Discover the basics of lead generation, what it is and how to do it

Lead Generation Basics: Everything You Do Now is Lead Gen First, Sell Second

Every time someone downloads a mobile app, fills in an email request online, or even signs up in social media to connect with you, all of these are forms of lead generation.

Which is why I’m sharing this article with you, for the many who don’t really understand what Lead Generation entails, or even means!

(For those who do, check out my post on Brevenue, the new form of lead generation, the Qualifying Your Leads video that follows up this basic introduction, and The Social Media Pivot: The Conversion Process.)

This video and post if for those who want to know the basics of lead generation, what it is, and why it works:

What is lead generation and is it relevant

in the social and mobile driven markets?

Lead generation is an old marketing term for a person that fills in a form, requests a free ipad, and for other sweepstakes in the consumer world. Today it can even include downloading a mobile app (be sure to collect email and SMS info here to be fully loaded), because it’s all about the first contact.

Leads are inquiries, measured by how interested the person is in your product, how willing and ready they are to take the next step, and how well you follow up quickly.

In B2B, this means a qualified person who responds to initial questions, often for a more considered and expensive purchase, that drives people to a phone call. Financial services also are driven by phone contact and use lead generation extensively.

It can also be used to share more information, like a consultative sell, online with video, webinars, and other forms of online outreach.

Online Education and the

University of Phoenix Example

Google for “online education” and you’ll find many AdWords links that will guide you through the process. People look to get an education, with a purchase price high enough that they have many questions, and the process basically is a step by step sales qualification leading to a phone contact or online purchase:

  1. The University of Phoenix will likely be there, and should be looked at as one example of lead generation intelligence (with many other examples, this is one place where you can easily study the market).
  2. As you do this, watch what the online lead generators are doing, when they ask for personal information like email and phone; each request can either benefit or inhibit your results, because those are basically the calls to action of lead generation. While a myth exists that the less you ask, the more leads you get, it’s a myth because without the right balance of questions, you don’t qualify the leads…creating garbage.
  3. The qualification process asks them what they are interested in, where they live, and tries to evaluate the validity of the interest…is this something you want to act on today, tomorrow, next month, or next year?
  4. This is the core of all lead generation; gathering the right data on your customer to help you determine if they are ready, willing, and able to engage with you.
  5. The next step is to weed through the lead process, where often at least 50% of the leads are just tire kickers, not serious, not ready, or people with way too much time.

Ultimately the measure of lead generation is how successful you are, how many leads convert into customers.  The biggest challenge most face is with their follow up systems.

From 60 Seconds to 24 Hours:

Improving the Impact of Your Response

The University of Phoenix grew its business initially due to affiliate program and partnerships, lead generation, which grew into a huge business. They have a great system, brand, and reputation which helps them convert.

Most importantly, they respond quickly; you MUST send out an email autoresponder immediately (and if you are smart send more, check this out for an example, and here to see how this impacts mobile lead generation), and if this is a phone contact, you must call them within 24 hours, as the value, and interest, of the lead declines dramatically in the first 3 days.

Some companies I’ve seen don’t call for a week, and might as well through their lead generation away, because if you are too busy to respond, you should NOT be doing lead generation.

PRO Tip: Have a virtual assistant ready to call immediately if you do not have sales people. You can create autodial programs to do this, which I’ve seen with some folks, though they can be annoying.

Having a live person call to check in, validate this is them, and ask a question or two to measure REAL interest and then set up an appointment/refer them to a sales person, is smart if you have limited staff.

It’s always better to get them in touch with your sales people quickly; I’ve seen real estate lead generation programs that send mobile emails and SMS’s to their agents instantly based on online inquiries, and those people are trained to call quick.

  1. Make sure whoever is getting your lead is ready to contact them quickly.
  2. Be sure that your reward for completing the process is valuable to your customer, as well as you. You can give them a free report (outdated), a video whitepaper, and be sure to give it online so you are not paying for cost of delivering it.
  3. I have seen companies get more information for sending out a CD or direct mail, which can work as long as you know your traffic and can qualify them, AND are selling a high ticket item.
  4. While financial services, online education, autos, and tech lead generation are the biggest markets online, there are more opportunities for those who need to close the sale in person, or at least on the phone.
  5. Remember that lead generation is a game of quantity and quality; just be sure you understand that every market, and every partner has a limited quantity of  leads to drive to you. Don’t get taken in by the initial results and then simply boost them up, because in most markets you will find that the quality of the leads decreases over time.
  6. A trickle is sometimes better than a flood, for you, your partners, and your on it!


Lead Generation Best Practices

The key to the lead generation game is matching quantity to quality, those who convert, and there are 3 parties involved. There’s you buying the leads, and those supplying the leads, and the customers.

  1. You must follow up quickly and have a process to take them through; you have to ask enough but not too many questions, ask the right ones – I’ve got a video case study on qualifying leads here. Call within 24 hours, email immediately and at least 3 times in the first 7 days.
  2. Leads Partners; these people make their money sending you business and are paid per lead. Think of any negative signs of poor leads, usually found by asking the right questions. Remember that these people need to send you enough leads, so they are encouraged to send more. You need to be sure there are quality leads in there that convert, but don’t expect all of them to be great. I use the rule that 50% are garbage, not ready right off the bat, and work down from there. How many leads do you need to convert into the right number of customers, and is this reasonable?
  3. Finally your customer is involved in the process, and in today’s ADDish media world, people forget quickly. You need to be introduced to them in the right context (the Lead Partners or search are top here), ask them the right questions, and get in touch with them very quickly.

If you don’t you are wasting your time; whether you have a mobile app to download, an email to gather, or want to set up a meeting in the real world, increasingly we are all confronted with having to understand the basics of lead generation.

What are the top challenges you are facing with your lead generation?

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