Lead Generation: A Strategic Guide for Marketing Executives

Getting leads is a key part of running a successful business. Without it, you can’t get more customers or grow your sales pipeline.

To consistently get good leads, you need a well-thought-out plan that uses more than one tactic. If you don’t follow the right steps, you’re likely to waste time and money on digital marketing campaigns that don’t work well.

I’ll explain what lead generation is and why it’s important in this guide. I’ll also show you some of the best ways to get quality leads into your sales pipeline.

What are leads?

A lead is a member of your target audience who has shown interest in your product or service. There are many different stages and statuses of a lead that show where it is in the sales funnel. I’ll talk about those in the rest of this article.

What does it mean to get leads?

In marketing, lead generation is the process of getting people who might be interested in your products and services to give you their contact information.

Lead gen is different from demand generation. The main goal of demand generation is to get more people interested in your brand until a potential customer is ready to work with your company and become a lead.

Many things, like new technology, changing consumer tastes, and changes in the economy, force marketers to always look for new and creative ways to get leads.

Too many marketing executives oversimplify lead generation as a way to get prospects into the sales funnel. But there’s a lot more to it than that. Leads need to be qualified, and then they need to be cared for until they become paying customers.

Depending on what you sell, this can be a long, complicated process with many touchpoints and many members of your sales team

Why is it Important to Get Leads?

Even if your customer retention rate and customer lifetime value (CLV) are very high, customers will leave for one reason or another at some point.

A good process for generating sales leads helps you make up for lost sales by putting you in touch with prospects in your target audience. It also helps you keep in touch with those people and turn some of them into customers.

They can choose from different brands, buy in person or online, and compare products to find the best one for their needs. With so much information out there, you need a creative and effective lead generation strategy to get in front of potential customers at the right time.

How Getting Leads Work

There are two kinds of lead generation: those that come in and those that go out. With inbound lead generation, prospects are drawn in by giving them useful content that solves their problems.

If you do it right, some of your potential customers will give you their contact info in exchange for something extra. This can include blog posts, white papers, ebooks, case studies, etc.

For example, you could add pop-up forms that promote a relevant case study to your website. Once you know how to reach them, you can keep working on the lead.

Outbound lead generation, on the other hand, uses outreach to find leads who fit the brand’s ideal customer profile (ICP). Email, phone, direct mail, social media, and a lot of other things are the most common ways to do this.

Both methods can work, depending on your business, product, or the people you want to reach.

What is Different When Getting Leads for B2B?

There are a few unique things that marketers for business-to-business should think about. First, the B2B sales cycle is longer than the B2C sales cycle. The number of people who have a stake and the amount of money at stake makes the sales process much more complicated. These processes can involve more than one approval, meetings, talks, and other things.

Strong, hands-on care is often a good way to make sure that everything keeps going well. This could be done through email marketing, product demonstrations, personalized webinars, or even visits to the business. All of these can help you learn more about how to help a potential customer in the best way.

Second, B2B lead generation usually requires a more rigorous lead qualification process than B2C lead generation. This is because the sales and marketing team has to spend a lot of time with leads before they become customers. No one wants to waste time talking to leads that aren’t good enough.

Stages of Getting Leads

Not all leads are worth the same amount, so it’s important to sort them by how much interest they have shown and how good they are. Each lead stage coincides with a portion of the buyer journey and knowing what stage a lead is in allows you to engage with them in the most effective way.

Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL)

A marketing qualified lead (MQL) is someone who has shown interest in your marketing efforts but isn’t ready to talk to your sales team yet. For example, someone might click on a call to action (CTA) in a social media post to get a free ebook they can download. The ad takes them to a landing page where, if they give their email address, they can get the download.

When a prospect downloads the lead magnet, it shows that they are in the awareness stage and want to solve a problem or reach a goal.

But you need to find out more about them before you send them to a salesperson.

Sales Qualified Leads (SQL)

A sales qualified lead (SQL) is a potential customer who has made it clear that they want to buy your product or service. At this stage, the prospect is able to make an educated decision about whether your solution will help them achieve their goals.

They’ve been interested enough in your marketing to make you think they want to buy from you. At this point, you should introduce them to a salesperson who can answer their questions and help them make the final purchase.

Not Enough Information

There are a lot of things that could make a lead unqualified. Maybe they don’t have the money, it’s not a top priority yet, or they need features that you don’t have. Or maybe they belong to a group or industry that you try to stay away from.

No matter what, you don’t want your salespeople to waste time on these leads.

Sales Recycled Leads (SRL)

A sales recycled lead (SRL) is a contact that the sales team sends back to marketing because the person wasn’t ready to buy yet. Then, marketing can get back in touch with the lead so it doesn’t go cold and so the person will buy from you when they’re ready.


Even if a lead is highly qualified, it doesn’t mean it will turn into a customer on the first try. There are many things that could stop a lead from moving forward. So it’s important to get back in touch with them through email, ads, or marketing based on how they act.

Common Statuses of Lead Generation

Lead status is a way for sales teams to sort leads into different groups. This helps keep track of prospects and figure out what to do next to keep the relationship going. 

Marketers often use the status of leads in CRMs like Hubspot or Marketo to start automation and workflows. One example could be a template for following up with a certain email list. Here are some lead statuses that you might see.


A suspect is a lead that could be a good fit for your business but needs more information to be qualified. They are leads that need more research before they can move on in the buyer’s journey.

Someone wants to know more about your product or service, for example. But you don’t know what the person does for the company, how good they are at making decisions, or what they want to achieve.


Unlike a suspect, a prospect has shown interest in your company and/or product and given you enough information to know how to approach them. They have shown interest in buying in some way, and now you need to keep them interested.

For example, you might find out that a prospect isn’t the main person making the decision but is doing research for them. With this information, you can help them move on to the next step in the buyer journey.


A contact is a prospect who has shown enough interest and buying intent for your sales team to take them more seriously. They know what your product or service is and what they need. They are also ready to talk about making a sale. They might not be ready to buy just yet, but their actions show that they’re getting closer to that point.


This means that the lead is moving forward in some way. At this point, the sales team is still getting more information from the lead and talking to them. Each CRM handles this lead status differently, so depending on your software, you may or may not use it.

Chance Made Possible

When a prospect gives you a real chance to make a sale, this is called an “opportunity created.” This can be done through a request for proposal (RFP), a direct offer, or a partnership with a group purchasing organization (GPO) (GPO). From the time a potential customer asks you to send them a proposal to the time they make their final decision, the opportunity is open.

A Chance Missed

The status of “lost” or “closed lost” means that a sales opportunity that was open has ended for some reason. You might want to talk to the prospect again in the future, but there’s no chance of a sale right now.


Use the nurturing status for a potential customer who has shown interest but isn’t ready to buy yet. You may need to build trust and credibility with the prospect and show them that you can help them solve their problem.

The main goal of nurturing is to move leads further down the sales funnel. Content marketing, in which you give prospects useful information over and over again, is a good way to nurture leads.

Methods for Scoring in Lead Generation

Marketers use a variety of lead scoring methods to make sure they only work on leads that are likely to turn into customers. This can help them figure out which leads are the best.

The first step in giving leads a score is to figure out which variables are linked to good leads. These variables can be things like what the leaders did, what information they gave, or any other important data points. Every variable gets a score, and the ones that are most important will get the highest scores.

For example, you may find that people who find your website through “organic search” are more likely to make a purchase than those who find it through paid PPC ads. In that case, the organic search would be a better way to find something than paid search. You could also give scores based on things like the job title, the size of the company, where it is located, etc.

The lead score is the total of all the scores for each variable. Over time, you may need to change and adapt how you score. As you keep an eye on the different things that help leads turn into sales, you may find ways to improve how leads are scored.

Best Ways to Get Leads

Getting Leads from Outside

Inbound marketing is all of the strategies, tactics, and tools that are used to get people to come to your website. Inbound marketing works so well because once you set up inbound systems and workflows, leads will start coming in on their own.

You don’t have to look for them for hours and hours. You still have to do things, but you can spend more time and energy getting to know prospects and improving your system for finding leads.

Let’s look at some of the most common strategies and methods for inbound marketing.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO increases organic search traffic on Google, which raises brand awareness, drives qualified website traffic, and protects brand reputation. It’s a great way to get people interested in your business.

well-defined SEO strategy makes sure that the right people visit your website and guides prospects through the conversion funnel.

Content Marketing

Both SEO and content marketing go hand in hand. When you’ve made great content, you want to share it with as many people as possible. You spread the word about your content as much as possible by using social media, email, paid ads, influencer marketing, and other methods.

Demand Metric says that content marketing brings in three times as many leads as outbound marketing for 67% less money.

Social Media Marketing

Connect with prospects on the social networks where they already spend time. Social media is unique because it lets you talk directly to people in your audience. For inbound social media marketing, you need to know if your customers are on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or even TikTok. This also helps you get people to know about your brand and bring in leads.

Paid Advertisements

Paid ads, like those on social media or search engines, let you target very specific groups of people who fit the profile of your ideal customer. By sending these people to landing pages with lead capture forms, you can keep the relationship going.

How to Get Leads from 'Outside'

Inbound sales prospecting is the opposite of outbound sales prospecting. You’re not trying to get prospects to come to you; instead, you’re trying to get them to do something. Outbound marketing works well because it lets you focus on the people or businesses you want to buy from you.

Here are some of the most common ways that outbound marketing is done.

Making Cold Calls

Even though it may not be the most effective way to get leads, cold calling can still be useful. It can help you get your foot in the door and start a conversation that could lead to more in the future.

Email Outreach

Cold outreach email campaigns can be a good way to reach the leads you want to reach. The first step in making a successful lead generation campaign is to find prospects in relevant industries.

Social Media

Sites like LinkedIn can help you get in touch with someone for the first time and get on their radar. Commenting on posts about your industry can help start a conversation and raise brand awareness.


Referral marketing is a very effective way to get new customers because it relies on word of mouth. A possible lead might not be interested in marketing messages that come straight from you. If someone they know and trust says good things about your company, they are much more likely to listen.

If a happy customer tells a coworker about you, that person is more likely to become a customer than through any other channel.

Customers who help spread the word about your business can be rewarded for doing so. Some of the things that can be given as a reward are money, discounts on products, company swag, invitations to private events, and so on.


Going to and hosting events related to your industry is another good way to find new leads. At events, you can meet possible leads in person and learn more about them. This is a great way to learn more about their problems and points of pain.

You might also meet someone who can put you in touch with other good opportunities.

You can show your expertise, answer questions, and make connections by hosting events, whether they are in person or online. All of these things have a chance of bringing in new leads.

Getting New Leads Will Help Grow Your Business

One of the best ways to grow your business is to have a strong, well-tuned process for getting leads. If you have a steady flow of qualified leads, you can be sure that you will keep making money month after month. And that revenue will only go up as you optimize your process and improve your conversion rate in small steps.

It’s a powerful cycle of good things. When you optimize the ways and channels you use to find leads, you get more qualified leads. Increasing the rate at which these leads turn into sales increases the speed at which you make money. Both of these let you put more money into optimization, which helps you get more leads.