5 Steps to Hook Leads For Sales Lead Generation

13 min read
Apr 14, 2022

Would you go fishing without a hook on your line and still expect to catch a fish? If not, then you’re not the kind of salesperson who would dive into sales lead generation without having a hook to catch leads!

However, would you believe me if I told you that most salespeople have at best a subpar hook, and at worst no hook at all?

So, do you have a hook? If not, you’re at the right place, because siphoning leads into the sales pipeline depends on your ability to hook them! Without a hook, then lead generation will certainly be disastrous.

By that, we mean:

  1. Leads will go unresponsive;
  2. You’ll get ghosted; and
  3. Lead gen will drag on forever

That said, we’re sharing a simple 5-step method to hook sales leads. Ultimately, you’ll siphon more high-quality leads into your sales pipeline in less time than ever!

Remember, not having a hook to catch leads is like going fishing without a hook on your line! Would you do that?


How Do You Generate Leads in Sales?: Keys to Success


Lead generation is the process of siphoning leads into your sales pipeline.

Generating leads combines two key sales and marketing strategies, including:

  1. Outbound outreach - cold calls, emails, and social media messaging
  2. Inbound marketing campaigns - SEO and content marketing including email campaigns, webinars, white papers, etc.

The goal with generating leads is to have a 100% conversion rate: Each lead generated should convert into a new customer.

On average, a majority of new leads enter the pipeline through outbound outreach tactics. However, that isn’t to say that inbound marketing isn’t essential for lead generation success, as inbound marketing content creates invaluable brand awareness and offers leads additional value throughout their buyer’s journey.

When it comes to generating leads through outbound methods, there are a few very important keys to success on top of having a great hook, including:

  1. Being extremely specific about who your ideal leads are;
  2. Moving swiftly; and
  3. Not overthinking the process.

Even though a majority of sales teams cite generating leads as one of their biggest headaches, the truth is that most teams inflict that pain on themselves by not having a hook and not following these keys to success.

Thankfully, getting out of that endless cycle of lead generation headaches is simpler than you might think.


How do you generate leads in sales?


What Is a Hook & Why Is it Important?


There is no such thing as something for nothing. You can’t expect to get something from somebody else without offering them something first.

While this hard truth is well known amongst B2B marketers and sales teams, many of them act as if the opposite is true! Instead of giving in order to get, they try to take without ever offering something valuable first. In other words, they don’t put out a solid hook for their potential customers.

A hook is a sales tool used to add immediate value to prospective customers. To entice them into your sales pipeline, you have to offer them a hook with some valuable bait on it. Whenever you make cold calls, emails, or messages, you MUST add a hook to your line; it’s the way that you give in order to get!

There are countless different ways to add value with your hook, and it doesn’t necessarily matter how you do it. But it does matter that you do it!

Think about it: Why would a new lead ever give you their time and attention if they don’t feel like they’re going to take any value from it?

Put yourself in their shoes... If some salesperson came up to you and asked you for your energy without ever giving you something first, wouldn’t it immediately turn you off?

To get a lead to respond to your initial outreach and siphon them into your sales pipeline, you need to hook them with some valuable bait! Without a hook, you’ll never get leads into your pipeline.


What to Do Before Creating a Hook


Before creating a hook, there are a couple of other steps in the B2B lead generation process that you need to accomplish first, including:

  1. Defining your ideal target customer
  2. Generating a list of potential customers that fit your defined target customer
  3. Collecting contact information for those potential customers

Once you accomplish these three tasks, then you’re ready to create your hook. Once you create your hook, you’re ready to make cold calls, cold emails, and send social media messages. On top of that, you’re ready to create inbound marketing content.

That said, before creating your hook, start here:


1. Define Your Ideal Customer


First and most importantly, you need to define who your ideal target customer is. Specifically, you need to create an:

  1. Ideal prospect profile (IPP) for your ideal B2B companies; and
  2. Ideal buyer persona (IBP) for the decision-makers at the ideal companies.

The idea is to create a caricature of your target companies and their decision-makers. Be sure to get as specific as possible and go beyond just basic demographic information.

The more detailed you get, the more time you can spend working with solid qualified leads rather than totally unqualified leads who will never sign a deal.

Having a detailed and specific target customer is not just a key to lead gen success, but overall sales success!


2. Generate a List of Potential Customers


Next up, use your IPP and IBP as guidance to generate a list of leads.

You can use lead generation tools like LinkedIn Navigator if you want, but regardless of the method you choose, the key to success is making sure that each lead fits your IPP and IBP! Remember, the last thing you want to do is waste time on a lead that is totally out of your range.

Don’t forget to ask your current customers for referrals! The best thing about referred leads is that they almost always fit the requirements of your IPP and IBP.

To ask current customers for referrals, schedule a quick 10-minute phone call to ask them questions about how they’re doing and how you can help them more. Then at the end of the call, ask if they know of anybody else who might need your help. 

As long as you take time in the call to ask them questions and give them your attention, they’ll gladly give you referrals!


3. Collect Contact Information


Lastly, before getting started with outreach, don’t forget to get organized! Pick out a CRM or other lead generation software to organize your new lead’s contact information, particularly their:

  1. Phone number;
  2. Email address; and
  3. Different social media platform profiles.

If you’d rather not spend money on software with tons of bells and whistles, you can simply create an organized Excel spreadsheet to keep contact info well organized.

Believe it or not, many sales teams cite disorganization as one of their worst sales-related issues.

Sound familiar?

Letting disorganization stand in between you and closed sales deals is silly, so be sure to equip yourself with the tools necessary to stay put together.


sales lead generation tools


5 Steps to Simply Hook Leads for Sales Lead Generation


No more throwing your sales line out into the abyss without a hook while still expecting to reel in new leads! Start here to create a hook that is not only effective, but specifically targets ideal leads in your target audience without sounding like a cheesy mess.

Keep in mind that sales is central to overall business success, and that lead generation is central to overall sales success. If you can’t catch any sales leads, then you can’t have any sales or business success at all.

Therefore, creating the perfect hook is of the utmost importance, and it’s about time that you created one starting… now!


1. Add Immediate Value


I said it above and I will say it again: There is no such thing as something for nothing!

Why would a fish bite your line if there is no hook with bait on it?

Similarly, why would a potential customer respond to your cold call, email, or message and set up a formal meeting if they don’t see that there’s anything in it for them?

If you take anything away from this, just remember that your hook needs to add immediate value to the lead’s life! By value, I mean something that shows them that they could benefit from responding to your message and taking you up on a meeting.

If you can’t show the lead with your hook that there is something positive in it for them, then there is no hope of getting a response.


There Is No Such Thing as Something for Nothing


Now, you might be thinking to yourself, “But how can I add value so early on in the sales process?

Here’s the thing: Sometimes the smallest gestures go the farthest. You don’t need to roll out the red carpet and offer your lead a million dollars to respond to your call, email, or message.

For example, you can say something like, “Hey, I’ve got some awesome insights on your current website visitors that could take your marketing campaigns to the next level! If you send me your availability for tomorrow I will send you a call invite.” See how you’re offering them valuable insights before asking them for their time?

Again, a little value can go a long way!


Remember, You’re There to Help the Prospect!


Sales isn’t about you. Unfortunately, prospects are too consumed with their own problems to care about the fact that you’re trying to fill your pipeline with new leads.

If you’re doing cold outreach and saying things like, “I would love to...” or “I would like to have the chance to...”, then you’ll immediately turn the lead off.


Because they don’t care about what you want. Instead, they care about what they want.

You’re there to help the prospect, and you are in no way helping a prospect by making things all about you and your wants.


2. Create a STAND OUT Subject Line/Intro Line


Your potential leads are probably receiving several cold emails, calls, and messages per day. With so many messages to look at, how do they choose which ones to respond to or even open in the first place?

To put it simply, they’re responding to the ones that hook their attention right off the bat. More specifically, the ones that have a stand-out subject line or introduction.

The good news is that there are countless ways to stand out! The key is simply to think outside the box. Rather than using the same bland and overused subject lines that everybody else is using, go in the opposite direction.

Furthermore, hooking leads is a matter of standing out. In order to stand out, you must veer right when everyone else is veering left!


Forget Social Norms


Most of us live inside of a bubble of totally pointless social norms and rules. Not only are these rules and norms useless, but they’re counterproductive to lead gen success.

For example, there are pervasive and outright terrible social rules that say you have to talk or act a certain way for leads to like you. However, following these social rules only forces you back into the weeds instead of helping you stand out.

Sure, you might feel uncomfortable standing out from the crowd by ignoring social norms, but it’s the only way to stand out and hook attention.


Most Leads Don’t Look Past the Subject Line


As I mentioned above, your leads are probably receiving many cold emails and messages per day. With so many messages to look through and only so little time, how do they choose which ones to give their attention to?

Believe it or not, many rely solely on the subject line to decide whether or not to open it.

If you’re going to grab attention, go all-in with a killer subject line. It’s one of the only opportunities to hook prospects who are constantly being pulled in millions of other directions.


3. Ignite Curiosity


When hooking your prospects, you never want to give them 100% of the bait right away. Rather, you want to give them a simple taste test so that they’re left wanting more.

By that, I mean that when hooking a prospect, you want to leave a little room for some curiosity!

If you give prospects 100% right away, then why would they ever schedule an initial meeting with you? They got what they wanted, so what’s the point?

Bottom line: Always leave a little room for curiosity.


Display an Opportunity


The best way to ignite curiosity in your hook is by displaying a potential opportunity.

When you send an initial cold message or make a cold call, tell the lead that you want to show them something specific that’ll help them rise up in their industry.

For example, tell the lead that you’ve got data on their competitors which will help them increase their subscriber count. However, don’t tell them the full story on the data about their competitors.

The idea is that you display an opportunity without telling the whole story of it. That way, the prospect becomes curious and motivated to take you up on an initial meeting.


4. Act Natural (Don’t Sound Sale-sy)


How often do you get emails or social media messages that are obviously the product of some crummy automation service? Even worse, how often do you get messages that are so obviously the product of a basic copy and paste template?

Straight-up: If you want any chance of hooking prospects, then you’ve got to act natural! And, the same-old robotic templates sound anything but natural.

Believe it or not, leads want to work with genuine people who have genuine personalities... Not robotic salespeople!

If you’re afraid that acting natural will make you less professional, know that it’s better to be slightly less professional than it is to sound even a bit robotic.


Lean Into Your Unique Personality


Whenever you lean into your unique personality, you automatically come across less like a used-car salesperson and more like an expert individual.

Not only that, but you’ll inevitably stand out from your competitors even more by simply being yourself.

There isn’t anyone else out there like you, so you might as well take advantage of those unique factors to hook leads!


5. Put it All Together


Now it’s time to put steps one through four together and wrap them in a bow to craft a basic outreach outline script that works for cold calls, emails, and messages, and easily hooks on to sales leads!

By script, we don’t necessarily mean a robotic, word-for-word script without any room for adaptation. Rather, a basic outline that leaves plenty of room for customization.

This is the part where most sales reps completely drop the ball. Rather than keeping things simple, they start to overthink.

As a result, the potency of their hook goes to zero.

That said, don’t let overthinking get to you! If putting all the pieces together starts to feel difficult, you're thinking too much about it.


Keep It Short & Sweet


The shorter and sweeter your hook is, the better.


Because the shorter and sweeter the hook is:

  1. The less likely your hook gets lost in the sauce;
  2. You keep the lead’s attention; and
  3. The greater the potency of the hook.

If you want your hook to have the greatest impact, then keep it as straightforward as possible.


sales lead generation process


Extra: Update Your Hook as You Go


Your hook is NEVER going to be perfect. Even top sales professionals never fully master the art of the hook.

That said, don’t wait until your hook is “perfect” to start putting it to use. Instead, start before you feel you’re ready, and then make adjustments to it as you go!

Once you start putting the hook to work, you’ll get a feel for what is and isn’t good about it. Then, you can take those insights and use them to make the hook even more effective.

Get going with outreach and make changes as you go!


Don’t Overthink It


I said it above and I’ll say it again here: Don’t overthink this!

Hooking a lead is a simple matter of pulling them into the sales pipeline... That’s it!

You wouldn’t overthink throwing a hook out into the ocean to catch a fish, would you? If not, then you don’t need to overthink hooking a lead.

Sure, lead gen and hooking leads comes with challenges, but just because something is challenging doesn’t mean that it’s difficult.

If hooking leads makes you feel like you’re jumping through hoops and over landmines, then you’re definitely overthinking it.


Stop Stalling and Start Taking Action!


Saying that you’re waiting to get started because you want to make the hook perfect is nothing more than a stalling tactic.

Stalling tactics are a simple matter of fear. Whenever you’re afraid to do something, your body tries to stop or stall in its tracks to avoid facing the scary situation.

Instead of trying to perfect your hook even more and wasting time in the process, you’re better off confronting your fears head-on.

Once you confront your fear, you can use it as energy to help push you forward rather than hold you back.


Just Follow Up!


Here’s the thing: Just because you have an awesome hook doesn’t mean that it’s going to work 100% of the time on the first try.

At the end of the day, leads live busy lives and might skip over your initial message or not even have enough time to look at it right away.

Instead of getting discouraged and calling it quits, throw your hook out a second time by following up within 24 hours of your initial message. If you still don’t hear back, continue to throw your hook out there every 12 hours until the lead grabs it.

Remember, leads are busy people, just like you! So if they’re not immediately responding to your outreach, it’s probably because they’re simply busy. If they genuinely don’t want anything to do with you, then they’ll respond and tell you.


Final Thoughts on How to Hook Prospects During Lead Gen


Don’t be like the sales reps who dive into lead gen without a hook! Do yourself a favor and set a hook, otherwise you’ll essentially dive into lead gen like a diver jumps into the open sea hoping to catch a fish with their bare hands.

Lead generation is many sales reps' arch-nemesis, but it can certainly be one of your best friends if you learn to set the right hook. 

What are you waiting for? There’s a whole sea of leads out there waiting to catch your line!


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