Sales Lead System – step by step

Generate leads and close sales with our 5-step Sales Lead System

Every company wants to generate leads – and that’s important – but lead generation is just the first step.

Most leads are not ready to buy today.  Some may, but most are just doing research as part of their buying process.  For this reason, you also need a process for qualifying and nurturing those leads through the sales process.

And if you want to be smart about it, take time to measure your results so you can see what’s working and what’s not.  Check out our 5-step Sales Lead System.

McCarthy & King Marketing's 5-Step Sales Lead SystemThe 5-Step Sales Lead System

Step 1 – Lead Generation
Step 2 – Lead Capture
Step 3 – Lead Qualification
Step 4 – Lead Nurturing
Step 5 – Lead Measurement


Step 1 – Lead Generation
There are many ways to generate leads – and we believe in trying every one of them.

Here we have provided some guidance for implementing four methods of lead generation – direct mail, email, advertising, website marketing.  The strategy is the same across all methods.  The only difference is the outreach.

  • Create a lead magnet (an eBook, white paper or special report)
    No matter what method of lead generation you are using, a lead magnet is an essential first step.  You want to develop content that your target audience will want to have and will be willing to request.  Using your staff’s expertise, create some type of lead magnet.  It could be an ebook, white paper or special report (12-15 pages) featuring helpful information about a current topic in your industry.   Over time, test different lead magnets to see which works best.

  • Create a customer profile or profiles
    Before you can research lists, select media or identify a search audience, you need to develop a customer profile that lays out a detailed description of your ideal customer.  This will include both demographic and psychographic (behavioral) data.

  • Develop outreach campaigns using direct mail, email, advertising and/or website marketing
    • Direct Mail (test multiple lists, formats and messages)
    • Email (test multiple lists and messages)
    • Advertising (test multiple media outlets and ad formats/sizes)
    • Website Marketing (use multiple strategies to build web traffic)
  • Track results from each outreach campaign
    Keep track of total leads per campaign and divide into the cost of that campaign to determine cost per lead.

  • Expand with winners and remove losers
    The numbers should tell you what’s working and what’s not.  Make sure you have tested a sufficient quantity to feel confident in the results.

Step 2 – Lead Capture

Every mailing, every ad, everything you do should be set up to capture the necessary contact information from leads.

  • Determine how much contact info you need
    At minimum, you need to get an email address, but you may also want to collect name, title, company, address and telephone.  You also may want to collect some initial qualifying information about the prospect.  This can be done at the outset or later in the process.

  • Offer multiple response channels
    Different people prefer to use different response channels.  So offer them a choice of channels – reply mail, 800 number, fax, email, web and dedicated landing pages.  If your prospects are local, you can also offer a walk-in option.

  • Push the landing page
    Landing pages and personalized landing pages (pURLs) are very popular response channels these days.  More and more prospects are using them when they’re offered.  We recommend them because, unlike the channels, you can automate the entire process.

  • Fulfill the offer
    If you’re using a landing page, the offer (the report) can be fulfilled easily with automated downloads.  However, for responses that come via mail, phone and other channels, you will need to fulfill manually – either via email or postal mail.

Step 3 – Lead Qualification

We want your sales people to be spending their time on sales-ready prospects, but which leads are sales-ready?.

  • Establish sales lead criteria
    As leads come in, we will want to identify which leads are serious prospects and which are simply tire kickers.  We will help you establish a grading system to determine which leads are ready now, ready in the short term, ready in the long-term or not serious at all.

  • Create a short survey to obtain information
    Using the sales lead criteria as a guide, we will create a short survey which will help us sort out the incoming sales leads.

  • Use telephone or email to gather information
    Typically, sales leads are followed up by the existing sales force as a way of qualifying sales leads.  But you can also turn those calls over to us.  In addition, we will create the survey as an online form and ask prospects complete the survey through our emails.

  • Create follow-up contact strategy for each lead level
    Depending on the answers we get, we will help you establish and create a follow-up contact strategy for each level of sales lead.  Sales-ready leads will be given priority treatment while long-term information collectors will remain part of the contact strategy but at a much lower cost.

Step 4 – Lead Nurturing

This is where most lead systems fail.  The traditional approach was to leave lead nurturing to sales – and indeed, sales plays a big role here.  But sales can and should be supported by a systematic lead nurturing program as well.

Lead nurturing is all about building relationships – giving your prospects the chance to engage, to learn and to become acquainted with you and your organization.

  • Create a sequence of emails
    Strike while the iron is hot.  As soon as the lead comes in and gets qualified, a series of emails should be delivered to solidify the relationship.  We’ll help you plan, write and design a series of  5-10 emails.

  • Put your emails on autopilot
    Because responses will come in over time, we recommend setting up an autoresponder series that delivers emails individually to each prospect depending on when they respond.

  • Create separate email tracks for different types of leads
    Clearly you want different email tracks for different products or services, but you also want separate tracks for sales-ready leaders vs. just tire kickers.

  • Use offers to engage and educate your prospect
    The lead nurturing process should be more than just sending emails.  You also want your readers to download additional reports and whitepapers, respond to a survey or participate in a webinar.   The more engaged the prospect, the greater potential for a sale.

  • Protect your lead investment
    When you do the calculations, you can see how much you paid to produce your sales leads.  When you make that kind of investment, you don’t want to see even one lead fall through the cracks.


Step 5 – Lead Measurement
We close the loop on the lead generation-lead nurturing process with lead measurement.

By tracking and analyzing each step in the sales process, we can begin to see how your pipeline is flowing.  We will identify bottlenecks and recommend solutions to improve your results.

  • Track raw leads by source.
    Leads come from many sources.  We will help you identify your best sources of lead generation by lead volume.

  • Track qualified leads by source.
    Using various lead quality benchmarks, we will help you identify which source is producing the most qualified leads.
  • Track lead conversions.
    Once a prospect gets to your landing page, how many actually fill out the form?  We will track those numbers and offer optional approaches to improve your conversions.

  • Track high-interest leads.
    Using higher level offers, we will begin to see which of your initial prospects have a high-level interest in your product or service.   We will also begin to see which offers produce your best response.

  • Track customer conversions.
    As your pipeline comes to an end, we will track the number of customers you are able to convert.   We will look at your strategies for conversion and suggest alternatives to test.


How we can help
The program we have outlined above covers what we see as a comprehensive approach to lead generation and lead nurturing. Your organization may not need this entire program.  We also realize many clients like to do some of the work themselves.

If that’s the case, we are happy to plug in what you need and leave the rest to you.  We’re happy to accommodate you in any way we can.

Call Bob McCarthy at 508-473-8643 to discuss your project.