What is a Lead Generation Specialist? – The Skills and Experience Needed to Generate the Most Leads for Your Pipeline
If you’ve been in business for any amount of time, you can lament with the 68% of companies struggling with lead generation. Unfortunately, most revenue leaders don’t have time to become experts in every tactic and strategy that can fuel pipelines. To add to the difficulty, many sales experts find it overwhelming to balance prospecting tasks while nurturing potential clients.
Lead generation specialists fill the gap by identifying and qualifying opportunities for sales teams so businesses can develop a more efficient pipeline and streamline the purchasing process. Here, you will discover what a lead generation specialist can accomplish and the skills and experience you should look for when hiring one of these experts.
What is a Lead Generation Specialist?
A lead generation specialist helps businesses develop a sales pipeline and execute campaigns to attract, qualify and nurture prospective clients. The position of a lead generation expert is more prevelant among B2B organizations. A lead generation specialist can help reduce the burden on the sales team and free them up to focus on closing deals. While lead generation experts are usually a member of the sales team, they work closely with marketing as well.
An experienced lead generation specialist should have the knowledge and ability to generate leads from a variety of sources.
What Methods Does a Lead Generation Specialist Use to Generate Leads?
A lead generation specialist covers both traditional and modern marketing strategies to identify and generate leads. Online or offline methods may be implemented depending on the organization’s business model and team structure.
Lead generation strategies are often categorized as either outbound or inbound. Outbound lead generation efforts are more frequently used by B2B companies and include tactics such as email outreach, cold calling, LinkedIn direct messaging, and some forms of advertising. Inbound marketing is employed by both B2C and B2B lead generation specialists and consists of strategies like blogs, vlogs, SEO, pay-per-click advertising, landing pages, and lead magnets.
Lead generation experts offer a diverse range of services which may include: database management, sales management, process efficiency, market identification, data analysis, and content syndication.
What Are Some Other Names for a Lead Generation Specialist?
There are many different names for lead generation specialists. In-house equivalents are known as business development representatives (BDRs) or sales development representatives (SDRs). External lead generation specialists are often hired through companies referred to as outsourced lead generation agencies, sales as a service partners, or outsourced sales consultants. These fractional BDRs are experts in their field and have backgrounds in a multitude of industries and strategies. They oftentimes have more years of experience in lead generation than in-house specialists.
For the purposes of this article, we will focus on the skills, roles, and responsibilities of outsourced lead generation specialists, as the term is more commonly used in this context.
Why do Companies Hire a Lead Generation Specialist?
Because lead generation is the foundation for solid revenue growth, every business can benefit from a specialist to help define and refine its process. And while the fundamentals of business development are the same for most companies, campaigns are as unique as each individual brand.
Fortunately, the benefits of hiring an expert in lead generation far outweigh the cost. Aside from a steady flow of prospects in your pipeline, a specialist can help improve your profit margins and streamline the process of market or product testing.
Boost Brand Awareness and Shorten Your Sales Cycle
When it comes down to it, success in brand awareness is not so much about being on the minds of the majority but being on the minds of your ideal clients. However, gaining brand awareness, especially in a competitive market, can be difficult without the right tools and talent. A team of lead generation specialists knows how to boost brand recognition at scale without aggressive advertising that can drain your marketing budget. Through strategic planning and advanced databases, a lead gen agency has the ability to connect with the people your brand resonates with the most.
As word spreads and your brand becomes a well-known name to your target audience, your sales cycle will most likely shorten. It’s the natural order of lead generation. Still, there is always more going on behind the scene. The lead generation process is constantly evolving in response to shifts in the market and changes in consumer behavior. To improve the purchasing process and keep your sales cycle from ballooning, a specialist will look for ways to optimize the process by analyzing prospect and campaign data. It can take a few months to collect enough information to make impactful modifications to lead generation efforts. But, the longer you work with a lead gen specialist, the more efficient your sales cycle will be.
Reduce Labor Hours and Overhead Costs
Prospecting definitely comes at a price. Just one in-house sales executive costs $162,750, on average, when factoring in training, labor hours, and overhead costs. Not to mention the costs of tools and platforms needed to properly implement, analyze, and manage lead generation campaigns.
By partnering with a lead generation specialist, businesses typically save up to 65% on labor and overhead expenses. The economies of scale achieved by the sales agency’s size and purchasing power allows the firm to obtain tools and talent at a more affordable rate.
In addition, ramp-up is nearly instantaneous since you don’t have to wait for a representative to go through training and onboarding before results are produced. Outsourced lead generation companies provide experts full-trained in their proven processes so you’re up and running in a matter of weeks, not months.
Test and Validate a New Product or Market
Whether you have a proven product entering a new market or have a new product entering your current market, running test campaigns is vital to validating your success at scale. But derailing your lead generation strategies to explore the unknown will disrupt your pipeline and have a negative impact on your revenue growth, no matter how automated your prospecting process has become.
You need a safe silo that allows you to try out a new product or market without interrupting the status quo for your sales and marketing team. That’s where outsourced lead generation specialists come in. These experts have the skills and experience needed to test market fit and compile data quickly so you can make an informed decision. By having a team dedicated to the experiment, you can stop worrying about whether the testing process is reliable. You just have to decide whether you want to continue optimizing for the new opportunity or go back to the drawing board.
Lead Generation Specialist Skills and Experience
Research and Data Analysis Skills
While the job of a lead generation specialist might seem more relational in nature, research and data analysis skills are the cornerstones of a talented professional in this field. A lead generation specialist must be able to formulate a campaign strategy based on market research and consumer data. The specialist must also have the ability to conduct their own lead research and analyze metrics to optimize the performance of lead generation strategies. These key skills are necessary to produce sufficient ROI on prospecting processes.
Much of a Lead generation specialist’s time is spent communicating with potential prospects, so they should have a keen understanding of the modern consumer. No longer are we in an era where features and benefits sell products and services. Consumers purchase solutions based on the pains they alleviate. Those tasked with prospecting must be able to demonstrate genuine empathy and understanding in order to attract and nurture potential clients.
Active listening is also an important communication skill that furthers a lead generation expert’s ability to open new opportunities. Specialists should be able to ask provoking questions based on information discovered in their conversations that exposes the pain the prospective clients are experiencing. This will lead to more prospects in the pipeline and a better lead qualification process.
Lead generation specialists face many obstacles while prospecting. From handling objections to parrying competitors’ tactics, a skilled lead generation specialist must be ready to think on their feet and quickly find the path forward.
Discovering the root of a prospecting problem requires technical knowledge and consumer insight, as well as critical thinking skills. Understanding the psychology behind persuasion can make it easier to deduce what is pulling or pushing prospects into or out of a company’s pipeline. This, in turn, can help a lead generation specialist troubleshoot leaks in said pipeline and create more compelling campaigns that outperform competitors’ efforts.
Time Management Skills
63% of a lead generation specialist’s time is spent on activities that don’t generate revenue, but only 28% follow a structured time management system, according to recent studies.
ROI can drastically reduce if prospecting tasks are not managed properly. By developing and following a schedule aligned with sales and marketing objectives, a lead generation specialist can better track their progress and measure success.
A specialist with excellent time management skills will be able to identify and prioritize processes that contribute to revenue growth. They should also be able to recognize peak prospecting times and fill in the less optimal hours with non-revenue generating activities (e.g. CRM notations, training, customer maintenance, etc.).
The Lead Generation Process: Lead Generation Specialist Job Roles and Responsibilities
Lead generation is a cyclical process. These roles and responsibilities of a lead generation specialist may be repeated daily, weekly, or monthly depending on the nature of the tasks. Whatever the strategy, these duties must be carried out to develop and maintain a productive pipeline.
Research and Identify Target Audiences
Before prospecting can begin, research into the target audience and competitors must be completed. This allows the lead generation specialist to build out buyer personas, marketing materials, and campaigns that will successfully attract and nurture prospects. Once the target audience is defined, the specialist will curate a lead list of decision-makers based on attributes from demographics, psychographics, firmographics, and technographics data. The lead’s information will generally be acquired from a database so the lead generation expert can systematically reach out, usually through campaigns automated via marketing tools.
Research should continue beyond the initial campaign setup to ensure the specialist stays aware of industry trends and changes in consumer preferences. Adjustments to the target audience may also be made based on lead responses and campaign metrics.
Generating Qualified Leads Through Various Channels
A lead generation specialist is responsible for creating leads and nurturing them until they are ready to buy from the company. They use a variety of channels to identify and connect with potential customers, including email, LinkedIn, and phone calls. Experienced specialists rely on a multichannel approach to maximize touchpoints and, in turn, response and conversion rates.
For outbound lead generation, a list of potential prospects is curated based on an ideal client profile so that most of the qualification process is completed before a lead enters the campaign. Once a lead is engaged, the specialist gauges interest, answers questions, and prepares the prospect for the next step in the process.
Set Appointments with Prospective Clients for the Sales Team
As prospective clients move further down the pipeline, lead generation specialists look for opportunities to transfer them to the sales team. Usually, this is accomplished by setting up discovery calls or demos. It’s the specialist’s responsibility to verify the prospect’s interests and intentions for the call as well as ensure the attendee meets the qualification metrics set by the sales and marketing teams. Aspects like budget and timing are not imperative for the first call as these can be adjusted given the right partnership.
In some cases, it is advantageous to invite other decision-makers to the call, especially if the purchasing process requires buy-in from multiple colleagues. While setting appointments is generally the final stage in the pipeline for lead generation specialists, they should still follow up on prospects’ activities throughout the sale. Understanding which deals were lost or won helps specialists develop a more productive lead generation strategy.
Analyzing Data and Making Optimization Recommendations
Lead generation specialists use information from campaigns to make recommendations for improvement by condensing many individual data points into a single score or grade. Primary metrics like open rate, response rate, and conversion rate guide specialists in optimizing performance. Experienced specialists will look for correlations between these rates and lead attributes to discover the optimal target audience, campaign copy, and call-to-actions.
Other aspects of campaign sequences may also be optimized, such as the sequence schedules and the number and frequency of touchpoints. Lead generation specialists rely on controlled marketing experiments, often known as a/b testing, to discover exactly what can be modified to improve results. Because lead generation is so vital to developing a healthy pipeline, metrics and test data should be analyzed weekly to ensure the best versions of your campaigns are being served to your prospects.
When is it Time to Hire a Lead Generation Specialist?
Whether you’re running a startup or managing an enterprise, if you’re looking for someone who can help you generate leads and grow your business, then a lead generation specialist is the right person for you. They have the skills and experience to identify and qualify leads while helping your sales team convert them into paying customers.
But timing is everything — so how do you know when you’re ready to hire a lead generation specialist? The best way to assess your readiness is to speak with a lead generation company and discuss your sales goal. By opening that line of communication, you can determine exactly how a lead generation specialist can help you develop a more effective pipeline.