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What is Lead Generation & How Should You Get Leads Online? 

    Lead generation is the lifeblood of all businesses, any marketer will tell you that. That’s because if you don’t get regular qualified sales leads you won’t be able to generate revenue. 

    And it doesn't take decades of business experience to know that without revenue you won't last long.

    Warning: This post may seem like common sense. 

    “Lead generation” or “lead gen” is one of the most commonly thrown around marketing buzzwords. If you’re in sales, are a marketer, or an entrepreneur you’ve seen this phrase thousands of times.

    But with the rise of “guru” marketers filling up your social media feeds and video players over the last 8-9 years it feels like more and more people have a warped definition for “Lead Generation” and the process of generating leads.

    So, again, this may seem obvious to some of you (especially marketers). But if it isn’t, then I am glad you are reading this, because it means you are interested in investing in a lead generation strategy. 

    Let’s dig into lead generation and how it can help your business get more qualified leads.

    What is Lead Generation?

    Lead generation is defined as the different processes, tactics, and actions that you implement to…

  1. Catch the attention of and attract your ideal business customers/clients
  2. Indoctrinate your best prospects to gain the trust of leads
  3. Get your prospect to take a “High-Intent” next step (add to cart, schedule a meeting, etc.)
  4. Convert quality leads into paying customers or clients
  5. But before we talk about how to do this let’s first define what a “lead” actually is. 

    What Qualifies As A Lead?

lead generation chart

I typically suggest, at a high-level, categorizing your business leads into two categories based on their level of intent.

  1. Prospects who’ve shown interest in what you solve.
  2. Prospects who’ve agreed to talk about how you do it.

I’ll break down the difference:

Lead Type #1: Prospects who’ve shown interest in what you solve.

These leads are often referred to as a Marketing Created Lead (MCL) and represents those who’ve taken actions that show that they are interested in something that your product or service solves. 

These leads may have visited your blog (thank you content marketing strategy), opted in for some additional content on your website, registered their email address or contact information for a webinar, met you at a conference or networking event, etc. 

Effectively what they’re doing is “raising their hand” and saying they are interested in achieving >>INSERT PAIN POINT YOU SOLVE<<. But this type of qualified lead is not at the consideration phase of buying from or working with your business. That comes later in your lead generation strategy. 

To get high quality leads to take that next step you will need to have a sales follow up process to stay top-of-mind and further develop the relationship. 

Lead Type #2: Prospects who’ve agreed to talk about how you do it.

This lead type is most regularly referred to as a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) and is used for prospects who’ve entered the consideration phase of the lead generation process and have requested more information on your products or services. 

This typically manifests in a sales call or meeting to talk through the specifics. 

The big difference here? One group of quality leads is interested in topics related to what you solve, the other is interested in your products or services. 

Both kinds of leads are valuable but since they have different levels of intent it’s important to categorize them accordingly (this can be done in several lead generation tools and lead generation software).

Types of Lead Generation Strategies

Lead generation comes in many shapes and sizes, and no two lead generation strategies are alike. There is not a single way to get leads interested in working with you. 

But here’s where most businesses and sales and marketing teams start…

Online Advertising Lead Generation (Social & Search) 

Now if your business is more established and you are needed thousands of leads and meetings every month then investing your time and money in running ads on social media or search engines can absolutely make a big difference in your lead generation strategy. 

It’s no secret that ad costs are rising and many small businesses are no longer getting the return on investment needed to justify the budget. They are getting priced out, which can lead to fewer site visitors and quality leads. 

If you are like many businesses and don’t have a budget or complex sales funnel in place I suggest you start elsewhere.

Referral Marketing Lead Generation

small business lead generation

Getting referrals from friends, family, clients, and other centers of influence who work with similar clients as you is one of the best ways to generate quality leads and increase your bottom line revenue. 

Because referrals are easier to sell, typically have a higher lifetime value, and have an acquisition cost of $0. 

The issue is that most businesses don’t have a proactive approach to building relationships with referral partners and an ongoing system for getting them to actually… you know… send you referrals. 

Simply relying on people to send business your way on their own volition is not a viable growth strategy to generate leads. That being said, if you have a documented system in place, referral marketing can be a wildly effective way to get new leads and customers.

You can learn more about how to build your own referral network on my upcoming referral marketing masterclass here

Personal Outreach Lead Generation

lead generation chart

Simply put, the best way for most businesses to generate highquality leads and get more sales opportunities is reaching out directly through social media marketing or through email marketing. 

These qualified leads could be connections on LinkedIn, previous business contacts, people you meet at events, your existing email list, or prospects engaging with you on your social media pages. 

People are less trusting than ever right now. You need to build relationships with them before they are going to consider spending their money with you. They’re getting hit with thousands of ads every single day. Billboards, banner ads, email marketing blasts, social ads, youtube pre-roll videos, TV commercials, advertorials, etc. 

The key to lead generation here is to not go for the sale (or ask) right away. You first want to gain their trust through content marketing, resources, and conversation. If you can get leads to positively engage with you one time and mention their pain points or wants you’ll be in a great position to break down their walls and get them to agree to a meeting to talk about how you can help them. 

This issue in the past was that this kind of lead generation took time as it’s a numbers game that requires consistent follow up to achieve success at scale.

But with tools like Connect 365 you can leverage email automation for your outbound lead generation to automate 90% of the work involved, saving your sales and marketing team time and money.

What Lead Generation System is Right For You?

Only you can decide which lead generation system is right for you. I listed three lead gen options above but there are hundreds of lead generation strategies that you can try out to generate leads. 

For most B2B businesses who sell a high-dollar product or service, you need to be more deliberate with your lead generation strategy if you want to generate qualified leads. 

You aren’t going to run an ad to an order form and expect someone to spend thousands of dollars without getting your prospects to trust that you’ll deliver on your promises. 

That’s why I suggest to most businesses who are newer, have little marketing experience or no marketing team, or low budgets start a lead generation strategy with direct email outreach. 

This lead generation strategy allows you to generate leads with highly targeted prospects that you’ve hand picked, can be largely automated inexpensively with Connect 365, and doesn’t require a team of sales and marketing specialists to design ads, landing pages, writing content, etc.

If you want to learn the full system of what I’m talking about, register for my upcoming LEAD Blueprint Workshop for this week

Your Turn

Sign up for my upcoming L.E.A.D Blueprint Workshop

Want a better way to get high quality leads, clients and website visitors? Sign up for my upcoming workshop that goes step by step through our lead generation process that has been so successful in our clients’ businesses — the L.E.A.D. Blueprint.

In the workshop, I’ll be teaching:

  • Exactly what an Authority Leadership Platform is and how you can leverage our Authority Amplifier process to position yourself above the competition, putting your business on an entirely different playing field.
  • How to target high-end prospects using online platforms (social media + email) in a unique way that builds instant trust by doing the polar opposite of what most ‘salespeople’ try
  • How to develop real relationships online using a highly-personal Multi-Touchpoint Messaging Campaign to naturally guide the conversation towards an appointment
  • The right way to automate processes that build trust, improve credibility, and increase responsiveness in your campaigns.

Join an upcoming workshop session by signing up here!

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