Chances are you’ve heard the term “lead generation” in the context of marketing your firm’s lawyers and services. You may even have used lead generation to some extent. But what does that mean exactly? How does the practice work in practice? And, more importantly, how can you develop an effective lead generation discipline that generates more and better leads for your business?
To frame this discussion, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page around the basic concepts of lead generation.
“Lead” is used to describe what you generally call potential (or prospective) customers. This encompasses just about everyone you know who could potentially hire the company: the person who subscribed to your company’s news and alerts via a call to action on your website (a “lead cold”), the GC of a former customer (a ‘hot lead’), or an internal connection who has taken on extended responsibilities at a long-term customer (a ‘hot lead’).
“Call to Action” (or CTA) describes a form or prompt on your website that allows visitors to provide you with information – name, title, company and email address, for example – in exchange for a benefit or information. Most companies keep this relatively innocuous, like a form that website visitors fill out to subscribe to company publications, but there are other ways to implement CTAs to collect contact information (e.g. , to register for a webinar or as a prerequisite for accessing a content portal).
“Lead generation” is the process by which you attract potential customers and move them through the sales funnel from cold leads to hot leads to customers. It involves several steps:
Develop thought leadership that solves the problems facing the businesses you target for business, from blog posts and customer alerts to webinars and in-person seminars to podcasts and videos, and everything in between.
Broadcast content to your target audience via email, social media, website uploads, webinars, presentations, syndication, etc.
Take advantage of content Build relationships with the people most likely to be interested in hiring you.
Nurture relationships to convert prospects into paying customers.
…focus on improving the quality of your leads to ensure they represent meaningful opportunities for client work
How to Generate More — and More Meaningful — Leads
Lead generation is often thought of as a numbers game: the more leads you generate at the top of your funnel, the larger your pool of potential customers, the more likely you are to have real customers. But in the field of professional services, where the service rendered is complex and nuanced, you must also focus on increasing the quality of your leads to ensure they represent meaningful business opportunities for clients. Here are some ways:
Focus your content. Thought leadership that addresses the specific issues your prospects are facing will speak directly to them and demonstrate that you understand the challenges they face. A webinar that talks about a recently enacted medical marijuana law, for example, will teach attendees about the new rule, but a presentation on effective drug policies in light of the law will resonate with employers who have need practical solutions to comply with the law while keeping the workplace safe. This is a well-communicated concentration.
Implement a complete system. A lead generation process that generates more and better leads doesn’t just focus on delivering content. To improve the quality of leads, your system must both collect data – on all leads and on any specific track – and Share it where applicable within the company. Your system should track new leads so marketers and business developers know when new opportunities arise. It should rank prospects based on their position in the sales funnel at any given time. And it must support stakeholders as they engage with prospects, nurture relationships, and take actions that will convert them into customers.
Stay flexible. The most important feature of your lead generation system? Flexibility. Trends change and opinions change; the way to stay one step ahead of this development is to anticipate it. Experiment with how you frame your thought leadership and how you deliver it, the layout and design of your CTAs, the tags you use to label your website content. Consider different tactics when interacting with prospects, like offering one-on-one training on a specific issue, for example, or inviting an important prospect to co-present a webinar with you. Keep your system as dynamic and flexible as the people you are targeting to ensure you stay ahead of changing behaviors.
What is your business doing to generate more and better leads? I would like to hear about it.
Katie O’Rourke is Regional Vice-President, Sales, at ON24. Connect with her on LinkedIn; follow for her last written on JD Supra.