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Lead prospecting versus lead generation: these are two very different techniques that actually seem to be very complementary.
Before becoming clients, business contacts pass through several phases. They evolve from being ordinary contacts to qualified leads. By this time, they have already showed interest in the company’s products. This can take the form of actions such as requesting a quote, subscribing to the newsletter, calling for information, or downloading premium content. Consequently, they step from qualified leads to business customers. These two techniques help promote the conversion stage.
Lead generation is used to convert a contact into a qualified lead, while lead prospecting is when it comes to turning that lead into a customer.
Definition of Lead Generation
Lead generation (prospect acquisition) is a marketing term. A lead is a qualified contact who is interested in a company or a product and also is willing to give the advertiser his address data for further dialogue, and therefore with a high probability of becoming a customer.
Generating leads with high data quality is a fundamental task in gaining new customers and is one of the uppermost aims of companies. Increasing number of companies are using the lead generation method(s) to establish and expand their own sales prospect databases of a weighty size.
Remember: Lead = data record
Addressing data of potential interested parties can be generated online and offline for specific target groups.
The contemporary term of lead generation originated from direct marketing. The origins of direct marketing extend back to companies that were selling their products by post after WWI.
Since the 1980s, the increasing customer orientation, due to competition pressure, has also steered other firms to adapt to direct marketing. For advertising companies to reach their target groups with a reasonable economic effort, they need professional direct marketing.
Practice has shown that virtually any medium can be utilized as a sales medium by directly addressing them, for example via coupons, telephone callbacks or orders by fax. This direct customer contact enhances the possibilities of a longer and more stable conversation.
The generation of leads is also of central importance for e-commerce marketing. The media used to address potential customers largely correspond to those used in direct marketing. However, trade fairs play an important role as on-site marketing tools in the e-commerce sector.
Lead Generation Strategies
The following procedures are taken, whether in classic or e-commerce marketing, to generate leads:
- Coupon ads (couponing).
- Advertisement with a telephone consultation offer.
- Advertisement with an order card attached.
- Mailing, with info card to request further information.
When the potential customer shows interest, he/she enters the contact details requested by the advertiser in the specified fields of the medium used and forwards it back to the advertiser. The advertiser now receives a lead.
A wide range of marketing media (advertising banners, newsletters, text links, etc.) can be used online in almost all available delivery channels (classic websites, e-mail, social networks, search engines, etc.) to generate leads. The incentives (competitions, coupons, product samples, etc.) can be found in this advertising material.
If the user clicks on it, he will be forwarded to the Landing Page of the lead advertising campaign, where he can insert his data using previously defined data fields and give his consent to these being saved by the advertiser (web forms with express consent for advertising measures).
A variety of web analytics services and tools are offered as part of online lead generation and lead management. For example, there is the option of using coded links to observe the behavior of the lead on the corresponding website and thus to draw conclusions about their interests. The comparison of the visitor IPs of the provider portal with databases can identify visiting parties and thus contribute to lead generation. Social media monitoring is also a lead generation discipline.
An additional way to generate leads is to specifically create high quality content for an addressed audience. This can be, for example, a whitepaper, guide, or checklist. However, these are not freely accessible. Interested parties must provide their contact details.
Often the users only get access to the desired content after a double opt-in procedure. In addition, interested parties are encouraged to subscribe to the newsletter. In some cases, leads who are interested in such content are followed up by phone to make the product attractive to them.
The advantage of such an approach is that it is relatively easy and inexpensive to acquire leads from a specific target group, because only those for whom the content is really interesting will provide their contact details voluntarily.
On the other hand, the procedure can also deter interested parties who attach great importance to data protection or who fear spam. In addition, it is possible that incorrect information is provided in order to be able to read the content.
Lead Generation in E-commerce
The measures listed above are also used in e-commerce marketing to generate leads. In contrast to direct marketing, the aim here is not to achieve immediate sales success, but to develop interested parties into leads through targeted content, which are then passed on to sales.
Trade fairs are an important marketing instrument for generating leads in e-commerce marketing. Personal contact and the opportunity to network are particularly valued by exhibitors in the e-commerce sector. In order to successfully bring companies and potential customers together on site, a well-planned content strategy must be implemented in the preparation to the trade fair.
This is in accordance with the basic assumption that interested parties, searching for suitable solutions for their issues in the trade fair, should find an informative content – e.g., in the form of press releases, blog posts, whitepapers, free tools – which is intended to create a positive connection to the provider via their usefulness.
The lead generation at the fair then takes place through a personal conversation between interested parties and the exhibiting company and the exchange of contact details, which are passed on to the sales department.
Lead Generation through Address Purchase
Another common form of lead generation is the acquisition of address data according to certain criteria such as industry, turnover, and company size in the e-commerce area. These can be acquired from address dealers as part of address trading. Depending on the segment, different selection vectors are available which make it possible to acquire suitable leads directly.
All actions that are necessary to attract interested parties, who are ready to make contact, cost an enormous amount of time. Therefore, it is most important to render the acquisition of leads as efficient and fast as possible. Today, we have a large selection of apps and tools that expediate the documentation of contact details.
Such tools enable the quick digitization of contacts from business cards, the direct transfer or further processing of data, which simplify and accelerate the company’s internal contact management many times over.
Computerized Lead Management
In addition to the automated processing of contact data, the use of appropriate tools and apps enables further advantages:
- The modern appearance with a smartphone or tablet creates a professional impression.
- Guidelines or questionnaires, created in advance, support a structured and target-oriented discussion with the customer.
- Essential information will not be lost, due to the direct digital recording of contact data.
- There is a plenty of time saved, instead of the laborious transfer of manually recorded contact data, and is therefore reflected on cost minimization.
Quality of Generated Leads
The quality of the generated leads is governed by the following factors: correctness, timeline, the voluntary, conscious provision of data by the (potential) customer and the customer’s real interest in the product or company concerned.
A high-quality lead generation can be achieved through various measures. These are easy to implement, especially in online lead generation, because the data records are available in digital form right from the start and can thus be checked automatically in a simplified manner.
The leads gained online can experience any number of validation levels and can be checked for correctness not only automatically, but also manually. Some examples of such validation levels include:
- Ensuring the consent of customers to the further use of their data (e.g., through double opt-in procedure).
- Automatic revision of the generated data sets, e.g., on obviously invented information (e.g., Celebrity as a name), duplicate entries and checking the validity or plausibility of the entered address data by comparing the country, postcode, town and street combination with address databases (e.g., there is no city called New York in Egypt).
- Automated verification of stored phone numbers through very short call attempts (Tel-Ping) to identify invalid numbers.
- Checking by human sight (e.g., for typing errors).
- Additional telephone contact by a call center to make sure that the user is really interested to make an appointment, with an incentive such as a “trial training in the fitness center.”
Purpose of Generated Leads
Companies generate leads for a variety of purposes, such as:
- To set up and expand a client database.
- To initiate and expand a customer dialogue as part of your dialogue marketing, in order to contact the potential customers by phone, to send them their newsletter, or the like.
- Furthermore, companies can use lead generation campaigns to portray a positive image with customer and promote the development of brand awareness (also called branding). This can be described as a positive side effect of such campaigns, as these effects occur as soon as the consumer perceives the advertising material, even if he does not pass on his data.
As a final result, the sales of a company should be increased through the stimulated customer interest.
When generating customer data, companies must comply with all the international requirements of Permission Marketing (e.g., data protection). The data collection methods must be transparent and consumers give their explicit consent before being contacted in any way.
All information must be provided voluntarily by consumers. A sensible and data protection compliant procedure for this is the double opt-in procedure, which is also used when sending newsletters.
If personal data is handed over personally by business card at trade fairs, as is customary in the field of e-commerce, the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) regulates the extent to which this may be used and processed. Accordingly, if a business card is merely handed over, consent to the collection of the data can be assumed without an additional declaration of consent.
However, the express consent of the contacts is required to contact new interested parties. Many lead management apps offer a corresponding functionality for the declaration of consent, which at the same time indicates the professionalism and quality of the respective app.
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That was the lead generation procedures. Now let us see how sales prospecting process works, and we will find out the major differences between the two techniques.
Definition of Lead Prospecting
Prospecting is an action normally accomplished by sales agent, via a man-to-man correspondence. The aim is to create interest with the potential clients who haven’t been acquainted with your business.
In the field of e-commerce, to achieve lead prospecting, sales agents will carry out several actions, including: LinkedIn direct messages, outbound emailing, and cold calling. It is generally a short-range method, a quick technique to discover and qualify new customers, then convey them into the sales funnel.
E-commerce Lead Prospecting
The e-commerce lead prospecting is a central activity for Software as a Service (SaaS) sales reps. It begins with the collection of e-commerce data, which is later used to introduce targeted sales reach out through cold calls, outbound email and social sales.
The goal of e-commerce lead prospecting is to nurture prospect relationships for an appreciable time, and eventually converting them into loyal clients.
Who Are eCommerce Lead Prospects?
Anyone who suits your best client profile can be a prospect for your e-commerce business. They can be subdivided into two groups – leads who haven’t yet interest in your service or product, and leads who have reacted to your line of products but haven’t yet converted into a buyer.
These potential clients can be brought into by a number of marketing activities. Such activities consist of: outbound sales, customer referrals, email or direct marketing, searches on the web and the events organized by your company.
Who Handles eCommerce Prospecting?
When you are attempting to attract leads for your e-business. The first thing in your marketing plan is to pinpoint your potential customers or prospects. The second move is to outreach your lead prospects and attract them into your store sales pipeline.
This process can be organized between two departments – Business Development Managers (BDMs) and Sales Development Representatives (SDRs).
BDMs negotiate the transactions and accomplish the sale, while SDRs supervise your entire outbound sales from cold calling and outbound email.
The Five Main Methods of E-commerce Prospecting
When looking for ideal clients, there are several techniques for e-commerce prospecting, these include:
- E-commerce lead generation: E-commerce marketing content is employed to attract and convert clients into leads. Leads should not be mixed up with prospects; leads are potential clients who have showed interest in your product or service. Each segment of content is wisely constructed to connect with customers all over the selling process. This can be attained through social media, blogs, search engine advertising, etc.
- Cold calling: The SDR will set a contact list of targeted clients, find out the proper time to make the cold call, and propose a product or service to prospective customers on the phone. The aim is to set up a meeting with the prospect.
- Outbound email: The SDR will send persuasive and personalized emails to prospects, who probably did not hear about your company. This e-commerce prospecting strategy is an efficient method to introduce your business and draw interest.
- Social selling: The SDR will maximize brand awareness and characterize new prospects by dealing with users on a social network. In e-commerce scenarios, the main network is LinkedIn.
- Sales cadences: Email sequences, cold calling and social selling can all be combined to produce a sales cadence.
These five methods are aimed to convince the prospect to agree to a sample or a meeting with the account executive or the sales agent. If the client agrees to the sample, then the sales agent will close the sale, converting your prospect into a customer.
The Five Phases of E-commerce Prospecting
Now, you have established your perfect client profile with excellent content; how can you confirm you will attain the best leads?
Simply, by following these five e-commerce sales funnel phases:
- Survey the Prospects
Firstly, you need to determine the quality of your lead. Studying your prospect, can enable you to estimate the value of targeting them. Create a list of qualifying questions to check against your prospect, including things like – are they in an area you can offer business to and are they in an industry that you’re comfortable catering to?
- Recognize the Decision-Maker
As soon as you find a lead is worth tracking, you need to determine who the main decision-maker is. As Business-2-Business (B2B) prospecting to be properly handled, it is so vital that you are aiming at the exact person(s). In B2B, there may be more than one decision-maker forming a company procurement board.
- Outreach to Your Prospects
When time comes to make contact, implement the sales cadence you’ve been preparing and open the discussion with the decision-maker. Keep following up every day persistently.
- Arrange a Product Presentation
When your prospect shows interest, give them a call and schedule a presentation. This is a person-to- person meeting; in which you may brief them exactly how your product or service will be advantageous to their business. Once they witness it in live demo, you’ll be one step closer to settling this sell.
- Settle Objections and Seal the Deal
After creating a connection with the prospect and exhibiting your product, you have to qualify the deal. The prospect might mention for you some objections to answer. Objections are an indication that the prospect is serious with your product and wants to understand more.
To seal the deal, you need to tackle and overcome these objections. Show up prepared by memorizing great replies for the most frequent objections.
Data is Essential to Lucrative Prospecting
To enable your sales department to target the correct customer and attain value leads that will add to your e-commerce, they will need precise, fully updated data. If the SDRs are using an insufficient data, it will make much harder to carry out cold calling and outbound emailing.
Insufficient data results in low-value prospecting. Sales department will be contacting the wrong persons at the wrong time. They will be talking with decision-makers who have by this time left or changed their jobs. Lacking a quality prospect data, sales agents will be wasting valuable time and effort.
Actually, absence of accurate data is the main problem many e-commerce firms face. SaaS sales departments spend about 60% of their work hours to generate leads that bring conversion rates of less than 1%. Moreover, this erroneous or outdated information will lead to target prospects when they are unwilling to buy.
Technology and eCommerce Prospecting
Technology constitutes a large part in e-commerce sales prospecting, with variable tools help to accelerate the process. Mailtastic and LinkedIn Sales Navigator are all prospect finding platforms that can help you with foreseeable prospecting.
From pre-planned outbound prospecting to automated lead scoring, e-commerce sales tools, like the above, will integrate the process, save time, and concentrate your sales agents’ energy for more important tasks of your business.
Furthermore, you can create buyer personas of your prospecting client and install Smart Sales Automation to identify the exact time to connect. All of these tools help in contacting the prospects when they are more willing to purchase.
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In a Nutshell
Prospecting is a short-run method usually assigned to sales agents and carried out on a man-to-man contact basis. The aim is to initiate interest from targets who may have not heard of your product before.
Lead generation, traditionally assigned to the marketing team, is a data-based marketing procedure; it is a one-to-group method. It is a long-run, gradual approach to establishing awareness and attraction from a broad target audience.
Asymmetrical marketing and sales departments can lose precious time and cause leads to turn into useless names. Thus, for a fruitful sales process, both departments have to synch their work rhythm.
Marketing can assist the sales team to accelerate the sales cycle by means of lead generation techniques that concentrate on high-value contacts.
If you prepare well-defined standards to qualify leads, these will reduce the interdepartmental miscommunication and the marketing-to-sales transmission will move smoother.