Essential lead generation software

When you are just starting out, manually handling your lead generation is all that you as a startup business can afford. Unfortunately, manual lead generation is not the most efficient process and often is ineffective and insufficient when growing and scaling your company. Salesforce says that 21 percent of a B2B sales rep’s time is spent merely performing lead research – and when you are paying the salaries that top salespeople command, manual lead generation is not a good use of their time and money.

The solution is automated lead generation software. There are a myriad of companies to pick from to assist in lead generation strategy and management, as well as thousands of features to consider. Using lead generation software can be complicated and costly if you are not using it to its full capability, so it is essential to understand how they work and what features they boast before choosing one.

What is lead generation software

Lead generation software is a system in which you can automate the segmentation, capture and management of your sales leads. Some lead generation software also nurtures those leads, which can allow the business owner or manager to more efficiently manage their time and the leads.

One example of how lead generation software works is when you have a form on your site. (See Chapter 3: Optimizing your site for lead generation for more tips on creating the best forms and pages on your website.) You have displayed an offer that the site visitor wants, and so they enter their information into your form. Now, the visitor has become a lead – and an automated lead generation software automates the capture of that information, and can help you sort, distribute, or in any other way manage that lead.

Rather than someone manually combing through the collection of lead information, automated platforms help to distribute and analyze the data. The salesperson can focus on quality leads, and automate the interactions with visitors to encourage them to become leads.

Once those leads are at the beginning of your sales funnel, the lead nurturing sections of the lead generation platforms can assist in helping to navigate those prospects through the stages of the funnel to that final purchase. It can also assist with maintaining those lines of communication with your customers, encouraging them to stay with you and potentially upselling them or reselling to them in the future.

If your salespeople are chasing too many cold leads, they will be faced with hard sells and people who were not initially interested in the product you are selling. However, if your salespeople were in constant contact with warm leads, or people who are ready and willing to buy your services, then their time would be better utilized, and potentially they would be bringing more profit into the company. Additionally, an automated software could keep in contact with those cold leads, giving them information and possibly assist in transferring them from the “cold” to the “warm” category.

Your lead generation software can also be vital in keeping the accurate contact information of your leads. Data from marketing lists, social media, referrals, trade shows, word-of-mouth recommendations, and even search engine marketing can become inaccurate or can be missing critical pieces of data.

To recap, lead generation software is a powerful tool. It can help you: find leads; convert visitors to leads; identify hot and cold prospects and leads; disseminate large quantities of data to assist in developing optimized marketing strategies; schedule new campaigns; shorten the timespan of existing campaigns by automating complex processes; automate lead nurturing (see Chapter 9 for more information about nurturing your leads through every step of the process); score those warm and cold leads to help figure out which ones should be chased; and more.

What to look for in lead generation software

Some of the most important things to look for in lead generation software are the functions and tools they provide, like with forms and landing pages. Just as important, however, are the tools that the software can connect to. Integrations are important because even the most robust lead generation software can’t do it all. Once you capture your leads, you’ll want to send them emails, add them to your CRM, track their activity, and more.

Most lead generation tools have a number of native integrations to to the tools you’re already using. For everything else, you can use something like Zapier, a 3rd-party integration tool that connects to 1,000+ apps. So no matter which tools you’re using to generate and capture leads, Zapier can seamlessly send these leads to the other apps in your marketing stack.

Other relevant options are social media integration, lead segmentation and lead assignment.

In regard to lead segmentation, the software should be able to break up data in a way that best suits your business’ needs. Important factors to consider are demographics (job title, company size, location, et cetera), referral source (web page, landing page, offer form, social media, etc.), and behavior (e.g., the type of offer downloaded). There is a specific software that focuses on industries (such as health care or hospitality) and picking the one that has the most data for your market will aid your sales process.

Remember to pick a software that is right for the size of your company – if you are a tiny, lean team, it might not make sense to shell out the huge bucks yet for an expensive system – there might even be a free option! Pick a software you can grow into, but don’t pick something that may have more bells and whistles than you will use in the next five years.

Other essential decision-making factors include: the portion of the customer relationship covered (e.g., contact to conversion); cloud versus desktop accessibility; simple versus advanced functionality; native integration with other sales software (e.g., your current CRM or Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, Google Cloud); customer segmentation; and IP tracking. Also, consider utilizing software that fits your B2B or B2C sales model.

According to Forrester, 66 to 90 percent of your customer’s journey from initial search to buying is self-directed. That is why it is imperative that your marketing and sales efforts are getting in front of the right people, the first time. There are many parts to getting found and leading that person to your sales funnel, such as SEO, social media, and advertising. Utilizing a lead generation software will make it easier to tie all the pieces into one uniform package, which in turn frees up the sales and marketing people to engage potential leads more and make more sales.

The closest thing we have to a real life superpower
This article is originally published on May 23, 2018, and updated on Aug 17, 2020.
Chad is VP of Marketing and Communications at JotForm. He’s also a frequent contributor to various tech and business publications, and an absolute wizard with a Vitamix. He holds a master’s degree in communication and resides with his wife and cats in Oakland, California. You can reach Chad through his contact form.

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