January 23, 2024
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How to generate leads and close clients for your agency

It’s 2024 and sales teams are already facing steeper challenges as they try to close in on their targets. 

The buying cycle is getting longer, as 6.5% months averages as the length of the tech purchase process. That means without a customer relationship management (CRM) software system, it’ll become harder to remember all those details from previous conversations, and exactly when you last interacted with a potential client. 

Whether you’re a new agency owner or an experienced entrepreneur, a good CRM can help you maximize your sales strategy. So your sales team will know when to follow up, and exactly where to pick up from whether it’s three or eight months down the line.

In this guide, we unpack how you can use a CRM to create a source of truth to create transparency across your sales team. As well as tips to help you create or improve your internal sales strategy.

How to consider what type of lead you’re after

In sales, leads are categorized as outbound or inbound depending on how they were generated and the nature of the interaction with the potential customer. 

Outbound leads

Outbound leads often enter the sales funnel at the Awareness or Interest stage. 

This means that they’re someone who has shown interest in your product or service but hasn’t purchased anything yet. 

Inbound leads

Inbound leads often enter the sales funnel at the interest, consideration or intent stages. 

Understand the sales funnel 

Depending on what type of agency background you have, there’ll be a sales funnel that you take your leads through. Forbes has a few sales funnel templates and examples they’ve put together for 2024. 

In general, each sales team has a different sales process that takes leads through a funnel, that is typically divided into the following stages:

Awareness: A potential customer becomes aware of a product or service.

Interest: This is where they show interest in a specific product or service.

Consideration: The potential customer considers the product or service and starts evaluating it against their needs and alternatives.

Intent: This is where they demonstrate a clear intent to purchase or engage further.

Evaluation: The customer evaluates the specifics of the purchase (e.g., price, terms).

Purchase: The final decision is made, and the purchase is completed.

Now that we’ve got the basic covers, let’s unpack the steps you need to take to start generating leads and closing clients.

How to generate leads and close clients

If you’re looking to generate more qualified B2B sales leads, Gartner suggests leveraging a balanced mix of inbound marketing strategies such as search engine optimization and content, as well as outbound strategies such as email marketing and event marketing. 

Below, we unpack three easy steps you can take to start generating leads by using folk.

By sourcing outbound leads 

Outbound strategies tend to require more effort in educating and nurturing leads because they’ve never heard of your product or service. Here, the main goal is to create awareness for your target audience. In other words, they’re at the top of your sales funnel.

There are two ways you can start sourcing outbound leads. The first way is to adopt a cold outbound approach using LinkedIn. The second is to create contact lists using a lead database. 

How to source outbound leads using LinkedIn with folkX

You can use LinkedIn to source outbound leads. It can help you figure out who the decision-makers are and start building rapport with them by participating in relevant discussions through comments and sending cold outreach messages. 

At this stage, you’ll need to keep track of who you’ve messaged, who else you intend to message, and when you last interacted with someone so you know when to follow up.

With folk, you can do all of the above without interrupting your workflow by using their handy Chrome extension, folkX.

Using folkX, you can import search lists directly into your CRM using LinkedIn’s free plan, or Sales Navigator. Just follow these handy steps to start right away. This way, you’ll be able to:

  • Group contacts into particular categories as you import them.
  • Use folk’s contact enrichment to fill in any missing contact information.
  • Organize your new contacts and sort them through your pipeline, and customize the pipeline so it aligns with your sales process.
  • Create multiple contact lists that you can collaborate with team members with.

How to source leads from a lead database

Another way of sourcing leads is by purchasing them from a database. To start sourcing the right leads from a database, you’ll need to prepare a few things strategically. Including:

  • Defining your audience: Go into specifics such as industry, company size, location, job titles and roles - paying attention to decision makers, company revenue and other specific criteria.
  • Source the right lead database for you: Apollo is a great example.
  • Evaluate potential leads: Make sure they fit your criteria.
  • Save and organize leads: Using folk to create contact lists and stay organized by grouping them into an ‘Apollo’ category so you’ll always know the source.
  • Plan your outreach: You’ll need to develop an outreach strategy tailored to these leads by deciding the right method (email, phone call, LinkedIn message, etc) and personalizing messages based on the lead’s background and potential needs.
  • Monitor and follow up: Use folk to make sure you know exactly when you last interacted with your lead, so you can assign someone in your team. folk can help you monitor metrics including open rates, click-through rates and response rates. You can also use it to set up email sequences. 

By sourcing leads inbound

If you want to source inbound leads, this involves attracting them through marketing and content strategies. Inbound strategies focus more on converting leads who are already interested or considering a purchase.

In terms of a sales funnel:

  • If they’re interested: This means they have already actively sought out information and/or content about your product or service. 
  • If they’re considering the product or service: This means they’ve already started researching or comparing their options.
  • Or, if they’re further down at the intent stage: This means they’re leaning towards a purchase.

How to create relevant content for inbound leads

The type of content you need to produce for inbound leads will depend on the stage of the sales funnel your lead is at. To unpack this, we’ll look at the type of content you can think about creating, social media marketing and email marketing.

Content creation

Depending on your product or service and distribution channel, these can include, but are not limited to: 

  • Blogs: Include informative and engaging blog posts that add value to your audience’s needs and questions, and build brand authority.
  • Whitepapers or guides: These tend to be gated behind a form as a form of barter, to offer in-depth content in exchange for contact details. 
  • Case studies: These help you build trust by showcasing how your product or service helped a client’s pain point. 
  • Videos: You may choose to produce educational and/or entertaining videos.  

In terms of volume, prioritize creating high-quality content over producing something new every day. A good content strategy should also consider a mix of evergreen content, SEO-optimized content and how you can repurpose content. The key is to make sure you strike a balance between content created for lead generation and demand generation, to avoid coming across sales-centric. 

Social media marketing

Your social media platforms will help you connect with, and attract the right leads. It’s also a part of your distribution strategy. 

You can use it to:

  • Share valuable content on platforms while making sure it’s relevant to that platform.
  • Engage with users through comments, communities and posts. 
  • Use trackable links (UTMs) to help track the performance of a specific piece of content across your platforms.
  • Use targeted ads to reach a specific audience. 
  • Build brand awareness. 
  • Announce new product features, or services. 

Looking for inspiration? Gary Vaynerchuk, the CEO of a global media agency called Vayner Media used inbound content to help him build brand authority and grow a strong personal brand around the world. His educational and relatable posts helped him reach millions. Check out The GaryVee Content Strategy Guide.

Andrew Wilkinson, the Founder of MetaLab (the design agency behind Slack) is famous for monetizing his Twitter followers. His inbound content strategy enabled him to offer a subscription service of $25 a month which has earned him a recurring revenue of $12,000 a month.

Email marketing

You can use email journeys to nurture leads and keep your brand top-of-mind. In sales, there are a few journeys you can create to nurture them including:

  • Welcome email series: To welcome new subscribers or leads who have signed up through your website or other channels.
  • Nurture email series: To engage leads who have shown interest but aren’t ready to buy.
  • Product/service series: To showcase your products, new features or services and explain any benefits or features.
  • Conversion email series: To convert leads who are at the decision stage of the process.

Booking demos  

Booking demos after sourcing leads is a crucial step in the sales process. The approach will vary slightly because of the different levels of interest and awareness in your product or service they will have. 

There are a few things you’ll need to do in common: 

  • Align your messaging to buyer’s needs: Gartner suggests that reaching out simply by listing the features and benefits of the product or service you’re selling isn’t enough. You need to address their pain points. Show you’re listening by understanding what goals they want to achieve by investing in your product or service.
  • Qualify leads: Don’t waste your resources by booking demos with everyone. Some leads only sign up to snag a freebie on offer. Qualify people you want to book demos by looking for signs of an active buying cycle.
  • Clear CTA: Make your call-to-action clear. State what someone can expect from the demo and use scheduling tools like Calendly to simplify the scheduling process. 
  • Email sequences: Studies have shown that sending a single email is not enough. That second email in your sequence will get you a 49% more chance of getting a response

Booking demos with inbound leads

According to Cognism inbound lead generation is a method of attracting customers to your brand through a targeted content piece (in other words, a lead magnet). This content aims to put the prospect into action, usually to download that piece of content by filling out their contact details. 

This guarantees that they’re interested in your product or service because they’ve already engaged with your website or content. So your approach should focus on the following.

  • Quick response: Don’t lose their interest because of a slow response rate. Make sure you respond promptly to inquiries or signs of interest. 
  • Personalized communication: Try and go beyond {First name} as part of your personalization strategy. Use the information they’ve provided via form or previous interactions.
  • Take an educational approach: Offer insights or solutions based on the touchpoint they interacted with the content or website, and show how your product can help.

Booking demos with outbound leads

With outbound leads, you have to foster interest or awareness through your initial approach. This means they won’t be as familiar with your product or service. Focusing on the following.

  • Establish contact: This is usually done via cold email or call. Make sure your first communication focuses on understanding their needs.
  • Nurture relationship by building interest: After the first touch point, the second email sequence is where you might share a relevant case study or data that showcases the effectiveness of your product.
  • Prepare for any objections: Be prepared to handle any objectives or concerns as they won’t be so aware of your product or service at this point.

How to manage your leads in a CRM

Now that you’ve got some leads and an idea of what your internal sales process might look like. Below are seven features that you should look out for in a good CRM. These will help you manage your leads and create transparency across your sales team. 

7 features you should expect from a good CRM

We’ve put together a list of useful features and benefits below that you should look out for. These features are often found in the best CRMs and are typically designed to help you streamline workflow processes, support team collaboration and help you create one source of truth. 

1. Pipeline management

This will help create transparency across your sales team by allowing you to see where each prospect is in your sales process at a glance. Ideally, you should expect a fluid view and be able to choose from a listicle or a Kanban board style. You should also be able to customize your pipeline so that it will mimic your internal sales process.

folk sales pipeline is easy to navigate

2. Contact management and contact sync

A contact sync feature will allow you to automatically synchronize all your contacts from multiple sources into your new CRM. Ideally, sources it should be able to integrate with include Gmail, Outlook, LinkedIn and social media tools such as Twitter, Instagram and more. This way, you’ll be able to save contact information wherever you happen to find yourself online.

folk contact management and contact sync

3. Mail merge and email sequences

Instead of spending time organizing contact lists, only to export them in order to send email campaigns. A good CRM should allow you to design, send and analyze email campaigns without having to interrupt your workflow and switch contexts. Nurture them with a strong email sequence. 

folk mail merge system has AI support

4. Automation and smart notifications

Your CRM should be able to support you and speed up your workflow process. Look out for features such as contact enrichment, which fills in missing contact information in moments, and auto-deduplication, which helps you keep your contact lists organized. Smart notifications can help you assign teammates so they’ll know exactly when it’s time to follow up with a lead.   

Note taking and importing is easy in folk

5. AI-support

When it comes to a good AI support function in a CRM, look for ones that lean on AI to help you save time sending personalized emails. That way, you’ll be able to send a message to multiple recipients with an extra personal touch that goes beyond {first Name}. 

'Magic Field' helps you write personalized messages to multiple receipts

6. Solo use and team collaboration support

Unless you’re ready to start from scratch when your business is ready to scale, you’ll want to find a CRM that can support solo use and team collaboration. New users should be easy to add, and you should be able to use your CRM to create one source of truth. 

Collaborative note taking in folk is easy

7. Intuitive user experience

Chances are you’ve been sticking to Google spreadsheets because you’ve heard how hard it is to migrate to a CRM. Or perhaps, it’s the number of days you need to block out for your team to train, that puts you off from investing in a CRM. Fortunately, not all CRMs require a steep learning curve. Some are intuitive to use and can be used from day one, without the fuss. 

If you’re wondering where you’ll be able to find a platform with all these notable features, we’ve already got you covered. folk happens to have all these features – and more. So you can get started right away. Lucky you.

Conclusion

Generating sales is no easy task for agencies – but Gary Vaynerchuk and Andrew Wilkinson prove that a strong inbound strategy can make a big difference. Especially if you consistently produce high-quality content. 

folk can help you stay organized as new leads come in. Your team will benefit from having a single source of truth and being able to collaborate seamlessly, without their workflow interrupted. Try folk today, free