If the idea of searching out good leads is giving you flashbacks to Gelengarry Glen Ross, don’t worry, those days are behind us. We’ve come a long way from competing for coveted premium leads and battling over who will be a coffee-deserving closer or the owner of a brand new set of steak knives.
Luckily, the current state of lead generation is so much better. Today we have access to everything we need to know: how to get leads, what to ask when evaluating media placements to support lead generation programs, and even how to distribute and maximize good leads.
How to Get Leads
Before we dive in, let’s remember that key idea from Glengarry Glen Ross: “all leads are not created equal.” They were crying for good leads—what we call sales qualified leads nowadays. Sales qualified leads (SQLs) and marketing qualified leads (MQLs) are the two main categories of leads marketers know and love.
Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs)
MQLs describe those who have engaged in some way (usually with content) but aren’t yet ready for a sales conversation. They need to be nurtured and further educated.
Attracting MQLs is typically less expensive than converting SQLs. Converting a lead to download an e-book or watch a webinar is an easier sell than converting qualified demonstration requests for example.
How do you get MQLs?
Two words—lead magnet. Evaluate what content is important to your prospect at each stage of the buyer’s journey. Then make content that aligns with their educational needs. Common types of lead magnets include webinars, e-books, algorithms, CE content, and value-adding downloadable resources. Remember to gate your content, so you can collect prospect contact information. Then promote your lead magnet, and boom—leads!
Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs)
SQLs are leads that have been properly nurtured and warmed and are ready for a sales conversation. Sometimes leads come directly into the database as SQLs, but more often they start as an MQL and are nurtured through education and content into SQLs. These qualified leads often cost more to convert than MQLs.
How do you get SQLs?
SQLs are usually trickier to obtain than MQLs. The easiest way, which ironically takes quite a while, is to understand your buyer’s journey, nurture your MQLs, and ask for the demonstration at the right time. You can also offer demonstration incentives that work well when positioned around education with a clear value-adding CTA.
Evaluating Media Buys for Lead Generation Programs
Lead generation programs come in a variety of flavors, and some are more appetizing than others. Before you sign on the dotted IO line, consider the following:
Define a lead.
When you’re talking to a media company, make sure you’re speaking the same language when it comes to MQLs and SQLs. Some companies will deliver “leads” who’ve done nothing more than click on email content and haven’t explicitly requested information from you. An email click does not a qualified lead make, so be sure nothing is lost in translation.
Find a CPL program.
Most companies don’t offer these—but they’re great when you can find them. CPL programs guarantee a certain number of leads at an agreed-upon cost per lead (CPL). Clarify your interest in MQLs, SQLs, or both when you’re developing your campaign, and remember—SQLs will always be more expensive, and you’ll get fewer of them. Some marketers will execute MQL programs and then bring the SQL process in-house with internal lead nurturing.
Set the expectations.
Do your own internal benchmarking so you have a sense of how many leads you’ll generate and the cost per lead. Ask for the following data points to benchmark, like the example here:
- Audience Size: 10,000
- Email Open Rate: 20% (1,000 x 0.2 = 2,000 Opens)
- Click Through Rate: 10% (2,000 x 0.1 = 200 Clicks)
- Projected CTR to Form Submission Conversion: 50%
- Projected Number of Leads: 100 (200 x 0.5)
- Cost of Placement: $5,000
- Cost Per Lead: $50 ($5,000/ 100)
Set up landing pages, forms, and campaigns in your CRM to track campaign performance. If a media partner is running a campaign for you make sure you have discussed KPIs and have a way to track performance.
Ask for qualifying information.
Ask to add 1-2 custom questions to your lead magnet conversion form. This can help you identify SQLs, prioritize the most important leads, and shorten the sales cycle.
What Info Will You Get?
This is HUGE! If a media company or third party is handling your lead collection, understand what information you will receive for the leads you convert. Make. Sure. You. Get. Emails! Yes, emails aren’t included sometimes, in particular with CE content creators, so make sure you get this clearly defined upfront to avoid disappointment.
Handing Out (and Tracking) the Good Leads
Automate your lead distribution process to make sure MQLs and SQLs make it into the right hands at the right time. Outreach that happens in real-time after lead conversion has the best chance of turning into a sales opportunity.
Use automated lead nurturing sequences for MQLs that aren’t ready for a sales conversation. Then automate your hand-off process between sales and marketing when leads are ready for a sales conversation.
Make sure you’ve got a way to track the sales pipeline and attribute sales opportunities to your campaign, so you can always measure ROI.
Ready to Lead
Now that you’re a lead generation expert, it’s your time to shine. Go forth! Convert, nurture, and win those deals!