A Complete Lead Generation Guide for Sales Professionals

August 30, 2019
min to read
Jacob Thomas
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Pop Quiz: what's the one thing that every business wants more of? If you said quality, red hot leads, you're exactly right! Leads are the foundation and lifeblood of every business. Without them, you're dead in the water.

In this complete lead generation guide for sales professionals we'll cover everything you need to know about lead generation.

sales lead generation
Learn everything you need to know about lead generation for sales professionals.

First we'll discuss what sales lead generation really is and why it's so crucial to the success of your company. Then we'll jump right in to the top strategies you can use to effectively generate leads and how to supercharge your efforts once you have the basics down.

Finally, we'll discuss how to qualify your leads, the most common lead generation challenges, and the top lead gen platforms you should be using. It's all here in this guide. So without further ado, let's get started!

What is Sales Lead Generation?

Before we teach you how to generate sales leads, we first need to cover what sales lead generation is. Fortunately, it's not a difficult concept…

Sales lead generation is the process of introducing your company and its product to complete strangers and converting them into potential buyers for your business.

Think back for a moment: have you ever been given a company your email address in exchange for a free ebook, special report, or other downloadable goodie? Then you've been a part of another organization's lead generation strategy!

We'll talk more about sales lead generation strategies later in this guide. But before we get to that, we need to discuss why lead generation is so important.

Why is Lead Generation Important?

Lead generation is important because it attracts attention to companies and introduces potential buyers to the solutions a business sells. If nobody knows about an organization's products, it will have an extremely difficult time making a profit. 

There are MANY different ways to generate leads. In fact, the rest of this guide is dedicated to the topic! In the next section we'll look at how to generate leads effectively.

How to Effectively Generate Leads

lead generation strategies
The strategies in this article will help you generate leads effectively.

Now that we know what lead generation is and why it's important, let's talk about how to effectively generate red hot leads.

The Mechanics of Lead Generation

Most marketers will agree that the following four elements are crucial to any effective sales lead generation funnel. They are:

  • The Call-To-Action (CTA): The call-to-action is a button or bit of text that links to a dedicated landing page. The more noticeable and enticing your CTA is, the more leads you'll likely be able to generate.

  • The Landing Page: The landing page is a specialized web page that's created for one purpose and one purpose only: capturing leads. Oftentimes, a landing page will contain an offer which can only be obtained by submitting a form full of contact information.

  • The Offer: The offer is what makes this entire lead generation guide work. It's a piece of content — usually an ebook, whitepaper, or free trial or some sort — that a business gives away for free in exchange for a person's email or other contact details.

  • The Form: Finally, the form is simply the area on your landing page where visitors are asked to share their contact details if they're interested in receiving your offer. In general, the more information you ask for on your forms, the fewer leads you'll generate. The leads you do capture, though, will be higher quality.

To see success with your sales prospecting and lead generation efforts, you'll need to have each of the four elements above in place. Then you'll need to drive traffic to them. We'll talk more about how to drive traffic later in this lead generation guide.

6 High Value Offer Ideas

As we just mentioned, the offer is the driving force behind this entire lead generation guide. Without a compelling offer, you'll have an incredibly difficult time generating leads. With that in mind, let's look at six potential offers ideas. Each idea has been proven to work for many different companies in a wide range of industries.

Ebooks and Guides

Ebooks and guides make for great offers because they generally contain a lot of important information and teach readers how to do something valuable.

If I was in the middle of remodeling my kitchen and saw an ebook called "The Complete Guide to Installing Granite Countertops," I would be more than happy to fork over my name and email address for a chance to read the content. Your audience is the same way. The key to success is finding a topic they care about and then stuffing your ebook full of quality information on it.

Templates and Presentations

We all love to receive templates and presentations. Why? Because they make our lives easier! Rather than figuring everything out by ourselves, we can shortcut the process and follow a proven template or the steps laid out in a presentation and complete tasks quicker and with less hassle.

Discover a specific problem your target audience is attempting to solve. Then simply create a template or presentation that helps them solve it and give it away for free in exchange for the downloader's email address.

Research and Reports

Similar to the templates and presentations offer idea mentioned above, research and reports make for compelling offers because they shorten the amount of time and effort a potential lead has to expend. Sure, your audience could scour the internet and discover the "Top 50 Online Marketing Trends for 2020" on their own. But why would they when they can quickly download all the research you've already conducted for the low price of an email address? It's a no-brainer and that's why research and reports can be very compelling offer types.


Whitepapers are similar to ebooks but they generally deal with more specific issues and are usually written for a much narrower demographic. Because of this, they're a great offer type for potential leads who are farther along in the buying process than simple ebook downloaders.

If "whitepaper" is a common term in your industry, we suggest you use it. The name alone will signal to potential leads that your content is high-quality. If whitepapers are not regularly published in your field, then you might be better off calling your piece of content an ebook so that you avoid confusion.

Live Webinars

Live webinars are a popular offer type because they're so engaging. It's the only kind of content on this list that allows a company to directly interact with its target audience.

To host a successful live webinar, first choose a topic that your target audience will enjoy, then promote your digital event to the masses. During the live broadcast, make sure that you deliver quality information and reserve your "pitch" for the end of the presentation. Finally, include FAQ time so that your audience can come to you with any questions or concerns they may have.

Free Trial or Demo

Lastly, we have the free trial or demo. This is the most direct offer type and typically reserved for folks nearing the end of the buyer's journey. Because of this, leads that sign up for free trials and demos often become paying customers more quickly than those that download ebooks, templates, research reports, etc.

We should mention that free trials and demos are not just for software companies, though this lead generation strategy works really well for them. Any business can offer a free trial, demo, or sample of some sort. Just get creative and see what you can come up with.

Sales Lead Generation Strategies

So far, we've covered the mechanics of lead generation and six different offer types you can use to secure new leads. But the typical inbound marketing approach, shown below, isn't the only way to drum up new leads:

Traffic -> CTA -> Landing Page -> Offer -> Form

Here are three other techniques you can use as well:

  1. Tap Your Personal Network: You may be brand new to sales lead generation but you're not brand new to life. Which means you know people, some of which may be perfect candidates for your company's solutions or know someone else who is. Talk business with these folks and see if you can scare up a few leads.
  1. Seek Customer Referrals: If you've been in business for a while, you probably have a list of current customers that you can ask for referrals. Do it! Just remember to thank any customer that refers you, regardless of whether or not the new leads pans out.
  1. Don't Neglect Lost Leads: Lost leads are a part of selling. But the wise salesperson or marketer understands that leads once lost might not be lost forever. You would be wise to re-engage old leads that didn't work out the first time around. Who knows, they may be ready to buy now. And because they already know who your company is and the products it sells, they'll be more likely to make a purchase than a random new lead.

You can use these three lead generation strategies in conjunction with the others tips and tricks mentioned in this article to really boost your leads numbers!

How to Increase Lead Generation?

lead generation tactics
Use these tactics to increase lead generation.

You now have a solid understanding of how to generate leads for your company. But what if you're an overachiever and want to increase your efforts? We have a few tips to help you do just that! The following three strategies will help you drive traffic into your lead generation sales funnel and capture more leads in less time.

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO): We'll be honest, implementing a successful SEO strategy takes work and dedication. But the potential rewards can be really amazing! Once you've crafted a few stellar blog posts, videos, or other kinds of content, you may be able to rank high in Google search results. If you do, you'll receive what's known as organic traffic and see plenty of website visitors hit your company's site without having to pay for advertising. Win!

  • Social Media Marketing: Social media gives modern businesses an incredible advantage over those of decades past. Never before have companies had such direct access to their ideal customers. Don't waste this opportunity! Use networks like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to interact with your target market and drive traffic back to your company's website and landing pages.

  • Paid Advertising: Sometimes you just need to grab the bull by the horns and "force" people to visit your company's website and landing pages. That's where paid advertising comes in. Platforms like Facebook Ads and Google Adwords will allow you to target specific demographics with your marketing messages. Once you understand how to successfully use these advertising tools, you'll likely be able to generate new leads extremely quickly!

How to Qualify Your Leads

Qualify your leads to see if they're worth pursuing or not.

Let's face it, your sales prospecting and lead generation activities are only valuable if the leads you generate actually turn into paying customers at some point in the future. If they don't, you've wasted both time and money.

Fortunately, there's a way to help ensure the leads you're generating will be profitable for your company. We call it lead qualification and it's very important.

What's Lead Qualification?

Lead qualification is the process of evaluating leads and predicting how likely each one is to become a paying customer. It normally takes place in the early stages of the buyer's journey and is typically conducted by both the marketing and sales teams.

Lead qualification is important because it saves companies time and money. There's no point in marketing to a lead who shows no signs of ever making a purchase. You'd be much better off spending your time on qualified leads. But you won't be able to tell which leads are promising and which aren't until you go through the lead qualification process.

Qualify Your Leads

For a person to become a lead for your business, they need to have handed over their contact information. Once you have these details, you can begin to assess the likelihood that a purchase will be made. To do this, you'll want to conduct a little research. Look for:

  • The number of form fields a lead has filled out. The more fields a lead fills out, the more likely they are to become a paying customer. After all, it takes extra effort to fill in the company name, occupation, and physical location fields. Those that take the time to do so are probably very interested in your company's offerings.

  • The ways in which leads interact with your content. Leads that regularly read your blog posts, watch your videos, and consume your other pieces of content are probably more qualified than those who don't. You should be able to learn which leads really love your content via a web analytics platform.

  • The amount of social media interaction you have with each lead. Are there certain people who always seem to comment on your company's social media posts? This is a good sign that they like what your organization does, the things it stands for, and the products it sells. These folks can probably be considered qualified leads.

A Note on Lead Scoring

Before we move on to the next section, we wanted to briefly explain what lead scoring is and how to do it for your company.

In a nutshell, lead scoring is an easy way to qualify leads. You simply assign each lead a numerical value based on their actions regarding your company. The only rule is that everyone in your organization must score leads the same way.

For example, let's say that you decide to keep things extremely simple and just award a single point for every form field a lead fills out, two points for each piece of content they consume, and three points for every social media or blog comment they leave. Based on these criteria, a lead that filled out three form fields, read two blog posts, and posted one social media comment would have a lead score of 10.

The higher a lead scores, the more likely they are to eventually make a purchase. Therefore, these are the leads you should spend a majority of your time cultivating.

Lead Generation Challenges

Lead Generation Challenges
There are three main lead generation challenges.

Once you start using the tips and strategies in this guide, you'll begin to see more leads pour into your business. But don't be mistaken, things won't automatically become bubbles and rainbows! Even if you do everything right, there will still be specific challenges that you'll need to overcome. Here are the most common ones:

  1. Finding the Right Lead Generation Strategy, Channel, or Offer: Many companies struggle to find their lead generation sweet spot. They get bogged down by outdated strategies, ineffective channels, and low-value offers.

The key to fixing these lead generation issues is to know your audience and to continually experiment. You shouldn't be afraid to try new things as long as you're committed to analyzing the results and optimizing your future actions. The more things you try, the more you'll learn!

  1. Having the Right Lead Generation Team: Another common lead generation struggle is finding the right team to source leads. Which means it's imperative that your hire well and train your staff to perform at a high level.

You'll also want to make sure that your company has proven lead generation strategies in place. That way new hires have a framework to work within and can find success early in their new roles.

  1. Measuring Lead Generation Success: Finally, a fair amount of companies have a hard time evaluating the effectiveness of their lead generation sales funnel. This is mainly because they haven't committed to the process.

You need to make measurement a priority! If you don't, you'll never be able to truly tell how successful your lead gen efforts are and how to improve them.

There are, of course, many other potential lead generation challenges. But if you're able to solve the three most common ones listed above, you'll be miles ahead of your competitors.

Lead Generation Platforms and Services (and how they work)

By now you have a thorough understanding of what sales lead generation is and why it's important, and the best strategies for generating quality leads online. Now, let's take a look at a couple of lead generation tools you can use to skyrocket your efforts.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator

linkedin sales navigator
Linkedin's Sales Navigator is a powerful lead generation platform.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator is a valuable tool for any marketer or sales person looking to generate leads on their own. If you're not familiar with the tool, it taps into LinkedIn's gigantic database of professionals (500 million people!) and allows its users to target specific audiences based on criteria like industry, occupation, and more.

Once leads are found, Sales Navigator also makes it easy to engage with them in personal ways via InMail Message — the LinkedIn equivalent to email.

Just about every professional worth your time uses LinkedIn to network and move their careers forward. So it makes sense to use a lead generation tool that utilizes the platform. After a 30 day free trial, LinkedIn Sales Navigator can be used for as low as $65 a month.

Invisible Tech

invisible technologies
Invisible is the future of business process outsourcing and task delegation.

If you want to spend hours a day scouring LinkedIn for the perfect leads, go ahead. Many top marketers and sellers do just that and find great success. But if you'd rather spend your time on more important, business-building tasks like closing deals, you need Invisible.

Invisible is the future of delegating and allows users to completely offload their sales prospecting and lead generation efforts to a team of highly trained, low-wage workers from other countries.

Here's how it works:

  1. Users choose a subscription plan and sign up for an Invisible account. They then meet with a professional Invisible agent who will learn the user's preferred prospecting approach down to the last detail.

  1. After the meeting, the Invisible agent will take what he or she has learned back to the rest of the Invisible team and together they'll build a customized prospecting system for the user, taking into account their every preference.

  1. Once the system is operational, users email their synthetic assistant with a specific task or series of tasks to be completed. The synthetic assistant will use advanced technology to route the request to an army of highly trained, low-wage workers in other countries to be completed as quickly and affordably as possible.

For example, if you were to use Invisible for lead generation, you could email your synthetic assistant and say "Please find me 500 qualified leads by Friday." and your request would be sent and completed exactly as desired, no questions asked.

  1. After you've delegated a task or two, you can monitor Invisible's progress on them via the Client Dashboard. From this screen you'll be able to see how far along each task is and how much time it's taking Invisible to complete.

  1. All that's left to do is enjoy the boost in productivity that Invisible affords you! Imagine not having to spend hours a day on tedious lead gen activities that any $10 an hour worker can complete. Imagine instead having qualified leads sent to you on a regular basis and being able to spend most of your day closing deals. That's the power of Invisible!

Does Invisible sound like a service you might like to invest in? We encourage you to get in contact with our team today for a free demo.

Supercharge Your Sales Lead Generation Efforts

lead generation efforts
Use the strategies in this article to supercharge your lead generation efforts!

Effective lead generation is key to business success. If you can't generate quality leads on a consistent basis, your company will slowly die. Depressing, right? Fortunately, you now know everything you need to know to build an effective lead generation sales funnel.

And don't forget about Invisible. Our platform's revolutionary approach to task delegation will completely change the way you work, make you much more productive, and allow you to focus on the important, business-building tasks that only you can complete. Contact our team today to learn more and receive a no obligation free demo.

Hayley Darden Marketing Invisible Technologies
Jacob Thomas
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