Lead generation is the growth engine of your business.

Without a constant stream of leads, your sales team won’t have enough opportunities to start meaningful conversations with potential customers and nurture them until they’re ready to buy.

Which, in turn, means they’re guaranteed to miss quota.

Struggling to generate the high-quality leads you need to hit your revenue goals? You’re in the right place, because we’re going to share everything you need to know about lead generation, including:

  • Barriers to successful lead gen

  • Strategies to generate more leads

  • Tools to boost your lead generation efforts

Let’s get into it…

What Is Lead Generation?

Lead generation is the process of targeting potential buyers and communicating the benefits of your product or service to spark interest, with the ultimate goal of using that interest to drive sales.

To become a lead, a buyer must indicate that they want to find out more about whatever you’re selling. That might involve:

  • Completing a lead capture form

  • Responding positively to a cold email

  • Requesting a product demo meeting

However, the specific ways they register interest will vary depending on whether you’re running an inbound or outbound lead generation campaign

Inbound vs. Outbound: Which Strategy Is Right for You?

Inbound and outbound lead generation strategies have the same goal: attracting prospective buyers who match your ideal customer profile. But they achieve it in different ways:

  • With inbound lead generation, leads come to you. For example, they might see an ad for your latest webinar on LinkedIn, click through to your landing page, and sign up to attend by filling out a lead capture form.

  • Outbound lead gen is when you identify potential leads through a process called prospecting, then reach out to them yourself using tactics like cold email and cold calling.

There are benefits to each approach:

Inbound Lead GenerationOutbound Lead Generation
No need for prospectingMinimal investment in marketing
No need for a large sales teamScale up fast by increasing activity
Generate leads passivelyLeads are higher quality (but lower volume)
Generate high volumes of leads at low costGives you control over sales conversations

Ultimately, the best approach for you will depend on your industry and business model.

But as a general rule, the more complex (and expensive) your product, the better suited it is to outbound lead generation.

4 Types of Leads

The word “lead” can mean different things to different organizations. Let’s take a look at the four main types of leads you might be trying to generate:

1. Marketing-Qualified Leads

A marketing-qualified lead (MQL) is someone who the marketing team declares to be more likely to buy than an average person.

MQLs have displayed some kind of buying intent, such as reading a case study, visiting your pricing page, or downloading a piece of content. However, they’re typically still very early in the buying journey, and will likely need a ton of nurturing before they’re ready to commit.

2. Sales-Qualified Leads

A sales-qualified lead (SQL) is a lead who’s ready to speak to your sales team

That means they’ve expressed a strong level of buying intent — like making repeat visits to sales-related web pages or requesting a product demo.

SQLs often start out as MQLs, before being handed over to sales when they’re “warm” enough. On average, just under half of marketing-qualified leads are converted into sales-qualified leads.

Mql to sql conversion.

3. Product-Qualified Leads

A product-qualified lead (PQL) has first-hand knowledge of your product’s value. For instance, they might have used your product during a free trial period or accessed a free version lacking premium features.

This hands-on experience means PQLs can be considered hot leads, with a high proportion going on to buy.

However, product-qualified leads aren’t relevant to a lot of businesses. They’re commonplace in the world of B2B SaaS. But if you’re a construction company or a professional services firm, there’s no real way to let leads try your product before they buy.

4. Service-Qualified Leads

Service-qualified leads are totally different from the other lead types. 

Rather than potential new customers who’ve expressed interest in your product or service, they’re existing customers who’ve indicated to your support team that they’re ready to spend more money with your business — such as by upselling to a more expensive product or cross-selling to complementary products.

4 Biggest Lead Generation Challenges

There’s no shortage of potential buyers out there who are itching to discover the benefits of your product or service.

But there are no guarantees that you’ll manage to find, reach, and engage them successfully.

With that in mind, let’s consider four of the biggest lead generation challenges facing sales teams today:

  • Lead volume: This is the most obvious issue — if you don’t generate enough leads, you won't have enough opportunities to pitch your product or service. Which means you’ll struggle to hit your revenue goals.

  • Lead quality: Volume isn’t everything. If you generate a ton of low-value leads, your sales team will waste a bunch of time speaking to people who are never going to buy. So it’s no surprise that 54% of marketers say their biggest challenge is improving lead quality and conversion rates.

Lead generation challenges.

  • Lead generation resourcing: The lead generation process can be time-consuming and often requires a bunch of manual effort. If you don’t have the tools and headcount in place, you’ll never see the desired results from your lead gen program.

  • Lead generation reporting: Everyone wants to generate more, and higher-quality, leads. But how many is enough? And how are you performing against target? To answer those questions, you need to effectively measure, track, and report on your lead generation efforts.

8 Ways To Attract Quality Leads

Now that we’ve dealt with the theory, let’s explore eight tried-and-trusted strategies for generating high-quality leads:

1. Cold Outreach

Cold outreach is an outbound marketing strategy involving one or more of the following tactics:

  • Cold email

  • LinkedIn outreach

  • Cold calling

  • Cold SMS messaging

campaign steps in quickmail linkedin and email automation

Each of those tactics can be highly effective at attracting and engaging quality leads. For instance, approximately one-quarter of cold email campaigns run via QuickMail see reply rates of 20%+. So if you sent 100 cold emails, you could end up with 20 or more leads. Pretty good, huh?

Learn more: Cold Email Statistics: Findings from 65 Million Emails Analyzed

2. Blogging

Blogging is one of the most popular (and effective) inbound lead generation strategies, with businesses that post regular blogs generating 55% more website visitors than those that don’t.

And the more visitors you bring to your site, the more opportunities you have to convert traffic into leads.

For best results, add lead generation-related CTAs to your blog posts, just like in our blog on the best cold email software:

Quickmail start trial.

3. Contests and Giveaways

Did you know that 90% of people are willing to hand over their email address if they’re presented with the right incentive?

Contests and giveaways could be the perfect incentive to turn your audience into quality leads.

This tactic is most popular in the world of B2C lead generation, with brands often giving consumers the opportunity to win vouchers and free products in exchange for their name and email address.

4. Customer Referrals

When it comes to receiving product or service recommendations, over 90% of B2B buyers trust peers in their industry, while 85% trust the customers of vendors in their industry.

So it’s no surprise that 54% of B2B sales and marketing pros named “referrals” as their #1 source of leads:

Top sources of lead generation.

Give your existing customers a compelling reason to refer new customers and you’ll have developed a valuable source of high-quality, high-converting leads.

5. Social Media

Take another look at the image in the last second and you’ll notice that social media is the second-biggest source of B2B.

A lot of those leads will come from paid social advertising (which we’ll cover in the next section). But you can also use organic (i.e. non-paid) social media to share thought leadership content like this:

Leadership content for Social Media example.

This tactic is particularly effective when the financial landscape is challenging, with over half of decision-makers saying it’s essential that non-critical suppliers produce high-quality thought leadership during an economic downturn if they want to win business.

6. Paid Ads

Paid ads can be an effective way to generate a high volume of leads quickly.

You can run lead gen ads on social media platforms like LinkedIn, just like this example from Microsoft:

Linked paid ad example.

And you can use search engine ads to promote lead generation-focused offers such as free trials and product demos, like in this example from HubSpot:

Paid ad google search result.

However, this tactic can be expensive, with Google Ads seeing an average cost-per-click of $4.22.

So you could spend $400+ on 100 clicks — and still not generate any leads.

7. Event Marketing

Events and trade shows are an increasingly rare opportunity for your sales team to build face-to-face relationships with potential buyers, making them a valuable lead generation tactic.

This explains why half of B2B marketers use events as part of their lead generation strategy.

Advanced marketing chart.

Use events to capture names and email addresses — then follow up post-event with an automated email sequence to nurture and convert those in-person leads.

8. Collaborate With Other Businesses

Do you have relationships with businesses that sell complementary, but not competing, products or services?

With a little mutual effort, those relationships can be a major source of leads for both parties.

For instance, a marketing agency might team up with a web development firm. When one of the agency’s clients needs a new website building, they’d point the customer toward their web dev partner in return for a referral fee (or just a promise that the web developers will return the favor down the line).

6 Best Tools for Lead Generation

Lead gen gets a whole lot easier when you choose the right tools for the job. Here are six lead generation tools you should consider adding to your tech stack right now:

ToolPricingKey Features
QuickMail$49 – $129 per monthMultichannel cold outreach, automated email sequences, event marketing
LinkedIn Sales Navigator$99 – $1,600+ per monthProspecting, lead generation, 14+ account filters
NeverBounceFrom $0.008 per emailEmail verification, list cleaning
HootSuite$99 – $249 per monthSocial media scheduling and publishing across multiple platforms
Unbounce$74 – $649 per monthLanding page creation, 100+ templates, drag-and-drop editor
HubSpot$0 – $3,600 per monthContent management, CRM, omnichannel marketing campaigns

1. QuickMail

Homepage Latest image for QuickMail

Pricing: $49 – $129 per month; free trial available

We like to think of QuickMail as the ultimate lead generation tool because it plays a key role in many of the strategies we listed in the previous section:

  • Cold outreach: QuickMail is a multichannel cold outreach solution, supporting cold email, LinkedIn, and even cold calling and SMS steps.

  • Blogging: Use QuickMail to power backlink exchanges and guest posting requests.

  • Event marketing: Promote your event and follow up with leads through automated email sequences and LinkedIn campaign steps.

  • Business collaborations: Reach out to potential partner businesses via cold outreach campaigns delivered through QuickMail.

So if you only have the budget for one lead generation tool, make it QuickMail.

2. LinkedIn Sales Navigator

LinikedIn Sales Navigator website.

Pricing: $99 – $1,600+ per month

Sales Navigator is one of the most popular prospecting and lead generation platforms, allowing sales teams to browse LinkedIn’s vast user database to identify and connect with potential leads. Use 14+ account filters to track down relevant opportunities across over 61 million accounts.

3. NeverBounce

Neverbounce website.

Pricing: From $0.008 for up to 10,000 emails

NeverBounce is an email verification and list-cleaning tool. Use it to confirm that you’ve got the right email addresses for prospects before launching your cold email campaigns — otherwise, you risk tanking your deliverability.

4. HootSuite

Hootsuite website.

Pricing: $99 – $249 per month

HootSuite saves a bunch of time on your social media marketing efforts by letting you create, schedule, and publish posts across seven different social platforms — including LinkedIn, Facebook, and X/Twitter — from a single dashboard.

5. Unbounce
Unbounce website.

Pricing: $74 – $649 per month

Use Unbounce to create eye-catching landing pages without having to write a single line of code. Get inspiration from a library of 100+ landing page templates and customize to your heart’s content with the platform’s intuitive drag-and-drop editor.

6. HubSpot

HubSpot homepage image

Pricing: $0 – $3,600 per month

If you’re serious about inbound lead generation, HubSpot is a valuable — if somewhat expensive — addition to your toolkit. The platform incorporates a wealth of lead-gen-related functionality, including content management, a CRM, and the power to build omnichannel marketing campaigns.

Level Up Your Lead Generation With QuickMail

QuickMail customers use our platform to generate more leads and sales through multichannel cold outreach campaigns.

Customers like Avadel, which signed 89 new clients and added $347,000+ in monthly recurring revenue using QuickMail.

Like the sound of those results? Wondering what QuickMail could do for your lead gen efforts?

See for yourself by starting your free trial!