Sales Lead Generation: Tools and Techniques to Power Up Your Pipeline

Sales Lead Generation

When it comes to lead generation, working smart beats working hard. 

Your team closes deals faster and with more energy when they’re dealing with quality sales leads. But when they’re working with poor leads, they lose motivation and end up in a vicious cycle of overworking to find leads, only to discover they’re not qualified at all and having to start again.

With the right B2B lead generation strategies and tools in place, you can ensure your sales team always focuses their time and energy in the right place and with the right leads.

Sales lead generation drives the whole sales funnel 

Sales lead generation is the key element of a healthy sales pipeline—especially its earliest and widest part: the top of the sales funnel.

A sales pipeline that’s filled to the brim means that there’s plenty of leads to work on, making it easier to deal with sales quotas and expectations.

However, potential issues come up when the leads entering the pipeline aren’t of great quality. If that’s the case, it can set your sales team’s success for several reasons:

  • Leads that only look good, but turn out to be a poor fit for your service, could give your sales team false confidence
  • Your sales reps will spend valuable time chasing these leads only to discover they were never going to buy in the first place
  • Your team won’t have time to focus on quality leads, which will dilute their close rate

As a result, sales targets won’t get hit, morale can crash and, the worst-case scenario, your team won’t bring in the revenue the company needs them to.

At first, you may not see a problem with lead generation. Instead, you’ll see a drop in performance, a couple of missed targets and a longer-than-usual sales cycle.

If your sales results start frequently dropping below the usual results even though nothing about your sales pipeline or process changed, make sure to review your sales lead generation.

Because no matter how good your sales process is, it won’t turn bad leads into good ones—and you often won’t know they’re bad until you’ve spent hours on them.

You can always recognize a healthy sales pipeline when:

  • A solid mix of leads enters the funnel
  • Deals move through at a steady rate
  • A predictable number of deals are won

If this becomes less of a case even though your sales activities and process haven’t changed, it’s time to reconsider where your leads are coming from and the criteria your team is using to qualify them.

The ideal lead checklist: which leads are worth your time?

When your sales reps notice patterns in their best leads, a checklist will help them look for similar patterns in newly generated leads.

Start with this checklist and expand it based on your individual situation, such as industry or company size you’re selling to. If your lead checks the following boxes, they are worth the effort!

Basic criteria:

☐ Prospect matches ideal customer persona

☐ Business challenge aligns with solution

☐You have access to the decision maker(s)

Bonus criteria:

☐ They have come from a customer referral

☐ They are an existing customer

☐ You have had previous touchpoints

When you know what your ideal lead looks like, you can easily prioritize your leads and optimize your time, which will lead to an enhanced sales performance.

Based on this checklist, here are some areas to further deconstruct in your search for the perfect lead.

What do your best customers look like?

Look at your existing customers and identify any commonalities they have. Ideally, look for those customers that present obvious success traits due to your product, such as a link between the time they’ve spent using it and their growth rate.

Evaluate information about them such as:

  • Industry
  • Company size
  • Number of employees
  • Annual revenue
  • Decision maker(s) and main point(s) of contact with your sales team
  • Geography
  • Features they’ve needed and used the most

What does the path to purchase look like for them?

What are the elements that led to closed deals? What has influenced your lead’s purchase decision? Answering these questions will help you define a list of indicators of best leads.

Look for the following patterns in your past successful leads:

  • Attitude towards change
  • Factors that influence decisions
  • Pattern of consideration and decision-making
  • Length of buying cycle
  • Impact of internal influencers
  • Typical roadblocks and objections
  • Year-on-year growth

Do they pass the BANT pre-qualification?

BANT isn’t the be-all-end-all way to define whether a lead will be ideal, but it will help your sales reps anticipate objections, questions, the potential deal size, and their bandwidth.

Maybe most important of all, it will help your team prioritize leads and focus their efforts where they will result in positive returns right now.

The BANT checklist is based on:

  • Budget: The size of the business, annual turnover or what your prospect is currently spending on a solution
  • Authority: This is focused on the lead’s level of influence. Are the decisions made by a committee or a single head of department/company?
  • Need: Is your prospect similar to any of your existing customers? What are their main goals and challenges?
  • Timing: Prospect’s typical buying cycle and potential urgency of their need

The sales lead generation techniques

With all of the details on what a perfect lead looks like, what does good sales lead generation looks like?

All lead generation can be sorted into two large categories: manual and automated. As with most things, they both come with advantages and downsides.

Manual sales lead generation makes the most of your sales reps’ expert research skills. It allows them to put their vast industry knowledge into practice.

The downside? It could cost your team hours to find even a few leads that seem like good ones to invest their time into. And even with all of their lead generation talents, some of these leads may turn out to be a complete waste of time.

Sales automated lead generation clearly tackles the time-intensive element of manual lead generation. It enables your sales reps to come into work knowing there will be leads waiting for them.

However, automated lead generation still requires human touch once it’s time to have conversations with these leads. If the automation system prioritizes the number of leads rather than their quality, it can trap your team into a seemingly full pipeline that takes forever to qualify.

Which path is the best one to make your sales team most efficient?

The answer is a healthy mix of both. 

With a clever approach to automated lead generation, you can ensure only the highest quality leads reach your team.

They can then invest their time, energy, and sharp negotiation and closing skills to turn hot leads into happy customers.

Eight sales lead generation techniques

Qualified website traffic

Let’s start with the obvious: people who visit your website are likely to have some interest in what you have to say.

Your website traffic is arguably the most untapped source of highly qualified leads for your sales team.

Why?

Because even though some people will make the effort to sign up for your free trial, ask for a demo, or download a resource, they only make up a tiny percentage of visitors to your website.

The rest, no matter how interested they might be, simply leave and possibly never come back.

Does this make everyone that visits your website a qualified lead?

Definitely not.

Those that visited a single page and left after 10 seconds probably weren’t as interested as someone who spent 25 minutes reading your blog posts or comparing your pricing plans.

In other words, although many of your visitors don’t leave a trace, such as filling out a contact form, they still reveal their interests and current pain points with their behavior on your website.

The solution? Stop seeing your website visitors as just people who stumbled upon you. Their actions are saying something, and you better listen.

Our tool of choice for sales lead generation from website traffic is Leadfeeder.

To generate leads from your website traffic, all you need is good old Google Analytics along with Leadfeeder—a tool that matches your traffic with company information.

With Leadfeeder, you can see a feed of companies whose employees that have visited your website.

Leadfeeder also pulls company information that’s available online, such as:

  • Company size by number of employees
  • City and country
  • Industry
  • Website

You’ll also see the source of that visit (such as Google search), the number of pages visited, and the length of the session.

This means you can create custom feeds and filters to only see leads that have visited specific pages (so you know what they’re looking for), those that spent a long time on your website (so you know who’s really interested in your brand), or those in specific locations and/or industries.

In short, you can have a hyper-qualified list of leads sent right into your Pipedrive dashboard without any extra work and by simply plugging Leadfeeder into your analytics and setting up the right filters.

Check out the Leadfeeder and Pipedrive integration to get started.

A website chatbot

With a chatbot on your website you can engage leads on your website 24/7.

You can personalize the conversation options to help visitors navigate around the site and answer frequently asked questions.

A good chatbot will also qualify leads for you, as you can tailor it to ask specific questions about your leads interest in your website.

If you’re selling property you can set your bot up to get location, price range, property type and contact details from website visitors.

Your sales team will then be able to contact the customer armed with this key knowledge, saving time for both parties—they could even have some potential options prepared before the initial call. Read how to set up chatbots in our article on website AI.

Our tool of choice for sales lead generation from lead forms is LeadBooster.

Pipedrive’s new fully customizable website chatbot can be put on any page of your website to ask visitors qualifying questions and route hot leads to the right salesperson.

LeadBooster can qualify leads based on the criteria you set, then assign quality leads to the most relevant salesperson based on things like location, availability, experience level or expertise.

LeadBooster GIF

Once qualified, you can tell the bot how the information should be stored. Pipedrive will create a new contact as well as the associated deal information. You can set the owner of the lead and control who is allowed to see it.

You can even prompt your prospect to arrange a call, meeting or demo within the chat sequence. Leadbooster integrates seamlessly with Pipedrive’s Scheduler, allowing the lead to check the relevant salesperson’s availability and set up a time slot that suits.

Read our article on when you should and shouldn’t use lead generation software to find out how you can best utilize this great tool and others.

Lead forms

Those that do leave a trace on your website often do so by filling out a form on your website and leaving their contact information.

Leads will usually do this through forms that:

  • Take them to a product demo
  • Have a ‘request a callback from sales’ purpose
  • Prompt them to ask specific questions

The key to high-performing forms is to make them as specific as possible.

A generic contact form can still result in good leads, but it will appeal to your target customers a lot more if it’s tied to a particular pain point or topic.

For example, if you have multiple products or pricing tiers and they each have their own product page, you’ll attract more qualified leads if each of these pages has its own lead form compared to one generic form on the contact page.

Our tool of choice for sales lead generation from lead forms is Pipedrive’s Web Forms.

Our web forms are fully customizable and easy to set up.

Once you start generating leads with them, they’ll send all the information you need straight to your Pipedrive account so your reps have all the right details, including potential customers’ names, email addresses, phone numbers, and any custom information.

Sales lead generation technique #3: Lead magnets and landing pages

Instead of relying on your leads getting in touch with you, you can offer something of high value to them in exchange for their information.

From ultimate guides and original research to practical tools like checklists, templates, and worksheets, there’s plenty that you can offer leads.

This is another scenario where super-specificity pays off. When you can solve a specific and painful problem rather than just touch on a dozen, you’ll attract people who are more willing to select—and pay for—an equally specific solution.

Our tool of choice for sales lead generation from lead magnets and landing pages is Wishpond.

With Wishpond, you can easily create landing pages tailored to topics and pain points that matter the most to your audience.

Wishpond has an intuitive landing page builder with 100+ mobile-responsive templates, which means you’ll always find something that fits your industry and goals.

Instead of spending time wondering if your landing page will perform well, you can invest your time in nurturing the highly interested leads that it generates and sends directly to your Pipedrive account.

The ease of drag-and-drop editing and the flexibility of customization will help you keep your sales pipeline healthy.

Check out the Wishpond and Pipedrive integration to get started.

Sales lead generation technique #4: Live chat

A chatbot is great, but sometimes you need a human touch.

Live chat on websites has been around for a while, so it’s easy to forget what makes it so valuable.

38% of consumers are more likely to buy from a company if they offer live chat support, and 79% of businesses say that offering live chat positively affected their sales and revenue.  

Source: Kayako.

Live chat gives your potential customers immediate access to you and provides a safety net for when they have concerns.

It also plays into their immediate intent. If someone is looking at your pricing page and starts a live chat conversation with you, they’re probably more interested in buying your solution than if they were on a blog post.

However, in both situations, you can improve sales conversations on live chat, because whether someone visits your blog or pricing page, it reveals their immediate interest and helps you tailor the conversation.

Our tool of choice for sales lead generation from lead magnets and landing pages is Intercom.

With Intercom, you can capture and convert leads by proactively engaging them on your website, automatically qualifying them with bots, and chatting with your best leads in real time.

Then, you can send them right to Pipedrive.

You can view details about a lead’s Pipedrive deal in your Intercom Inbox, so you have all the context you need when you start a chat. Your conversation is also automatically logged in the lead’s timeline on Pipedrive so you’ll always have a complete picture of their journey and can continue a sale right where you left off.

Check out the Intercom and Pipedrive integration to get started.

Sales lead generation technique #5: Partnerships and co-marketing

When there’s a company that serves the same audience as you do, but doesn’t compete with you, it might be a perfect opportunity for a win-win partnership.

This partnership can be anything from a co-created ebook to a joint webinar and any other co-branded content.

By doing this, you’re exposed to your partner’s audience, providing extra value to your existing audience, and attracting more leads than you would on your own.

Here are some examples to help you brainstorm some options:

  • A web design agency can partner with a copywriting agency and offer complementary solutions and/or create content to collect leads together
  • A platform for selling software can partner with a churn-prevention tool as both target SaaS businesses, which is exactly what Churn Buster and Paddle did when they joined forces for a webinar on reducing churn
  • A CRM software platform, like Pipedrive, can partner up with other SaaS providers it integrates with so they can promote each other in their marketing (or on a specialized Marketplace)

Sales lead generation technique #6: Referrals from your network and customers

Happy, loyal customers you’ve already won may be one of your best lead generation channels.

Referrals have a higher conversion rate, close faster, and have a higher lifetime value—yet only 30% of B2B companies have a formalized referral program. 

Source: Influitive.

If you haven’t considered tapping into your network of connections, partnerships, and customers to explicitly ask for referrals, now is the time to seriously consider it.

You’ll receive the best referrals if you:

  • Ask for qualified referrals. Don’t ask to be referred to everyone, just to the company profiles and job titles that fit your ideal customer profile
  • Overdeliver on your commitment to customers. When they are blown away, they will often recommend you before you even ask
  • Create a referral process. Diligently track the progress and success of your customers to identify the best timeframe to ask for referrals (usually after they see success from your products)

Our tool of choice for sales lead generation from lead forms is Pipedrive’s Web Forms (again).

One of our customers, 360 Payments, told us about the effectiveness of referral-based lead generation and the way they use web forms to make it happen.

They have external partnerships that frequently send them referrals, and every partnership has a different sales rep assigned to it. If the partner allows it, 360 Payments places a Pipedrive web form on their website tailored specifically to them.

Once the form is filled out, it’s instantly sent to the sales rep that looks after that partnership so the rep can react in a timely fashion.

360 Payments gets more than 30 such referrals each week, and more than 80% of the accounts they onboard are from these partnerships.

Think about your strongest connections and your best customers and list some ways you can ask them for referrals!

Sales lead generation technique #7: Cold prospecting

By this point, you’re probably basking in the revelation that your team no longer has to spend dozens of hours every month trying to fill up the top of their sales funnel.

Here’s the thing, though: cold prospecting can still be a lucrative activity for your sales reps—especially because of all the automated lead generation you’ve put in place.

The reasoning is simple: 

Because you now have systems in place to automatically bring you new leads that are already more likely to be qualified, your reps can intentionally look for companies similar to these leads based on the earlier-defined checklist.

These can be companies with features such as:

  • Similar geographies
  • Similar team size or employee number
  • Common industry sector
  • Proximity in annual revenue

A combination of these will give you a list of highly prospective companies to reach out to.

Our tool of choice for sales lead generation from cold prospecting is Prospect.io.

When you have a list of companies that are likely to be of huge value to your organization, you want your sales team to spend as little time as possible looking for details.

You want them to get cold calling on the phone and sending out those cold emails.

This is where a tool like Prospect.io comes in handy. You can use their Google Chrome extension to find email addresses from any website or professional network and quickly add them to your CRM.

It’s as easy as that.

Check out the Prospect.io and Pipedrive integration to get started.

What’s Stopping You From Bulletproof Sales Lead Generation?

You don’t have to make a start on all the techniques we’ve listed to see quality leads come in.

Choose one or two that appeal to you the most, pair it with your CRM, and see how long it takes you to see results. You can then expand from there.

Make sure you have a CRM in place to help you manage all your newly generated leads and keep track of the contacts you make and actions you take.

Pipedrive is a CRM built for minimum input and maximum output. With the right integrations in place, your sales team will be able to spend their time on valuable conversations instead of admin and data entry.

Try it free for 14 days with an easy trial setup. Remember to add integrations for sales lead generation techniques you’ve selected in this guide!

Want to read more on lead generation and get some more B2B lead generation tactics? Try these articles:

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