Contrary to popular belief, the sales lead generation process is perhaps the most straightforward step of the entire selling process.
Unfortunately, many sales professionals are gaslit into believing that lead gen is nothing short of extremely difficult. Why? Because online gurus WANT sales reps like you to believe that lead generation is difficult so that you buy into their clickbaity products and services.
However, I’m here to tell you that top-tier sales professionals are successful because, instead of buying into the false belief that lead gen is difficult, they keep things simple!
To help you get on the level of leading sales professionals who create success by keeping things simple, I’m sharing my 3-step sales lead generation process.
By adopting this process, you’ll:
- Speed up the entire sales cycle;
- Increase your lead gen conversion rates; and
- Do it all with fewer headaches in the process.
For ultimate sales success, keep selling, and particularly the lead gen process, simple!
The Best Way to Generate Leads In Sales
The best way to generate leads in sales is by getting sales and marketing teams to work together to make use of the two primary sales lead generation strategies, including:
- Inbound lead generation; and
- Outbound lead generation.
First off, inbound lead generation is that in which marketing teams organically draw leads to them through inbound channels. Examples of inbound lead gen tactics include content marketing, email marketing campaigns, and SEO.
Typically, only about 10% of leads get generated through inbound channels. However, that isn’t to say that the inbound strategy isn’t important when it comes to generating leads. Because in addition to generating leads, the inbound strategy also works to increase overall brand awareness and add value to a lead’s buying process.
Second, outbound lead generation is that in which sales teams go out and seek new leads themselves. Examples of outbound lead gen tactics include cold calling, cold emailing, social media outreach, and referrals.
An average of about 90% of new leads enter the sales pipeline through outbound channels.
While both strategies are very different, combining the two will likely make for the best lead generation and overall sales results.
What You’ll Need to Get Started With Lead Gen: Tools & Resources
Before getting started with your lead generation campaign, you need to gather some lead generation tools, including a:
- CRM system; and a
- Prospecting platform.
These two sales tools will help streamline your process and keep it organized.
Additionally, you’ll also need to rally your team members to get them in on the mission. While not every sales and marketing team member needs to be working on the lead gen phase, it’s important that they're all at least aligned on the mission.
Furthermore, start here before diving into the 3-step process.
First of all, you need a CRM software to help organize the lead gen process and store information. And not just any CRM software, but a straightforward system that’s easy to manage.
Believe it or not, many sales teams invest in CRM systems with tons of bells and whistles that only make it more difficult for them to keep their selling process in line.
The truth is that you’re better off using a basic spreadsheet to keep track of your selling than an unnecessarily complex CRM that only adds unnecessary complexity to your plate.
Second, consider a prospecting platform such as UpLead or LinkedIn Navigator for collecting cold lead contact information.
Just like how you should pick a CRM system that is simple and straightforward to operate, you should do the same with your prospecting platform. The last thing you want to do is waste time just trying to figure out how to operate the platform.
Whichever platform you opt for, just be sure that you’re able to get each prospect’s email, phone number, and social media platform names.
Get Your Sales Team on Board
Finally, get your sales team on board with the mission. While not every sales team member needs to be directly involved with the lead gen stage, everybody should still be aware of the process.
I suggest delegating different lead gen tasks to different team members so that each person can master their individual task. For example, if a sales team member is very interested in cold calling, let them own that particular task.
Additionally, be sure to meet with your team members on a regular basis to address concerns and answer questions. Oftentimes, sales teams implode on themselves because of poor communication. Instead of letting bad communication cause your lead gen demise, keep communication in line by keeping conversations open and regular.
1. Define Ideal Customers & Clarify Your Unique Value Proposition
The first step of the 3-step lead gen process is digging into your ideal customers and clarifying your unique value proposition. This will require some research and brainstorming.
Defining your ideal customer is a matter of understanding who they are on a deeper level. Yes, demographics are important, but it’s important to dive deeper than that. When you understand who your ideal customers are, targeting them and appealing to them is simple.
Additionally, you need to clarify the value that you bring to the table because your unique value should appeal to your target customers and make you stand out from the competition. Believe it or not, many sales teams can’t even define what it is that makes their company unique!
Ready to do some research?
A. Connect With Your Current Customers
When it comes to defining your ideal customers, the answer is right under your nose.
Instead of going on some long-winded hunt to define your target audience, simply look to your current customers!
Ask yourself what it is about these customers that makes them a great fit for you. Consider the personality of the decision-makers, company culture, and their values. And, of course, be sure to outline surface-level factors like company size and revenue.
Most importantly, set up what I like to call 10-minute success calls with a few of your top customers. During those calls, ask targeted questions regarding the customer’s experience working with you.
Again, instead of bending over backward to define your target customers, simply look to your current customer base!
Get Honest Feedback
So what kinds of questions should you be asking your customers?
Ask feedback-oriented questions, such as, “What else can I be doing to make your experience more positive?” and “How has your pain point changed since we started working together?”
These kinds of questions give you a clear idea of your target customer’s expectations and what they look for from their product/service providers.
Not only that, but asking for honest feedback makes your customers feel appreciated, which will build upon the existing customer relationship.
Uncover the Perceived Problem
Additionally, look back to your previous selling processes and ask yourself what your current customer’s perceived problem was before they started working with you.
For example, perhaps the customer initially believed that they didn’t have enough content marketing, and you showed them that it wasn’t that they needed more content, but better quality content.
When you know what your current customer’s perceived problems were early on in the selling process, then you know how to hook a potential customer’s attention in the future (more on this below)!
B. Ask for Referrals
Before hanging up the phone after your 10-minute success calls, ask your customer for a referral!
Thank them for their time and then ask them if they know of any other B2B company out there that could use the help of your product or service.
More often than not, customers are more than happy to give you referrals because you took the time to ask them questions and show them that you care about their success.
The best part is that referred leads are usually high-quality leads!
C. Clarify Your Unique Value Proposition
Next, clarify your company’s unique value proposition (UVP).
Commonly referred to as a unique selling point, the UVP is the factor that makes your product/service different from the competition. It’s the factor that makes your ideal customers say to themselves, “This company is different from all the rest, so I want to work with them!”
Also, the UVP is a factor that appeals specifically to your target audience.
For example, let’s say that your ideal customers value seamless processes and implementation above all else; if that’s the case, then your UVP should align with those customer preferences.
Like I said above, many salespeople can’t even say what their company’s UVP is! As a result, they don’t understand how to appeal to their ideal customers on a deeper level.
If that’s the case, clarifying that UVP is of the utmost importance.
D. What Key Outcomes Do You Create?
Yes, your product or service solves a particular pain point, but what outcome does solving that problem create?
Think of it like this: A patient with back pain goes to the orthopedic surgeon to solve their back pain. The outcome that the surgeon creates for the patient is a healthy, back pain-free life in which they can move with ease.
That said, what door opens when your customer’s pain point gets solved?
E. Put Together the Ideal Prospect Profile & Ideal Buyer Persona
Finally, round out step 1 by putting together an ideal prospect profile and ideal buyer persona. At this point, you should have all the information you need to put these two all-important sales tools together.
The ideal prospect profile is a caricature of your ideal B2B companies.
Second, the ideal buyer persona is a caricature of the decision-makers at your target B2B companies.
The key is to be as detailed as possible. Get so detailed that if a stranger approached you on the street and asked you to paint a mental picture of your target customers, you could do it for them.
2. Identify Your Potential Customers
Next up, it’s time to get technical.
Thanks to the research you did in step 1, you’re ready to compile a list of ideal prospects who you will eventually contact.
This list should represent your dream customers! If there’s some prospect out there who you dream about working with, don’t be afraid to add them to your list.
A. Identify Leads With a Prospecting Software
To start step 2, use a prospecting software to create a list of potential leads.
Input the specified characteristics of your target B2B companies as specified in your ideal prospect profile, and then sift through the results to identify which prospects are your best opportunity.
If a prospect looks interesting but doesn’t 100% fit with your ideal prospect profile, it’s reasonable to still consider them.
However, you don't want to get to the point in which you start adding every possible lead to your list. Because at the end of the day, not every prospect is a good opportunity!
Like I always say, identifying leads is a quality game, not a quantity game!
Target the Decision Makers
When it comes to prospecting, go in with a top-down approach instead of a bottom-up approach. By that, I mean target decision-makers at the targeted companies instead of a representative lower on the chain of command.
Try to target decision-makers who fit your ideal buyer persona. If it helps, check out their social media accounts to get a better sense of the decision-maker’s persona.
B. Put a Contact List Together
Now that you’ve identified your target companies and their decision-makers, put together a contact list for those decision-makers.
For each target, list their:
- Phone number
- Email address
- LinkedIn account
The key is to keep this list as organized as possible. Too many sales teams spend too much time organizing and reorganizing their contact list instead of actually doing the hard sales work!
C. Create a Hook
Would you ever throw a fishing line out into the sea without a hook on the end and still expect a fish to bite it?
If not, then you’re not the kind of salesperson who would try to capture new leads without having a hook for them to bite!
A hook is a sales tool that you use to capture a lead’s attention during cold outreach. Without a hook, leads are more likely to hang up the phone on you or ignore your messages.
If you’re one of the salespeople who constantly finds themself getting ignored during cold outreach, then odds are you either don’t have a hook, or your current hook is totally unappealing.
Add Immediate Value to the Prospective Customer’s Life
A hook works on a fish because there is bait on the end of the hook. The fish sees a valuable opportunity in biting the hook, so they take their chances.
While your prospects aren’t anything like fish, they work the same way; if they believe that there is a valuable opportunity at stake, then they’ll stay on the phone during your cold call or respond to your cold message.
That said, the key to making an effective hook is using your hook to add immediate value to the prospect’s life! You must show them that there is a valuable opportunity in simply opening your message or taking your call in the first place!
What makes you think that a prospect will bike your hook unless they see value in doing so?
D. Solidify Your Inbound Marketing Strategy
Finally, round out step 2 by optimizing the inbound marketing strategy with your B2B marketers.
Like I said, while you’re less likely to generate leads through inbound channels, that doesn’t mean that you should neglect it, because, among other things, inbound marketing:
- Supports a prospect’s buyer’s journey;
- Adds value to a prospect’s buyer’s journey; and
- Increases brand awareness
Moreover, inbound marketing content showcases your brand to potential new customers and helps support leads once they enter the sales pipeline.
Create Relevant Content That Supports the Buyer’s Journey
The key role of inbound marketing content is to use it as an opportunity to add value to your potential buyers once they enter the sales pipeline.
For example, hosting informative webinars about your customer’s key pain points and then uploading them to your website is a great way to add value to a lead and show them that you’re an expert.
While I suggest marketing automation, I don’t suggest automating your content so much that it comes off as disingenuous or clearly automated. That will only turn prospects off.
Remember, there is no such thing as something for nothing! You can’t expect to retain a lead in the pipeline unless you give them some value first. Perhaps the best way to give them value while attracting potential new customers to your website is optimized, valuable content!
3. Contact Prospects via Cold Outreach
Finally, you’re ready to connect with prospects!
If you’ve done your job well up until this point, contacting prospects should be simple and straightforward.
Unfortunately at this point in the process, many salespeople start to overthink; they suddenly think that they need more practice or that they’re not prepared enough to start connecting with customers.
However, because there is no such thing as perfection, the truth is that no salesperson is ever 100% prepared. If you don’t feel ready, you should start anyways.
Instead of letting overthinking and fears overcome you, push through it all! Once you get started, those thoughts will start to fade away.
A. Cold Call First!
Ready to get started? Great! Pick. Up. The. Phone.
Cold calling is the most assertive and straightforward form of cold outreach, which is why I suggest doing it first!
Not only that, but it's a way to get the prospect in front of you in real-time so that you can have greater control over the initial contact.
Keep It Short & Sweet
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to spend a lot of time on the phone during the initial call. In fact, the goal is to keep the call as short and sweet as possible!
All you need to accomplish during the initial call is:
- Setting your hook
- Getting the prospect immediately set up for the next meeting
- Answer any immediate questions
If you approach the initial call from the perspective of “I need to seal the deal now”, you’ll likely overwhelm yourself.
Instead, come in with the perspective of, “I just need to get the prospect to agree to the next step.” That way, the call will stay short & sweet and you won’t overwhelm yourself.
B. Send an Email After Each Cold Call
If a prospect doesn’t pick up the phone, follow up with a voicemail and send them an email letting them know that you’ll call them back soon.
If the prospect did answer the phone, email them a reminder of the upcoming sales meeting that you just set up while on the phone.
Show them that you mean business!
Use the 1-Minute Cold Email Technique
If a lead doesn’t answer your initial call, use my can’t fail, 1-minute cold email technique.
Instead of sending a boring typed email, pick up your phone and take a 1-minute video of yourself talking directly to the prospect. In that video, tell them that you just tried to connect with them while resetting your hook.
This technique is EXTREMELY effective at generating responses from prospects because, when they see your face over video, it’s suddenly very difficult for them to ignore you. While it’s easy to ignore a typed message, it’s hard to ignore your face!
Before you know it, the prospect will be sliding into your inbox.
C. Set Up an Initial Qualifying Meeting
During the initial cold call, you should have immediately set up a formal sales meeting for qualifying the prospect. This is the most important part of the cold call! If you accomplish anything, you want to get this formal meeting set up.
You want to get it set up to take place ASAP! For example, if you make the initial call on Monday, set up the meeting for Tuesday morning.
The less time there is between the initial call and initial meeting, the less likely the prospect is to ghost you!
Instead of letting the prospect slip out of your hands, stay in control by getting into the meetings right away.
Qualified Leads Only!
During your initial meeting, you MUST thoroughly qualify the prospect!
Get to the root of their pain point and uncover what their ultimate desired outcome is in order to determine whether or not you’re the right person to diagnose and treat their pain point.
Just like how doctors spend appointments asking plenty of thorough questions, you need to do the same.
If you’ve done your job well up until this point and properly qualify your lead during the initial meeting, then you’re closer to closing the deal than you think.
Final Thoughts on Generating Leads In 3 Simple Steps
Remember, whenever somebody tries to convince you that something about sales–particularly lead gen–is difficult, it’s probably because they want to gaslight you.
Instead of letting some guru convince you that B2B lead generation is hard, follow my basic, 3-step lead gen process that routinely produces the kinds of sales results worthy of only top sales professionals. The reason why the process works is because it is not complex.
By putting this 3-step process to work, you’ll see that successful selling is, in fact, simple!
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