How to Get Sales Leads and Convert Them into Prospects


How to Get Sales Leads and Convert Them into Prospects

Interested in turning leads into sales? Converting leads into prospects? How to build a sales funnel? What is lead scoring? If you’re an entrepreneur, these questions are crucial to your sales process.

Let's take a look at some basic terms and help your sales and marketing teams set up a proper lead generation system.

What are Sales Leads?

Sales leads are a way for companies, brands, and individuals to gain access to a pool of interested buyers who may have never heard of them before (cold leads).

People ready to buy from you are called hot leads. Sales leads help you generate interest in your products or services by exposing prospects to your business.

Of course, if someone is interested in what you have offer but doesn’t buy anything, they’re not a potential buyer—they’re just a lead.

That’s why it’s important that sales leads convert into sales prospects through smart marketing strategies and high-quality salesmanship. 

The best sales leads are relevant.

Just because someone is interested in what you have to offer doesn’t mean they need it, so make sure your leads know they can actually use your product or service before you try to sell them on it.

The most effective way of doing that is by targeting buyers at different stages of their buying process. These are called buyer personas.

Making sure you target each buyer persona properly will get more of your leads converting into sales prospects.

What is the Difference Between a Lead and a Prospect?

There are a few ways you can define a lead, but in general, leads are people who have expressed some level of interest in your product or service.

In other words, they’ve done some research about your company or checked out your website, but haven’t yet reached out to talk with you. They could be actively looking for a solution similar to yours.

A sales prospect is someone who has interacted with you or engaged with your business enough that they understand what you do and how it might benefit them—and have actively decided they want to take action by talking with you and requesting more information.

What is Lead Conversion?

While lead conversion is just one small piece of digital marketing, it’s an important one. It helps bridge that gap between generating a digital sales lead online and converting that prospect into a paying customer.

According to KISSmetrics, a good conversion rate for sales leads should be around 5%. That is, if you have 100 leads in your database at any given time, five of them should turn into paying customers within 30 days or less.

However you track conversions (using a CRM like Salesforce), it’s important to measure how well your lead generation efforts are working so you can adjust what you do for future campaigns.

In order to get from sales lead generation to lead conversion, you need to build up trust and rapport with your leads and prospects—so they feel comfortable buying from you when they see a CTA directing them to checkout.

You want as many prospects as possible clicking on that link. More clicks = more leads = more sales opportunities. Which begs another question:

How do I convert more leads?

Start by crafting interesting web copy targeted at potential buyers whose needs fit well with your product/service offering(s).

They won’t click on something boring; they don’t even want boring things! Dig deep into their problems, their challenges—the things they really care about—and use that information when crafting descriptions of who you are and why they should care about doing business with you.

How Do You Qualify A Sales Lead?

A lot of sales leads come in on a daily basis as a result of your lead generation activities, but not all of them are qualified.

As a part of the lead management process, only a certain percentage can actually become qualified leads and later - customers.

So, what's it take to qualify a sales lead? According to Bill Gullan in his book, The Accidental Salesperson: How Smart People Set Big Goals...And Achieve Them, there are six things that determine whether or not someone will convert into a customer. They are:

  • Need (does your product/service fit their problem?)
  • Location (do they have access/the ability to purchase from you?)
  • Ability (are they able or willing?)
  • Desire (can they afford it?)
  • Authority (do they have approval from their company's decision maker)
  • Timing (do you know when your potential customer is ready for your solution?)

What Is Lead Nurturing?

Lead nurturing is a term used in marketing to describe a process by which marketing teams can convert leads (who are not yet customers) into prospects (people who might become customers). This marketing process involves sending emails, SMS messages, direct marketing techniques, etc. to keep people's attention. 

The goal of nurturing is simple: Make sure that you are top-of-mind with leads who have opted in but haven't purchased from you yet.

Lead nurturing helps these leads remember why they signed up for your list in the first place, keeping them from getting distracted by other offers or simply forgetting about you entirely.

What Is a Good Prospect?

If you’re hoping to convert leads into prospects, you should start by figuring out exactly what constitutes a good prospect.

The first step in lead generation is identifying your ideal buyer, because if you send your marketing message out indiscriminately, it could fall on deaf ears.

After all, not every individual is a potential customer; even if they don’t need your product or service now, they might do so in six months.

Creating an ideal customer persona of who your target market should be can help guide the lead-generation process; just be sure not to over-generalize.

After all, everyone has different needs. For example: Is it more important that a prospect be within driving distance of one of your retail locations? Do they have enough cash flow to purchase multiple units of your product? Do they tend toward certain brands when making larger purchases (like vehicles)?

Remember: Once you know who your ideal customers are, sales will come easier. It’s up to you then to convert those prospective clients into actual buyers!

How To Nurture Prospects?

The key is to create a funnel that nurtures cold leads, hot leads and prospects as they move from initial interest, through discovery, and finally into engagement and the sale.

The best leads are nurtured at each step of their journey, giving them opportunities for more in-depth exposure to your company's products or services. How do you nurture sales leads? Let’s explore...

Step #1: Relevance (Reach Out To Relevant People)

One of biggest mistakes B2B marketers make when generating leads is focusing on quantity over quality. When most people think lead generation, they tend to focus on reaching out broadly to as many possible leads instead of focusing efforts on targeted outreach toward relevant leads and prospects who could actually use their product or service.

This mistake can cost you lots of wasted time and effort since reaching out to unqualified leads not only takes up valuable time, but it can also be frustrating since cold calling someone and having them reject your offer can be discouraging.

Instead, start by reaching out to leads where there is a high probability that they will match your criteria -- don't waste time with irrelevant contacts. Focus on people who expressed interest and are a good fit.

As an example, if you're selling accounting software to small businesses with 1-5 employees, then starting with social media groups such as local business owners LinkedIn group would probably not give you high quality results -- even though there may be some good leads here -- because these targets have different needs than what you're offering.

Step #2: Engagement (Start A Conversation)

After you've found relevant contacts online, through your website or networking events, conferences or trade shows, etc., it's important to engage them right away with email marketing - explain why they might want to learn more about what you have to offer.

The goal of these early interactions is not one way communication but to start a conversation -- not yet make a sale. If you get lots of generic responses back from your outreach emails, then keep working on improving your emails -- but don't give up!

Those who do reply are likely interested in learning more so now it's time to continue engaging with these prospects.

Step #3: Trust (Don't Forget About Them!)

One thing that people love most is trust -- unfortunately though, there is no one size fits all approach here since no two companies are alike.

I'd recommend spending some time researching how other successful businesses in your industry build trust with their prospects -- read blogs, articles and books written by others who know how to generate sales leads effectively.

At a high level, you want to find ways to show potential customers that you care about them as an individual -- not just as a target for a sale.

Step #4: Education (Teach Them The Value)

You've got their attention and they're ready to learn more about what you have available... now it's time to educate them on why they need your product or service and help them understand why it will solve their pain points and make things easier for them.

There's no point in selling something if you can't give good reasons on why they should buy!

This can be done through simple web pages or through more advanced customer relationship management software like HubSpot or Pipedrive which lets you not only keep their contact information but also track sales lead progress through your funnel based on criteria such as company name, job title, etc.

Ways to Generate More Sales Leads

Social selling is a great way to generate more sales qualified leads. Whether you're looking to acquire new prospects or develop deeper relationships with existing customers, engaging with your audience in a non-pushy way can result in some valuable connections.

It takes time to build out a network of quality contacts, but it's well worth it; there's no better way to generate sales leads than through developing genuine relationships with people who want to hear from you.

Your social media accounts are a great place to start, but it doesn't end there; get creative and figure out ways to work social selling into your day-to-day activities, whether that means sharing industry news on LinkedIn or writing an insightful comment on Quora.

Once you've created contact details for relevant people you meet on social media, use marketing automation to scale your sales process: follow-up with emails so prospects don't forget about you (this strategy works particularly well for leads that aren't ready to buy yet).

Finally, find out where your ideal customers spend their time online—forums, discussion boards, LinkedIn groups—and then join those platforms and post regularly.

Give people a reason to trust you before asking them for their contact info (like offering tips or advice based on your experiences) so they know what value they'll get if they give up their personal info.

Once someone gives you permission to email them regularly (by entering it into a form), send personalized messages every month so they remember who you are when they need help again later on down the line!

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