I recently stepped into a thought leadership role by proposing a new concept for marketers. In an article I wrote for Social Media Today I contended that lead introduction — rather than lead generation — is a more realistic, sales-related outcome from social media participation.
The article received quite a bit of attention and I leveraged that interest to start a discussion on the topic of lead introduction in a select set of groups on LinkedIn. Unlike most drab, self-promotional LinkedIn discussions that raise little, if any, interest, the comments have rolled in.
However, I soon realized that I made a classic blunder in my article by failing to actually define lead introduction. A few of the LinkedIn comments have been telling:
Marc, to me, you’re really talking semantics here, and the meaning of two words that can be similar. Having said that, you must generate a lead, before you can introduce that lead to anything. So, I’m a little confused about what you mean here. It seems you are putting the cart before the horse.
I’ve read that article 4 times now and I have zero clue what he’s trying to say. Can someone please explain to me how getting a lead by “introducing” someone to your business is not “generating” a lead?
Social media, like any channel, can have brand impact and can generate leads. But let’s define lead generation. I define it as getting someone interested or finding their interest in a particular “issue” that could eventually translate into a “sales ready” lead.
In the business-to-business and government markets, I typically come across two top-of-the-funnel sales scenarios. The first involves a company with a product or service that may appeal to a large and diverse community of prospects.
They can model or lead score buyers, yet need to cull down the community to identify prospects who have an interest. That’s lead generation, and it makes the sales effort more efficient and scalable.
The second scenario – which I refer to as lead introduction – is when a company has a specialized (and typically high priced) solution that appeals to specific individual(s) at a defined set of prospects, such as Fortune 500 financial services firms or US federal civilian agencies.
The company’s sales team knows exactly who to pitch, yet has struggled to initiate a dialogue. The executive level prospect fails to respond to phone calls or Emails, and does not engage through traditional marketing channels.
The sales challenge here is the need to facilitate a meaningful dialogue and that’s an area where social media shines.
A participant in a LinkedIn discussion I started about the issue of sales outcomes from social media in the business-to-business and government markets, provided the comment below. I’ve included it in this post because I like how he compared “lead introduction vs lead generation” to “inbound vs outbound leads.”
Bryan Grezeszak • @Marc – Ok, that makes much more sense. However…I think I can sum up the difference in language MANY more people will understand:
According to your 2 definitions above, one of those is using social media to generate inbound leads and one would be using social media to go after outbound leads. That’s the huge difference between the 2 things you just explained to me.