What small business owners need to know about lead generation

The success of your startup depends on your customers. While maintaining relationships with current clients is essential, bringing in new ones is crucial to the continued success of any business. 

Attracting new clients is indeed more expensive than nurturing your current customers. Hence, it helps to expand your customer base regardless of what product or service your business sells. This is why you should do your best to understand lead generation if you want to grow your company. 

Fortunately, solutions made possible by modern technological advancements can help you maintain connections with new and established clients. Some of the latest innovations, like the Power Dialer, can help you address customer concerns immediately. Keep reading to learn more about lead generation. 

What is a lead? 

For your small business to grow, you need leads. Leads are essential because companies need to reach more potential customers to support the business. Leads, also known as prospects, refer to anyone interested in your products or services. 

Leads can also be anyone who has provided you with their contact information. This includes first name, last name, phone number, and email address. Your email subscribers from your website can be considered leads. You can also generate leads using modern tools like ringless voicemail and text marketing software. 

Meanwhile, leads are classified either based on qualification or interest. Here’s a close look at each of them:

  1. Leads based on interest

The classification of leads based on interest falls into the following categories:  

Cold Leads: These people don’t know about your business or the products or services you’re offering. This is because they have little or no interest in your products or service. It can also be your salespeople have never contacted them about your small business. 

You can get cold leads through an email from an opt-in form on your site or from an online source. It’s also possible to get cold leads from an online directory. Cold leads are the hardest to convert into paying clients. As a result, your salespersons will need to form a relationship with them before they can make a sale. 

Warm Leads: This refers to individuals who are familiar with your business and have shown some interest in your products or services. Nonetheless, warm leads don’t have a specific timeframe or immediate need to buy your products or services. Warm leads may have learned about your business through website visits and customer surveys. 

Converting warm leads into paying clients is easy because they’re already interested in your brand. However, you might need to make calls or create personalized emails when reaching out to these leads before converting them into paying customers.  

Hot Leads: These individuals are already interested in the products or services you’re offering. They might have looked at your social media page or visited your website. Because of that, they found a product that fits their needs. Hot leads can be obtained through word of mouth, marketing campaigns, customer reviews, and referrals. 

These hot leads are ready to buy a product or service from your business, so converting them into customers should be easy. With that said, your salesperson needs to follow through to close the sale quickly. They’re likely to be long-term clients since they’re already interested in what your brand is offering them. 

  1. Leads based on qualification 

The classification of leads based on qualification falls into the following categories:  

Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs): These are leads filtered by your marketing team as they’ve shown interest in your products or services. An MQL must meet specific criteria to be classified as one. These include exhibiting interest in your brand, having a suitable budget, and belonging to the brand’s target market. 

Individuals identified as MQL by the marketing team are more likely to become paying clients. So, after determining someone is an MQL, the marketing team informs the sales team. A salesperson will then try and make the sale. 

Information Qualified Leads (IQLs): These leads provide their contact details to get valuable information from your company. For instance, these leads could be students researching an industry to which you belong or people interested in the latest technology your company uses. 

Also, if you have educational content on your website, these leads may sign up to ask for more information. While these leads aren’t familiar with your business, they’ve started to do their investigations into the products you offer. 

Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs): These leads have also registered some interest in what your business is selling. They also have the potential to become paying clients. An excellent example of SQL is someone who enters a form to enquire more about your company’s products or services. It’s easy to fast-track the SQLs through the sales funnel.

Meanwhile, the company they work for, their industry, and whether or not they fit the ideal customer profile are all factors in how these leads are classified. 

Product Qualified Lead (PQL): This type of lead has gone through a free trial period and wants to become a paying client. For instance, a person with a free software trial gets in touch with the sales rep to enquire about pricing or features. Companies with a limited or free version of their product classify PQLs and add them to their client list, giving them the option to upgrade. 

What is Lead Generation? 

Lead generation is all about attracting consumer interest in a product or service. In doing so, it hopes to attract possible buyers. In addition, lead generation aims to increase your revenue and widen your customer base. 

Your company can benefit from lead generation if it helps you connect with potential leads and convert them into paying clients. It can also increase your revenue by triggering potential clients into buying your products or services. 

There are many lead generation strategies. Here are some of them:

  1. Inbound Lead Generation

The inbound lead generation strategy entails luring prospective customers to check you out. However, creating a pipeline of referrals requires plenty of work and knowledge. Hence, this strategy involves advertising and online search-optimized marketing to capture the attention of your prospective customers further.

There are many inbound lead generation strategies. Here’s a look at some of them:

Content Marketing: This inbound lead generation technique entails creating a broad range of content for your target audience. This includes white papers, blogs, podcasts, eBooks, webinars, videos, case studies, and slideshows.

For content marketing to be effective, it’s best used alongside paid advertising and search engine optimization (SEO). When creating materials for your content marketing campaign, keep in mind the customer profiles of your target audience. This will guide you to develop better content that appeals to your potential customers. 

Educational Webinars/Seminars: Hosting educational seminars or webinars is another effective way to generate leads for your small business. Doing this online or in-person gets you in touch with MQLs. 

During these educational seminars, it’s best to provide value to your potential customers by solving some of their everyday challenges. It’ll help you convince your prospective clients that you’re an expert in your field and that they need your services. This way, it converts these potential leads to paying clients. 

Social Media Campaigns: It’s an effective inbound lead generation strategy alongside content marketing. However, this marketing strategy involves creating original content and posting it on social media platforms like LinkedIn or Facebook. Doing so can help increase your company’s brand awareness. As a result, you’ll get leads from these social media platforms through comments, clicks to links in posts, or direct messages. 

Customer Referrals: Customers generally trust the word of an existing client more than the business. With this understanding of human nature, it’s best to capitalize on customer referrals. This inbound lead generation strategy will help you generate high-quality leads. Hence, it’s a good reason to take advantage of customer referrals to market your small business. 

Another advantage of customer referrals is that you don’t have to spend extra resources. However, the downside of this marketing strategy is that you’ll have to convince your existing clients to promote your business to their families and friends. Some people might be uncomfortable with it because doing so might tarnish their reputation. Thus, it helps to offer incentives or rewards for any referral they make. 

These are some ways to improve your inbound lead generation strategies.

  1. Outbound Lead Generation  

You can use this effective lead generation strategy alongside inbound marketing techniques to get more leads. Outbound lead generation involves initiating conversations with your target audience. It’s less effective than inbound marketing but still worth including in your lead generation strategy. One reason is that some leads find it to be intrusive.

There are many different outbound lead generation strategies you can use to search and engage with your prospective clients. Here are some of them:

Cold Calling: Although cold calling might feel intimidating, it’s a great and easy way to generate leads. You can ease your nerves when making cold calls. You can start by doing customer research to discover your target audience’s challenges. This way, it also helps you identify the challenges facing your business. 

Customer research will help you better understand your target audience. This step makes selling them your products or services easier. You can also pre-qualify your leads before calling them to gauge if they’ll be interested in your products or services. 

Pre-qualifying your leads saves you the time you would’ve spent contacting people who don’t belong to your target audience. Another way to enhance your lead generation strategy is by personalizing your cold calls. It might boost the chances of converting a lead into a paying client. 

However, don’t be awkward when making the calls—either by forcing a lead into making a purchase or begging them. By following these cold-calling tips, you’ll stand a higher chance of getting potential leads. 

Email Marketing: Emails are a perfect way to capture the attention of individuals familiar with your products, services, or brand. It’s among the oldest business marketing techniques and can help boost brand awareness. 

You can creatively use cold emails to capture the attention of potential leads by including industry white papers for download or a free demo or trial. Cold emails also allow you to send a case study or project portfolio to pique the recipient’s interest.

Streamlining your email marketing efforts can help you understand your target audience, including their pain points, level, and industry. Set a cap to how many emails to send to an individual who doesn’t open your emails. You can also try out different subject lines and calls to action (CTA). Overall, try your best to make your emails feel personalized. 

Sending cold emails can help improve your relationship with existing customers by creating personalized content for them to read. It’s also best to include an eye-catching CTA to capture the recipient’s interest. 

Attending Conferences And Networking Events: Attending conferences and networking events is also an excellent way to interact with your target audience. These events allow you to do a sales pitch about what your business does. Potential leads may see how your products or services can solve a problem they’re facing. 

You also get to share your business cards with your contacts, which a potential lead can use to get in touch when they want to buy something. Nowadays, these networking events or conferences are mostly held online. Consequently, this setup is ideal, especially if your target audience doesn’t have time for in-person networking events. 

These outbound lead generation strategies can help grow your small business. 


Lead generation can help you obtain potential clients in your sales funnel. But you can only best achieve this goal after fully understanding lead generation for small businesses. However, learning every detail about lead generation can be daunting for someone new to the field. 

Luckily, this comprehensive guide has eased all your concerns by explaining all you need to learn about lead generation. The insights provided can help a small business owner avoid common pitfalls some entrepreneurs make. In addition, you can use lead generation as a tool to take your company to the next level. 

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