Many businesses are finding it more difficult to generate leads.

Budgets are tight, buyers are being bombarded and there are so many new approaches being promoted that it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.

If you’re looking for inspiration, clarity, and a pragmatic approach, follow these six steps to improve your lead generation and sales.

1. Set goals and track results when you generate leads

Whether your time horizon is a month, a quarter or a year, and whether the scope is a tactical campaign or a larger project, you know you need SMART goals. As well as the end goal, consider the key steps along the journey, so you can plan and track progress. Put these down as financial values or other metrics and also list key activities in parallel, between the metrics. Add in the anticipated conversion rations for key steps through the sales cycle.

2. Define your ideal customer

This may be based on your current ‘best’ customers, or for a new target customer. Consider both the company and the individual buyer, and develop profiles for both. This will help you to find them on LinkedIn or other sources. For companies, you might define them by industry or sector, geographic area, size or other aspects. For the decision-makers, you might define them by their seniority or job level and their role of function in the business, ie. Sales Director.

Now consider the issues or opportunities occurring within the market, within the company, and for individuals. There may be legislation changes in the market, the company may have opened a new office, and individuals might have been promoted. Now consider the emotional impact that these changes may be creating. On the positive, there may be aspirations, wants and desires you can align with. On the flip side, there may be issues, challenges, difficulties and pain that will motivate a purchase. This approach will help you identify key phrases that they may use to describe their issues, that they will then use in online searches and elsewhere, as well as key points for your collateral for sales and marketing.

3. Define your Customer Value Proposition

Rather than describing your products and services, features and benefits, try to paint a picture of how the buyer will feel when they have, use or own the product or service you offer. Draw on feedback from current satisfied customers to identify a broad range of feelings and benefits. Try to identify value that applies to the person, to their position and to their company. Include both logical, rational benefits and sensory, emotional benefits too. Be prepared to win the hearts and minds of your prospects.

4. The selling activity – after you have created sales opportunities

These are the steps and the process to take a Sales Qualified Lead* through to a Sale. For most businesses this probably involves quotations, proposals, demonstrations and negotiation to help the buyer understand the value of your proposition to them and their organisation. Some businesses also help buyers with their internal justification, to help to justify the go-ahead for the project, against other options.

Try to identify the key value points that each buyer will need to appreciate in order to buy, and buy from you. How best can you help them to see your value in each area, and how you minimise the cost and risk to them. Top performing sales people probably do this implicitly. Sharing their best practice through the sales team will raise the skill levels, and have a positive impact on conversion, sales and revenue performance.

The buyer or customer profile and the customer value proposition you defined earlier will help you to create the right resources, such as master copies of your demonstration, Powerpoint presentation, proposal or similar, along with prompts (checklists) for calls and meetings.

5. Lead nurture activity – after you generate leads

This is the activity between a Marketing Qualified Contact** and a Sales Qualified Lead. Medium and large companies are becoming increasingly sophisticated in this area, with email marketing automation, lead scoring and similar. Smaller businesses and individual business owners and sales people may well be doing this on a one by one basis. Phone calls, emails, social media, web based demonstrations, blog articles and similar activities are just some of the tools that can be used to increase productivity and reduce costs.

One prime example that is relatively easy to implement is an email welcome sequence, of 3-6 emails to be sent every few days. These can be set up and sent automatically when someone registers on your website, or if you meet them in person and they are not a hot lead, you could add them to a pre-defined sequence, and follow up with a phone call when the sequence has completed.

6. Engage with a Marketing Qualified Contact**

This is the lead generation activity, to make contact with the businesses and people that were profiled earlier. Two important goals are to make an impact and to gain permission to communicate with them. There are all manner of ways to approach this. It might be through face to face networking and referrals, exhibitions and trade shows, through Direct Mail or outbound phone calls. Increasingly, research and initial contact through social media is possible. Creating a sales page or landing page where people enter their email address and other details in exchange for access to helpful and valuable information is another option. People can be directed to the landing page through content marketing, online advertising, social media or many other routes. For most B2B businesses there’s going to be a mix of inbound attraction marketing and outbound marketing that makes up lead generation.

The Wurlwind Sales Funnel Roadmap

This outlines the core elements of the Wurlwind Sales Funnel Roadmap which helps sales people and business owners to improve the effectiveness of their selling and sales processes. There are many other aspects that hang off this outline, such as the tools and technologies to support these activities, like social media, websites, email marketing, customer relationship management (CRM), analytics and tracking and many more.

The underlying measure is to look at return on investment or ROI on money and time, and to compare the quality and quantity of leads. In some businesses it is possible and worthwhile to compare the eventual sales against the cost of the marketing and sales activity of the various campaigns and activities. The reality for most smaller businesses is it’s the headline metrics, of leads, quotes and sales, that matter, and correlation of which leads produced the best sales is of limited value. However, with the imperatives to reduce sales and marketing costs and increase results it is becoming more important to monitor and measure lead generation, follow-up, sales activities and results.

Advice from experienced sales process consultants can be enormously valuable, to identify where there are opportunities to make improvements, and how those enhancements can be made cost effectively.


* A Sales Qualified Lead is someone who meets your customer profile AND who has a need that you are able to satisfy, and funds to buy what you propose.

** A Marketing Qualified Contact is someone who meets your customer profile but you don’t yet know if they have a need or budget.