We all know the adage that people do business with people they like. Yet, how do you get someone to like you when they won’t event talk to you? Lead generation refers to the acquisition of new clients, acquisition of new candidates, and the expansion of business within existing clients. When we talk about prospecting, most companies believe that it is a sales function. For example, individuals on their sales team look someone up on LinkedIn, send an email, and dial the phone. While this is true – it is not effective. It is actually less effective and increasingly frustrating. In today’s digital marketing world, prospecting for clients and candidates is a marketing function that is designed to change a cold prospect into a warm lead.

Lead generation is just as much a science as it is an art. It involves the use of highly targeted audiences and effective messaging to pull the audience back to you in the most efficient means possible. Are we talking about email campaigns? Are we talking about website contact forms? Are we talking about LinkedIn advertising? Paid-per-click/cost-per-click (PPC / CPC)? Direct marketing? Mobile enablement? The answer to all is yes.

Generating Leads
The most important step in lead generation is identifying the problem you’re trying to solve. Do you want to expand within an existing client? Do you want to bring in new logos? Do you want to create candidate flow? Are you opening a new market? Each of these have their own unique solutions. Overall, after addressing which problem you’re trying to solve, it is imperative to identify the audience, markets, and titles you want to attack. Your messaging needs to address the primary challenges of that audience and show your differentiation. The distribution method you choose is both unique to the audience and your budget.

PPC/CPC advertising, whether it’s search engines, websites, or social media, allows for a managed budget and tight targeting to get to your audience. Email marketing, despite losing some of its steam, is still effective when done in mass and is inexpensive for distribution. Yet, it offers the challenges of a budget being used for database development and requires a solid understanding of the audience and your messaging in order to be effective. Direct marketing is more expensive; however, it is highly targeted and if done properly, highly valued while increasing the return on investment. All of your efforts need to lead to inbound marketing. Sales teams may reach out to 50 people a day, while marketing efforts can reach out to 50,000 a day – bringing 50 highly qualified leads back to the sales team.

Qualifying Leads
Are all leads created equally? Lead qualification is often overlooked due to the belief that any lead is a good lead. Though, keep in mind that there are many window shoppers out there in the world, and all leads are not created equally. In order to qualify leads, you need to define what ideal business looks like and discuss openly with your sales and recruiting team. Qualified leads are generally defined as leads that have a distinct need, launch date, pain point, and realistic budget. Gross margin should also factor into the lead qualification process as well as how clearly the lead fits into your existing business model. Make sure to hold your team accountable to qualifying leads because chasing purple squirrels doesn’t help anyone.

With that said – it’s time to move from cold to warm, prospect to client, candidate to consultant, and put your lead generation to the test. Don’t open a new market or hire a new salesperson without thinking about how lead generation makes both more successful, more quickly.

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About S.J.Hemley Marketing
S.J.Hemley Marketing is a marketing and sales consulting firm focused on driving tangible results for professional services firms. Brand matters, but not without ROI. With over 20 years of sales and marketing experience within staffing and recruiting, we have helped to drive successful branding, sales training, lead generation activities as well as defining marketing strategy for top organizations.