Lead Generation Part II: What Kinds of Leads Work Best?

Illustration of internet marketing over black background with red light and blur effect. Lead conversion concept.

Now that you’re convinced you need leads, what kinds of leads work best?

The most obvious answer to this question, are those with the highest potential to convert from a lead to a customer. Customer referrals readily offer this. They are phenomenal. However, there are usually not enough available to reach new customer acquisition goals.

When searching for additional lead sources, one should look both externally and internally.  Internal sources for leads are very often overlooked. Yet, they can have the highest conversion rate because the candidates have already shown interest through action. For example, they’ve browsed the website or clicked on an online ad.  Old customers are similarly viable due to past interaction. If circumstances dictated a decline in them doing business with you, things may have changed. Desirable external and internal lead sources are as follows:


Lead Source Chart


The best leads have a catalyst!

A lead catalyst means there is a change that has taken place with the customer that presents an opportunity for your organization. It may be an industry expansion or disruption, new regulation, manufacturing breakdown or new competitor vulnerability. The optimal lead mix is 60% hard leads and 40% soft leads. The advantage of hard leads is the direction is specific and the time to close is faster.  Soft leads are exploratory in nature. They represent growth opportunities and tend to be larger in scope. See examples of the spectrum of leads below.


Lead Spectrum - Soft vs. Hard


Lead expectations must be properly managed for successful outcomes. Keep in mind the following:

  •   No lead is guaranteed
  •   The best lead is one where you offer a unique solution & the customer has a ready project
  •   Most leads require several steps of involvement before the actual potential can be gauged
  •   Leads often lead to other leads
  •   With a lead, timing is everything
  •   Lead generation is not the same as prospecting, leads have an associated catalyst
  •   Leads do increase hit rates and reduce sales cycles
  •   Lead tracking and lead quality assessments are critical parts of a Lead Generation Program

Happy hunting!

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