How To Generate Sales Leads: Strategies and Best Practices

Sales leads fall under the execution portion of any successful sales strategy. In increasingly differentiated and competitive marketplaces, businesses can only advance by proactively converting prospects into revenue-generating customers.

You can effectively generate high-quality sales leads, increase conversion rates, and drive business growth by incorporating proven strategies and best practices into your strategy. 


This article will discuss the steps toward generating sales leads including strategies and best practices.

What Is Sales Lead Generation?

Sales lead generation is the process of identifying and convincing potential customers or prospects who have shown interest in your company's products or services to become actual revenue sources. The goal of lead generation is to gather reliable contact information and rank them based on their likelihood to make a purchase or engage further.

Lead generation involves the application of some (or all) of a basket of strategies and tactics across multiple channels. This includes: digital marketing, advertising, networking, and outbound prospecting.

How To Generate Leads in Sales

Listed below are the steps to generating sales leads:

1. Outbound Sales Calls

A campaign for outbound sales calls is a very proactive tool in sales. Each call initiates contact with potential customers or prospects to introduce products or services, qualify leads, and close deals. These calls are typically made by sales teams using phone or social media tools like: WhatsApp, Apple tools, Signal, WeChat, etc.

Before making such calls, sales operatives should research and understand the target audience and identify potential pain/discussion points or needs that can be discussed and addressed. Optimal communication skills are key to building rapport, engaging the prospect, and conveying their value proposition. This means active listening and an agile approach to tailor the conversation on the fly and avoid missing openings. Prospects will commonly raise objections or concerns about the product or service. Staff should be prepared in advance to address these objections with confidence and provide solutions or answers that guide the conversation. Many objections will be systemic, but the customer must not feel like the responses are generic or dismissive. After the initial connection, it's critical to follow up and provide additional information, answer questions that were left hanging, and generally nurture the relationship.

2. Email Marketing Campaigns

Email campaigns involve optimized messaging that closely aligns with the needs of subscribers or contacts on an email list. This aims to promote products, services, or content, nurture relationships, and drive follow-on actions. 

By targeting specific and segmented subgroups of an email list based on demographics, behaviors, or preferences, you can provide more personalized and relevant content and lower the risk of spam reactions. Create engaging and valuable content that resonates with recipients. Add a clear, appealing, and compelling CTA (call-to-action) that prompts recipients to click, purchase, or otherwise engage with the content or offer — this can make or break a campaign. By continuously testing and optimizing campaign elements such as subject lines, email design, send times, and CTAs, you’ll improve performance and effectiveness. Tracking and diligently recording pre-defined and functional metrics such as open rates, click-through rates, and conversions can help you measure the efficacy of the campaign and thus drive strategic and testable alterations. 

3. Sales Webinars and Demos

Sales webinars and product/service demonstrations are interactive platforms. They are ways to illuminate the features and benefits of your offerings, address customer pain points, answer questions in real time, and offer living interactions that let your contacts assess your potential (and vice-versa).  

Cornerstone components of successful sales webinars and demonstrations include: informative content tailored to the audience's needs, engaging and lively presenters who effectively communicate the value proposition, interactive features such as polls or Q&A sessions to keep participants engaged, and clear CTAs to prompt post-contact engagement. The most persuasive sales activity is simply showing how your offering solves customers’ problems. Recording and repurposing such engagements can seriously extend their reach and impact as broader market engagement tools.

4. LinkedIn Prospecting

LinkedIn sales prospecting must consciously exploit the platform’s tools to identify and connect with potential customers or prospects. Make sure that your company’s LinkedIn profile is complete, professional, and reflects your current expertise and offerings. Identify your target audience by demographics, sector, job titles, and other, less generalized criteria. Share valuable content, participate in relevant groups, and engage with prospects' posts to build your network, visibility, and credibility. Send personal connection requests to prospects, highlighting common interests or mutual connections. Consider using the LinkedIn Sales Navigator for advanced prospecting features and built-in lead management capabilities. Consistently follow up with prospects through personal and appealing messages, comments, or InMail to nurture relationships and move them through the sales funnel. Monitor engagement metrics, track conversations, and measure the efficacy of your LinkedIn prospecting efforts. Keep detailed and clear records in a CRM package or other appropriate (shared) tool. Use this as a feedback signal to refine your approach over time.

5. Lead Scoring and Segmentation

Lead scoring and segmentation steps help you prioritize leads and tailor your messaging. The lead score is a numerical value you assign to leads based on their (perceived) likelihood to convert into customers. This scoring system is constructed from sector-appropriate factors such as: demographic information, engagement level/intensity, and firmographic data. With these scores, your sales and marketing teams will have a better idea of how to systematically prioritize their efforts. "Hot" leads deserve more concerted effort, while “cold” leads may require further nurturing or may be allowed to wither.

Segmentation revolves around partitioning leads into cohorts (segments) derived from common properties or behaviors. You’ll thus be able to make more personalized messages and strategies that resonate with people in that segment. Segments are often differentiated by demographics, industry/sector, company scale/turnover, prior purchase history, engagement level, etc. This action facilitates more targeted and relevant content, delivering higher engagement and improved conversion rates.

6. Referral Programs

Sales referral programs deliver incentives for existing customers, partners, or employees to actively refer new customers or clients. These programs leverage word-of-mouth marketing and tap into other networks to generate leads and drive sales.

Incentives can take various forms: discounts, cash rewards, elective days, gift cards, or “exclusive” access to products or services. Publicize your guidelines and criteria for referrals, including: how they are submitted, what qualifies as a valid referral, and what rewards you offer. Promote the referral program to the extent that it will reach new customers but not overload you. Communicate the benefits of the program and precisely how referrals can earn rewards. A system for tracking, managing, monitoring, attributing, and rewarding referrals is central to the program’s success. Recognize and reward top referrers publicly to demonstrate the benefits of engagement to potential referrers. Evaluate the performance of the referral program and make adjustments in a timely and systematic fashion to optimize effectiveness and drive results.

7. Interactive Content for Engagement

Interactive digital content and assets that require active audience participation will increase engagement. These interactive elements can be integrated into many stages of the sales process. 

Create quizzes or questions that allow prospects to evaluate their relevant needs or challenges. Provide personalized recommendations or solutions based on their responses. Develop interactive materials with clickable elements, embedded videos, or interactive graphics to provide a more immersive and eye-catching learning experience. Offer interactive product demonstrations or virtual tours so prospects can explore your offerings in detail. Provide calculators or return-on-investment tools that guide prospects toward well-defined cost savings, potential returns, etc. Spice up your presentations or sales pitches with interactive navigation menus, clickable slides, and features that let prospects feel active in exploring your content at their own pace. Host virtual events, webinars, and workshops with interactive Q&A sessions, polls, and live chat for real-time interactions that directly address their questions or concerns as they are raised. Design landing pages with interactive elements such as quizzes, surveys, gamification, or chatbots, to capture prospect information and qualify leads.

8. Strategic Partnerships

Strategic sales partnerships are collaborations between businesses that either have complementary products or whose markets overlap but don’t compete. Businesses identify potential partners via complementary products or services, shared or proximal target audiences or operations in related but non-competing sectors. To establish relationships with such partners, you’ll need to network and nurture connections through mutual trust and collaboration. 

A clear definition of the objectives and goals of the partnership — increasing revenue, expanding market reach, or launching new products or services — is a prerequisite. Align your common or mutually understood and non-conflicting goals so both parties are satisfied. Everyone involved should understand the benefits and opportunities of the partnership, both for your respective companies and for customers. Implement joint marketing campaigns, cooperatively branded promotions, and collaborative sales initiatives that promote each other's products or services. This can mean sharing leads, referrals, or customer testimonials. The terms for these activities should be agreed upon in advance to avoid disappointments and conflicts. Collaborate on product development, share industry insights, and leverage each other's capabilities, resources, expertise, and networks to create innovative solutions and drive sales opportunity growth. Establish KPIs and quanta that measure the success and impact of the partnership. Regularly evaluate performance, track results and make systemic adjustments as needed.

9. Retargeting Campaigns

Retargeting sales campaigns (also referred to as remarketing campaigns) are central pieces to many marketing strategies. They are aimed at reenergizing connections who have previously interacted with your website, products, or services but did not reach the point of making a purchase. This approach involves routing tightly targeted ads to these users across digital channels.

Tracking pixels or cookies on your website are made to track user behavior such as product views, cart additions, or form submissions to generate client readiness metadata. You can then segment website visitors based on their behaviors and interactions. Users who abandoned a shopping cart may be grouped into a higher-ranked segment than those who made shallow inquiries of the site. After that, tailor ads to each segment's interests or actions and offer incentives that push them toward conversion. These retargeting campaigns are best placed on advertising platforms such as: Google Ads, Facebook Ads, or ad networks. Drive these by defining targeting criteria such as: specific audience segments, demographics, or interests. The display of retargeting ads across various digital channels, including display networks, social media platforms, search engines, and third-party websites must be tuned to hit the target audience segments. Set limits on the frequency of ad impressions presented to users to prevent spam fatigue and maintain a positive user experience. Monitor the performance of retargeting campaigns by tracking click-through rates, conversion rates, overall return on ad spend (ROAS), and cost per acquisition (CPA). Based on the logged and team-analyzed performance data, adjust your retargeting campaigns to optimize targeting criteria, ad creatives, messaging, or bidding strategies and maximize ROI.

10. Personalized Follow-Up Sequences

Personalized sales follow-up sequences are structured and closely targeted communications tailored to individual leads or prospects. These must be developed based on the prospect’s recent and historical behavior and their particular stage in the sales process. They’re designed to nurture relationships, address objections, and guide prospects toward a purchasing decision.

Segment leads into different groups based on criteria such as demographics, industry, behavior, or stage in the sales funnel to facilitate this personalization. Customize the various follow-up sequences for each segment or for particular individuals who stand out, taking into account your data about their needs, interests, and prior interactions. Use a combination of communication channels such as: email, phone calls, social media, and direct mail. Each channel should be used strategically based on the preferences of the prospect and the nature of the communication.

To learn more, see our full guide on Lead Gen Strategies.

Utilizing Technology in Sales Lead Generation

The smart application of technology in sales lead generation is central to streamlining the processes and optimizing ROAS and CPA. For example, customer relationship management (CRM) systems such as Salesforce, HubSpot, or Zoho CRM let sales personnel track leads, manage interactions, and analyze data to understand customer behavior and preferences. Tools like Marketo, Pardot, or Mailchimp automate lead nurturing, email campaigns, and lead scoring, allowing the sales team to focus on using the sales data rather than creating/recording it. Tools like Leadfeeder, Leadpages, or LinkedIn Sales Navigator give you clear access to potential leads, prospect information, and contact details, helping you identify and connect with pre-segmented prospects more efficiently. Advanced analytics tools and predictive modeling software can then analyze large datasets, identify patterns, and predict trends. This equips sales staff with more targeted lead-generation strategies. Additionally, chat software allows businesses to engage with visitors in real-time.

Best Practices for Sales Lead Conversion

Converting sales leads into customers demands a strategic approach and effective, agile execution. Respond to leads quickly — ideally within minutes or at most hours of receiving their inquiry or expressing interest. Show that you understand their specific challenges and you’re sensitive to their needs. You must achieve trust, rapport, and credibility by being transparent, honest, and reliable in your interactions. It can be engaging to share testimonials, case studies, or success stories that validate your track record. Illustrate and explain your industry, product, or service through lively and engaging content to help the prospect make informed decisions. 

Be prepared with some scripting for common objections, but don’t exceed your confident knowledge. Most people appreciate a more considered answer to harder questions and value the honesty of “I’ll need to check up on that, let me get back to you” (as long as you do, indeed, get back to them). Include a clear and compelling call-to-action in your communication, so leads can see how to take the next step in the sales process. Be persistent in your follow-up efforts, but also respectful of the lead's time. Use a combination of email, phone calls, and other communication channels to stay in touch and nurture the relationship, but be a hummingbird, not a mosquito. Monitor and analyze lead conversion metrics to expose the strategies that are working and show where improvements can be made. Adjust your approach based on this data and client feedback.

Metrics and Measurement in Sales Leads Generation

The following are some metrics and measurement techniques:

  1. Lead Quantity: Measure the number of leads generated within a specific time frame for insight into how many people enter your sales pipeline.
  2. Lead Quality: Assess the quality of leads based on pre-agreed criteria such as: demographics, firmographics, behavior, and engagement level.
  3. Conversion Rate: Calculate the percentage of leads that are successfully converted into revenue-generating customers to assess the effectiveness of lead nurturing and sales efforts.
  4. Cost Per Lead (CPL): Determine the average cost incurred to generate each lead to evaluate the efficiency and ROI of lead generation channels and campaigns.
  5. Return on Investment (ROI): Measure the baseline financial return generated from sales activities compared to the investment made. This is broad-brush insight into the profitability and effectiveness of sales efforts.
  6. Lead Source Performance: Evaluate the performance of the various lead sources/pathways to grade performance and drive the allocation of resources.
  7. Lead Velocity: Track the rate at which leads enter the pipeline over time to predict future revenue growth and assess the scalability of sales efforts.
  8. Sales Cycle Length: Evaluate the average time it takes to move targets through the sales pipeline from initial contact to conversion.
  9. Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC): Measure the average cost incurred to acquire each new customer. This allows overall assessment of the profitability of customer acquisition efforts.
  10. Sales Pipeline Health: Monitor the health and progression of leads through the sales pipeline by evaluating the lead count at each stage, changes in conversion rates between stages, and potential revenues represented at the various stages.

To learn more, see our full guide on Lead Gen KPIs.

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