing to pull together as a team to maintain the person’s interest.
A successful consideration process involves building trust with the potential client whilst educating them on your services and offering a clear solution to their problem.
This is the last stage of the lead conversion funnel and involves closing the deal. In order to do this, the sales and marketing teams must ensure they communicate the value of the business and identify how they are different to any competitors, as well as persuading the client to accept change.
Overall, the general sales cycle in b2b marketing and sales can be long, drawn out and challenging at the best of times, with some conversion funnels lasting as long as a year, depending upon the industry. In this sense, following the lead conversion funnel can be a helpful guide to not getting lost in the lead conversion process and ensuring that quality leads don’t end up falling through the cracks.