Every business wants more customers. And the best way to make that happen is by generating more high-quality leads.
Of course, this change doesn’t usually happen by accident. The most successful marketing and sales teams have a clear strategy for reaching potential customers. Just as importantly, they have a rock-solid lead generation workflow.
If you are not familiar with this term, or you want to learn more about the practical side of lead gen, this post is definitely worth your time.
Keep reading to discover what a lead generation workflow looks like, and how you can adopt your own highly-effective processes.
Covering both your marketing and sales teams, a lead generation workflow is the series of steps that your staff will follow as they try to attract potential customers.
A lead gen workflow is usually made up of several stages. Each of these stages involves very different tasks, and so may require a separate strategy. A workflow also includes the way in which each task will be completed, from the methodology to the tools you use.
In the marketing world, lead generation strategies get a lot of attention. They do set the direction of travel for your entire sales and marketing operation, after all. However, your lead generation processes are just as important.
By creating a lead generation workflow, you can provide your coworkers with a clear plan of action for implementing your chosen strategies. In turn, this should help your marketing team to run more successful campaigns, and assist your sales reps in delivering the perfect pitch to each lead.
On the flip side, an inefficient lead gen workflow can see your teams wasting time on admin and other non-productive tasks. If you can recognize when your workflow isn’t working and make changes, it’s possible to boost your sales and staff morale massively with zero investment.
Even the most simplistic lead generation involves a lot of moving parts. To make the picture a little clearer, the workflow is usually split into several distinct sections. Here are the key stages to look for:
In order to attract potential clients, you first need to identify who they are. What are their pain points? How much do they have to spend? And what are they looking for?
The only way to answer these questions effectively is through research and analysis.
At a basic level, this might involve looking up businesses on LinkedIn or searching for the individuals who make the decisions. This alone can reveal information about the size of the companies you need to focus on, or the kind of job title that most leads are likely to hold.
(Pro tip: Datanyze can pick up company data from any LinkedIn profile with a click)
A more sophisticated approach would involve analyzing data from visitors to your website, and interactions with your social media. Leadfeeder is a useful tool here; it can reveal when individuals from specific companies have checked out your website.
Digging into website analytics can also reveal the demographics and habits of your target audience, allowing you to build detailed buyer personas — useful information for the next step in the workflow.
Prospecting is when your marketers or sales reps reach out to people who could become leads, but have never previously interacted with your brand. This could be through cold emailing, cold calling, a direct message on social media or engaging with a post, through direct mail, or even in person.
As you create your workflow, your preferred channels of communication should be selected based on the data you have collected and your overall lead gen strategy.
Outbound marketing is a similarly proactive strategy, except it is based around paid ads (e.g. PPC), promotions, and PR campaigns rather than targeted outreach. It can be very effective at pulling in a rush of new leads, but this strategy can be expensive and difficult to implement over a longer period of time.
Of course, lead acquisition is more efficient if potential customers come to you. That’s the principle behind inbound marketing. This strategy aims to get people clicking on your content, and eventually ending up on your landing pages. It often revolves around SEO, content marketing, and lead magnets (more on those later).
Each of these strategies deserves its own separate workflow. But as part of your overall lead generation process, they all perform the same function. The aim is always to grab the attention of leads, and get them into your CRM — ready for stage three.
After the initial point of contact, you might have added a new lead to your email list or scheduled a call with that person.
At this point, you are working at the very top of the sales funnel. In order to start moving towards a deal, you need to work on nurturing leads.
In simple terms, lead nurturing is about interactions. You want to have as many productive conversations as possible with each lead, and engage with them via email or social media.
The tried-and-tested theory is that the more familiar your brand becomes, the greater your chances of later closing the deal.
This is an area of your lead gen workflow that deserves a lot of attention. To nurture potential customers effectively, you need great workflows for task and lead management.
Lead nurturing can also involve your salespeople making a lot of phone calls and sending a lot of emails. That said, you can reduce the amount of staff time that is spent on the process, through automation.
For instance, you can encourage interaction with your brand by creating rules-based email sequences. If a lead clicks on a particular call to action, they get one message; if they fail to open your first email, they receive a different, follow-up message.
Email marketing isn’t the only task that can be automated. You can also get leads talking with your chatbot, filling out quizzes to find the best offer, and engaging with you via Q&A webinars. If you decide to use these tactics, consider how these pieces fit into your overall workflow.
The main purpose of lead nurturing is to warm up your leads.
However, there is a secondary goal here: to figure out whether they are likely to make a purchase. This is known as lead qualification.
Qualifying your leads is important, because you don’t want to spend time and resources on chasing people who are never going to strike a deal. It’s well worth sorting the serious buyers from the time wasters.
With the right workflow in place, you should be able to start this process during the lead acquisition stage — or even before.
All data from your research and analysis can be used for lead scoring, where high scores predict a higher chance of conversion.
Effective content marketing during the lead acquisition stage can attract your target audience, and questions asked in prospecting calls can reveal key insights about individuals. The same goes for your interactions during the nurturing stage.
A good lead generation workflow should take account of all these touchpoints, and add a little extra gatekeeping.
As an example, it’s possible to effectively sort inbound leads by creating a great lead magnet. This could be an ebook, a white paper, a pack of case studies, or even an online event like a webinar. Put a small price on it, and you should really be able to start separating the buyers from the browsers.
Ideally, your entire lead generation workflow should be focused towards the sales transfer. This is the moment when marketing qualified leads (MQL) are handed over to your sales team, who can then work on closing the deal.
The moment of transfer is actually one of the most important parts of your workflow. If you don’t have a well-organized handover, hot leads can quickly go cold or even slip between the cracks completely.
Along with assigning sales leads to reps, you need to ensure that all the information gathered by your marketing team is brought across. After all, this data is going to be important in the later stages of the buyer’s journey.
Even after a lead has become a customer, there is work to be done. In many cases, the sales lifecycle may repeat itself if you provide a good customer experience. Bear that in mind if you’re constructing a lead gen workflow.
By now, you should have a clear idea of what a lead generation workflow looks like in the real world. And you might recognize the key elements in your own marketing strategy.
The question is, how do you make a great workflow? If you want to improve your conversion rates and streamline your sales process, take heed of these top tips:
Review your performance — Just as top athletes watch film after every game, you should be reviewing how well your team is performing at each stage of lead generation.
That means figuring out which call to action is working, what types of content are popular, whether your email campaigns are working, and so on. You can use your answers as benchmarks for future improvements to your workflow.
Collect better data — In order to answer some of the questions above, you might need to think about how you collect data.
Ideally, every process within your lead generation workflow should be measured. If that sounds like a challenge, bear in mind that technology holds the key — using a tool like Chorus, you can even see detailed stats for sales calls.
Improving the quality of the data you collect can also have a beneficial impact on your efficiency. For instance, filling your CRM with accurate contact information allows your salespeople to get on with their job of making conversions.
Focus on lead quality — All too often, B2B marketers get excited about the quantity of leads they are generating.
While a bigger number is sometimes better than a small number, what really matters is the quality of those leads. As such, the most effective lead gen workflows have a heavy bias towards qualifying leads. While fewer individuals make it to the end of the funnel, those who do are almost guaranteed to buy.
Hone your responses — In some senses, lead generation is like fishing. You have this ocean of leads swimming about, and you dangle something juicy in the water to get their attention.
You can wait some long time for a bite. So, when you finally feel a pull on the line, it’s imperative that you react in the right way.
A good lead generation workflow needs to prioritize pushing the right message to the right lead, at the right time. Salespeople shouldn’t need to think about following up — a reminder should be baked into the system. In fact, there should be a template email ready to go, complete with an optimized CTA.
Upgrade your lead generation tools — While most marketing teams have a finite budget, cutting corners on lead gen tools is almost always a false economy.
Take the task of collecting lead data as an example. Sure, you can make your marketing people search through LinkedIn and free databases just to find the right phone number for a potential client. But if your competitors can track down the same data in seconds using Datanyze, you might find yourself falling behind.
If you would like to optimize your lead generation workflow, consider giving Datanyze a try.
Our Chrome extension lets you grab key information from any LinkedIn profile or company website. It works on all types of leads, and there are more than 120 million professionals in our GDPR-compliant database.
It should fit seamlessly into your workflow, as well — any time one of your coworkers searches for a lead, the data is saved in your combined online account. You can then export the information with a click, and upload it straight into your CRM.