For years now, the word “leads” has had a note of dread to it in the sales and manufacturing world. Some people may remember the days of “the good leads” being closely guarded by management while everyone else was forced to cold-call prospects trying to get sales. While lead generation in the digital age has changed greatly, it’s still an essential component of the manufacturing and sales industry.
Here’s what manufacturers need to know about lead generation and how it can improve your sales, especially when it comes to B2B (Business to Business) sales.
What is lead generation?
When it comes to B2B sales, a lead is a company that may have an interest in your product or service. Generally, these businesses have heard about you and provided some form of data such as their contact information. This is a lot different than the old days of buying contact information from a third-party so that you could cold call them without a previous connection to your product. But, if you aren’t going to buy these leads and cold call them, how exactly do you get this information? This is where lead generation comes in.
Why is lead generation important for B2B companies?
For a company that is hoping to succeed in B2B, lead generation is essential. You can’t just sit around and hope that a business will call you out of the blue or stumble across your website by accident. You must actively pursue these companies and their business if you want to be successful. This is why it’s so important to not only have a lead generation plan but to have this closely tied in with your marketing and sales department so that you can follow through on these leads.
How can your manufacturing company get more qualified leads?
If lead generation is so important to a manufacturing company dealing in B2B sales, then it begs the question: just how does one generate leads? Here are some ways you can do that:
- Update your website — First, you need a strong web presence if you plan to compete in the current B2B manufacturing field. In general, a lot of manufacturer’s websites have been off-putting for some because they are so technical and dry. That’s why you should include a landing page or contact us form that can help gather the data you need for your leads. You should make sure that the website is also attractive and informative for your potential clients who visit. If you manufacture customized products, make sure that you include a visual configurator to help customers see what they’re getting.
- Social media and videos — Another key component to a successful marketing campaign would be a strong social media presence. Your “followers” on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook can all be potential leads for your business. A good way to bring in these leads is with a strong presence on YouTube. Create explanatory videos that show your products being made and use them to generate views. At the end of each video, include links to your website and contact page to encourage more lead generation.
- Trade shows — Trade shows may seem like an outdated concept, but don’t overlook them as a way to generate leads. These can be the perfect way to network with others and get more leads. Today, there are also a lot of these which have switched to “virtual trade shows” that are being conducted online.
How do you qualify incoming leads?
There are three ways to qualify your incoming leads. These include:
- Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL) — These are potential customers who haven’t been contacted directly by your sales team, but who have provided their data to your business. For instance, a company can set up a website with a landing page that collects the contact information directly from the customer.
- Sales Qualified Leads (SQL) — These are prospects who have expressed some form of interest in your company but who have not made a purchase (yet). These can include people who sign up on your website for information about future promotions or product releases. It can also be in the form of contacts who email you directly to ask for more information about your products.
- Product Qualified Leads (PQL) — This is where the contact has used your product, such as in a trial package or promotion, but has not made a full purchase. Some companies offer a limited functioning product (such as an app) for free. They then take the contact information of that customer to convince them to upgrade to a fully paid, fully functional product.
It’s important for a business to reach new potential customers or it will quickly stop growing. Clients won’t call you and offer you sales without you’ve done the work. Make target clients aware of who you are, educate them about your product and then about your business. You must generate leads so that you can actively work to cultivate their business.