Lead generation and sales prospecting. These two strategies are mentioned in almost every tutorial for B2B sales and marketing methods. Basically, the first one is inbound marketing, and the second one is an outbound sales activity.
Lead generation and sales prospecting are methods that serve the same purpose —increasing sales revenue. However, they are different procedures. I want to mention these concepts because you need to know them to understand the difference between sales and marketing concepts.
Fully optimizing a sales process requires both lead generation and sales prospecting strategies. Lead generation is a long-term inbound marketing system to reach potential customers operating in a target market.
As the name implies, it generates inbound leads. In addition, lead generation includes strategies such as technical content marketing that address the potential customer to create brand awareness.
Sales vs Marketing
Understanding the difference between prospecting and lead generation is about understanding the difference between sales and marketing. For example, large industrial companies already have B2B marketers dealing with lead generation strategies by using marketing campaigns. In such companies, sales and marketing departments cooperate in shaping the most effective plans.
However, if you are working for a small company, you may not have a marketing department. Sometimes companies expect both sales and marketing activities to be carried out by sales professionals. So, it will be your job to generate sales-qualified leads.
Sales and marketing are two separate concepts and operations. Besides, they are two different professions. Therefore, sales and marketing activities need to be operating separately but still in harmony.
The best thing to do is convince your company management to accept that they are different professions. This way, you ensure your company gets a professional marketing service or builds a competent marketing team.
Now let’s examine the differences between lead generation and sales prospecting concepts. But first, we need to define both concepts.
What is lead generation?
Lead generation for business-to-business (B2B) companies is an integral part of their marketing activities. It entails capturing the interest and attention of prospective customers in order to generate future sales and expand the firm. It is accomplished through various business-to-business sales and marketing practices, including cold calling, outbound emailing, social selling, and digital marketing.
Marketing is critical in generating pre-qualified prospects through events and other data-driven branding strategies. Typically, lead generating is within the responsibility of the marketing department. However, it is viewed as a longer-term strategy that focuses on increasing brand recognition and engagement through gated content. This content can be a blog, webinar, and other activities that create valuable customer data, such as contact details and work descriptions.
The most effective lead generation strategies
Content marketing is the cornerstone of your marketing plan because it attracts and converts visitors into customers. Content marketing encompasses various mediums, including blogs, social media posts, video content, podcasts, and webinars. It’s structured in such a way that each piece of information earns the lead’s trust through engagement throughout the purchase process.
Marketing via email
Unlike cold email campaigns, email marketing guarantees that your lead receives the information they require at the appropriate moment. For example, suppose a lead downloads a free e-book or fills out a form from your organization. In that case, your marketing staff will contact them via email and capitalize on their curiosity until they qualify for a sale. This way, B2B businesses may strengthen their ties with their leads.
PPC is a cost-effective method of increasing your business’s digital awareness. Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is when you pay for each click a user makes on your online advertisement. This strategy not only broadens the reach of your advertisements but also provides a potential for quick accomplishments.
What is sales prospecting?
Prospecting is a critical component of a sales representative’s job. It involves reaching out to potential customers who may be unfamiliar with your organization. Sales prospecting can be accomplished through various traditional outbound sales approaches, such as cold calling, emailing, or direct messaging on social media platforms such as LinkedIn.
Additionally, prospects can be drawn from a list of promising b2b sales leads created by the marketing department. A lead is an individual or corporation who has expressed an interest in your company’s service or product. However, they have not passed the lead qualification stage yet.
In other words, B2B leads are the target potential customers with an unresolved business problem or challenge that can be solved with your products. Following that, it is up to your salesperson to persuade them that your organization has a viable answer.
This short-term strategy is typically conducted one-on-one and can immediately assist your sales staff in differentiating between hot and cold leads.
What are the 4 primary prospecting techniques?
There are various B2B prospecting tactics you may use to find your potential customers. These include the following:
1. Lead generation process
B2B lead generation is used to attract and acquire new customers by marketing methods. Marketing leads are distinct from prospects, as leads are prospective companies who have demonstrated an interest in your products. Therefore, each piece of valuable content should be meticulously developed to keep customers engaged throughout the purchasing process. This can be accomplished using social media, blogs, search engine advertising, and videos, among other methods.
2. Cold calling
The salesperson should develop a focused lead contact list, conduct research to determine the optimal time to cold call, and pitch a product or service to prospective clients over the phone. Then, the objective is to set up an appointment with the lead.
3. Outbound emailing
The salesperson will send enticing, personalized emails to leads who may be unfamiliar with your business. This B2B prospecting method is an effective way to promote your company and measure interest.
4. Social selling
The B2B sales expert should use social media to increase brand awareness and discover potential customers. LinkedIn is the primary B2B platform.
Differences between lead generation and sales prospecting
The most remarkable distinction of lead generation strategy from prospecting is that it establishes multiple interactions instead of one-to-one. This marketing system uses one-way interaction channels opened to a wide range. In other words, those activities do not aim at a single customer but a target market.
On the other hand, prospecting customers is based on two-way communication channels. Prospecting for new customers acts on a proactive and face-to-face approach. It’s more personal and tailor-made versus lead generation.
Lead generation is conducted over an extended period and aims to create a stable, high-quality lead flow. Conversely, sales prospecting methods are more aggressive, and the primary aim is to achieve results directly.
Unfortunately, many industrial vendors do not understand the differences between lead generation and sales prospecting. They assume that using only one is sufficient. That’s not true. If a seller company desires to maximize sales performance and conversion rates, it must use both strategies.
Salespeople and marketing
An industrial sales expert understands how customers find and select vendors to buy. Nowadays, purchasing teams do their research. Then, long before contacting any vendor, they search for needed products using various channels. So, a lead generation specialist should target potential customers to find your company while they are still in the research phase.
When they discover your company while researching, they are both informed about and interested in your company. That’s why industrial marketing is a powerful way to increase brand awareness and start relationships with potential customers.
The old-fashioned marketing methods are gone. In the new era, the important thing for a vendor is to be found by the leads.
Which one to use: Prospecting vs lead generation
Which method is the most appropriate for your business; lead generation or sales prospecting? To begin, let us consider the following: Create a profile of your Ideal Customer. Once you’ve determined who you’re going for, defining your objectives, overall sales approach, and which techniques to use becomes much more manageable.
Generally, it is optimal to maintain sales prospecting and lead generation activities occurring concurrently. However, this is not always the optimal solution. For example, your sales team may find itself with a depleted lead flow in desperate need of replenishment quickly. B2B sales prospecting strategy makes the most sense in this scenario to discover new potentials.
On the other hand, if your sales funnel is solid and full, investing time, energy, and money in lead generation is the ideal long-term strategy. It will yield better, more qualified potential customers to work with on the road.