Selling something sounds like a very momentary event, a simple transaction when one side pays and the other provides the goods or services.
In truth, however, when we speak of sales, we speak of a very delicate, multilayered, and gradual process.
The initial and foundational part of this process is usually lead generation. But what exactly is it and how is it conducted?
Broadly speaking, lead generation is the process of attracting and identifying potential customers to your business.
A lead is a person that has shown a degree of interest in what you are offering or has certain qualities that make it reasonable to assume that they would be interested.
Thus, a stranger becomes a lead when you have a way of contacting them specifically and reason to believe that such contact would be fruitful.
Lead generation initiates a sales pipeline, which is the detailed representation of how a lead is converted into a customer and retained as such.
Depending on the product and the strategy, the sales pipeline may be defined in various ways, but they would all include some key stages.
It starts with the initial contact, goes through lead nurturing, which may involve lead scoring, proceeds to sales pitch, and may continue even after the purchase as the customer is maintained.
Lead generation across various industries
Whatever service or product you are offering, lead generation is extremely important, as it is the basis for everything else that could follow.
Therefore, every business should know the best ways to do it in their industry. Here are some examples of how lead generation is conducted in different industries.
- Retail shops generate leads, firstly, by visual on-site marketing. This means attention-grabbing signboards and strategically displayed popular or new items in the window. Anything that would make a passer-by come in. This on-site marketing becomes lead generation when the contact details of the customer, for example, an e-mail address is noted, then there is a lead to follow for future selling.
- Travel agencies and leisure activity companies are likely to use content marketing to attract customers. This could be videos showcasing the activity, for example, things to be seen in a particular travel destination or skydiving first-person point of view video. The viewers could be invited to subscribe to a particular newsletter or channel for more content.
- Ecommerce sites primarily use online marketing, especially social media marketing to generate leads. In fact, social media these days is an important tool to create leads for businesses across most industries. But the dependence is strongest with e-commerce since for this industry the customers are the people, who are online. Building followers base on social media and inviting them to participate in contests where they need to “like” posts or “tag” friends in comments to win prizes or discounts is a great way to generate leads.
The importance of generating leads proficiently
The entire structure of gaining new customers stands on the foundation of leads.
Without a proficient lead generation strategy, one is left with approaching strangers in the fashion of knocking on random doors as the traveling salesmen used to do.
Alternatively, one could sit and wait for the customers to find them, but needless to say, that is not a sustainable strategy, even if it could be called a strategy at all.
This means that a lot of attention should be paid to creating an effective system, capable of constantly producing new leads.
This system could be built following the usual practices of the industry, but it is always a good idea to look at other industries for tips on how to innovate.
Innovation gives an advantage over the competition in every aspect of business and that certainly includes lead generation.
And, of course, the data on lead generation efficiency should constantly be tracked and reviewed for opportunities for improvement.
Leads on leads on leads
It may be thought that established brands no longer care for leads and simply wait for the customers to come to them, but this is not entirely true.
Firstly, because even the biggest and most famous brands need to constantly update themselves and look for new ways to attract customers.
And, secondly, because in a sense, become a well-known brand can be understood as a form of lead generation.
This understanding is even more important to smaller businesses and refers to word of mouth.
As leads become customers, they may provide more leads to the business by referring to their friends and acquaintances to the business, or the business to them.
The main thing to understand is that such referrals do not have to depend on the customer’s choice alone. Businesses can actively encourage their customers to refer friends or get leads from them.
This only means that lead generation, when done right, is the very essence of establishing a brand.