3 Types of Marketing Generated Leads

3 Types of Marketing Generated Leads

By Ian Richardson, Managing Partner, Richardson & Richardson Consulting LLC

I can close any type of lead, including marketing generated leads

One of Carrie’s favorite fallacies to visit is how often she’s head “If you put me in front of a lead, I can close it.” She’s heard it thousands of times from hundreds of entrepreneurs across the country. I use the word fallacy intentionally here – it’s a common ego-driven trap that an entrepreneur can fall into – I was guilty of it myself for years at my old I.T. company as well. A marketing generated lead is NOT a referral, and it requires a dramatically different skillset to build rapport and trust, discover issues, present value, and close a deal with a cold lead versus that warm referral.

A lead vs a referral

Starting off with vernacular – just what is a lead? I’d define a lead as someone who, through either inbound or outbound techniques, has opted in to engaging with your organization in some fashion. Note that this does NOT mean that they’re a fit for your products or services – indeed they could be the absolute worst fit for your organization. They simply have chosen to interact with you.

This could include any of the following:

  • They opened a marketing email or clicked a link within said email.
  • They initiated a chat with your website chatbot.
  • They downloaded a case study, whitepaper, or other piece of collateral.
  • They gave you a business card at an event.
  • They watched a video, registered for a webinar, subscribed to a podcast, or similar activity.
  • You called their office, and they answered the phone and had a conversation with you.
  • They called you and asked questions about your company.

Let’s look at a referral next. For years I was a member of BNI (Business Network International), an organization founded by Dr. Ivan Misner to help entrepreneurs grow through networking and referrals. The premise of BNI is to form relationships with other businesses and their leaders in an intentional fashion and grow through a “go-giver” mentality; If you give business to another member in your BNI group they will naturally want to find an opportunity to give business back to you. BNI described a referral as “an opportunity to do business,” which I found a bit too vague for my purposes over time. I settled on a definition of referral as an opportunity to do business with an individual or an organization that stemmed from an introduction by a mutually trusted party.

That word “trusted” is the key to defining the difference between a lead and a referral. There is a basis of trust established with the referral and your organization created by your mutual relationship with the referral source. Put another way – you don’t have the barrier of someone actively being skeptical of you, your company, and your expertise that someone with no relationship with your organization does – The referral has “Brand Awareness” of your company that has been established by the person who referred them to you.

Why are marketing generated leads hard to close?

So why are marketing generated “leads” hard to close? This stems from the nature of referrals versus leads: The referral has an understanding of you, your organization, and the impact you’ve had on the individual who is referring them to you, while the lead has none.

You’re playing against a stacked deck with the lead. The referral has been prepped on your organization sure, but also has likely had a conversation with the referral source about a problem or problems that they and their organization are experiencing. Part of your discovery has already been completed. You can bring up the information your referral source has given you and immediately establish empathy and understanding with the referral by exploring and digging into their pain points. You also have the opportunity to perform a bit of research around the topics before your meeting(s) so you further increase your expertise and standing in the referral’s eyes.

The lead is just that, a lead. They have no investment, understanding, or basis of trust in your organization. They don’t know about any value, they don’t have a belief that you have their best interests in your heart, or even understand them, their company, or what they’re trying to do. You must spend time building that understanding and basis of trust before you can begin to even hope of earning their business. You’re three steps back in the process.

Another key piece is that depending on when the referral gets introduced to you, you may not have competition at the table. If your referral partner does a great job “selling you” to the referral, you might be their only call on the opportunity. A lead is either actively seeking out someone “like you” to solve a problem, meaning that there are multiple people at the table already, or responded to your prospecting techniques, meaning that they will respond to someone else’s in the exact same way.

The 3 types of marketing generated leads

Since we’ve established what the difference is between a lead and referral, as well as why its more difficult to close leads generated via marketing, it is now time to talk about the types of marketing generated leads. I’ve found throughout my career that there are three types of marketing generated leads. Those leads, in no particular order are as follows:

  1. An organization has a new leader or manager whose responsibility includes the product or service you offer, and they are looking for competitive options as part of routine due diligence.
  2. An organization has a provider for the product or service you offer, something negative has occurred, the organization or a subsection is hurt, angered, frustrated, or confused by the negative outcome, and is looking to potentially make a change.
  3. An organization has a provider for the product or service you offer, their provider has raised their rates for that product or service, and the organization is not seeing enough value from that provider to continue moving forward with them and is evaluating competitive options.

Final Thoughts

You’ll note that none of the three marketing leads “feel” like a referral – they’re evaluating options. Your company is exactly that, an option. They could choose to go with you, someone else, or not change at all. You must be able to present a significant enough value case, through discovery and sales techniques, to have a chance at winning the bid.

If you’re struggling with getting leads, being able to close the leads your marketing efforts generate, or getting alignment with your team on the need to invest in marketing and sales efforts, Richardson & Richardson can help. Check out our case studies for stories of organizations that we’ve assisted with similar issues and download our white papers for deep dives on tools you can use in your organization. If you’re wondering where to start, book a complimentary session with one of the Richardsons today to come up with a plan on how to move forward.


Share this Post