11 Golden Rules for Lead Generation that Works

11 Golden Rules for Lead Generation that Works
Stephanie Tilton - Tue Jul 14, 2009 @ 03:29AM
Comments: 27

Effective lead generation requires strategic planning, a well-considered process, and continual attention. While the following is by no means an exhaustive list, it will help you build a solid foundation for your lead-generation activities.gears

1. Establish a common understanding. Come to agreement about how you define a lead, how you will qualify it, and how and when you will hand it off to the sales team. Don't undertake this exercise in a vacuum – collaborate with the sales team to ensure that you're all on the same page.

2. Know your prospect. Understand as much as you can about your buyers' habits. Figure out where they look for information, how they like to digest it, etc. Call up existing customers to get better insight into their preferences.

3. Focus on your prospects' needs. During the awareness and interest stages, provide valuable information, for example, a newsletter, free report, e-newsletter, or webinar that offers tips and tricks. During the consideration and decision stages, offer detailed information about your product or service. Help prospects understand how your offering addresses their challenges, and how it compares to the competition. And be sure to make these resources easily accessible on your website – display links on all relevant pages of your website, including your home page.

4. Integrate online and offline. Because each of your prospects prefers digesting information in different ways, you need to incorporate both online and offline approaches. These days, offline campaigns almost always point potential customers to a website. Make sure there's a clear tie between your offline and online messages and offers.

5. Test and optimize. Don't assume your first pass at creative copy and landing pages is the best choice. Conduct A/B testing to determine which approach is most effective. Test various elements but not too many at one time. And conduct the test with a large enough list to provide meaningful results.

6. Increase visibility. Make sure your site (including your press releases and free content) is SEO optimized. Also consider pay-per-click ads and syndication sites to promote content such as free reports, white papers, eBooks, and how-to guides.

7. Appear where your prospects spend time. Help people find you by promoting your content where your buyers "congregate." For example, look into industry-specific sites and associations, Google Ads, LinkedIn groups, blogs, and forums as a start.

8. Resist registration. Don't ask for a prospect's contact and intent information right away – most people lie on registration forms beyond name and email address. (Who can blame them? We all expect to be inundated with sales calls once we share our contact information.) Ask for information only after you've started developing a relationship. For example, perhaps you offer a free how-to guide on your site. Let prospects download the guide without registering for it. As a call-to-action at the end of the guide, you could suggest that readers register for a related webinar.

9. Get prospects' permission to interact. In general, purchased lists don't perform as well as your in-house list – people aren't as receptive to email from companies they don't know. Build your list organically by asking permission to contact the prospect once you've lured them in with valuable information. For example, perhaps your insightful blog posts have attracted prospects to your site. Display a simple registration form on your blog, so people can be alerted when you publish a new blog post. Or invite them to sign up for your monthly newsletter full of practical information.

10. Set your sales team up for success. Don't waste a sales rep's time by sending her the contact information for someone who downloaded a white paper from your website. Cultivate and qualify leads before handing them over to sales (see #1). Your sales team should only be working sales-ready opportunities.

11. Analyze results. Determine which types of leads are converting into sales opportunities so you can refine your targeting efforts. To do this, you need to track prospects throughout the sales cycle and collect information from your sales team about the results of their sales efforts. Ultimately, you'll be able to develop a profile of the ideal lead/customer and determine which of your marketing and sales efforts are most effective.

Can you suggest any other "golden rules" that marketers should follow when it comes to lead generation?

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Read more Savvy B2B posts from Stephanie.

Comments: 27


1. Susan Fantle  |  my website   |   Tue Jul 14, 2009 @ 10:12AM

This is an excellent list of the "must dos" for lead generation. But I wanted to point out that Item #1 can be a big hang-up for companies. Coming to an agreement on what constitutes a qualified lead can be difficult. So I thought I'd share with you this great article that describes a newer and more marketing-oriented way to evaluate and score leads. A colleague of mine, Bill Herr, came up with the idea, and then it was described very nicely in an article written by Russell Kern for Target Marketing magazine. It's entitled "Time to Rethink BANT."


I think companies will find it to be an excellent way to complete the first step on your list.


2. Stephanie Tilton  |  my website   |   Tue Jul 14, 2009 @ 10:30AM

Excellent point! It's easy enough to recognize what needs doing, but not always simple to put into practice. I had the pleasure of meeting Russell Kern at the MarketingProfs Tweetup in Boston in June and was impressed by The Kern Organization's understanding of tech/B2B marketing issues. Thanks for passing along his article about rethinking budget, authority, need and time frame.


3. Jonathan Kranz  |  my website   |   Tue Jul 14, 2009 @ 01:43PM

Damn, Stephanie, your post is more comprehensive than many seminars I've heard/seen on the subject. Kudos!

The biggest thing I would add is to plan for multiple tiers or layers. That is, constructing different offers for different people (executives, influencers, buyers) who may be involved in a complex B2B purchase, i.e, perhaps an ebook for executives, case studies for buyers, demos for influencers.

4. Stephanie Tilton  |  my website   |   Wed Jul 15, 2009 @ 02:08AM

Wow Jonathan -- thanks for the kudos! I'm always interested in reading the insightful comments you leave on this blog and others. In this case, thanks for augmenting point 3 about focusing on prospects' needs.

5. Adine  |  my website   |   Wed Jul 15, 2009 @ 09:30AM

Great information. I was particularly interested in #8 which is something we are wrestling with. I agree that forcing someone to give you their name before they are ready to talk with you doesn't really help either of you.

6. Stephanie Tilton  |  my website   |   Wed Jul 15, 2009 @ 10:21AM

Adine, you're far from alone! You might be interested in suggestions for passive vs active vs interactive profiling that @BlakeHinckley is putting lots of thought into: http://marketinglab.bnj.com/2009/07/profiling-hitting-the-turbo-button/

7. John bottom  |  my website   |   Wed Jul 15, 2009 @ 10:49PM

As you know Stephanie, I have been working on #8 recently but the full list is an excellent guide - thanks for posting. John

8. Cj  |  my website   |   Mon Jul 20, 2009 @ 08:08PM

Stephanie, I am happy to have stumbled upon your blog...This is a great post that provides useful insight. We are struggling with the lead generation as we launch a new program that targets a different segment of our market. Thanks much for the link to Russell Kern's white paper. Although I agree with #10 in concept (the perfect world)... in reality when you are operating a smaller company...the sales person has to qualify the leads and close the deal. Cj

9. Stephanie Tilton  |  my website   |   Tue Jul 21, 2009 @ 05:26AM

John - Good to see you here! Look forward to your next thoughts/ideas on registration.

Cj - I'm glad you found us! Thanks for the reminder that smaller companies are often forced to handle processes differently than larger companies with more resources. Best of luck with your lead-gen program!

10. Cyanne Campbell  |  my website   |   Wed Sep 28, 2011 @ 03:12AM

Great points here Steph! Again, understanding that your customer, not your needs must be the focus of your marketing messages to your clients is paramount in constructing a successful B2B sales prospecting campaign. Be sure your marketing messages are of good quality as well as being focused on the topics, and problems of interest to them.

11. Stephanie Tilton  |  my website   |   Wed Sep 28, 2011 @ 06:26PM

Cyanne - Thanks for sharing your thoughts and insights! You make a great point -- beyond understanding your audience's interests, you have to deliver quality content that delivers value. It brings to mind my fellow Savvy Sister Michele's post "Are You Giving Your B2B Prospects Too Much Information?": http://savvyb2bmarketing.com/blog/entry/211001/are-you-giving-your-b2b-prospects-too-much-information

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