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As a business, you need leads. But, getting them is easier said than done. Here are some smart steps for a profitable lead generation process that should keep you flush with paying prospects.

Defining Each Stage of The Process

A sales funnel is a practical necessity. It defines the sales process on a macro level and moves prospects from being prospects into being customers. But, that sales funnel needs to be clearly defined. A good lead management application will help you track and manage leads, and will make this process much easier than if you try to do it manually.

In general, your funnel needs to define:

  • The number of visits to your site.
  • The number of people who may be leads for your company.
  • Marketing-qualified leads - leads who are highly engaged with your brand.
  • Leads who are high-probability sales.

At each stage of the sales process, it’s essential for you to know where each lead stands in terms of qualification.

Raw visitors are the lowest quality - they’re not even leads. They’re more like prospects.

Generic leads are people who may have “raised their hands” in some way to indicate that they’re interested in what you have to offer. A marketing-qualified lead is someone who has shown significant interest in your brand, and may be a good candidate for your product or service. They have a pain that can be solved by your product or service.

A sales-qualified lead is someone who has a pain you can solve with your products and services, and is open and willing to discuss their pain with you.

Articulate High-Probability Targets

High-probability leads are leads that have money to spend with you, have a need for your product or service, and are ready to solve their problems now.

That last part is essential and something many businesses minimize or ignore altogether. A prospect might have a lot of money to spend on a problem, but might not be willing to spend it for any number of reasons, including the reason that essentially goes something like this: “I don’t have a problem.”

If your prospect doesn’t see his own problem, then it’s not a viable lead.
To be a high-probability lead, all three components need to be in place.

Score Leads

Some businesses need to score leads, but most don’t. For small businesses with a complex product or service offering, lead scoring gives your sales team an objective way to assess whether a prospect is really a lead.

Most businesses would be best served with at least a triage system, which prioritizes leads based on the probability of them becoming sales. According to some research, the simple process of scoring or prioritizing leads can lead to a significant (40%) increase in sales.

Define Your Nurturing Process

Do you have a way to reach out and stay in touch with leads? If you don’t, you should. A lead nurturing process defines how you will contact leads, what you will say to them, and ultimately what the sales process will look like. A nurturing process “warms up” leads, educates them, and makes them more open to doing business with you.

Christian Bonham works freelance as a marketing consultant and enjoys the chance to share his ideas and insights online. He has already written for a variety of B2B websites on the subject.

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