Lead Generation Strategies That Work

Built In Staff
October 13, 2020
Built In Staff
October 13, 2020

Lead generation strategies should be built around the idea of improving potential customers’ understanding of a company’s value proposition, not closing a deal. After all, not every prospect is ready to buy right away.

Just ask the marketing leaders we spoke to below.

They said that marketing teams that invest in understanding customer needs and highlighting value early in the sales process can improve the quality and quantity of inbound leads. Communicating value continuously throughout the funnel, alongside help from sales, can turn those leads into conversions.

However, despite metrics like conversion rates, cost per acquisition and lifetime value, the analysis for marketing “isn’t black and white,” Chief Marketing Officer Trey Robinson, who works at Realized, said. Marketers have to be agile and fine-tune their strategies in tandem with the sales org over time. The following seven marketing leaders share the lead generations strategies that work for them.

Lead Generation Strategies

  • Utilize free channels
  • Leverage personal and professional networks
  • Use programs like Pardot, Marketo, and Salesforce to manage metrics and gauge lead quality
  • Communicate consistently with your sales team about lead quality

 

OutboundEngine

Josh Thomas

HEAD OF MARKETING

Josh Thomas

The marketing and sales teams at OutboundEngine have a close relationship. Josh Thomas, head of marketing at the marketing software provider, said that not only is qualitative feedback from sales conversations a metric of success, but the two teams frequently collaborate to experiment on new strategies.

 

What’s the most effective lead generation strategy you’ve tried?

The most effective lead generation strategy starts with meeting the customer where they are versus where we’d like them to be. Not every potential customer is ready to buy right now, as much as we’d like that. 

It’s our responsibility in marketing to help educate those prospects. We need to build awareness of the problem we’re solving, help connect that problem to available solutions and ultimately demonstrate that we are an effective way of solving the problem. When we do it right, individual tactics become about helping them take the next natural step. Every time I’ve used this framework, lead volume, close rate and marketing-sourced revenue have gone up.

 

The most effective lead generation strategy starts with meeting the customer where they are.”

 

How do you gauge the quality of the leads you’re generating?

We look at lead quality metrics based on wanting to see improvements over time at each stage, from initial inquiry to prospects becoming customers. At the onset, we evaluate lead quality based on how well the individual fits our ideal customer profile and the investment it took to start that initial conversation. 

From there, we look at lead performance at key stages of the sales process, from demo-set to closed-won and the associated average deal size. And what’s just as important for us is the qualitative feedback that we gather through listening to calls and speaking with the sales team. 

 

How do you work with the sales team to convert leads and refine your lead generation strategies over time?

Our job in marketing isn’t done once someone reaches out to speak with sales. We continue to communicate value throughout the sales process. For example, we built active nurture programs for prospects who may not be ready to invest. They often need more education, so they go into a nurture program focused on building awareness to bring them back when the time is right. 

Working from home made everything a little more challenging. Feedback from the sales team is more important than ever, given the time they spend speaking with customers. The marketing and sales teams schedule time weekly to share ways to create interest and discuss new experiments to test ideas. 

 

Realized

Trey Robinson

CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER

Trey Robinson

CMO Trey Robinson and his team at Realized base the success of their lead generation efforts on whether they see a return on investment. Robinson said much of the real estate investment management platform’s strategies are free to implement, so returns come frequently. 

 

What’s the most effective lead generation strategy you’ve tried?

Free channels are best. Media is expensive, so whenever we can create free or low-cost strategies, we try them. Organic search, referrals, word of mouth and partnerships are all great ways to generate leads. 

Metrics are important, but the primary element to focus on is return. If you are spending money on each lead, you will never make your money back. The pitfall of most B2C startups is that their customer acquisition costs are too high. They don’t have enough of a budget to establish true “traction.” We spent three years building an organic search strategy. As a result, 40 percent of our traffic is free. The math always works when you are dividing into zero, which is precisely why we emphasize and focus on leveraging free channels. 

 

Media is expensive, so whenever we can create free or low-cost strategies, we try them.”

 

How do you gauge the quality of the leads you’re generating? 

We focus on conversion, cost per acquisition and lifetime value (LTV) of leads. We look for insights like the following: the rate a source is converting to revenue; whether we’re making our marketing dollars back in revenue; the cost to generate leads; and whether we can create an account acquisition cost lower than the customer’s LTV. We measure these metrics through Salesforce and HubSpot.  

 

How do you work with the sales team to convert leads and refine your lead generation strategies over time?

We meet weekly to discuss the business, what is working and what needs to be changed. We also monitor the CRM tools closely, which helps us to understand how far a lead is in the funnel on a campaign. If a lead converts to an opportunity, we know we are going in the right direction. 

Also, by looking at each campaign and offer, we can tell where to spend more and where to spend less. The analysis for marketing isn’t black and white; it’s more about fine-tuning. In our department, success is always measured by the return on spend. Are we turning $1 of marketing into more than $1 and achieving growth? 

 

Social Solutions

Travis Arthur

CHIEF GROWTH OFFICER

Travis Arthur

Showing value early in the process is a crucial component of the lead generation strategies at non-profit data management company Social Solutions. Chief Growth Officer Travis Arthur said having deep knowledge of their audience helps them highlight value as quickly as they can. 

 

What’s the most effective lead generation strategy you’ve tried? 

The integrated campaign, which begins with a clear understanding of an audience and their relevant opportunities or struggles. That understanding enables marketers to create the most important part of any lead generation strategy: content that gets to the “so what” quickly. Once that content is in place, you can slice it into multiple formats like social, infographics, field and speaking engagements. Because the audience is diverse, the approach has to be as well. The point is repetition and refinement of the message and content as the campaign unfolds; it’s why I’m a big fan of an agile marketing approach. 

 

Create the most important part of any lead generation strategy: content that gets to the ‘so what’ quickly.”

 

How do you gauge the quality of the leads you’re generating? 

We gauge the sales acceptance rate of leads and conversions from stage one to stage two of the pipeline, which is the final mile on quality. While lead acceptance is great, it could be a false positive if the pipeline is light and the sales team is accepting leads in an effort to increase pipeline coverage. The tech stacks we use to manage metrics are Marketo, 6Sense and Salesforce.

 

How do you work with the sales team to convert leads and refine your lead generation strategies over time?

Our agile marketing process includes sales as part of the “campaign team.” First, make sure the final mile goal is bookings or sales. There is no point in measuring only what is “tossed over the fence” to sales; that will kill collaboration before it starts. Second, establish a point of ownership to provide feedback, with a business or sales development manager. Thirdly, establish explicit goals for the campaign, like ideal targets, rates of engagement or leads volume. 

Finally, ask the sales owner to outline needs and requirements for the campaign to succeed, such as qualification criteria, call scripts and follow-up content. All these components will help sales and marketing act as one team with healthy metrics reviews to promote iterative learning.

 

Related20 Lead Generation Companies to Know

 

TripActions

Daniella Schuh

SENIOR ENTERPRISE SALES DEVELOPMENT REPRESENTATIVE

Daniella Schuh

What's the most effective lead generation strategy you've tried?

Most of the meetings I generate start with LinkedIn. I’ve leveraged LinkedIn to research companies and potential prospects, as well as build relationships by engaging with their posts and articles in order to better understand them and create warmer connections. 

I’ve found it effective to leverage my personal and professional network as a way to engage with leads. Once I’ve made a connection, I give them a call as soon as I can to keep myself top of mind for them. This strategy has been effective for opening the conversation with a warm introduction. I’ve been able to build better relationships in the first conversation, helping to then land a next meeting with the appropriate business stakeholder.

Cold calling is a huge part of our role as SDRs. During our team cold-calling sessions, I also play an active listening role to learn from the different approaches and strategies we use in our conversations so that I can implement them in my future calls.

 

It's very important to build rapport from the start with the right leaders to get buy-in.”

 

How do you gauge the quality of the leads you're generating? What CRM technology are you using to capture this data?

I gauge the quality of leads I generate by looking at the company and persona I schedule meetings with. If it's an ideal customer profile (ICP), recognizable logo or a larger company, I consider it a win, especially when it’s the trifecta of all three. When crafting my lead generation strategy, I like to target C-level executives, VPs and directors in finance or procurement, given our industry. It's very important to build rapport from the start with the right leaders to get buy-in. 

We use Salesforce as our CRM. It’s definitely rewarding to see my leads move through our sales funnel and ultimately to “close-won.” There’s definitely a learning culture here to leverage these deals —  closed or not —  to better understand what worked and what didn’t in order to iterate on strategy and improve for the future. 

 

It’s a true team effort with the camaraderie  and supportive culture of our team.”

 

How do you work with the sales team to convert leads and refine your lead generation strategies over time?

I work closely with AEs to prepare and share as much context as possible before the calls I schedule for them. I usually create a detailed and organized pre-call document and schedule one-on-one time with them to make sure we have full alignment. This has been effective in bridging the gap and ensuring a warm introduction between the prospect and AE. This step has been very important because it helps the AE deliver the most value based on the customer’s needs and pain points. 

Together with the other SDRs on my team, we’re constantly sharing ideas and wins with each other for continuous enablement and improvement. It’s a true team effort with the camaraderie and supportive culture of our team.

 

Quantcast

Bryana Georgakas 

SENIOR ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE

Bryana Georgakas 

Senior Account Executive Bryana Georgakas said the best approach to lead generation is multifaceted, provides customer value and generates market buzz. At Quantcast, an audience intelligence and measurement company, lead quality is gauged by data quality and internal scoring, and marketing and sales collaborate closely to turn leads into new business.

 

What’s the most effective lead generation strategy you’ve tried? 

Lead generation is a commitment to listen to the market and an obsession with understanding customer’s needs. Recently, our CEO presented at IAB NewFronts on changing the pulse of consumer behavior over a 12-week span during the COVID-19 pandemic. This gave us a unique opportunity to provide value to potential customers by showcasing how our deep level of insight into live audience behavior can power their strategy and innovation and offer a free trial of our interactive insights tool, Audience Planner. 

If the story ended there, we would have generated a fair amount of leads but would have missed out on a larger opportunity. Instead, we heard the excitement from our customers and we jumped on it. Our insights team had been at the ready with packageable insights by vertical; our CTO held a webinar deep-diving into the changing consumer mindset; and the marketing team armed sales with recordings, white papers and leave-behinds to go to market. The leads are still rolling in. The best advice I can offer is to listen and provide value, act quickly and iterate often. And then the real work begins.

 

Without proper measurement, even the best lead-gen strategies can fail.

 

How do you gauge the quality of the leads you’re generating? What CRM technology are you using to capture this data?

Without proper measurement, even the best lead-gen strategies can fail. We use Salesforce because of the integrations with Marketo, LinkedIn and LeanData. For us, the lead qualification process starts with data quality tools and ultimately ends with our sales team. Once our data quality tools first remove fraudulent leads, we calculate scores for each lead based on the types and number of actions a lead has taken, the lead title and the size and earnings of their associated company. 

From there, our marketing and demand gen teams further qualify the lead and assign it to the proper sales teams. Sales also must accept the lead in Salesforce after their initial conversation so we can ultimately track them through the deal cycle.

 

How do you work with the sales team to convert leads and refine your lead generation strategies over time?

It comes down to communication, collaboration and iteration. Before we generate content, we first collaborate with the sales team to understand market trends and topics our customers care about. Once we go to market, we’re able to track when a lead goes from a marketing qualified lead (MQL) to a sales accepted lead (SAL) or is recycled to understand the quality of leads coming from each campaign strategy. If there are a large volume of recycled leads, we lean on feedback from the sales team to understand what disqualified them and either refine the approach from there or put it to bed. If there are a large number of SALs that don’t convert into customers, we collaborate on new strategies or collateral that could spark interest with them once more. To generate demand in the ever-changing media industry, the feedback loop between demand gen and sales is essential. We must work as one to find success.

 

Zen Planner

Justin Dowsett

DEMAND GENERATION MANAGER

Justin Dowsett

What’s the most effective lead generation strategy you’ve tried? 

Lead generation for our team comes down to two primary drivers. The first is maintaining our lead engines. Our team built a reliable system for generating leads from a variety of sources including paid search, social, organic and referral sources. We know roughly how many leads we’ll get from each source and what those leads will cost. If something goes awry, we’re able to see where we’re missing and can pull different levers to get it back to the right spot.

Our second driver is a focus on testing. We keep it fun with a biweekly “testing party” where we review test results and brainstorm new ideas. By focusing on these two facets, we’re able to build solid, repeatable playbooks that we can continue to refine over time for better results.

 

How do you gauge the quality of the leads you’re generating?

For lead quality, we focus on two core metrics. The first is what we call “leads in target vertical,” which corresponds to the percentage of leads in our targeted market segments. The other KPI is our sales qualified opportunity (SQO) rate, which is the percentage of marketing qualified leads (MQLs) our sales team accepted and qualified. Both of these vary by source and are reviewed by our demand generation team on a weekly basis. To keep us organized, we rely heavily on Salesforce and Hubspot integrations.
 

By focusing on maintaining lead engines and testing, we’re able to build solid, repeatable playbooks.”


How do you work with the sales team to convert leads and refine your lead generation strategies over time?

We use the metrics stated above as guardrails, but we also keep the lines of communication open. If we’re bringing in too many prospects from outside our target markets, our sales team alerts us on which source is delivering low-quality leads. We can then dial in and make adjustments. 

We also keep an eye on our close-rates by source. If we see a decline in the percentage of deals being closed from a particular source, we can look higher up in the funnel and see if we can identify any red flags that could be impacting our efficacy further down the pipeline.

 

Accolade

Kat Snider

MARKETING OPERATIONS SENIOR MANAGER

Kat Snider

Why did you decide to test the open enrollment notebook approach and what were the results?

That program was effective because it wasn’t one we set up to accomplish any short-sighted numerical inquiry or meeting goals. We simply wanted to offer something of value and position ourselves as top-of-mind for prospects when the busy season ended. Our market development reps (MDRs) booked appointments when they followed up, and the program has been influential for us in the years since. We just closed a key strategic account that was re-engaged by the program three years ago. Sending notebooks was our first time dabbling in a direct mail strategy. Thanks to its success, we continued to invest in it more to see its positive impact.
 

That program was effective because it wasn’t one we set up to accomplish any short-sighted numerical inquiry or meeting goals.”


How do you gauge the quality of the leads you’re generating? 

We use Salesforce with Pardot to capture and score data. Our team works closely with MDRs, who we view as the frontlines in gauging the quality of the leads we generate. With their help, we built a robust lead scoring system and continue to have an open feedback loop with them to perfect the system. We also use Tableau to build reporting. We look at inquiry conversion to pipeline by source and marketing influence of pipeline creation.

 

How do you work with the sales team to convert leads and refine your lead generation strategies over time?

Our funnel moves through typical steps: suspect, inquiry, MQL, SQL. Marketing makes a handoff to the sales team at the MQL stage, and our MDRs will make outbound efforts from there. Our database has the accounts we want to go after from an account-based marketing approach, and if a lead comes in under one of the accounts, we convert to a contact. 

We work lockstep with our MDRs to refine our lead gen strategies over time. Our strategies are always evolving, but due to our long sales cycle, we are patient with converting accounts to closed-won deals. We see it as an ultra marathon, not a sprint.

 

Up Next8 Keys to Leveraging Lookalike Audiences

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Great Companies Need Great People. That's Where We Come In.

Recruit With Us