Without a clearly defined lead search process, you’ll struggle to accurately forecast revenue, lead generation totals and your team’s sales performance. You want your sales team to spend their time selling – not endlessly searching for leads online and offline.
The right process, tools and templates will help keep the qualified leads coming in and knowing how to prioritize those leads will help your sales team stay productive, focused and motivated.
This is your ultimate guide to automating your lead generation strategy and prioritizing the leads you have.
What is lead generation?
Lead generation is the process of finding, identifying and attracting potential customers into your sales pipeline so that you can engage them, through direct contact or email marketing, tell them about your products and services and move them through the sales funnel.
You can generate leads online in multiple ways and on many different channels. More often than not, however, it won’t mean anything unless you can leverage that awareness into attention.
Why you should automate your lead search
Making and nurturing connections is at the core of any sales job and your sales team needs to know how to:
Prioritize which prospects to chase.
Keep track of your progress.
You can’t afford to waste your rep’s time on administrative tasks. Poor organization can lead to potential consequences of poor lead management, including:
A hot lead going cold. Because a rep didn’t follow up in time, a highly interested lead goes with a competitor's solution
Pursuing a wrong decision-maker. Your sales reps waste days or weeks talking to the wrong person and ultimately lose a sale
Spending time on a lead that isn’t a fit. An interested lead might decide over time that your offering is not a fit, but a rep still chases it, hoping to turn it back to initial interest
Automating parts of your lead generation process will streamline workflows and make it easier for your team to nurture higher-quality leads. When you free your sales reps from mundane admin work, they can also spend time refining their sales skills and honing their expertise.
Fewer bottlenecks in your sales pipeline, more conversations with the best prospects and a happier sales team.
The essentials of lead generation
Your lead generation process will result in one of three types of leads:
1. Companies who have explicitly expressed interest in your products or content. For example, they have signed up for a free trial, downloaded a resource in exchange for their email address or filled out a contact form.
2. Companies who have implicitly shown interest in your products or content. For example, they have visited your website, read your blog or followed you on social media, but they haven’t provided their contact information or reached out to you in any way.
3. Companies you know are experiencing a challenge you can solve, but you aren’t connected with. They haven’t shown interest in your offerings or awareness of you in any way, but they have similar features to your best customers and most qualified leads.
Once you have these leads in hand, you next need to determine which to prioritize.
How to automate lead generation
Let’s take a look at how lead generation automation can help you gather and prioritize leads.
Capture web visitors before they bounce
Speed is crucial when it comes to keeping leads’ interest. You can’t afford to rely on prospects giving you their information, then waiting for one of your sales reps to initiate contact. Think about all of the potential customers visiting your website every day only to leave minutes later without a trace.
You don’t want to let these potential customers fall through the cracks, but most businesses don’t have the luxury of operating a sales call center or a live support team around the clock.
Instead, use lead gen automation technology to qualify web visitors and feed quality leads straight into your sales pipeline.
Conversational chatbots, like the one available as part of Pipedrive’s LeadBooster add-on, enable businesses to automatically qualify and talk to more leads, book more meetings and close deals faster. You just need to install the bot on your website and configure it according to your lead qualification needs, then watch the qualified leads roll in.
How does Chatbot work?
Chatbot can qualify leads based on the criteria you set, then assign quality leads to the most relevant salesperson based on things like company name, location, availability, experience level or expertise. Whether you want to generate more leads, book more meetings or route qualified leads to your sales reps, you can choose from three readymade conversation templates.
Automatically qualify customers. Chatbot allows you to build branches based on a prospect’s answers to your questions that qualify them according to your sales team’s specifications.
Allow leads to schedule a call. Prompt your prospect to arrange a call, meeting or demo within the chat sequence. Chatbot integrates seamlessly with Pipedrive’s Scheduler, allowing the lead to check the relevant salesperson’s availability and set up a time slot that suits them.
Route hot leads to the right reps. You can tell the bot how to manage the information for qualified leads. Pipedrive can create a new contact, store the associated deal information, set the owner of the lead and control who is allowed to see it.
Smart tactics for finding the right lead information
Capturing the right sales information helps salespeople establish trust, demonstrate knowledge and prove deep understanding of a prospect. In fact, 45% of sales professionals say incomplete data is their biggest data struggle.
So how do you capture and keep track of the right information?
Ask for the right information in web forms
The more specific your web forms are, the higher the quality of your leads. You don’t have to ask many questions, only the right ones for the content. For example, an in-depth whitepaper download implies a narrow area of interest, so you can limit qualifying questions around a lead’s needs or interests. On the other hand, your main contact form acts as a catch-all channel of lead generation and may require more inquiries to qualify them.
Use LinkedIn to identify decision-makers and number of employees
When you’re reaching out to a cold prospect, check out the company on LinkedIn. For example, if you sell into HR teams and the majority of your customers have 200+ employees with around five HR reps, then leads with 50 employees and a single HR person might not be the best fit.
Research revenue and funding
Use online resources such as Crunchbase or industry-specific publications and magazines to keep an eye on company news, such as funding rounds, hiring sprees and other growth indicators.
Other automation tools that simplify lead generation
Some sales information is generated automatically through things like contact forms and whitepaper downloads while some requires manual effort.
Use integrations, add-ons and features to automate mundane tasks, freeing up your sales reps to focus their time and effort on the most impactful research.
Automate lead generation with landing pages
A landing page is exactly what it sounds like: a page your prospects land on when researching an answer or a solution. Landing pages can be focused on anything from free downloads to product feature pages and beyond.
With a tool like Wishpond, you can easily create topic-specific landing pages, offer irresistible resources and send your leads straight to your CRM.
Turn your traffic into leads with Web Visitors
What about those visitors who don’t fill out the form on your landing page? They almost certainly have a high interest in the specific challenge that led them to your website.
Your website analytics contain a mountain of data that simply needs to be unlocked. With the Web Visitors add-on, you can see which companies your website visitors come from. Set filters such as visit frequency and number of pages viewed to sort visitors straight into your Pipedrive dashboard as a list of leads to follow up on.
Enrich your lead data with Prospector
When a new lead is automatically sent to your Pipedrive dashboard, you know little about them beyond their behavior on your website.
Pipedrive’s Prospector feature accesses a B2B database of over 400 million business profiles and 10 million companies to retrieve profile data and build a clearer picture of your potential customer. Instead of Googling each new lead, get instant data from Google, LinkedIn profiles, web listings and other public and private sources.
Track specific information with custom fields
There’s no need for sticky notes or extra spreadsheets to keep track of your leads’ custom data, such as job title, number of employees or annual revenue. You can easily add customized fields to any lead to filter and prioritize which leads to work on.
There are times when using lead generation software might not be best for your business, however.
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Prioritizing your leads for the highest impact
Develop a bulletproof lead qualification process
After establishing a connection with your lead, it’s time to develop lead qualification benchmarks and questions to help you focus on those with the most promise.
Step 1: See how they measure up against your best customers
Your best customers are those that spend the most, cost you the least and stay the longest. Look at your existing customers and your most successful deals to identify commonalities. Evaluate data points like:
Find out what makes them loyal and why you’re the perfect fit for them by answering these questions:
How did you find your best customers?
How did they find you?
Why did they choose you?
What are their specific pain points?
Why are they still customers?
How long was the buying cycle?
Who is involved in negotiations and decision-making?
What were some typical roadblocks and objections?
Based on this information, you can define criteria for all your sales reps to use when pre-qualifying a new lead. How do they stack up against your current customers? Do they have similar problems you know your solution can fix? Are they moving through your sales pipeline at the same speed other top customers have?
Step 2: Define each stage of your sales pipeline
To further refine your process for prioritizing leads, clearly define each stage of your pipeline. The more explicitly you define them, the more you can pinpoint how top customers respond in each so you can recognize how a good prospect should be moving through the sales process.
Stages may vary depending on your market, but they might be:
Use experience with previous customers to Identify the questions you need to answer to move a prospect to the next stage.
Questions about decision makers will move the prospect from “idea” to “contact made.”
They will progress into the “needs discovered” stage once you understand their key pain points and timelines to solve them.
The “in negotiation” phase requires you to ask questions about their objections and reasons for pushback, such as pricing and implementation.
Based on your best customer insights and a detailed sales pipeline definition, write a set of questions the entire sales team can use to qualify each lead they work with.
Step 3: Watch out for bad leads
By now, you’ve defined what makes a good lead.
They look like the customers that are already succeeding with your product.
They move through your pipeline at the pace you expected them to.
They also have the authority and means to implement your solution right now.
However, not all leads are good. According to one recent study, 71.4% of sales reps say that only 50% or fewer of their initial prospects turn out to be a good fit.
If as much as half of all your leads aren’t likely to convert, it’s better to weed them out as early as possible.
Look for red flags like:
Lack of budget for your solution. If they don’t have the budget, you might be tempted to offer discounts. But the more you do this, the more revenue you lose.
Lack of fit with your product. If they like your product, but need you to add multiple features just for them to purchase it, they probably aren’t the best fit.
Avoiding your calls and ignoring emails. If they’re ghosting you, there’s a chance they don’t like to say ‘no.’ If you’ve tried sales objections tactics to restart the conversations and they’re still quiet, you should drop the lead, —at least until the next quarter.
Lack of power to make a purchase decision. If they don’t have the power to actually buy your solution, you can look for decision-makers in the organization, but there’s no need to keep pursuing this particular person.
Dropping leads can be difficult, but the more time your team can spend chasing quality leads the fewer of these bad leads they’ll miss.
The art of identifying the decision maker(s)
When you’re looking for a decision maker in the organization you’re selling to, you’re not searching for someone who just makes the final call or signs the check.
Although the decision itself might come from just one person, they will, to some degree, consider others’ opinions. Other people involved might be:
The person who initiated the research and buying process
The end user of your product
The person or team that manages finances
Other departments that work directly with the end user of your product
To make sure you’re not overlooking anyone in the decision process, ask your lead the following questions:
Who will be using this product day-to-day?
Will any other departments be using the product?
How long have you been researching these solutions, and when did the process start?
Who made the decision that a new solution was needed in this category?
Who else should we invite to the conference call or product demo?
How can I help you to win buy-in for this purchase?
These questions will help you get in touch with all the right people as early as possible.
Catch more hot leads before they bounce
Want piping hot leads delivered 24/7? You need this Guide to Automating Lead Generation.
How to merge lead generation with sales productivity
What’s the best way to split your team’s time between prospecting, closing deals, onboarding, upselling and reducing churn?
The key is to focus on activities rather than outcomes.
You can’t control whether or not someone will decide to buy. Relying on the outcome of every sales proposal will lead to a stressed, unfocused and exhausted sales team.
Instead, focus on what you can control: a systematic approach to the actions you take daily.
Activity-based selling keeps your reps doing the things that yield results in your sales process, which will progress leads and help to keep confidence and productivity high.
The most efficient way to focus on activities instead of outcomes is a reliable sales toolkit, starting with a CRM.
The smart approach to sorting your leads
A great sales CRM will help you organize leads to ensure you follow up on all of them. If you followed our earlier tips on (pre)qualifying your leads, you just need to take a few simple actions to keep your pipeline neat and pretty.
Implement lead categories
If your pipeline stages are designed based on your sales cycle, make sure your CRM reflects that.
Go through the contacts in your sales pipeline about once a week or so. If you find a prospect who has been clogging your pipeline for longer than your typical sales cycle, create a separate category, such as a future pipeline or a future outreach list, and move your prospect there.
Make sure you create reminder notifications to follow up with these prospects so you don’t have to manually check all the time.
Maintain your pipeline
Instead of waiting until your pipeline gets clogged before cleaning it, build a routine. By setting up productive habits, with the help of an effective CRM tool, you’ll stay ahead of the game.
“Set aside at least 30 minutes a day to go through your CRM and recheck and backfill information from the day. Make it a ritual,” says Olivia Henkel, sales manager at Grovo, a New York-based learning technology company.
She recommends you create a list of questions to ask yourself after each sales call and meeting, such as:
Did I log all of my notes in the correct place?
Did I log the activity in my CRM?
Did I mark my next steps in my calendar so I don’t forget to follow up?
Are all stages and forecast categories set correctly in the system?
Taking focused action will ensure your pipeline stays clean and your team always knows what to work on next.
Your toolkit to generate the highest-converting sales leads
Pipedrive requires minimum input while enabling maximum output. Use it to save time by optimizing your sales process and eliminating unnecessary admin. Our CRM solution makes your lead search easier by letting you:
Automate lead generation so you don’t have to manually scour every corner of the internet
Pre-qualify your leads without lifting a finger thanks to the Web Visitors add-on and Prospector feature
Prioritize hot leads based on their behavior on your website
Drop cold leads and time-wasters as early as possible in the process
With the right tools, you can focus on taking important and valuable actions (that you have full control over) instead of stressing out over outcomes (that you have no control over).
How do you set up your lead generation engine?
Get full access to all of the lead generation, qualification and management capabilities of Pipedrive with a 14-day free trial. The trial includes access to Chatbot so you can plug it into your website right away. You’ll find out how 80,000+ sales teams use Pipedrive to slash admin time, pump up their pipeline and focus on what they do best.
Catch more hot leads before they bounce
Want piping hot leads delivered 24/7? You need this Guide to Automating Lead Generation.