Lead generation vs demand generation: How reps can use both?
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Lead generation vs demand generation: How reps can use both?

Wissam Tabarra

Wissam Tabarra

Apr 26

Lead generation vs demand generation: How reps can use both?

If someone said to you that football, soccer, and rugby are the same you wouldn't be too pleased, right?

Sales reps and marketers can understand this because often some of their core activities are interchangeably used by non-revenue team professionals. A pair of these terminologies are - "lead generation" and "demand generation".

If you aren't aware of the difference between the two let me elaborate a bit.

The lead generation process is a strategy to capture the information of a potential lead/prospect and then feed it into a sales nurturing pipeline to convert it into an opportunity. 

Lead generation is done by sales development teams who use lead generation tools to create lead lists and then pass them onto the sales team. The lead nurturing process often takes a couple of months before they are considered ready for closing.

On the other hand, demand generation is an umbrella term for both "lead generation" and "list building". In addition to this, it is also known as account-based marketing or ABM.

ExactTarget defines demand generation as follows:

"A holistic approach to identifying and engaging new buyers, resulting in highly relevant interactions that pull targeted prospects through your entire cycle of engagement. The demand-gen process identifies current prospects who are more likely to buy from your company."

You can also think of demand generation as preparation for lead generation activities. Once target accounts have been identified and warmed up using demand-gen marketing campaigns, sales reps take over and attempt at closing qualified accounts.

In most companies, demand-gen and lead-gen are separate functions fulfilling their responsibilities. While demand-gen is a core marketing activity and is handled by the marketing team, lead-gen is mostly handled by the sales development team.

Yet, in an increasingly complex B2B sales environment where the lines between sales and marketing are getting blurred with each passing day, it becomes imperative for sales reps to know it all.

And those sales reps who can learn and use the best techniques from a variety of areas stand the best chance to succeed.

In this article, I discuss how you as a sales rep can benefit from both these processes and generate leads at ease.

So let's dive straight into it.

Develop an account-based selling mindset

You would have heard about ABM from the marketers in your team. It isn't much - just identify the right accounts and run marketing campaigns on them. Once they have a few submissions on their landing page, they hand over the list, you guessed it right, to you, the sales rep.

In a similar vein, sales pros have developed a framework called account-based selling. In account-based selling, you identify a target account or account list and then build your strategy around it.

In today's increasingly complex buying environment, most prospects do not fall into the bucket of "active" buyers who are ready for closing in a couple of months. Instead, they need to be nurtured and qualified with each stage of their journey mapped out with a personalized roadmap based on their account/company details.

So why do I ask you to develop an account-based selling mindset?

It is because since most B2B buyers are being bombarded with cold emails and cold calls these days, your chances of actually being heard are quite low.

Instead, if you were to focus on high-value accounts and develop a framework that spots such high-value accounts then you would have a higher chance of success.

Think of this most, B2B buyers have finalized their choice before buying a product, mostly in the consideration stage. So if you didn't make it into their consideration set, you are never going to make that sale.

And every minute that you spend on that account is just a wasted minute that you could have used to find and sell to someone else who needs your product.

You would have noticed by now that account-based selling is nothing but an integration of demand-gen and lead-gen activities that sales reps can carry out by themselves for prospecting high-value accounts.

Find ICP accounts using AI to generate leads.

One of the activities of demand-gen, if you remember, is finding and identifying high-value target accounts for sales/marketing campaigns.

Finding and compiling such account lists has traditionally been the prerogative of marketing teams or sales managers. But with the advent of AI prospecting tools, reps are empowered to manage their prospecting by themselves.

For example, an AI-based sales prospecting software like Truebase can understand your ICP definition and suggest to you high-value accounts that you should go after in your sales outreach. 

Since AI can automate the job of surfing the web and mining data and do it better than humans, marketers or sales managers can't argue that they can surface better information at that scale.

Additionally, since the AI algorithms are bound by the ICP definition, sales leaders can also be confident that they have tighter control over who they are targeting.

Marketing is spared some extra effort, sales reps have more control and sales managers can focus on the bottom line. It is a win-win for everyone.

Create demand in identified accounts using top of funnel content.

As a sales rep, you can create demand in identified accounts using top-of-funnel content that is designed to reach out to cold prospects.

The right mix of cold outreach and top-of-funnel content will make it easier for the sales team to generate leads from cold prospects.

What precisely can be categorized as cold prospects?

Cold prospects are those who have never been exposed to your brand or product before and need lead nurturing until they develop an interest in making a purchase decision.

Marketing teams create top-of-funnel content for cold prospects by creating buyer personas using data from their sales database, social media conversations, and other research.

The right mix of cold outreach and top-of-funnel content can help sales reps find high-value accounts that were not identified earlier during the demand gen process.

In short, you are multiplying your chances of success by introducing additional leads into your sales pipeline.

Personalize emails to generate leads at a higher rate.

Personalizing your cold emails would help you generate leads more efficiently.

Personalization in email marketing has been used by marketers in the past to connect with prospects on a personal level and increase conversions. 

Different personalization strategies can be employed when targeting top-of-funnel prospects vs bottom-funnel prospects.

For instance, personalize your cold emails or outreach messages with something relevant to the buyer behavior or problem they are looking to solve and what stage of the buyer's journey they are in.

Power your personalization with personal data or personalize based on the social profile of the prospect. They will be more open to responding favorably if they can relate to what you are saying.

When you know where a buyer is in the buying cycle, it helps to personalize messages by sharing case studies that address their pain points directly or referencing previous conversations they've had with other employees at that company that also pertain to them.

AI lead generation software like Truebase can help you do this at scale since while sourcing accounts and leads from the web it already uses intent signals to capture metadata associated with each lead.

Such metadata can include social media activity, LinkedIn articles, blogs they have authored, company competitors, and much more. Armed with personalization points you can choose a relevant data point that suits your sequence and hit shoot with much confidence.

Get warm intros to identify leads and create opportunities.

It makes sense to warm up your prospects before you engage them with a cold email.

Gaining an introduction from a mutual connection gets the ball rolling and will increase all conversions for a sales team by 20%.

Through warm intros, sales reps can gain access to highly targeted accounts that have been identified by marketing teams based on their buyer persona data.

This enables quality control over who is being added to the sales pipeline and allows sales teams to focus efforts efficiently.

Warm intros also help in gaining more details about your prospects such as their decision process for buying something, what products they are currently using, and their company's budget for purchasing new products.

In short, warm intros allow sales reps to focus on accounts that are most likely to be converted into new opportunities or deals with your brand.

AI lead generation software like Truebase can find warm intro opportunities to prospected leads from a sales rep's connections over multiple channels like LinkedIn, Facebook, Google address book, and more.

I think with the right set of tools you can empower yourself to use the best tactics from lead generation and demand generation and rock your sales process.

When you are ready to implement the strategies that I outlined in the blog, I would recommend you to try out Truebase free for 14 days and see if it makes your job easier and faster.

Till then, happy hunting!

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