This post is all about the top of the funnel. Keeping that filled is critical to sales success. There seem to be hundreds of options when it comes to lead generation. The goal here is to break them down and look at the ones that can really move the needle.Lead generation is split into two main categories: Inbound and outbound.
Inbound lead generation is when prospects actively seek out your solution. Seth Godin labeled this one “permission marketing.” This typically happens via Google searches, or clicks through an interesting social media post (not an ad).
Outbound lead generation is outreach that disrupts your prospect’s daily routine in order to get them to interact with your brand. Seth labeled this one “interruption marketing.” These can include advertisements, cold calls, cold emails, etc.
Selecting the best strategy that fits your business is beyond the scope of this post. Check out this great writeup the fine folks over at Instapage did on comparing the two.
Lead generation strategies
We’ve color coded the ones that are best performed by sales and those best performed by marketing.
Inbound Lead Generation
- Content Marketing – A ton of inbound strategies tie back to content. The idea here is to create something valuable that your prospects are searching for. This can be blogs, videos, newsletters, etc.
- Public Relations – PR is basically about creating strategic communications about your product or company that are newsworthy.
- Search Engine Optimization – SEO has to do with the type of keywords, links, and structure of the content on your website.
- Social Media Marketing – This is the process of building networks and gaining attention through social media. It’s typically heavily tied to your content marketing strategy above.
- Public Speaking – Being a speaker at events, even small ones, is another powerful part of content marketing. You’re essentially teaching others something interesting and, in return, they view you and your company as a source of authority on the subject.
- Event Marketing – Event marketing is creating content through hosting events. This can be something as simple as a happy hour, or as complicated as a conference.
Outbound Lead Generation
- Inside Tele-sales – This involves a team of salespeople who cold call lead lists that have either been generated through inbound marketing, sourced internally, or purchased.
- Outside Sales – This involves a team of salespeople who go out in the field and meet with prospects.
- Cold Email Campaigns – These involve the sending of emails to prospects who haven’t yet interacted with your company in order to begin the sales process.
- Advertisements (Print & Digital) – This can include anything from billboards, to trade journal ads, to social media ads, to Google PPC ads.
- Direct Mail – This tactic consists of the creation of printed collateral that is mailed directly to prospect lists.
- Networking – Networking involves outside sales teams physically attending events and connecting with individuals who can become prospects.
- Social Media Engagement – Social media engagement is the actual interaction on social media sites.
Make sure that the tactics you choose for lead generation fit well with your sales process. For a more detailed look at what goes into a sales process, check out our comprehensive post here.
Lately there has been a huge emphasis on inbound marketing. This shift occurred in the late 90s and early 2000s when people really started searching out things on the internet. The bulk of the research points to a blended strategy that is custom tailored to your business. The correct strategy for you will depend on the type of business you’re in and the product or service you’re selling.