Sales Leads 101: What You Need To Know

Maddy Martin

It’s no secret that the key to increasing your company’s sales is to generate more sales leads. Still, prospecting and generating sales leads can often be the most challenging part of business for many marketing and sales professionals. In fact, 61% of marketers state that lead generation is the most challenging aspect of their job.

Fortunately, whether you are a small business or mature company there are many strategies and techniques that are effective in producing more sales leads. If you’re aware of what sales leads are and are looking for some quick tips on how to generate more sales leads, head to our infographic below. 

Otherwise, we’ll walk you through what sales leads are, the three main types of leads, and unique and effective tips to bring more leads to your business. 

the purpose of sales lead generation is to cast a wide net to find prospects interested in a product or service

What are sales leads?

A sales lead is a person or business that hasn't yet become a customer or client but could in the future. A company’s marketing department can evaluate which sales leads are worth engaging and which are likely a waste of time using several tools and tactics. Once leads are generated, then the sales department will take on pursuing and closing these sales leads.

There are different methods to identify sales leads, including, but not limited to:

  • Advertising and marketing
  • Social media
  • Referrals
  • Cold calling
  • Outreach campaigns
  • Networking
  • Consultations
  • Product samples and service trials

Sales leads keep you from wandering aimlessly in search of your next client or customer. These leads point you in the direction of fresh revenue opportunities that will help you expand your business. Once you’ve begun generating leads, you can begin the lead nurturing process, which is a vital source for attracting more individuals into your sales funnel.

Lead generation vs. lead nurturing

While lead generation and lead nurturing are both important, lead generation is the initial step on the ladder, while lead nurturing comes later down the line.

The purpose of lead generation is to cast a wide net in hopes of discovering people who are truly interested in your product or service. 

The goal of lead nurturing is to develop strong relationships with these leads to convert them into loyal, paying customers or clients.

The 3 main types of sales leads

Understanding where your leads are in the customer journey and how you can help them get to the next step will improve the way you approach lead generation and qualification. It will also allow you to form stronger bonds with your customers and convert more leads than ever before. Sales leads are usually classified by cold, warm, and hot

types of sales leads- cold warm and hot

Cold leads 

Cold leads are those with whom you have had no prior contact or relationship with. You're essentially reaching out to see whether they're interested in your products or services. These types of leads are typically the hardest to work with because they require to be nurtured more carefully and over a longer period of time in order to yield sales.

Warm leads

Warm leads are individuals or businesses who have expressed an interest in one or more of your products or services. These leads may have indicated interest by contacting you via social media, your website, or another form of communication. 

Maybe they've signed up for your newsletter but haven't converted into a customer yet. 

Prospects who are interested in learning more about your business are significantly more likely to convert into paying customers or clients, but they still require some lead nurturing to get there.

Hot leads

Hot leads are qualified leads who have been nurtured and are ready to make a purchase. They have already defined their wants and how your company can assist them in resolving their problems. These leads are frequently seeking aid in completing a transaction or beginning a relationship, and all you have to do is make the remainder of the journey easier for them.

understanding the different types of sales leads - cold, warm, and hot

11 Tips to help your business generate more sales leads

Outbound lead generation strategies are great, but they are most effective when combined with an inbound plan. Inbound marketing techniques can assist your company in generating a consistent flow of inbound sales leads. To produce sales leads for your company, use these lead generation tips below.

1. Ask for referrals from your current customers

Referrals are often the most effective way to generate more sales leads. Happy customers are usually happy to give a referral, and since they’ve already purchased from you, they know your products or services work. 

Nothing improves your company's credibility like a satisfied consumer recommending you to their friends and relatives. In fact, 64% of marketers agree that word of mouth (WOM) is the most effective form of marketing. WOM marketing spreads the word about your brand, influencing the decisions and choices of other buyers. This will result in your business acquiring more warm leads.

ask for referrals to generate more leads

When you're closing a sale, ask your customer whether they know anyone who would be interested in your offerings. This takes very little time and could be a good approach to easily produce more leads. By asking for references and empowering your clients to gather their own leads, you can let them do the talking for you.

Sales tip: Offer a reward incentive to those who refer a new sales lead such as discounts, gift cards, or store credit.

2. Engage in and expand your network

Networking is a tried and true way to generate more sales leads. Nowadays, there are both in-person and online networking events to engage in, which will help you find potential clients or customers. You could be missing out on a slew of new sales leads if you don't network. In fact, executives claim that if they stopped attending networking events, they would lose 28% of their revenue.

network with peers to generate more sales leads

Networking takes time, so it’s important to choose the events you attend wisely. Aim to be where your prospective clients are. Join organizations that your target clientele are likely to be a part of, and make an effort to attend conferences they’ll most likely be at. This puts you in a good position to interact with a big number of potential customers.

Building ties with real people is an important part of networking. Instead of approaching people with a sales attitude, approach them with the intention of wanting to help first. Learn about their company and themselves as individuals, and determine what they require to succeed or solve a problem. 

Even if you don’t meet anyone who is currently in need of your products or services, if you make the right impression, they could most likely refer you to someone else they know or stay in touch for any future opportunities. With that being said, don’t forget to ask for their contact information or to connect on a social platform like LinkedIn. 

3. Be active on social media

In our modern world, a presence on social media is crucial for lead generation. Social media allows you to find and connect with potential sales leads, all while expanding your network. 

You can see good lead generation outcomes on social media with low time involvement if you have a robust social strategy in place. A Social Media Examiner report found that after spending only six hours per week on social media, 66% of marketers generated leads.

With over 80% of B2B leads generated through social media coming from LinkedIn, it’s fair to say that it’s the best platform for lead generation. People use LinkedIn to transact business, expand their network, market their products and services, and discover solutions to their business problems, so your most desired connections and companies will be there.

be active on social media to generate more sales leads

However, that doesn’t mean you should limit yourself. Expand your company's reach and brand to other social networks that make sense to your business, such as Instagram, Facebook for Business, Twitter, TikTok, Reddit, and so on.

4. Optimize your landing pages

Creating a dedicated landing page for each of your product or service offerings is key to getting more relevant sales leads. Each landing page should capture the reader’s attention so that they can explore your business further and provide a clear call to action (CTA). 

The more landing pages you have on your website, the better your chances of converting site visitors into leads. According to research by HubSpot, having 10-12 landing pages increases leads by 55%.

A CTA typically asks the user to sign up for a demo, subscribe to your email, or buy a certain product or service. If you have the option to apply a CTA, send users to a focused landing page with an opt-in form that is relevant to what they're looking for or to a page that will convert them into a lead.

5. Publish informative blog posts

Writing informative blog posts can help you establish yourself as a true expert in your industry. Most clients or customers conduct extensive research prior to speaking with a company representative, so building up a web presence to help you reach these potential leads is a great inbound strategy.   

In fact, 93% of B2B companies say content marketing generates more leads than traditional marketing methods. By creating relevant, interactive, and engaging content, companies are able to insert themselves into the research phase of their sales leads and help drive traffic to their website and relevant landing pages.

Once these readers want to learn more or make a purchase based on what they’ve learned from your content, you'll be the one they turn to. 

blogging to generate more sales leads

6. Sponsor an event

Hosting an event may not be the first thing that springs to mind when it comes to producing new sales leads, but you must think of fresh ways to interact with potential consumers in order to produce new sales leads.

For example, the co-founders of Security Dealer Marketing assisted a local security company in sponsoring a holiday public service day by offering free high-quality photos of families with Santa. The event resulted in 400 leads, 10 sales, and local brand exposure as the cherry on top.

Sponsoring a charity drive or networking event could be a good approach to interact with your community and generate leads at the same time. 

7. Host webinars

Another great way to generate more sales leads is hosting webinars. This is an excellent approach to interact with people and teach them about your industry, and it allows you to go into greater depth with prospects.

Those who sign up for webinars are legitimate sales leads, as they want to learn more about something you have expert knowledge in. In fact, 20-40% of webinar attendees turn into qualified leads. 

host webinars to generate more sales leads

You can host live webinars to answer questions or inquiries in real time. Offerings like  a time-limited live incentive is a great way to help engage sales leads. You could even record webinars to reach out to people 24 hours a day and attract sales leads asynchronously. 

Sharing your knowledge in this way identifies you as a thought leader in your sector, enhances trust, and improves your potential to acquire leads.

8. Revisit closed or lost opportunities

You've most likely contacted a number of companies who declined to buy from you at the time, but prospects’ situations are ever changing. Your offerings may now match their needs as a result of a higher budget or your contact may be transferred to a new firm or department where your solution is desired.

These prospects are already familiar with your company's offerings, so follow up with them every four to six months to see if anything has changed in their business, such as their priorities, issues, goals, or wants. 

9. Increase your online reviews

Positive reviews are a key way for companies to gain more sales leads and sell their products or services. In fact, 92% of B2B buyers are more likely to make a purchase after reading a reputable review. Not only do good reviews increase consumer trust, but they also allow you to appear higher in search engine results.

improve online reviews to generate more sales leads

In organic local searches, online customer evaluations are given more weight (6.47%) while negative sentiment in Google reviews is a negative ranking element — so what customers say in their reviews matters.

According to one study, 68% of customers will submit a review if requested, so make sure you're asking your customers to post a review to encourage favorable feedback. 

10. Connect with live chat users

By adding a live chat feature to your website, you’re helping the lead generation process by making sure your company can respond quickly and efficiently to all potential client requests. According to studies, 42% of customers choose live chat for customer service questions. 

Live chat not only improves your responsiveness, but it can also answer queries that fulfill the needs of sales leads, schedule appointments, answer FAQs, and connect visitors to the appropriate contact. 

You may also go over the chatbot's conversation with the sales lead to learn more about them and discover where you can add value, engage with them, and enhance your chatbot's responses. 

Outsource these live chat capabilities to Smith.ai, who can run live chat for your company 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year to give your consumers the best experience possible. These live website chat solutions are simple to use and interface with other software tools or marketing platforms. They also work with any website hosting platform, including the well-known WordPress, Wix, Weebly, Shopify, and others.

11. Maintain flexibility and iterate frequently

To generate more sales leads, your lead generation plan should be as fluid as the people you're trying to reach. Trends change, behaviors shift, and opinions evolve, so your lead generation efforts should as well.

A/B split testing may help you figure out which CTAs are the most effective, which landing pages convert the most, and which methods best grab your target demographic. In fact, successful A/B testing can boost e-commerce sites' average revenue per unique visitor by 50.7%. Experiment with different layouts, designs, user experiences, content, and advertising channels until you find something that works.

how to reel in more leads - tips to help your business generate more sales leads

Use Smith.ai virtual receptionists to help you generate more sales leads

Now you know what sales leads are and unique yet effective strategies that will help generate more leads to your business.

You can rely on the virtual receptionists at Smith.ai to handle every type of sales lead you have. Our agents are available 24/7 to provide inbound and outbound sales and support, as well as craft a tailored plan to help you manage your leads.

Request a consultation to learn how our 24/7 professional receptionists can help you streamline your lead qualification process and win new business.

Sources: Jobs in Marketing | Semrush | Oxford Economics | Social Media Examiner | The Pipeline | Marketo | SDM | Outgrow | Learn Hub | Moz | Qualtrics

Maddy Martin

Maddy Martin is Smith.ai's VP of Marketing. Over the last 15 years, Maddy has built her expertise and reputation in small-business communications, lead conversion, email marketing, partnerships, and SEO.

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