Lead generation and sales prospecting are often used interchangeably. But are they really the same? Selling is a lengthy process that consists of various steps, which sometimes blur the lines between lead generation and sales prospecting. Although they are implemented for a shared goal, they differ based on the purpose and the strategy being used.
So, let’s take a deeper look into the underlying differences between lead generation and sales prospecting and understand what sets them apart. Shall we?
What is Lead Generation and Sales Prospecting?
A lead is classified as a potential customer who has entered some basic information about themselves (name, email, etc) on your website. Ideally, it indicates their interest in your products or services. Lead generation is the process of following a series of steps to cultivate long-term relationships with potential customers. In B2B lead generation, you focus on providing useful information regarding your products and services to your leads to create interest. The expected outcome of this method is to get the leads in your conversion funnel and turn them into loyal customers.
A prospect is a potential customer that has shown interest in your services or products. You are supposed to address the pain points of your prospect to convince them to make a purchase from you. So, sales prospecting is the process of driving short-term outcomes like appointments and sales. This method is efficient if you have a thin pipeline and want to close a new deal without any delay.
Lead Generation vs Sales Prospecting: The Key Differences
Lead generation and sales prospecting are two different processes aimed at one ultimate goal – generating revenue. Maybe that’s why sales and marketing folks use them interchangeably. Let’s take a look at the underlying differences between them, so you can use the right approach for your marketing and sales campaigns and achieve favorable results.
|Target||Prospects that have expressed interest by visiting websites, downloading brochures, or doing other predefined actions.||Entities qualified as potential customers by sales teams.|
|Core Process||Mostly led by automated processes like marketing tools.||Led by manual processes like cold calling.|
|Example||Lead generation is about what challenges your targeted audience is facing and what your services or products can do to help them.||Prospecting is about finding your ideal prospect, reviewing their profiles, and making sure you meet their needs to turn them into a buyer.|
Lead Generation: The Top 3 Strategies
You don’t need a lot of strategies to make lead generation work for you. So, here’s a glimpse into 3 strategies that can help you create an accomplishing lead generation process:
1. Curate and Send Emails Based on Your Leads’ Preferences
Various social media tools like Hootsuite, SocialPilot, and more enable you to analyze what your targeted audiences find interesting. So, you can come up with the kind of content that perfectly captures the attention of your target audience. This is different from simply personalizing your emails by addressing them with their first name. Rather, it is about sending them content that they expect from you at a given point. For instance, you are a domain name provider so you can curate a series of emails on different topics such as ‘definition of web domains’, ‘how to get an interesting domain name’, ‘list of the providers with the pricing’, etc, to elevate their interest in your service and move them to your sales funnel. This approach will not only help you improve targeting but will also boost the efficacy of your conversion funnel marketing.
2. Create Useful and Impressive Content
Posting content online is not necessarily a new method. However, how you create and post your content can bring different outcomes. Everything you post online should add value to your readers. For tangible results, use gated content. Ensure that your content is up-to-the-date and provides practical advice. The content you curate and publish should align with your marketing strategy, all while catching the attention of your buyers. A well-thought content strategy enables you to perform socially well, build credibility in your domain, and optimize your conversion funnel.
3. Develop and Run Effective Lead Nurturing Programs
To tap your sales opportunities successfully, you need to develop effective lead nurturing programs. If you ask your leads to purchase from you in the first interaction, they are going to run and never look back. Here, lead nurturing can be the perfect solution. Put your time and efforts into nurturing your leads to strengthen your relationship with them at every stage of the sales funnel and not just at the beginning.
Sales Prospecting: The Top 3 Strategies
Here are the most effective strategies that you can incorporate to improve your sales prospecting –
1. Reach Out to Your Prospects Over the Phone
Cold calling is one of the most traditional and powerful sales prospecting strategies. 57%[i] of C-level and VP buyers prefer to be contacted by phone. However, the key is to ask them the appropriate questions to pique their curiosity regarding your products and services. Instead of following a sales script, use questions as conversation starters to engage your prospects in meaningful interactions. Don’t play 20 questions with your prospects. Instead stick to 5-8 useful questions to pin their interests, pain points, challenges, etc. After a successful call, keep in touch with them.
2. Send Custom Emails
Custom emails are not about writing individual emails for every prospect. However, make sure that you adjust the branding or their first name before you send them emails. There are email tools available like MailChimp that can automatically customize the name and brand of your recipients. Moreover, such tools can help you launch mobile responsive campaigns since a vast number of consumers read on the go.
3. Ask Your Happy Customers for Referrals
Word of mouth marketing is the most trustworthy and effective way of spreading the word for your products and services. The majority of B2B buyers rely on word-of-mouth marketing when looking for quality services, vendors, or suppliers. They even check ratings and reviews before making a purchase. So, it is best to ask your happy customers for referrals. A truly satisfied customer will be happy to spread the word. So, you need to follow an approach that makes your existing customers your brand advocates. You can also offer them additional discounts or gift coupons in exchange for every referral.
Lead generation and prospecting may have different meanings and approaches but they contribute to the same business goal of driving sales. Whether you use them individually or collectively, it is important to understand their differences and pave your way to achieve your revenue generation goals.
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