Lead Generation

4 Steps to Optimize Your Lead Generation Process

Nir Elharar
Nir Elharar

  1. Define every stage of the funnel and which team is responsible.

  2. Tailor specific content, comms and offers according to the current status of the leads.

  3. Don’t be discouraged by rejected leads. Evaluate the reasons and use them as an opportunity to improve.

  4. Don’t let hot leads cool down! Quick turnaround times are crucial.

For B2C and B2B organizations, a working lead generation process is a must, and when done right, it can become the main driver of new business. That explains why 63% of companies consider generating traffic and leads as their most important challenge. Even so, lead generation definitely has its own share of obstacles to overcome.

Before we dive into optimizing your lead gen activities, let’s take a look at the lead generation process as a whole.

What is the lead generation process?

Inbound lead generation is the process of identifying people who are interested in your product or company and turning them into customers. This is done via a “lead funnel”.

  • Leads enter the funnel when they express some interest in your offering, say by downloading gated content or submitted their details to a landing page.
  • Leads are then nurtured with various marketing outreach activities, like emails, retargeting ads, social media campaigns, and special offers.
  • Along the funnel journey, the marketing team assesses each lead as to their probability of converting to customers. This determines whether the lead should be rejected, nurtured some more, or passed on to the sales team as qualified for a more intense sales interaction.
  • Finally, it’s critical to regularly review and optimize the lead funnel to make sure it is performing at top efficiency.

lead generation process flow chart

How to Optimize Your Lead Generation Process

The lead generation process is complex, and it’s a long term operation. It can be weeks or even months before leads become actual customers. What’s more, lead generation typically involves both the Sales and Marketing teams, as well as other departments across the organization. This can make it difficult to keep the process smooth and effective. However, when all the players pull together with aligned lead gen goals and a clear optimized strategy, it can result in an amazing uplift in new revenue.

Here are 4 simple ways to make sure your lead generation process is optimized and high performing:

1. Define every stage of the funnel and which team is responsible

Lead generation funnels span the entire spectrum from initial marketing through closed sales. When building your internal lead funnel, make sure to have a clear distinction and accountability between the parts managed by the Marketing and Sales departments.

In the example above, MQL, or Marketing Qualified Leads, is the stage when Marketing hands off the leads to the Sales team. Once the lead has been qualified from the marketing standpoint, it is considered ‘warm’ enough to be managed by Sales. Then it is the responsibility of the SDRs to decide whether to accept or reject it.

By properly defining and illustrating the lead funnel, each team understands exactly where its responsibility begins, and the KPIs it is aiming for during each stage.

2. Tailor specific content, comms and offers according to the current status of the leads.

In most organizations, the entire leads pool will be broadly divided into two ‘buckets’:

  • Marketing leads, managed by the Marketing department
  • Sales leads, managed by the Sales department

The role of marketing is to “warm-up” cold leads and prepare them to move towards the bottom (sales) end of the funnel. This is mostly achieved via content marketing, including blogs, ebooks, webinars, emails, newsletters, native ads, social media marketing and more. The marketing team also manages rejected leads, providing information and value at scale to those who are not yet “ready to buy”, with the aim of increasing awareness and engagement, and leading them towards that golden MQL stage and beyond.

marketing to sales leads funnel

3. Don’t be discouraged by rejected leads. Evaluate the reasons and use them as an opportunity to improve.

The aim of any marketer or salesperson is to generate qualified leads that will eventually turn into customers. Rejected leads are not ideal but they are inevitable – and even valuable.

When a lead is rejected, it becomes a new opportunity to optimize the campaign, apply more granular targeting, finetune your messaging and improve your marketing assets overall.

It is important to examine the various rejection reasons with your sales team to make sure they are properly understood and resonate in the context of the lead generation process. This will give you actionable insights to tweak the lead funnel and push the qualification rate even higher.

4. Don’t let hot leads cool down! Quick turnaround times are crucial.

Inbound leads actively attempted to connect or interact with your business at some point. They may have subscribed to your blog, downloaded an ebook, requested a demo or submitted a lead form. The fact that the person or organization reached out to you means they are already warmed up to a certain extent. And if the warm lead proves to be qualified, then it could really be a great match!

Whatever the ‘temperature’ of the lead, the main thing is to follow up with them as soon as possible. That doesn’t mean days or weeks. According to InsideSales.com, marketers who follow up with online leads within 5 minutes are 9 times more likely to win them. When it comes to the lead generation process, every minute counts – literally!

Before implementing the 4 optimization tactics outlined above, it’s vital that you first crystalize the definitions, internal language, and handover procedures within your lead funnel. No two lead funnels are alike, and one company may even operate a number of lead funnels at once for different lead types. Whichever way you choose to structure your lead funnel, make sure it is well-defined and optimized. It’s the best way to achieve faster TATs, which will, in turn, boost the satisfaction rates of your leads and the overall revenue of your business.


Nir Elharar

Nir Elharar

Nir is VP of Growth Marketing at Outbrain, overseeing customer acquisition and retention for the global company. He was previously the Head of Media Department at GO Internet Marketing, specializing in performance marketing. Prior to that, he worked at Google Dublin as an Account Manager for eCommerce B2B and Healthcare clients. Nir lives in Israel with his wife and 2 daughters.