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3 Lead Types & 4 Reasons Why You Must Know the Difference Between Them for Business Success

Not all leads are created equal.

For the purposes of this article I am referring to ‘new business’ leads; meaning ‘leads’ that are consumers who do not currently do business with you and may become your potential clients/customers. Here, you have an opportunity to understand who the lead is and whether you can create interest in your business or whether you can provide a solution to their needs.

Leads are an essential element of the foundation of any business — large or small; irrespective of the product you sell or service you provide. They are one of the reasons why you are in business in the first place and will determine your business longevity. For instance, solely focusing on customer retention can limit your growth goals for many reasons (which I won’t go into right now); therefore, having a good ratio of new business and customer retention strategy is key.

Leads are both marketing and sales generated which is why both business units need to work cohesively to optimise results. Usually, business development representatives (BDR — lead generation specialists) are focused on creating new business opportunities for the sales team — business development managers (BDM) and account managers (AM), however both BDMs and AMs can and should generate new business.

Please note; if you are in the initial phase of your business, for example a start-up, you would apply much of your focus on new business acquisition as you wouldn’t yet have the clients nor customers to focus on customer retention.

These leads are injected into the business through various channels, mainly through marketing strategies, via; a website form, social media, an event (online and physical), word of mouth and so on.

Inbound leads are consumers who come to you and specifically inquire about the product/service you provide.

Outbound Leads are consumers who have not come to you to inquire about the product/service you provide.

3 Lead Types

I have divided such leads into three main types using Inbound and Outbound Leads and they are as follows:

  1. Hot Leads or Inbound Leads: These leads have specifically reached out to/shown interest in your business. Time is of the essence to contact them and you should make contact within 1–3 hours of their inquiry (provided it is within business hours). They make up the least amount of your total leads.

  2. Warm Leads or Outbound Leads: These leads are comprised of various consumers who may have previously purchased from you; know of you but are yet to purchase; or know they have a need and don’t know that their solution is you. These make up the predominant amount of your leads.

  3. Cold Leads or Outbound Leads: These leads don’t know they need nor want what you offer, nor do they know you exist. Capturing the attention of these leads is usually the hardest, as it takes more contacting attempts and relationship building; yet they are the most rewarding.

Most businesses fail to consider the importance of Warm and Cold Leads; solely focusing on marketing strategies that bring the consumer to them (Hot Leads) through click funnel tactics on their website and smart advertising campaigns that promote a call to action enticing consumers to sign up for a ‘free trial’. Whilst these leads are certainly important, you are missing most of the market if you don’t consider strategies that create hype/awareness of your product/service to these Outbound Leads. (I will soon write an article entailing some strategies to consider when reaching out to Outbound Leads and will delve into more depth in my upcoming e-book!).

4 Reasons Why You Should Know the Difference Between Leads

The reason why leads must be differentiated is for 4 main reasons:

  1. The time to contact the lead (SLA — Service Level Agreement). For example, Inbound Leads require contacting within 1–3 hours (provided it’s in business operating hours), whereas Outbound Leads don’t need to be contacted straight away.

  2. Know where and how the lead was captured. If the lead is an Outbound Lead then you need to consider what was the strategy behind the outreach, was it an initiative to contact old clients or was the lead someone who registered to watch a company webinar and didn’t click on the CTA?

  3. The duration of ongoing contact until conversion; including number of touchpoints. This refers to how many touchpoints you make with the lead and how long you continue contacting them before you consider the lead ‘lost’/ ‘uninterested’.

  4. How you converse with and approach the lead (the ‘talk-track’). This conversation varies, your language, tone of voice and approach is key here to confirm the lead’s interest in your offer.

Each lead needs to be treated accordingly and tracked right through until it’s converted or discarded. This creates data that you can analyse to understand the strengths and weaknesses of a campaign’s performance, and ultimately perfect your future campaigns. This leads to a higher conversion rate as you are able to narrow in on what your target audience likes, and you can thus spend more time on quality leads.

During each point you are qualifying each lead, meaning that you are asking the right questions and researching enough to know whether this consumer might be a good fit for your business product/service. The more questions you ask and the more you qualify your lead the quicker you will know whether it is a waste of your and the consumer’s time.

The lead generation process is always trial, and error and it is about developing a strategy comprised of multiple Inbound and Outbound Lead campaigns to generate customers/clients. This does take time, commitment and an understanding of your produce/services and target audience in depth. It also requires a cohesive approach to business utilising various business units like sales and marketing.

Please feel free to reach out should you need any assistance on the above!

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