When “flow charts” get a mention in business, you probably sigh and wish your firm’s sales processes flowed more like water – seamlessly merging and moving to that prized reservoir of closed deals. It can! Today, we’re going to look at the lead generation process and how you can establish a better flow right from the source.
What is Lead Generation?
Lead generation is filling the wide-open end of the sales funnel through which you want your prospective clients to stream – even if you then carefully strain them.
You generate a lead whenever someone gets in touch with your business for any reason – maybe when they
- respond to your chatbot,
- answer an email,
- click on a link, or
- fill in a form etc.
You may also approach them in cold calls and emailing, or at a networking event, or through a mutual introduction.
However, not all leads are at the same level of readiness – or even suitable – to become customers. But they are a pool ready to flow through your funnel.
So, you have to qualify them for further contact. And that’s why it helps to have a lead generation process flowchart in your playbook. It helps both your sales and marketing people to
- understand suitable types of lead better,
- work with them according to what stage they’re at in the flow, and
- meet them in whichever channel they engage in, which is not always a linear process.
Let’s look at the four stages a lead generation process flows through in order to work well for you.
The first stage in the lead gen process starts when you take action to
- get the attention of your target audience and
- attract them to your business by offering them something they want: knowledge, information, expertise, samples, free trials, etc.
This is normally done with marketing campaigns based on your ideal customer framework. And that’s why liaison between marketing and sales is crucial. Together, you can work out the best methods and channels for you to attract a constant flow of leads.
For example, you can consider Facebook ads or cold calling. Advertising in traditional channels like newspapers and fliers works, too. But the future is online – increasingly via social lead generation processes. Your potential customers share Facebook, Twitter and TikTok videos exponentially!
In addition, to ensure a smooth flow of leads, an effective method might be to use search engine optimization (SEO) services, because they increase visibility and organic traffic to your website and therefore reach more people with less effort.
Another benefit of digital marketing is that it’s possible to target specific groups of people who might be more interested in your product or service.
For example, if you’re selling a financial product, you might want to target those who’re looking for the expert advice you’re offering as a lead magnet.
The second stage of the lead generation process is to start converting your qualified prospect into an actual customer – it’s a process. If you’re selling to other businesses, this conversion process will take longer.
However, you can only gradually convert a prospect into a sale at any stage if you have
- checked they meet your sales strategy and ideal customer profile,
- made sure they have the authority to buy (if B2B)
- checked further during a discovery call, asking good discovery questions
- provided a solution they agree meets their specific needs, and
- followed up as often as necessary without pressure.
According to Forbes, this following up is part of building a relationship with a prospective customer before they’re ready to buy. Helping the flow along!
Your business website is a great place to generate a flow of leads and nurture them, as we said. But you must also consider the user experience (UX) that will help convert them. Until they pay you, they’re still leads you must work on!
For good UX, you need a landing page that
- is clearly laid out with the information your ideal customer needs in order to make a decision
- is easy to understand straight away, factually and visually
- perhaps includes some comparisons if you offer several products or versions of services
- gives a clear idea of what steps your visitor needs to take next, with an enticing call to action (CTA).
In other words, customer experience of your brand is key to eventual conversion. The goal is to keep the visitor happy long enough that they click on your CTA and start the process of buying from you.
All the previous activity moves your lead down the stream to a watering hole where they close the deal.
At this stage, you’re going to ask your prospects to buy your product or service. So, you need to make sure you have
- answered all questions,
- engendered trust, and
- matched the product or service exactly to the lead’s expectations.
You might need a meeting or three to finalize this lead as appropriate for closing with. Or it might happen online after the lead has found out all they need to know via your landing page and your Q&A page (if you have one).
In addition, you may have reassured them with a money-back guarantee or free trial period.
Your lead gen process is still flowing up to this point.
However, once your lead has closed the deal, traditional lead generation processes tag “delighting” them as the final stage!
This is because customer loyalty is crucial. You need returning customers or at least referrals from them. Referrals keep your lead gen process flowing with even more suitable leads. Recommendation always shortens the selling process.
To ensure “delight,” therefore, you need to:
- Solve any problems that arise promptly
- Ensure post-buying material or training is available where appropriate so your service or product is fully usable.
You should also have used a variety of tactics to delight your leads on their way along the funnel’s flow, such as providing:
- Regular updates on the status of their inquiries
- Additional information or resources when needed
- A personalized relationship – use your CRM for this
- Appreciation for their interest in your business
We Can Help You Establish a Flow!
A good lead gen process is the foundation for the success of your sales funnel activities. Finding a good flow for your team to act on will benefit both your customer and your company’s value.
If you’re looking to find ways to improve the flow in your lead generation process, we, at 360 Consulting, have years of experience in sales! Contact us for a free consultation. We’re never too busy to talk about your bottom line!