Sales Appointment Training Program 2020

Looking to improve and solidify your door to door sales process in 2020? This guide is for you.

Let’s be honest. There is a stigma around door-to-door sales and that it’s an antiquated way of selling. As the next generation of outside sales reps hit the workforce, the majority are unaware just how powerful door to door selling can be.

We know the reason why D2D prospecting is still relevant: it works. Today, 65% of outside sales reps attain quota, which is 10% higher than inside sales reps.

But, it isn’t for everybody or for every type of business. It takes a certain kind of person and process to make the door-to-door sales engine turn.

So what kind of person an business fit the door to door sales mold? We’ll tell you.

The content of this article is originally published on Ultimate Door to Door Sales Guide (with Tips & Scripts)

In this article, we’ll go deep into the D2D sales world and answer the following questions:

1. What is door to door sales?
2. How do you become a successful door to door salesman?
3. What is the best process for selling door to door?
4. What tools do reps need to crush their field sales quota?

Door-to-door sales can be a rewarding sales career for the right individuals, and drive the bottom line for businesses in many different industries.  

Let’s get started.

Table of Contents

What is Door-to-Door Sales?

Door-to-door sales (D2D sales) means that the sales rep is participating in door-to-door prospecting, which indicates a system of direct contact with individuals. Rather than relying on marketing to bring in new customers, the sales rep walks from one place to another, doorway to doorway in the literal sense, engaging prospects in conversation about the features and benefits of their product or service.

D2D canvassing techniques are also used to market, advertise or campaign. In all cases, a door-to-door salesman or saleswoman is attempting to get a person interested or ready to buy their product, service or idea. They are generating demand.

Key Pillars of the D2D Sales Process

Prospecting: The search for new customers is called prospecting. Prospects are essential to your sales funnel because you have to have new customers coming in to grow. Finding them is a crucial part of your sales process.

Qualifying: Qualifying means you have identified a need your prospect has that matches one of the features or benefits you offer. Qualifying prospects is to establish Pain (enough pain to buy), Budget (money to buy) and Decision (authority to buy). It requires a door-to-door salesman (or woman) to ask lot of open-ended questions and listen and respond to their answers.

Pitching: When you make an offer and describe the benefits to your qualified prospect, it is called pitching. Knowing the lead’s needs is essential to your success. You provide a solution to their pain points and explain how your product makes their lives or jobs easier.

Closing: Closing is when you ask the potential customer to buy your product or service. There are numerous ways to ask for business, and finding the one that works best for you and each qualified prospect is a vital skill for successful door-to-door sales.

Follow-up: After the sale, the door-to-door salesperson should establish contact to ensure the customer received what they ordered, felt satisfied, and received answers to any questions they might have. This is called follow-up. It is essential to establishing a relationship with your new customer, and the gateway to future opportunities with the customer, should their needs change.

Cost of Door-to-Door Lead Gen

There are two types of leads in any organization:

1. Inbound leads: Any potential customers that you have as a result of marketing efforts (leads that find you through marketing material).

2. Outbound leads: Any potential customer that you have as a result of you contacting them (lead that you find).

How a sales rep handles an inbound lead is different than how he or she would handle an outbound lead. Whether a lead is inbound or outbound indicates where the lead is in the selling cycle.

Inbound leads are likely past information seeking. They are now determining who has the highest quality product or service for the best value. A sales rep would want to concentrate on building a relationship with an inbound lead.

Outbound leads are likely not information seeking. They were not planning on purchasing your product or service and might not have even been aware that your product or service existed. A sales rep would want to have a comprehensive and systematic follow-up process with outbound leads that establishes need and then follows up with solutions to the need that have benefits for the prospect.

If you handle all leads the same way, you miss the opportunity to help the lead from wherever they are in their buying process. This system leads to lost sales, which in turn drives up your cost per lead.

Many lead management software systems allow you to create a custom field to indicate which type of lead the sales rep has so they can prepare appropriately.

Traits of a Successful Door-to-Door Sales Professional

Like all sales professions, specific traits will help a door-to-door sales person achieve success. We have identified a few core skills and personality traits that most successful professionals share:

1. They know their product inside and out. To share the appropriate features and benefits, or even to establish need, the sales rep must have mastered product knowledge.  

2. They provide value to the customer with their expertise. Customers are more educated than ever before with the resources available to them online.  If the sales rep only tells them what they already know, they are not providing any value. HubSpot recommends that D2D sales professionals educate the prospect on what they can’t discover on their own, and thereby add value to the future customer’s experience in the sales process.

3. They build rapport with people they just met. The most successful sales professional in D2D sales (and otherwise) are people that have excellent emotional intelligence and are skillful in the art of finding connections with other people. Some people have these skills naturally and don’t have to think about it; others have to research a prospect to find common ground.  However they do it, the ability to build rapport is a critical skillset in the D2D profession.

4. They understand how to ask questions that qualify prospects. The best ask questions that reveal pain points the prospect feels. By using open-ended questions to gather information and using close-ended probes to establish needs, they uncover how their product or service can help solve the prospect’s problems or answer their needs.

5. They are expert listeners. Once they ask questions, they let the prospect answer and actively listen. If you’re always talking, you are not hearing what the potential customer is saying that will get you closer to yes.  

6. They are excellent at WIFMCommunicating the benefits a prospect will enjoy after their purchase is essential to getting to a yes. WIFM stands for, “What’s In It For Me?” The ability to provide the appropriate benefit of your product or service to answer the needs uncovered in the questioning and listening phase is crucial.

7. They know how to establish expectations for the call. It’s vital for the sales rep to help the prospect feel comfortable with the interaction. The most successful salespeople explain to the prospect what will happen next. suggest creating a Buyer-Seller Agreement, which is a verbal agreement that outlines what will happen next in the call. This makes the lead more comfortable.

8. They outline the purchasing process well. Honesty is key to building trust. Sales reps that explain what the prospect will experience before, during, and after the sale will be successful at establishing that trust—if they tell prospects the truth. HubSpot warns sales professionals not to play fast and loose with the features and benefits, or the possibility of adding a feature or benefit unless they know for a fact they can. If they are unable or unwilling to follow through, it damages the trust and ruins the relationship (and potential for future sales) with the customer.

9. They are strategic about prospecting and manage their time well. Smart prospecting can help establish a better lead stockpile. Whether that means calling on current customers and looking for referrals or reviving lost opportunities, suggests the most successful D2D sales reps are strategic in their efforts. Also, the most successful in D2D sales manage their time well, meaning they focus their efforts on the most likely candidates and recognize when a deal isn’t going anywhere.

10. They have a few ways to close. Knowing how and when to close is a critical skill for all sales reps, especially in the D2D sales environment. Not all customers are the same, and neither are your prospects. When you are presenting and handling objections, you should also be thinking of how you will ask for the order.

11 Door-to-Door Sales Tips & Techniques to Crush Sales Quota

Master the product.

Why is this important?

Excellent product knowledge is paramount to your success. After all, you can’t sell what you don’t understand.

Actionable Tip:

Focus in your training on how to explain the features and benefits to someone who knows nothing about your product. Ask a friend or family member to listen to a demonstration. Then ask what questions they have or if they have feedback on your presentation.

Prospect smarter.

Why is this important?

Qualified prospects are the best prospects that will lead to more revenue for your company’s (and your) bottom line. By finding the fastest ways to identify qualified prospects, you shorten the selling cycle and close more sales. Additionally, by having a solid lead qualification process in place, you can  sell with confidence knowing you’re not wasting valuable time pitching to an opportunity that’s a poor fit.

Actionable Tip:

Asking your satisfied customers for referrals is a fantastic way to get qualified prospects. Not only will a satisfied customer want to help you, but they are also likely to refer you to someone they know needs your product or service because they don’t want to irritate their contacts with a pointless sales call. This tactic might also work with people you are working with currently or recently interacted with, even if the outcome is still uncertain or was not a sale.

Find the pain.

Why is this important?

When the pain of change is less than the pain of the status quo, prospects will invest in solutions. Sometimes a prospect might have become accustomed to a pain point in their current situation; bringing it to the fore and reigniting its effects can help move a prospect forward in the sales cycle.

Actionable Tip:

Asking questions about common issues your product or service solves (and you know are prevalent in your prospect’s experience) is a way to uncover the pain. Asking how those challenges affect something that is important to the prospect, like their productivity, their time resources, or their profits, will get them to think about the importance of resolving the issue.

Employing the Sandler Selling method here would be ideal because this technique is built around selling to a prospects pain points.

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Watch for body language.

Why is this important?

People communicate with far more than their words. Recognizing and understanding the visual cues that people give you can tell you a lot about what they think of your product or service—even if their words say something else.

Actionable Tip: recommends knowing your pitch so well that you can give it while simultaneously assessing the signals your prospect is giving you. Reading facial expression, body position, and even breathing patterns can give you information about whether you cold-call is giving you the cold shoulder or warming up to your suggestions.

93% of people’s judgment of others are based on non-verbal inputs like sales body language.

Pitch perfect.

Why is this important?

People form impressions of you fast. Some experts estimate that you make an impression that lasts in only 10 seconds.  So, you need to communicate what you are selling and your best information, quickly.

Actionable Tip:

The perfect pitch is comprised of four parts: introduction, questions, present, and close. In other words, you should have mastered the four parts of the pitch before you even stepped out of your car. First, introduce yourself and your product while making eye contact and smiling. Then, ask questions to qualify the prospect, preferably with open-ended probes that get the prospect to do the talking. Present your product with the pertinent information first and keeping it short. Finally, ask for the business.

Realize the “no” faster.

Why is this important?

D2D sales is a numbers game, which makes time a vital resource for you. There is a lot of rejection involved. Some people are upfront about it, but many people are too polite. Polite people will let you pitch even when they have no intention of buying, which only takes up time you could be spending with someone who is interested. It’s better to get the no over with than to waste their time (and yours) being nice.

Actionable Tip: says that you should make people comfortable saying no. In other words, give them an out if they are just being polite.

Example: “If at any point you feel the product I’m selling is of no value to you, please don’t hesitate to tell me so. You won’t hurt my feelings and I don’t want to waste anyone’s time.”

If you have a product with you, you could show it, presenting it to them as a solution to their problem. Then you could ask them if they think your product is something that might help them or not. Not only will it allow them to politely decline earlier in the sales call, but it might also encourage them to look more closely at what you are offering rather than secretly plotting their escape from your pitch (politely, of course).

Craft a sales script.

Why is this important?

Knowing what you are going to say and what you need to find out will help a lot when you are making cold calls. In addition, it will help you seem eloquent and knowledgeable, which are important traits in a d2d sales success. Furthermore, it will help you stay on track and calm in a sales call that you are trying to move forward.

Actionable Tip:

Ensure that you take notes about your calls as you work. Over time, you can learn what qualified leads had in common. The script should include basic details, like the introduction and the pitch, but it should also have questions you use to qualify leads. By putting together a script you use as a road map, you can navigate the sales call and quickly eliminate those calls that are not going to buy while finding the best possibilities for a sale.

Learn how to handle objections.

Why is this important?

Objections are the reasons prospects have for not buying your product. In a D2D sales situation, these reasons might also be a way to put off a yes. It is your job to determine if the objection is really a no or just an obstacle to your next yes.

Actionable Tip:

Use the LAER model. LAER is an objection-handling concept created by Carew International (a leading provider of sales training, leadership development and customer service programs). LAER stands for Listen, Acknowledge, Explore and Respond. In other words, pay attention to their objection, accept that you understand it can be a problem, ask them why they feel they way they do, then reply to their feelings with empathy and an explanation that might convince them otherwise.

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Focus on process.

Why is this important?

Sales is all about results. However, if you only focus on getting results, you are setting yourself up for a difficult journey. Many things about d2d sales success are not in your control. Your best bet to be successful anyway is to maximize the benefits of working on the things you can control. Things like your attitude and your responses are within your control. Promotions and territories you work are not. Keep working through the process rather than the getting the sale will bring you the results you need.  

Actionable Tip: suggests that focusing on what you can control is the best way to work your process. Concentrate on working efficiently, introducing yourself clearly, delivering effective presentations, and handling objections well will help you get the results you want.

Know your numbers, and track everything.

Why is this important?

Just like your process is crucial to your success, understanding your areas of opportunity are also. It is essential to record your activity and results, so you can identify these areas. The sooner you address a problem in your sales process, the quicker you will get the results you need. However, if you don’t know what’s wrong, it will likely just get worse.

Actionable Tip: says that keeping a record of daily activity that includes how many calls you had, people you talked to, demos you performed, and units you sold. Then analyze your results. For example, if you didn’t talk to enough decision makers, you probably called on them at the wrong time. If you didn’t sell a lot, maybe your demo needs work. Once you identify what the trouble is, you can fix it.

Always follow up.

Why is this important?

In D2D sales, you just met the person. They likely need time to make a decision. You should follow-up later now that they know you, so you can establish a relationship and move the sales process forward to a win-win conclusion.  

Actionable Tip: advises door-to-door sales professionals to set aside time to canvass and then time to return for call backs. Keep an appointment app or book available so you can organize and optimize your call back schedule by neighborhood or business type. Also, whenever possible gather information like an email address so you can send a note and add them to any automatic follow-up software you might employ as well.  

Canvassing Techniques

Canvassing is a skill as much as it is an activity. There are many things that the best door-to-door salesmen and women can do to improve their results.

Technique Tip #1: Gather prospect data for the follow up process.

First, sales reps should see canvassing as a time to meet potential customers, uncover needs, present products and make sales. However, they can also collect lead data for their follow-up process.

The follow-up process is key because many prospects might be highly qualified for your product or service, but not ready to buy right now. If you have their contact information, you can stay in touch in case things change later.

Most people are do not want to give you their email address for fear of getting spammed. However, if you offer them something for free that they can use, they might be more willing to give you the information. A free eBook for example that has industry insight or helpful advice for homeowners might be worth it to a prospect to surrender their email to you.

With that email, you can systemize and automate an email campaign that stays in contact with the prospect. If the potential customer’s circumstances change and he or she wants your products and service, your prospect will have an easy way to get in touch with you.

Technique Tip #2: Schedule an Appointment

During the initial conversation, the sales rep should have a feel for where the prospect is in the buying process. If they sense that more time is needed, they should switch gears to set an appointment rather than making a sale.

Selling an appointment is important to increase the likelihood that the appointment is kept. Polite prospects might make an appointment just to give the D2D sales professional a win at the moment only to cancel it later.

When the rep explains the benefits to the prospect for attending the appointment, the prospect will be more likely to keep the appointment. This technique will allow your sales reps to do more presentations, which has potential for more sales.

There are three critical steps to scheduling an appointment that will stick:

1. Present at least three benefits to the prospect for attending the meeting.
2. Ask for the appointment at a specific time and confirm the date and time with the prospect.
3. Give the prospect an appointment reminder card and ask them to write down the date and time.

Technique Tip #3: Be ready for what happens next.

Whether the answer is yes or no, you need to be prepared for what you want next. Bungle this moment and you could lose the whole prospect.

If the answer is yes, then you should be ready with the sales agreement or appointment scheduler, depending on the type of yes you are handling.

If the answer is no, then you should have a fall back request. For example, recommends leaving collateral with a request to forward it to another contact that might be in need of your product or service.

The important thing here is to have a positive interaction with the prospect to keep the door open for follow-up later.  You might not have a yes today, but that does not mean you could not have one in the future.

Technique Tip #4: Be organized in your efforts.

It is a significant advantage to your success if you have planned ahead and optimized your canvassing efforts. Software programs can help you plot a route and map out a territory you are targeting with your canvassing efforts.

SPOTIO has a Route Planning function to help you create the path for your canvassing route. When you have an efficient route, you get more out of your day and more chances for results.

Technique Tip #5: Always leave behind collateral.

Leaving behind a brochure, card, or door hanger is an excellent way to build awareness about your presence and brand. They not only alert the prospect that you were there, but it might get them thinking about your product or service.

Always leave the collateral before you knock on the door. That way if the prospect answers the door, they will have a reminder of your visit after you are gone. If the prospect isn’t home, then he or she will know you were there.

When you follow up, the collateral might help introduce you and your product. It creates a great opener for you when you meet a prospect for the first time or come back for a call back appointment.

How to Recruit a High-Performing Door-to-Door Sales Team

Recruiting the right people for the job is a significant concern when you rely on canvassing for lead generation for your organization. If you hire the right people, it’s smooth sailing. If you do not, it can mean rough waters are ahead for your canvassing efforts.

One of the first things you should do when hiring a D2D sales team is to know who your ideal candidate is. What traits are you looking for and what kind of skill sets do you require?

You should also decide early if you want experienced D2D sales professionals or candidates that are new it. Experienced canvassers can get right to work and start delivering leads, but they might have a style of some bad habits that you do not want. New canvassers might be slower to start and get results, but you have the opportunity to train them exactly how you want them to do it.

We recommend at least three and as many as five ideal candidate profiles for your recruiting. While it will require a time commitment on the front end of a couple of hours, it will save you even more time in pointless screenings and interviews later.

You can find canvassing candidates online. Craigslist is a great resource for finding able-bodied candidates that fit one of your profiles. Another option is SearchTempest, a site that is a classified ad search engine. Other sites could be Indeed,, and social media sites such as LinkedIn or Facebook.

One employer used to recruit sports teams for canvassing. He would post signs around schools that offered to train high-school aged kids how to participate in door-to-door sales to raise money for travel. More options could be to recruit at community colleges or using yard signs.

Job Description

Your job description should reach out to the right candidates with the right benefits for the candidates. A generic job description will only yield generic candidates. An example could be:

Another example could be:

We have a great sales organization that will teach you everything you need to know about sales. We seek two new candidates for our team. We want to invest in you, so you can produce for us.

We have sales reps that consistently make over $750 per week.

But some make even more. Could you be one them?

If you want to bring an open mind and a positive attitude to us, we will give you all the tools you need to join and thrive on our experienced and successful team. Best of all, you don’t have to know what to do because we will show you.

If you want a job, then don’t call us. But if you want a career in sales with room to advance, give us a call today.

Interview Questions You Must Ask Your Door-to-Door Sales Professionals

Once you have the proper candidates responding to your ads, it is time for you to screen for the best of the bunch. Asking proper questions will qualify your candidates, much like they will do with their prospects. The crucial bit to remember is that you are trying to suss out those candidates that fit your profile of the ideal d2d salesman or woman.

Some examples of great questions could be:

– What do you do for fun?
– What motivates you and why?
– Where have you worked before and what did you like best and least about it?
– What programs do you like to watch on TV and why?
– Would you please describe for me a typical day for you on your last job?
– Can you please share an example of when you convinced someone to do something they were not interested in doing at the time?
– How do you set goals and hold yourself accountable to them?
– What do you want to be doing a year from now? Three? Five?
– Who was your best boss so far and what did you learn from him or her?
– What is the best thing you ever learned in a work training session that you still use today?
– How do you deal with rejection?
– How do you celebrate success?

3 Door-to-Door Sales Compensation Models

Many commission structure options exist for door-to-door to sales reps. All of them share the idea that when you hit your targets, you make more money.

From Commission-only to gross margin to tiered commission, how you earn is a vital part of the job you should understand.

Here are a few of the most common compensation models with pros and cons for each:

Commission Only

What it is: This compensation model does not have a salary. The earnings of the D2D sales professional are variable and dependent upon their ability to close. It is typically a 1099 arrangement, meaning that the sales reps are independent contractors.

Pros: This payment system is best for people that are self-motivated and eager to sell; these people can see sales as a career rather than just a job.

Cons: It can be tougher for people without as much experience as it can take some time to earn enough salary in the beginning; it can lead to high turnover and a negative company culture.

Gross Margin

What it is: While it may or may not have a base salary, a gross margin commission structure pays the D2D sales rep on the amount of profit a sale generates. For example, if the deal is for $1,000, but the cost associated with the sale are $300, then the rep earns commission on $1,000 minus $300, or $700 gross margin. Many organizations that employ this structure believe that all sales should be profitable for the company, and therefore pay less on those sales that have lower margin associated with them.

Pros: The sales rep earns more on sales with higher margins, so they concentrate on higher sales amounts, which will result in more commission.

Cons: Since the sales rep cannot control the costs associated with the order, they can get frustrated by lower commissions than they were expecting, which can result in more turnover.

Tiered Commission

What it is: When a company uses the tiered-commission style of compensation, they pay more commission on sales that occur after a certain level. For example, the sales rep might earn 5% commission on all sales up to $10,000 in a given period, but then earn an additional 3% on any sales over that amount for a total of 8% commission.

Pros: This commission structure benefits those sales reps who have already met their quotas to never stop closing. (In other systems, sales reps might sandbag orders to the following month once they hit their goal, which isn’t best for the company.)

Cons: Sales reps who aren’t going to get much higher than their goal one month might hold orders to the following month to maximize the commission amount they earn by blowing out the next quota (which also isn’t the best thing for the company).

Popular Door-to-Door Sales Industries

Many industries employ a door-to-door sales force. The breadth of the door-to-door sales industry spans a number of niches. Some of the most prominent include the following:

Solar Energy

The residential rooftop solar sales are part of the Solar Energy industry where homeowners agree to have solar panels installed to harness the energy of the sun.

Door-to-door sales works well in the industry because it is a consultative sales process for a complicated product that works best in a one-on-one, in-home consultation.  


Roofing is a traditional industry for door-to-door sales where the sales rep is presenting the features and benefits of a new roof to homeowners.

Door-to-door sales works well in the industry because the sales rep has access to the homeowner, the decision-maker and roofs need replacing from time to time.

Home Improvement

Home improvement D2D sales professionals demonstrate how homeowners can upgrade or maintain their homes.

Door-to-door sales works well in the industry because the sales rep is talking to the people who will make the decision with nearly every contact; they know which leads are viable within minutes.


Alarms and security systems that protect a homeowners property are another industry with a history of D2D canvassing efforts.

Alarms and security systems are a homeowner-focused target, so contacting homeowners is key to its success.


Telecommunications services has been successful in canvassing efforts because it is a product always in demand, and can be switched from a current provider, no matter what door opens.

Like the other industries mentioned, the homeowners are the decision makers and are easy to qualify quickly and accurately.

The Ultimate Door-to-Door Sales Toolset

The door-to-door sales reps’ sales stack you use is a crucial part of success in this type of sales. Both sales reps and managers need the right set of tools to succeed in d2d sales.


Tool #1 Route Planner

Route planner gives you route efficiency, so you are in the best possible area to talk to people about your product or service. Also, the mileage tracking feature helps you stay on top of your expenses.

Having a strategic approach to canvassing will boost your productivity, allowing you to concentrate on areas that are more likely to have a need that fits with your product or service’s features and benefits.

Tool #2 Lead Machine

  • Lead management software allows you to capture the potential customers’ data and any other specific details pertinent to the sales cycle quickly and easily.
  • This information is crucial to your follow-up efforts for both productivity and closing sales.

Tool #3 Appointment Setting

You need technology that makes it easy to schedule appointments as canvassing efforts are all about scheduling demonstration opportunities. Our Appointment Setting features make it easy to see your schedule, as well as any other team members.  

Having a calendar feature built-in to your technology allows you to lock the appointment down in the moment.

Managers’ Sales Stack

Tool #1: Territory Management

Territory management software allows you to determine strategic territories for your sales reps to cover.

A strategic territory maximizes your team’s contact rate and allows the sales reps to spend more time talking with potential customers.

Tool #2: Sales Leaderboards

Sales Leaderboard tools track the success for your reps on a variety of metrics that measure performance against their peers.

Sales leaderboards encourage healthy competition between reps and boost engagement in contests and other metrics you use to motivate team members.

Tool #3: Rep Tracking

Rep tracking tools allow you to ensure that your reps are where they say they are in real-time. While it can help verify reports, it also can help pinpoint data about the area and its potential for your company.

When managers can track their rep’s activities, they can improve efficiency and ensure that the activities their sales reps engage in are the types that lead to more success.

Costly Door-to-door Marketing Mistakes

Canvassing has things that work and things that don’t. Learn from other people’s experiences and help yourself by avoiding these 7 common mistakes made by canvassing programs that have come before yours:

Not having a lead management software in place: If you don’t track every attempt to measure your success rate, the cost of canvassing won’t make sense with today’s competitive landscape.

Not having processes in place to track follow ups: Not following up costs you. You lose all the investment in your canvassing efforts when qualified leads slip through the cracks.

Not having training and on-boarding processes in place: You must invest in your sales reps, so they can produce new opportunities for you as quickly as possible. Having an efficiency when you bring in a new D2D sales professional helps you get to productivity faster.

Not training sales reps to work inbound vs outbound leads: The leads have different motivations. Ignoring that could mean mishandling a potential sale—and losing them to the competition.

Not having a process to follow up by phone and email: There are a number of reasons why a prospect might not be interested on the first attempt. By following up later, you miss out on opportunities whose circumstances have changed.

Not having email drip and lead nurturing campaigns: When you neglect to implement an automated lead development campaign, you miss out on collecting data and reduce the numbers of potential buyers you could contact.

Not collecting homeowner information at the door: It is crucial to get the information for any potential follow-up. It is never a complete no when you have an email address.

Ready. Set. Sell.

And there you have it. Everything you need to know about door-to-door sales to be successful at doing it, managing it, and implementing it.

Door-to-door sales is an excellent way to develop new leads and it’s vital for you to approach it with talent, strategy, and the right tools.

Door-to-door sales isn’t for everybody or for every type of business. But if you have the right combination of opportunity and talent, you can use it to take your business development efforts to a new level, with opportunities knocking on your door for a change.

A Complete Marketing Playbook to Drive Company Growth

Essential Mindsets, Tools, and Strategies in Nine Steps

1.Definition of Growth Marketing

The key defining components of growth marketing or growth hacking are:

  • Fast and consistent experimentation across the customer journey to find the best growth options
  • Rigorous data analytics around user experiences to understand what’s working and what’s not
  • A step-by-step process rather than a one-size-fits-all framework

Since the 2008 experimentation of Dropbox with growth marketing, other startups and businesses have adopted and innovated similar methodologies to hone in on rapid growth. Even recently, growth marketers have been coined as the new innovators of digital marketing.

Today marketers have fewer resources, and with the proliferation of content development tools and mass digital media, they need to work faster, leaner, and smarter while delivering better results.

The content of this article is originally published on The Complete Growth Marketing Playbook by Nima Torabi.

Success factors for growth marketing

There are four key success factors for growth marketing:

  • “Marketing + Product” not “Marketing vs. Product:” Rather than have marketing and product teams working in silos, in growth marketing, they need to collaborate interdependently as cross-functional teams.
  • Rapid testing: Growth Marketers follow a rigid testing process that assesses use behavior across all the touch-points of the customer journey utilizing MVP’s and customer feedback loops.
  • Analytics: Growth Marketers develop, measure, and adhere to metrics. Always aiming for a North Star.
  • Grit: Growth Marketers accept that they will fail, but every failure will lead to an eventual success story if they keep pushing forward, as a team.

The mindset

In essence, growth marketers must love to compete and fail big. They need to possess the following characteristics, attributes, and approaches:

  • Be bold, confident, passionate and courageous
  • Set big goals, be hungry
  • Remove complexities and simplify ideas, objectives, and tasks
  • Work in small teams
  • Use little documentation or make collaboration mainstream and simple
  • Hold short and small numbers of meetings
  • Centralize communication and ease review processes
  • Allow autonomous decision making to individuals, or hand the final word to at most one person
  • Move fast, iterate and fix things on the go
  • Aren’t perfectionists
  • Always growing the team’s skills and competencies; they find knowledge gaps and cross-train members internally
  • They forget growth myths and shortcuts (e.g. DropboxAirBnB, or HotMail). These stories are about the outliers of the world.
  • They embrace failures, as they will lead to success
  • They are always at the drawing board, sketching, ideating, testing and contemplating
  • They think quantitatively rather qualitatively, data wins arguments
  • They inspire team members and are inspired by them
  • They enjoy their journey, study it, learn from it and grow with it

II. Elements of Growth

Stick to the iterative idea testing process

As a team, growth marketers need to discover growth opportunities by:

  • Building cross-functional growth teams with members from every domain of the business that can create ideas and execute on them
  • Identifying North Stars, developing OKRs and building tracking tools
  • Generating bold strategies that could potentially achieve ambitious goals
  • Managing projects effectively with Project Management tools
  • Acting quick in testing ideas in action
  • Collecting performance data, bench-marking against objectives, and adjusting accordingly

This is the growth marketing cycle that keeps repeating itself and tightening grip on what is working and what’s not.

Tip 1: Network internally: Make sure to gain internal stakeholder buy-in since your decision could impact all other areas of the business as you experiment across the entire customer journey touch-points.

Tip 2: Manage change: Consider your organizational culture if you are building a growth marketing team inside a traditional or established company; not everyone is welcoming to change, especially rapid or major ones. Build rapport gradually and through success stories.

Growth marketing teams

In general, a growth team may include:

  • Product managers to manage the road-map of experiments
  • Engineers to implement the idea to be tested
  • Marketers who hold expertise in a particular channel or aspect of the marketing funnel
  • Analysts to gather all the insights and report on experiment results, and
  • Designers to generate any visual items necessary for the experiment.

However, not all teams carry all the members; a growth team can be assembled based on the problem that it’s trying to solve. A growth team can try to change or enhance user experience across the customer journey which might need a full-team or only improve conversions of a specific channel such as SEO, requiring a small team of marketers and product engineers.

Know and describe your customers

Don’t pursue the wrong audience. Before starting a growth endeavor, outline the type of customers you’ll be targeting by creating descriptive personas. If you’ve got an existing customer base, conduct surveys and mine your data from patterns and if you’re just starting out make as a startup, make educated assumptions. Consider these steps:

  • Picture at least three different types of customers for your product
  • Describe each person at a broad level such as age, education, income level, and sex and gradually become more specific by diving into their careers, professions, lifestyles, degree of tech-savviness, amount of time spent online, level of happiness in life, types of hobbies, etc.
  • Build rough descriptive biographies for your personas, this will come in handy when you are pitching to investors. You can tell stories that resonate with them.
  • Start imagining their day-to-day life, what motivates, what would get them to use your offering, and how you’ll need to communicate with them to promote yourself.

As you collect data you, fine-tune and align your personas with your findings. Gradually, as the pieces to your puzzle increase, you can build a better product offering and position your service better in the customer’s mind.

Understand your customers’ needs and wants

Customer development is perhaps the most important and challenging part of growth. All growth efforts will be lost if customers do not want your offering, otherwise known as finding product-market fit.

If you are launching a new product you’ll have to trust your market research data but note that what you hear or see from samples, will not correlate to the market at large and you will need to fine-tune your offering after launching the service.

And if you already have a product in the market and are expanding, survey your existing customers and keep track of your Net Promoter Score (NPS) across the customer development milestones to make sure you are delivering a desirable offering.

III. Forming a Strategy

Finding and Homing in on the North Star metric

Growth is exciting and dynamic, but this excitement could also lead to distracted focus and diminished productivity. Maintain focus by using your North Star metric, a measurable and meaningful metric that all growth efforts revolve around it.

The North Star is different for every business and can be hard to pick because it needs to correlate with an immediate and apparent set of actionable steps. For example, “make more money” is too vague, you can make more money by reducing costs, increasing prices, growing new business lines and etc. If you want to “make more money,” identify your core strengths and guide your North Start towards those strengths. For example, increasing basket size would be the North Star for an e-commerce platform aiming to grow.

Your North Star metric does not have to be connected to revenue. It’s what the growth team needs to accomplish to get to the next step in growth and it can change over time as business dynamics shift or change. So take time to develop and share your North Star metric. Collect ideas from other individuals at your company, compile ideas, brainstorm collaboratively and pick the one that resonates with where your business needs.

Harness OKRs (Objectives & Key Results)

When you have your North Star in place, align teams and divisions by monitoring progress by implementing OKRs:

  • Set qualitative and quarterly objectives (the Os)
  • Develop quantitative key results (the KRs)
  • Usually, limit key results to three (the KRs)

Remember to use SMART OKRs to stretch your team’s performance. Commit to your goals, to your team, and to reviewing them weekly. Aim to have short weekly meetings at the beginning of the week, review expectations as a team and send weekly reports of performance and achievements of OKRs at the end of the week, indicating team achievements or shortcomings. Then, on a quarterly basis, hold long team meetings to evaluate performance by using comprehensive business analytics and plan to solve major lags for the next quarter or move to new OKRs.

Developing OKRs

If you are part of a large organization, get stakeholder buy-in for your North Star and OKRs. Follow these steps and suggestions:

  • Meet with people, elaborate on your position and schedule a meeting with the key functional representatives. Include the CEO and members of the executive team.
  • Run a company-wide survey with the following question and distill the results down to what you see as the best, most relevant and most popular ideas: What would you like to see the company set as our objective for next quarter?
  • Take these ideas to meetings for further discussions. Develop a strategy to run a successful meeting. Read this article on how to run your meetings by Christina Wodtke
  • Assign metrics to objectives as a team, collectively and through voting
  • For each objective, your goal is to find three Key Results: 1. a usage metric, 2. a revenue metric, and 3. a satisfaction metric
  • Assign numbers that are stretch goals, a good stretch goal is one that you feel 50% confident that you can achieve. Goals need to be challenging.
  • Get everyone’s confirmation on the next quarter’s objectives, metrics, and goals, and then announce them across the organization. Use this worksheet as a guideline.

Take a lean approach towards marketing efforts

Organize all of your relevant marketing information using “The Lean Canvas.” The Lean Canvas forces you to think about key questions and how to deploy solutions as a growth marketer. Refresh your understanding of the business as it rapidly evolves on this canvass to stay on top of changes, align with team members, and formulate new ideas and strategies. The Lean Canvas is your up to date map of where the business is and where it’s aiming to go. Do not use complex business plans, keep it simple.

Lean Canvas Intro — Uber example: This is a step-by-step guide to the lean canvas, a tool to validate your startup business model from the ground up.

IV. Implement the Marketing Foundations

The digital marketing funnel and the customer journey

If you search for the “Digital Marketing Funnel” online, you can find that there are plenty of debates on the nomenclature of the stages in a funnel, but the below are generally the essential segments:

  • Awareness: of the problem and the solution
  • Interest: customers begins to explore the offerings available to them
  • Consideration: prospect wants to make a purchase but it may or may not be with your brand
  • Action: to purchase (or not)
  • Loyalty, or advocacy: after sales, repeated purchase or usage

The marketing funnel represents a customer’s journey as they move towards the purchase of your product or service. A growth marketer’s goal is to funnel prospects into buyers, moving them from the top to the bottom of the funnel. But no customer journey is usually this linear. Just imagine something you bought recently. Each interaction from identifying that you needed to buy something to completing that purchase at the local store had you move through each stage of the funnel, even backward, contemplating and interacting with touch-points on many instances.

Growth marketing aims to identify what touch-points are the most influential in converting customers closer to a purchase and creating loyalty and referrals, in turn pushing more people into the funnel. The more marketers understand the customer journey and how it connects to pushing a consumer down the path to purchase, the more influence they will have on their decisions and growth.

Mapping the customer decision journey

A successful growth plan needs to identify all opportunities by considering the customer journey inside and outside the product. The growth marketer needs to map the necessary touch-points to convert a customer.

  • Start with the relative path that outlines the most common paths a customer can take through your funnel
  • From there, layer in more and more information as you optimize each journey. Develop this into a map as you move along
  • The more detailed your map becomes, the easier it will be to pinpoint problems in conversions across your marketing funnel

In other words, this map can help you “hack” your customer growth by identifying pain-points and a wider exploration of potential solutions.

V. Utilizing Growth Levers and Loops

One of the biggest desires in growth marketing is to use the smallest resources to generate the biggest results. That is why growth teams are kept small, filled with the best of talents, given a finite amount of resources, and fueled with the desire to achieve great results.

After the North Star, OKRs, and customer journey are mapped, that is when the team moves into experimenting with ideas, pulling onto a different set of levers that can influence customer decisions.

The Pirate Metrics growth levers

Pirate Metrics — by Dave McClure

For an effective strategy, use the Pirate Metrics, breaking your business into individual building blocks, making it easier to know where you can stimulate the biggest impact. These categories will serve almost any business. When you know what lever you need to use, you can sort out the ideas that will then trigger that growth lever.

Here is how you can go thinking about the growth levers:

  • Acquisition: exclusivity, meeting customers at their exact time of need, promotional time box, discounts, etc.
  • Activation: increase customer support, improve user interface, e-mail drip campaigns, etc.
  • Retention: send alerts as reminders, introduce a new feature, loyalty programs, etc.
  • Revenue: add related products at the bottom of the checkout page, add another product tier, reduce overall overheads and expenses, etc.
  • Referral: monetary incentives for referring friends, e.g. Uber’s is the most effective to mind, generate social media buzz or mentions, etc.

Identifying which levers you should pull comes through a deep analysis of your data while considering the lens of that objective that you’re after, developing insights about the growth pains, forming hypotheses about solutions and experimenting with rigor until the problem is cracked.

Growth loops

Growth marketers dream of processes that fuel growth through viral loops, self-growing repeatable engines that need little marketing investments. A loop is the steps a user goes through before inviting new users into the process. Let’s consider YouTube as an example:

  • You watch a piece of content and in the end, you’ll find a prominent button to share it or more content that you can engage with. You may continue down the process of clicking into those recommended videos, consuming more and more content until eventually, you resonate with a piece of content and click share. At that moment, you’ve invited someone else to join this loop. This is called the on-ramp, the opportunity for more people to join this loop creating a viral effect. As more come down the on-ramp, they participate in the loop, continuing to further fuel growth.

To be effective, a growth loop must contain an explicit incentive for a user to pass it on. For YouTube, the incentive is likely to evoke entertainment or joy with others. Dropbox starts you out with a limited amount of free space, but your storage will increase for each user that you invite. And as you invite more users, they too get on-boarded on the ramp and receive exposure to this growth loop.

Loops can be directwith an immediate effect such as an invite to join or they can be indirect such as when you incentivize users to leave reviews, or create content for SEO purposes, or pay them for a referral.

VI. The Product Life Cycle

Always account for your product life cycle

All successful products go through the product life cycle; development, introduction, growth, maturity, and decline. It’s important to know this life cycle because your role and your goals in growth marketing change depending on which phase your product is in. Understanding the life cycle you’re in and what’s ahead is important. Having a short term or tunnel vision on a particular phase may lead you to marketing decisions that hurt the next stage of your life cycle.

  • Development: create the product and prepare to release into the market
  • Introduction: launch, increase awareness, build a brand identity, and penetrate the market
  • Growth: if the product receives favorable consumer reactions then it will grow. This is the stage where growth marketing is utilized to the fullest. Here,

marketers need to increase consumer adoption and build brand preference and market share.

  • Maturity: aggressive growth is no longer possible and marketing is now focused on maintaining market share, creating defensive competitive strategies, building reputation, and finding opportunities to maintain or increase revenue.
  • Decline: inevitably, a product loses desirability, companies make decisions to improve its features, discontinue it, or pivot. A successful move could move the product back to an earlier stage.

Target users with the technology adoption curve

Just as your product goes through a life cycle, so do your customers. The technology adoption life cycle describes the adoption or acceptance of a new product broken down by the demographics and psychological traits of user groups. Essentially, different types of people use your product at each of its various stages. This model shows the types of groups that will use your product over time, in line with that of the product life cycle.

  • Innovators: the very first customers to try a product; high willingness to take risks
  • Early adopters: tend to be thought leaders have financial liquidity and higher levels of education
  • Early majority: is more risk averse, tend to be conservative with spending, usually follow the opinions of though leaders or influencers, generally young, and this makes up the largest consumer that can make or break a company and create lasting demand side networks effects
  • Late majority: the second largest consumer group, are skeptics and very risk averse. They’ll have limited financial liquidity and be less educated.
  • Laggards: the last to adopt an innovation. Laggards don’t like to stray from tradition and are among the oldest of the adopters

Using the product life cycle

At the core of growth marketing, is maintaining the culture of constant and creative experimentation while accounting for the changes in the business environment. Let’s look at our motivations for growth in each stage of the product life cycle:

  • During the development phase, the focus is to figure out what the market wants. Here, you’re researching the competition, understanding the users, and determining what your product must have in order to be successful at launch. You want to do everything you can to get the product right. You must have sufficient features to satisfy your innovators and your early adopters. You won’t be able to satisfy the entire, so narrow your focus to resonate with these consumer groups.
  • In the introduction phase, demand is not yet proven. You’re working to validate that what you built, resonates with the early adopters in your target market. At this stage, you want to focus on testing around retention and consumer satisfaction. Once you’ve determined that customers are responding favorably, and you’ve deployed growth techniques that keep them engaged, you push forward with your marketing to generate awareness and a foothold in the market.
  • When your product has generated awareness and you have an increase in consumer demand, you move into your growth phase. Throughout this phase, you’ll be deploying various marketing strategies to significantly increase your growth curve. And this is traditionally where growth marketing finds its stride.
  • As you shift to maturity, your focus is to defend your turf, prolong your product life cycle, and maintain brand preference while at the same time trying to keep your price at a competitive point that maintains profitability. Here, you’ll spend a lot more time looking at new opportunities to revive your core consumer or how to grow or innovate your pricing models.
  • Decline, you’re in the end stage and will witness a decline in sales and profits. Consumers get bored, technology evolves, companies make mistakes and people’s preferences change.

So, know where you are in the cycle and invest appropriately into growth.

Evaluating product market fit

Product market fit is when your product satisfies the market. It’s probably not profitable, but the consumer wants it. Product market fit is about finding those customers who are desperate for what you have. If you don’t achieve this fit, you’ll never unlock growth.

It’s okay if you don’t quite have a product market fit yet. Most products go through many iterations before finding the fit that just clicks. But you must constantly be seeking it. Until you achieve product market fit, you’ll really remain in the introduction phase of the product life cycle until growth is unlocked.

You’ll see plenty of clues that product market fit isn’t happening:

  • Customers won’t quite understand the product or see its full value
  • Word of mouth just isn’t spreading
  • Reviews might be sparse or mediocre
  • You’ll experience a long sales cycle
  • Customer acquisition costs that are very high

On the other side, you know when product market fit is happening:

  • Your growth curve seems to be taking off
  • Money is coming in
  • Deals are a breeze to close
  • Customers are coming in from outside the campaigns you’re running
  • The press is looking to talk to you

Make sure you do not get confused that the problem with the market fit is due to the product offering. Sometimes it’s your communication strategy or the message market fit. To achieve message market fit, you need to find a way to message your product so that it can punch through the market that strongly favors existing solutions. Understand how your customers think and how to use words to tell stories that make them feel a need for your offering. You’re selling purpose, not a product therefore fully understand your customers’ pains, values, and perceptions.

How To Find Product Market Fit— David Rusenko from Weebly details the story of how Weebly developed one of the most popular website creation and hosting sites on the web today

VII. Initiating Growth

The iterative process in action

Growth is the process of arriving at testable ideas. You can’t copy other companies’ approaches. Your customers, value offering, and market dynamics will be different and you need to adapt to theses variations. However, the growth process provides you a scalable and repeatable formula to generate and test ideas that lead to sustainable increases in setting goals.

The growth process and loop- analyze, ideate, prioritize, and test
The growth process and loop— analyze, ideate, prioritize, and test – by Morgan Brown

Before you begin your growth endeavors, consider these notes:

  • By being hyper-focused on one mission (OKRs) with team members all working towards that goal, you create tremendous momentum
  • Build your dashboards and analytics upfront before testing
  • Prioritize ideas using a scoring model such as ICE or Bullseye
  • Continue this process until you’ve met the goal. Then you zoom out, establish new goals, and repeat the process again.
  • The more tests you can run, the more you’ll learn, and the more opportunities you’ll have for growth.

You want to run this process as many times as you can in a given period. Some teams operate on this approach daily and some on a weekly basis. This is called the sprint, used in agile processes especially for a startup that needs speed. Curve out the appropriate length of time for your endeavor accordingly. However, it’s important that every sprint is time blocked. You can’t have an open-ended process.

Ideation and communication

To have effective brainstorming sessions, lay down a set of ground rules and leverage methods that better tap into the team’s problem-solving abilities such as:

  • Encourages people to break free from routine
  • Try to disrupt pre-existing patterns of thoughts and assumptions
  • Encourage ideas in a captured room and using a formal session
  • Hold regular weekly ideation meetings
  • Each person on the team is responsible for having access to the North Star Metric, OKRs, the Lean Canvas and the Growth Levers you’re focusing on
  • Encourage self-management, it’s up to each team member to be autonomous and to familiarize themselves with the areas of improvement
  • If you find that formal meetings are not bearing solutions, encourage capturing ideas in a shared spreadsheet and then use a formal session for the prioritization
  • Respect all ideas equally even if you’re conducting a routine brainstorming session
  • Focus on quantity, not quality, don’t withhold anything
  • Don’t criticize ideas
  • As an individual, don’t let negative self-talk diminish your ideation
  • As a team, don’t let others shoot down ideas because it reduces the likelihood that everyone participates
  • Keep a neutral tone during the ideation phase, praise can make it seem like other ideas might not be good enough
  • Welcome far-fetched ideas, allow “out-of-the-box” thinking
  • Build and expand upon ideas that have already been generated

Manage priorities effectively

Deciding on the best of ideas from a collection, growth marketers will need to figure out priorities. One approach is the ICE (Impact, Confidence, and Ease) scoring system where one estimates the impact, confidence, and ease on a scale of one to ten.

Alternatively, growth marketers can also use the BullsEye framework and accompany it with the Traction book that allows a deep dive approach towards the traction channel analysis that could help work through the analysis.

Be positive in the face of failures

Let’s be frank, a good number of growth activities will fail and the way failures are dealt with is important and learning from the failure is a top priority. The more growth teams assess mistakes they’ll get better at recognizing warning signs before failure happens.

Some common reasons why growth endeavors fail include:

  • Data misinterpretation, causality and correlation errors, and human bias
  • Misunderstanding the customer or errors in customer validation
  • Execution will always be full of errors in the beginning, but document mistakes and fix them for the future and build upon previous learning
  • Patience and contemplation, do not rush into things, contemplate, plan, and strategize before taking action
  • The wrong attitude, have positive skepticism rather than pessimism
  • Marketing channel fatigue, customers are resilient in paying attention but teams keep insisting on using them, e.g. digital ad displays

VIII. Easier Growth Options

Focus on your current user base

If you already have a customer base or are expanding offers to your current customer bases, leverage them as sample studies for growth by:

  • Gather insights viareadily available data or run focus groups and surveys
  • Convert current customers into your new offering believers, remove their doubt, improve their experience, listen to their needs, and engage with them proactively
  • Upgrade your users into advocates by consistently delivering on your promises. Your current base of users will be the most profitable as you expand services

Lower retention rates

Generating new users is hard, and it’s even more critical that you retain them. Retention is to keep your current customers loyal. A study conducted by Bain & Company revealed that a 5% increase in customer retention can mean a 95% increase in company profitability and it’s not just about the bottom line, it’s also about reach. A loyal customer becomes an inexpensive marketing channel by advocating for your offering to their network.

Do not place too much emphasis on viral growth while failing to control retention rates. Although, if you are in the early stages of your product life cycle, retention may take a back seat. But as you begin to see growth and find product market fit, retention will be key.

If your retention rates are high, dig into why your users are not returning and run tests to determine what improves engagement and stickiness. Often times, retention is a problem in the message market fit. Help your users see the full value of your product, build comprehensive walk through’s, if necessary, and provide a lot of support.

Test exclusivity as a sales strategy

Exclusive membership, which signals scarcity, has long been a marketing strategy. Everything from guest lists at a lounge to VIP sections at the airport is exclusivity and people want to be part of something special. Exclusivity increases the value of your offering and its adoption rates.

In today’s digital marketplace, many online brands artificially create this exclusive perception. For example, Gmail’s launch strategy. There’s value in artificially building some scarcity, and you can leverage it in many unique ways. You can also consider incentivizing early adoption by providing a rare, one time only discount.

Partnerships through API integrations

An application programming interface, or API, lets others access the information that your platform provides allowing others to leverage your offering. This will allow you to recruit partners to invest in supporting your product. If you have a platform that has a unique value, then you can generate awareness through an API integration. If you are not a technology company, come up with rare offerings that might add value to your target market and partners.

IV. Utilizing Data

Have a rigorous data-driven backbone

A high-level overview of your data isn’t enough and you need to study the data at each point in the customer’s journey. It’s a quest to understand why customers are doing what they’re doing. It’s more than monthly average users or the time spent on your platform. A startup may monitor an ample load of data to observe its user behaviors.

Each team member needs to start their day by looking over metrics, familiarizing with the information, exploring ideas that are new and foreign, and trying to correlate things that may be seemingly unrelated. Look at everything from your social media metrics to your customer service emails. Your data is going to dictate the experiments you try and whether those experiments succeed in growth. Use third party tools such to help you hone in on insights from your massive data loads.

Key metrics to track and report

Data is core to growth marketing. We live in a data driven world and have the tools and resources to measure anything we want. The metrics you measure will depend on your life cycle stage and your goals. Look at your metrics daily, to monitor the health of your business and growth marketing outputs.

  • With a brand-new product just entering the market, validate your business via surveys and track NPS
  • When you start to gather customers, ask qualitative questions across the five primary areas of business, acquisition, activation, retention, referral, and revenue
  • At the end of the introduction life cycle, start quantifying the primary areas of your business with a variety of meaningful KPIs

For example:

  • Acquisition: number of conversions, cost per acquisition
  • Activation: time in product, customer support ticket volume, CLTV
  • Retention: churn rate, recapture rate.
  • Referral: program growth rates
  • Revenue: Monthly recurring revenue or Monthly Revenue

Monthly recurring revenue (MRR)

MRR is the measurement of your predictable revenue stream. There are two basic ways to calculate it:

  • Add up the value of all of your paid subscriptions
  • A better approach is to calculate AMRPU per user. Take the number of customers and multiply that by the average fees

Note that the MRR metric is limited:

  • If you have annual plans, divide the annual revenue monthly between each month of the subscription
  • It will be challenging to track upgrades and downgrades if customers change plans
  • It doesn’t account for churn or lifetime value, therefore, readjust as customers cancel

MRR is limited but provides a great high-level insight into the health and performance of your business.

Churn rates

Churn rate is the percentage of customers who cancel their subscription relative to the number of paying or active customers for a selected time period. Churn is a hot topic and an area of argument within the growth marketing community.

On a simpler note, take the number of customers you had at the start of the month, subtract the customers that you had at the end of the month, and then divide that by the customers that you had at the beginning of the month. That will give you a good enough churn rate to start with.

By looking at churn and MRR together, you’ll see the health of your business. Also note that if you have 100 customers, a 10% churn rate is no big deal. But if you have 10,000 customers, well, that’s a huge problem. Keep your churn under control and set a goal to keep it below 2% and experiment until you achieve that goal.

Customer acquisition costs (CAC)

CAC is the total cost to acquire a customer. It’s all the marketing expenses that you spend to bring a unique customer in. It’s a key metric that you’ll need to measure and leverage to track your growth progress. You’ll use this metric to understand where you have the most profitable channels, and you’ll generate ideas to work to lower that cost.

A lower CAC leaves more money to allocate towards acquiring more customers. Additionally, when your CAC is low, you’ll spend less time recouping those costs.

We usually evaluate the health of CAC against our CLTV. A good rule of thumb is to get your CAC to 1/3 of CLTV. Also, do not mistake CAC with CPA; cost per acquisition (CPA) measures the cost to acquire something. That could be a registration, an email subscriber, a lead, etc.

As always, there’s debate about the most appropriate ways to calculate CAC. This is because there are time delays; returning customers that reactivate and if you have free trials, there may be costs associated with servicing that customer.

Over the last decade, marketing has been disrupted and improved by new, lean, super-fast, and agile growth marketing mindsets and methodologies. All startups and established businesses that desire to keep up with the changing landscape are embracing growth tactics.

Growth marketing goes beyond the traditional marketing team and encapsulates a cross-functional collaboration between business leaders, engineers, designers, product managers, and analysts.

Customer acquisition costs (CAC)

CAC is the total cost to acquire a customer. It’s all the marketing expenses that you spend to bring a unique customer in. It’s a key metric that you’ll need to measure and leverage to track your growth progress. You’ll use this metric to understand where you have the most profitable channels, and you’ll generate ideas to work to lower that cost.

A lower CAC leaves more money to allocate towards acquiring more customers. Additionally, when your CAC is low, you’ll spend less time recouping those costs.

We usually evaluate the health of CAC against our CLTV. A good rule of thumb is to get your CAC to 1/3 of CLTV. Also, do not mistake CAC with CPA; cost per acquisition (CPA) measures the cost to acquire something. That could be a registration, an email subscriber, a lead, etc.

As always, there’s debate about the most appropriate ways to calculate CAC. This is because there are time delays; returning customers that reactivate and if you have free trials, there may be costs associated with servicing that customer.

Over the last decade, marketing has been disrupted and improved by new, lean, super-fast, and agile growth marketing mindsets and methodologies. All startups and established businesses that desire to keep up with the changing landscape are embracing growth tactics.

Growth marketing goes beyond the traditional marketing team and encapsulates a cross-functional collaboration between business leaders, engineers, designers, product managers, and analysts. For help, contact:

How to Generate Qualified Leads that Generate Sales

Leads are oxygen to businesses. No leads, no chance for survival.

But by relentlessly pursuing online lead generation are we letting ourselves off the hook too easily? Focus only on lead quantity with a disregard for lead quality and youmight sell yourself short.

Eventually, realization sets in: a funnel full of lookie-loos and tire-kickers has little value. It becomes incumbent on marketers to take on the challenge of producing sales-qualified leads.

Want a sizable list of lead-generation strategies? Check out that post.

The content of this article is originally published on How to Generate Qualified Leads that Generate Sales by Barry Feldman.

Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL) vs. Sales Qualified Leads (SQL)

It’s important to understand the difference between marketing qualified leads (MQL) and sales qualified leads (SQL).

  • Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL) are the leads marketing programs collect and qualify for sales follow-up.
  • Sales Qualified Leads (SQL)are higher quality leads, determined by a vetting process of some sort. They present a greater chance to create a sale.

In a perfect world, MQLs convert to high quality SQLs. But it’s not a perfect world. A website visitor that goes no further than handing over an email address usually isn’t a red-hot buying prospect.

Let’s examine ways marketing and sales teams can work together to generate more sales-ready online leads.

Ways to Generate Sales Qualified Leads

Understand the need for lead scoring

Sales and marketing teams must rally around lead scoring together. Lead scoring ranks the sales-readiness of a lead, based on specific criteria or data points traced to:

  • Demographic/firmographic information
  • Online behavior
  • Engagement

Obviously, you first pursue the leads that score highest.

This infographic from SnapApp and RingLead gives a brief overview of how to get started generating a lead scoring program.

Most marketers don’t abide by a lead-scoring system. They treat most leads equally and nurture them (or not) in the same way. Consequently, the efficiency and the effectiveness of the sales teams suffer.

Achieve sales and marketing alignment

As is often the case, the hardest part of lead scoring is getting started. Doing so requires sales and marketing alignment. The departments must work together to:

  • Establish specific buyer personas
  • Define what constitutes a sales-ready lead
  • Create a lead-scoring methodology and vernacular

In its Definitive Guide to Lead Scoring, Marketo recommends marketers get together with their sales team to gather data indicating the buyers’ interest or sales-readiness.

This includes things like:

  • Past deals and current opportunities
  • Online activities — pages visited, referring sources, etc.
  • Sales logs that indicate past interactions with sales and the activities and campaigns that touched the prospect before the purchase

Organizations using lead scoring experience a 77% increase in lead generation ROI, according to SharpSpring.

Deploy marketing automation

Don’t dismiss leads that fall short of SQL levels. Nurture them.

Lead nurturing is the process of facilitating the buyer journey, helping leads progress from stranger to customer by prompting them toward the buying decision with helpful content. Invariably, lead nurturing depends on drip email campaigns triggered by the actions subscribers take.

Enter marketing automation. Marketing automation systems facilitate a variety of performance marketing processes — including lead scoring. And, one undeniable strength of these platforms is automating follow-up emails.

The leading marketing automation systems include (in no particular order):

  • ActiveCampaign
  • Pardot
  • Marketo
  • HubSpot
  • Mailchimp
  • Drip
  • And many more.

Check out a full list of marketing automation tools and platforms from Neil Patel.

Apply segmentation and personalization

The conversion rates you aim to achieve kick into higher gear when your lead nurturing features segmentation and personalization.

Rather than simply blasting emails to every lead you’ve captured, lead nurturing programs apply specific criteria to create targeted email lists that receive more relevant content and offers.

Personalization takes this idea a step further. Lead data enables message and content customization to produce more targeted one-to-one messaging, based on the unique needs of an individual prospect, as indicated by time, place, and whatever additional and relevant information the underlying platforms have gathered.

Put the power of forms to work

Though it may sound mind-numbingly obvious, an uber-powerful factor to increase qualified leads is to, well, qualify the leads. In other words, you aim to learn more about the potential needs of each lead by gathering information via forms that go beyond a name and email address.

Ways to do so include:

  • Multi-step forms — Research indicates that fewer form fields result in more conversion. Companies that have experimented with multi-step forms, however, have enjoyed great results. With this approach, you first gather essential contact information and then follow-up immediately with a second (or maybe even third) step requiring additional input.This example from Uber clearly indicates to the visitor that there are additional steps to take after filling out the initial form. – Graphic by
  • Progressive profile forms — Some marketing automation tools feature smart fields that spare return visitors from having to resubmit information. You can put progressive profiling in place too, allowing you to add new fields to the forms’ return visitors experience, so over time, you gather more lead intelligence.This step-by-step flow from shows how your form could progress for a returning visitor.
Graphic by
  • Mad Lib forms — Here, the same questions presented in a traditional form are ‘Mad Lib’ style. This is a narrative format that presents input fields to people as blanks (or pre-formatted choices) within sentences. Check out this example from huffduffer:
Graphic by
  • Qualifying questions — Yes, adding questions to your forms reduces responses, but if your leads are too often low quality, this strategy makes sense. A question around budget or the decision-making time frame can produce meaningful qualifiers for the sales team.For example, this form from Quicken Loans asks a qualifying questions regarding the visitor’s credit profile:
Graphic by

Try other forms of interaction

Interactive content and its power to engage potential buyers is a popular topic. Interactive content including quizzes, assessments, directed buying guides, calculators and surveys, subtlety entices users to provide insights into their needs.

As the user ‘plays along’ he or she answers the questions that help you assess their needs and satisfy them accordingly.

Run ads for the full funnel

Are your lead-generation strategies entirely about raising brand awareness?

Brands today often dial-back (or eliminate) ‘hard sell’ ads that feature products. Instead, they focus on building awareness with content marketing. While it is easy to justify budgeting ad spend on feeding the top of the funnel, completely forgoing the middle and bottom of the funnel can hit sales.

For example, Samsung Life used an interactive insurance calculator to engage potential consumers in the middle of the funnel.

Graphic by Samsung Life

In this example, University of the People takes a more full-funnel approach. First, they engage people at the top of the funnel with earned media, and then retarget them a landing page that captures leads interested in their class offerings.

Finally, Otty focuses mostly on the bottom of the funnel, using retargeting tactics to generate as many sales of their mattress product as possible.

Graphic by Otty

Paid-ad programs, be they served via search, social or across the open web in the form of native, sponsored and display advertising, address prospects in all stages of the buying cycle — from the top to the bottom of the funnel.

Create content for all stages of the buying cycle

The Ultimate Guide to Lead Generation presents a diagram from DigitalMarketer that does a nice job depicting ‘The Content Lifecycle’ as a three-part funnel.

Graphic by Digital Marketer

Importantly, in each part (top, middle, and bottom of the funnel), various examples of content formats are plugged in where they fit the bill.

The challenge when it comes to improving lead quality, is to examine the buying cycle from top to bottom and develop a content-marketing strategy that addresses the potential buyer’s questions at every possible stage. Ensure you can say yes to questions such as:

  • Do we offer the educational resources and tools interested prospects in the consideration stage will find useful?
  • Do we have the types of case studies, courses, demonstrations and product comparisons prospects required at the decision stage?
  • Do the landing pages that offer specific content assets make it crystal clear who the content is for and what the benefit of consuming it will be?

Examine your search strategy

You’re likely to generate low-conversion traffic if your search strategy — for organic results and ads — focuses on generic one and two-word phrases.

Revisit your strategy to uncover long-tail keywords. Longer, more specific search phrases tend to align with increased buyer intent and will, therefore, drive traffic with a higher propensity to convert to your site .

Circle back with performance reviews

Remember to review your marketing and sales metrics at regular intervals to determine how your campaigns are performing and identify weak spots that call for making strategic or creative changes. It’s helpful to create a dashboard reflecting the stages of the buying cycle and examining specific conversion metrics.

Use Google Analytics and additional lead-generation tools to establish specific lead goals and examine conversion paths. The more information you have regarding sources of traffic, keywords, popular pages and other elements, the more equipped you’ll be to enhance future lead-generation campaigns.

Main takeaways

“How do I generate more leads?” is really the marketing question today. As you generate more and more leads, it’s important to make sure that you’re maximizing for quality over quantity.

You can do so by…

  • Defining your MQLs and SQLs
  • Building a lead scoring model
  • Deploying marketing automation
  • Segmenting your lead lists and personalizing your nurture campaigns
  • Getting creative with forms and interactive content
  • Reaching potential leads at every stage of the funnel with the right paid strategy, content and search strategy.

Your strategy for generating leads and qualifying the good from the bad will change depending on the vertical you’re operating in. Here are tips on generating leads for B2B brandsreal estatefinancial advisorssmall business, insurance verticals and mortgage.

How to Fill Your Sales Funnel with “Ideal” Customers: Funnel Analysis

Start customer relationships.

Nurture relationships.

Deepen them.


The ‘funnel’ metaphor is so neat, so tidy—and so misleading. Break down the customer journey from awareness through interest, evaluation and conversion stages and you will discover it has flaws. I like to argue that the first step in sales funnel analysis is to analyze the funnel structure itself, because—it doesn’t always work perfectly.

The content of this article is originally published on Funnel Analysis: How to Turn Your Sales Funnel into a Customer Success Sieve by Nichole Elizabeth DeMere

Let’s take a good hard look at our assumptions regarding the typical Sales Funnel:

The typical sales funnel, depicted above, should represent what customers see, read and experience as they journey through stages of awareness, learning more about their problems and possible solutions as they do so.

The funnel image is also about volume. You have a lot of prospective customers at the top, but comparatively few make it all the way down.

Have you ever used an actual physical funnel? If you have, what is going through your head right now?

That’s not how a funnel works.

We’ve all swallowed this idea of a sales funnel, but a funnel is what you use to pour a large amount of something into a smaller container without spilling any of it all over the counter. The idea is that all the particles make it through.

A sales funnel would work like this if you could, and did, convert absolutely everyone who might potentially be a lead. Then a funnel would make sense, but your business would be in trouble because…

What you actually need is a strainer, filter or a sieve.

How a Marketing Sieve Works:

A marketing sieve makes much more sense than a funnel. My chosen metaphor is the ‘sales sieve,’ because you don’t want every prospect to purchase.

Some prospects are not qualified to buy your product or service; they’re not good fits. They don’t have what it takes to succeed. They don’t have the exact problem your product will solve, or they don’t have the funds or decision-maker buy-in to purchase.

They will never be happy. Even if you sell to them they will drive your customer service reps batty with questions and complaints. They will push up your cost-to-acquire and leave you bad reviews.

Nobody needs that.

As marketers, we often think it’s our job to get as many people through to sales as possible. It isn’t. Our job is to get the right people through, warmed up and ready to buy. This approach replaces lead generation with qualified lead generation.

Who are the right people?

Your ideal customers are the ones who have what it takes to successfully use and absolutely love your product. When we approach ‘funnel analysis’ it’s with this in mind. We’re not plugging holes in a leaky vessel. We’re making sure the right-fit customers get through, while the bad-fit customers don’t.

It’s an entirely different paradigm.

Let’s get one FAQ out of the way before we dive in: When should you analyze your sales funnel? Answer: You should never STOP.

The 5 Stages of Customer Awareness.

Like how that last one bypasses several steps? That’s our end-goal. We want to structure our sieve or filter to create a higher likelihood of word-of-mouth recommendations, lowering cost-to-acquire and raising retention rates. We can do that by taking a good hard look at the first two models.

Remember: question all assumptions.

Assumption #1: The customer already knows they have a problem

We’re going to assume the customer knows that he or she has a problem and a pain point. But, when we’re creating our awareness-stage content, we are NOT going to assume that the customer has identified the problem or pain point.

The customer may need further education, and this is where you can begin to separate the right-fit customers from the bad-fit customers by using your awareness-stage content strategy.

As you educate your ideal customers on the problems they’re having, you’re also explaining your philosophy, approach, and the brand experience they can expect—all within the content. Prospects who resonate with your philosophy, approach, and brand experience will move to the next stage. Those who don’t will go elsewhere.

If your customers don’t already know their problem but are open-minded to your educational content and your brand philosophy, then you may consider utilizing the next ideas:

Stop Asking Your Customers What They Want (And Ask Them This Instead…)

You probably recognize at least one of these two famous quotes from a couple of pretty successful business leaders:

A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”
– Steve Jobs

…and from a little further back:

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
– Henry Ford


Great quotes, and often rolled out to counter that over-simplified “the customer is always right” argument.


Don’t they sound kinda… arrogant?

 (I know: heads of multi-million-dollar corporations, arrogant? Shock horror etc)

They even seem to suggest that listening to your market is a dumb idea.

On the surface, at least.

But look a little closer and you’ll see it’s not quite that simple…

They actually raise a really important point about your marketing, and it’s something a lot of people miss.

Because neither quote completely refutes the importance of asking your audience for their thoughts…

They just highlight something a lot of marketers, startups and service providers screw up:

They’re asking the wrong questions.

Specifically, what Jobs, Ford and many other (single-syllable or otherwise) ‘gurus’ are warning you against, is the seemingly obvious practice of asking your customers what they want, in order to serve them better.

Don’t do it, they say.

But hold up…

Does that mean you should stop asking your customers what they want?

 Doesn’t that go against the accepted wisdom of market research – that seemingly-essential, zillion-dollar industry that helps us understand our customers and potential customers?

Well, sorta. But not quite…

Because the real key to discovering how you can best serve your audience is NOT by asking people what they want…

It’s by asking them what they don’t want.

Here’s the key difference between the two concepts:

Asking “what do you want?” is putting the pressure of creating (or at least, describing) a solution onto the person who has the problem needing fixing.

And of course, they may not be able to fully explain this hypothetical ‘solution’, because they’ve not experienced it yet.

So you’re shooting in the dark…

It’s challenging for you as a product creator and/or marketer to ‘magic up’ something that matches the incomplete description your market research just gave you.

But asking “what do you want to avoid?” gives you something to shoot at…

A problem (or problems) to solve with your product/service, as clearly defined by the person currently experiencing that problem.

So you don’t have to go the whole Henry Ford and stop talking to your customers.

(Or, offering them any colour “as long as it’s black” either.)

Instead, ask them questions… the right questions.

Just don’t ask ’em to tell you what they want.

Here’s how you can use this ‘anti-marketing’ to help grow your biz, sell more stuff and better understand your market:

Focus on existing problems, not an imagined solution

Focusing on the problems your prospect has currently, and asking them about what they already know and understand…

…Instead of forcing them to discuss a solution they don’t yet have, can’t yet feel, or fully recognise…

Is becoming a huge part of marketing effectively in 2016 and beyond.

With an emphasis on asking your customers and prospects what their problems are before you start outlining your solution to those problems, you gain deep insights you’d otherwise miss.

It’s about removing the guesswork, assumption and speculation from your marketing.

(And you don’t need me to tell you how dangerous that particular ‘axis of evil’ can be to your biz…)

The good news is, you can do this at any stage of your business growth

So whether you’re at the product development stage, are already racking up millions in sales, or are right now realising “nuts, didn’t we just send out a survey asking our customers what they want?” – it’s not too late.

Sometimes as biz-owners or employees, we get too close to our products. It’s important not to lose outside perspective.

So, talking with your customers lets you get information directly from them.

And by asking them what they want to avoid

What they want never to happen to them again…

What they want to eliminate from their lives as fast as possible…

That’s where the most valuable insights are.

But wait…

What about this other idea that appears to go against Jobs and Ford…

 Harry Browne’s influential Mad Men-era classic “The Secret of Selling Anything” is often quoted by copywriting heavyweights like Gary Bencivenga and John Forde – and for good reason.

The book clearly and convincingly presents a no-frills, ethical “road map to success for the salesman who is not aggressive, who is not a ‘smooth talker’ and who is not an extrovert” (the book’s subtitle).

Here’s the key section:

The one rule that sums up the job to be done, the one formula that is fully in harmony with the real world, the secret of success is: Find out what people want and help them get it!

This is the way you separate yourself from the mass of people who just ‘get by.’ This is how you make sure that your services are always in demand. This is how you command a high price in the market­place, by making sure that what you’re offering is what people really want…”

Notice, Browne doesn’t explicitly say “ask what they want…”

He says “find out what they want” – which doesn’t necessarily mean asking “what do you want?” directly.

Because there are other, more effective questions for uncovering the information you need.

(And finding out what your audience doesn’t want is just the beginning…)

So how do you put the right questions together in the right order, and get the kind of responses you need to move forward?

The answer’s pretty simple, really.

The simple, un-sexy as hell, but proven way of asking the questions that unlock your market…

It’s a ‘Shiny Object Syndrome’-proof tactic you can use constantly and implement fairly easily.

What is this incredible weapon of marketing wizardry?

The good ol’-fashioned survey.

Pretty boring, huh? Yup! : )

But done right, sending a survey is one of the most powerful and cost-effective ways of improving your marketing.

Now, I said “sending” a survey, but of course you don’t always have to send it.

In digital marketing, getting people to come to your surveys – and actually enjoy filling them out while they’re there – is where the big wins are to be had.

Sure, a lot of companies use surveys… you see them all the time, and you’ve probably filled a few out yourself.

But here’s the thing: most are doing them wrong.

They’re crippling their own business by asking the wrong questions, gathering the wrong information, or misinterpreting that info and heading down a blind alley.

But what if…

 What if YOU knew how to ask your audience all the right questions…

So you could uncover a treasure trove of insights – not just ‘data’ (‘big’ or otherwise) – that allowed you to target sections of your market with pinpoint accuracy

And what if you could tailor your products AND your marketing to the people who actually enjoy giving the answers to those key questions…

…without making the expensive screw-ups your competition – and countless other businesses – are making right now, and will continue to make?

From corporate behemoths to boxfresh startups and kitchen-table entrepreneurs, the no-longer-so-humble survey is a great way for anyone to understand their market better than ever before.

That’s great—we want that.

So, what happens when you’re not doing awareness-stage content well?

Either you’re turning off everybody, or you’re turning off right-fit customers. Is this happening to you?

Assumption #2: Your content is attracting the right people and doesn’t suck

I wish it wasn’t so easy for businesses and marketers to assume their content is ‘good enough.’ Consider how much lackluster content there is out there…it’s a prevalent problem. Not only is it a problem for prospects searching for answers, it’s a problem for the businesses providing incomplete, uninspired, or uninteresting answers too. Informative content works in top-of-funnel lead generation when it delivers value to ideal customers, and creates a positive experience.

Funnel Analysis Time: Awareness-Stage Content

To see if your awareness-stage content is effectively attracting your ideal customers, check Google Analytics to find out:

  • Where are visitors to your website coming from? This may tell you where they were when they saw your ad, or what keywords they used to find you – both are hints as to what stage of awareness they’re actually in and what they need from you right now. If, for example, a lot of prospects come to your site from a Quora response, check whether they are in the evaluation stage, or the awareness stage.
  • Where are they landing—on your home page? A landing page? A blog post? Which one? You may need to adjust what content you put on those pages, maybe add a freebie opt-in form to a popular post to capture more email addresses.
  • What happens when they get there?
  • How much time are they spending on that page? Are they reading it, or bouncing out? If they’re reading it, that’s a good sign. If they’re bouncing, you need to find out if they’re NOT your ideal customer, or if they are.
  • Are they clicking around to other pages? Which ones? Are they finding what they’re searching for, or bouncing out?

To answer these questions, nothing beats a quick exit survey that triggers when they try to leave a page. Ask questions such as: ‘Did you find what you were looking for?’ Or, even better, an open-ended question such as: ‘Help us improve our content! What were you hoping to find here that you didn’t?’ The answers will tell you if they’re your ideal customers and what you may want to add to your content to improve.

Need some top-of-the-funnel content inspiration? These seven content-marketing tactics have proven very effective.

Assumption 3: Your Opt-in is Converting as it Should

For many, if not most, online businesses, the first micro-goal is to capture email addresses. This allows more opportunity for relationship-building via email campaigns and offers. To get these email addresses, you have to offer something of value—some sort of freebie that people want.

There are soooo many ways this can go wrong.

Funnel Analysis Time: Information search stage

Wrong way #1: Your freebie over-promises and under-delivers

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen this happen. It happens all the time. You have a freebie offer with a tempting title that promises huge value, which means you get ALL the email addresses. But, if your freebie doesn’t deliver on the value promised, it undermines trust with your target audience and they won’t buy. How do you know if your freebie is terrible?

  • Prospects don’t convert into customers, or even click back onto your website, after reading the freebie.
  • Prospects ‘unsubscribe’ from your emails.

Those are ‘passive’ metrics to watch for. But a sure way to see if your freebie offer is delivering value and building a relationship—instead of undermining it—is to build in a survey that asks them if they found the information they needed, and if there’s information they expected to get, but didn’t find. Revise your freebie accordingly.

Wrong way #2: Your freebie brings everybody to the yard

If your freebie is so generally appealing that ‘anyone’ would want to download it, you’ll collect a lot of email addresses, but a large number of these won’t qualify as prospects. You’ll know this is your problem if:

  • Your open and read-through rates are sky-high, but your conversions aren’t.
  • Your survey comes back glowing, but still no conversions.You might need to reconsider your freebie offer and create a new one tailored to your ideal client’s needs. Then, the interested prospects essentially qualify themselves by signing up. Your sign-up numbers will drop, but your conversions should rise or stay the same. Either way, the lead quality will be better.

Wrong way #3: Your freebie rocks, but still yields few conversions

Let’s say you hired a crack-copywriter to create your freebie, it’s tailored to your ideal customer like a Savile Row suit, your surveys come back with top marks, and people are clicking the CTA button to go back to your website.

And then… nothing. They’re not converting.

This happened with one of my clients. After reviewing the open rates and read-through times, I discovered that the content wasn’t the problem; the sales page was the problem!

Assumption #4: Your Sales Page Follows Best Practices—So it Should Work!

There are many wonderfully effective formulas for writing sales pages that sell. I love the AIDA framework: Attention, Interest, Desire, Action. Depending on the complexity and expense of the product, you may need to add social proof in the form of testimonials, user cases or user reviews, maybe an FAQ section, and almost certainly a guarantee.

What if your sales page isn’t selling, despite following the established best practices?

Funnel Analysis Time: Evaluation / Decision stage

You know if your sales page isn’t selling, but you may not know why—or where it’s turning people off. For landing page optimization analysis, it helps to use a tool such as Hotjar that offers heatmaps, visitor-session recordings and even conversion funnel reporting to pinpoint where prospects are getting derailed.

Here’s what to look for:

Heatmaps: Where are people looking, or at least hovering their mouse? Seeing where they’re spending more time indicates that they’re more interested in that section of the page, they’re confused by that section of the page, or you’ve got something distracting them from where they should look.

Heatmaps can also indicate what prospects think are the most compelling parts of your copy and you may find you need to move this up to the top of the page where all prospects will be sure to see it.

Session recordings: These recordings track where your visitors are going, what they’re reading, what they’re skimming or ignoring, and where they’re getting confused. It’s like looking over someone’s shoulder as they go through the website. These are useful for finding places in your sales funnel that are confusing, asking for too much too soon, or not delivering useful information.

Conversion funnel report: This is such a cool feature, because you can see which pages are effectively converting, and where people are getting lost or turned off. If you notice that a page isn’t performing the way it should, try triggering a survey to pop up as visitors leave the page to ask them what they were hoping to find, or if a task was difficult (i.e. a customer effort score survey).

Assumption #5: Quiet Customers are Happy Customers

What’s happening after customers purchase? They go through onboarding, hopefully make it to using the product, and then recommend it to everyone they know – right? Well, we hope so. But analyzing this very important stage of the funnel will let us know for sure.

Funnel Analysis: Post-purchase Behavior

The onboarding process is where many customers drop out, not completing onboarding, or if they do, not using the product past the first couple of tries. Many businesses assume that if customers aren’t asking for help, or aren’t canceling their subscription, they’re happy.

That’s not the right metric. What we need to ask—and check for—is whether they’re successful.

Why is customer success more important than customer happiness? Because customers who use your product to reach their real-world goals are much more likely to become customer advocates, recommending your product to their friends and colleagues.

There are a couple of primary ways to measure and check customer success during the post-purchase phase.


Your onboarding process makes or breaks retention rates, so it’s really important to know exactly how many customers are making it through, and where you’re losing people. It may help to trigger strategically placed in-app (or on-page) Customer Effort Score (CES) surveys when ‘red-flag’ behaviors occur, such as spending too long on one page, failure to complete a part before exiting out, etc.

CES surveys tell you why people are having trouble, but you’ll also want a fix in place to help customers in the moment. Consider ending the survey with: ‘Would you like a Live Chat representative to help you out?’ Or provide a similar offer of help ASAP.

Pay special attention to places in your onboarding process where customers can expect their first small wins – those first few successes that make them feel like they’re on the right track to the big wins they’re hoping to get by using your product.

This is the Time-to-Value (TTV) metric, or Time-to-First Value, a SaaS metric that measures how much time customers have to spend on your product to feel like they’ve made progress with their goals. The lower the TTV, the higher retention rates get. In fact, some experts argue (and I agree) that the goal of onboarding is to get the customer to experience that first value, as quickly as possible!

Net Promoter Score

Once the customer has experienced value – and every time your customer experiences a win with your product – it’s a great time to send a Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey. NPS surveys ask: ‘On a scale of one to ten, how likely are you to recommend this product to a friend?`

Asking this question tells you if they are, in fact, finding value when and where you expect them to. If they are, it’s a good time to ask promoters (anyone who scores a nine or ten) if they’d be willing to share their success on a social media platform – and be sure to furnish them with a convenient link to Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn, etc.

Funnel Analysis or Sales Sieve? The Process is the Same

Whether you’re fixing the funnel you have or optimizing your funnel into a sieve that collects only the likeliest prospects, the principles are the same. You’re always going to look at customer behavior and compare it with what you expected of it.

When there’s a mismatch between your expectations and their real-world actions, it’s time to ask why? Then question your assumptions and test your hypotheses with customer research and well-placed surveys.

Ultimately, no marketing strategy or sales formula takes the place of asking your customers and prospects what they need, what they expect, and what they actually found. Don’t forget to also ask what they don’t want.

If you want help with filling your sales funnel with ideal customer candidates, contact or 318-349-4998

B2B Digital Marketing Tips for Startups and Lead Generation Companies

It’s Not Easy!

We work with many startups, entrepreneurs and small business owners who come into the Ideal Sales Leads Master Affiliate Program.  We hear it again and again: the product is great, but how do I tell the world and uncover the leads to gain appointment settings? I’ve tried to do “digital”, ie. doing some search on Google, publishing some content on LinkedIn, maybe even tried a few ads but it “doesn’t really work”….  In other words, they don’t get the results they were expecting (hoping for?!) and are not sure what to do next… Frustration sets in.

Some quit, thinking “there’s no real demand”, most want to get help but don’t know how or get scared having to invest advertising money convinced the product should sell itself through word of mouth and a simple call, email or personal visit…!

Well, big news: it’s a crowded world out there, and your message is likely to get drowned in a sea of noise if you don’t take the steps to differentiate.

The content of this article is originally published on An intro to B2B digital marketing for startups and SMBs by Max Bonpain.

But there is hope!

Digital Marketing works! It’s just harder than it looks, especially for B2B 😉

This short article aims to give you, the entrepreneurs and small business owners, a view of what you might be doing wrong and how to get it right.

We’ll take you on a step by step approach to improve the digital marketing component of your lead generation sales process.

1 — Clarity of Objective

Most businesses try and manage short term (lead generation) and long term (brand awareness) objectives at the same time, from the start.

But building brand awareness is hard and expensive, and won’t pay back (you need brand preference to get chosen, not just awareness) and usually our sponsors take care of brand imaging: Instead, focus your budget on lead generation in the short term and try and build your brand as a collateral. By this, we mean as an added benefit of your lead generation activity, eg: Speaking at a trade conference or conducting a webinar or creating a short video will build your brand as well as generate leads.

As a rule of thumb, you should be spending 90% of your marketing budget on lead generation in the first few years, gradually reducing to 40% (over 3–5 years) as your business generates more cash and you can afford spending more.

=>Be single minded: the objective is lead generation (which our sponsors will appreciate!)

The tactical activities bring in the cash to fund the strategic ones.

Graphic by Max Bonpain

2 — Digital Strategy

Now you need to think about which digital assets and channels are most appropriate for your business and which role they should play in your lead generation: is your website the hub where you want to drive people for a demo? Are you building a database? Do you want them to download an app instead?

This is the overall process from lead generation, remarketing, nurture, etc.

Think about how people are searching, comparing and buying your product.

A B2B example:

Graphic by Max Bonpain

3 — Understanding the purchasing decision journey

Your objective is to accompany your prospects along their decision journey by mapping your content and website to meet the demands of all stages and stakeholders:

-How do they decide?

-What are their triggers and barriers to purchase?

-Who do they listen to?

-Where do they find information?

-What are their decision criteria?

You want to create a matrix for the key stakeholders and the key stages in the decision process: a CFO might need a business case with an ROI, whilst a CTO might need to understand technical implementation and make sure it’s easy to integrate.

4 — The journey translates into a “sales funnel” or “pipeline”

Graphic by Max Bonpain

*Your target is the universe of potential customers you want to reach, for instance all coffee shop owners in NSW or telco providers in Europe or all B2B in a particular zipcode…

*The MQLs (marketing qualified leads) are the people who give you their detail in response to your activity (or sometimes proactively!). You need to “qualify” them to understand who to prioritise: are they the right type of leads (right role in the right company or industry), and where are they in their decision process (just browsing or ready to buy)? (See next step below for more detail)

-If they are the right type but not ready to buy, you want to include them in a nurturing CRM program, likely to be through eDM for cost reason — in other words, keep them interested so when they’re ready to buy they think of you first!

-If they are advanced in their decision-making process, they are handed over to sales and become SQLs (sales qualified leads) to do any technical test and draft the commercial terms and conditions: the relationship needs to be much more personal. From there, a number of opportunities will be generated, and you’ll manage to close a few deals!

*It is important to capture, measure and monitor the interactions with your leads as they are good indicators of any move in the process. The ambition is to convert more and speed up the whole sales cycle. You can use our proprietary sales management software and even link to other commercially available CRM softwares — they are a few free ones. They include Zoho, Hubspot, Pipedrive or (if you’re bigger) Salesforce.

5 — Qualifying marketing leads

Qualifying marketing leads helps sales focus on the most promising ones and save time:

If you have done your targeting properly in your campaigns, you should only get the “right” type of leads. If you don’t, you need to update your criteria (and make sure they have been agreed between sales and marketing first!)

The tricky part is to understand where the leads are in the decision cycle: you know that by making sure your content is clearly addressing a single stage of the process, and that you have different pages and have tags / anchors / pixels on your website indicating what content they’re looking at:

  • is it some high-level thought leadership? They are likely to be early in the process…
  • Are they using your ROI calculator or checking FAQs? They are worth a phone call!
Graphic by Max Bonpain

Tips for your Website:

-Make sure you are easy to reach and capture leads contact details in your database

-Your web content should cater for all stages of the decision journey but be clearly defined

6 — Nurturing

Our recommended nurturing program (ie. keeping leads warm until they’re ready to set an appointment!) encourages taking your leads along the decision journey: if there are 4 steps in the leads research and decision process and it takes 1 months on average to conversion, you might want a “4 weekly emails and 1 call” nurturing process, with content adapted to each stage and each target market.

Done well, nurturing helps you convert more and speeds up the whole cycle… and it’s cheaper (free if you use eDMs) than lead generation! We recommend utilizing our Ideal Sales Lead 5 touch point system. Email, Telephone Call, Personal Visit, Follow up Email and then Telephone call.

You can complement eDMs with ads, hospitality and other activities, but make sure you capture them in your CRM so you can analyse the efficiency of each activity (eg, did the business lunch generate new leads?)

7 — Your Content Matrix and Calendar

By now, you should have a clear view of who you want to reach and where/how they are looking for information: LinkedIn, Google, your website, specialized magazine, trade conferences, all of the above?

Building on the “who” and the “where”, you need to add the “what”, ie the content: it can be anything from a video to a blog, to a social post, to a paid ad….

It is usually best to “repurpose and republish” your content: if you have an article, why not make a video out of it… if you have a long-form (eg thought leadership) paper, why not cut it into several short form (eg articles) papers…

Remember to cover all stages and all stakeholders with your content, which might just mean rewriting with a different angle for the CFO than you did for the CTO… Ultimately you want to reach the decision maker, however….. Don’t forget journalists, influencers, investors, suppliers and all other stakeholders, even if for a later stage!

Keep in mind your objective for each piece of content: you can use a white paper to generate leads (by asking for details to download) or simply create awareness (by distributing freely)

Your content matrix

Your content matrix helps you list all the content you need to generate, and what form it should take. From there, you can create a content calendar with the key milestones for each piece of content.

Graphic by Max Bonpain

8 — Measure, measure, measure

You’ll need to set up a scorecard for your key activities, tracking the main KPIs versus previous month and a benchmark (eg your last 3m average) to see whether you are improving or not.

Remember, absolute numbers are useful (how many visitors on my website) but conversion rates and costs are better as they give you an indication of how to improve.

The score-card will help you allocate your budget and improve your ROI. It will also give you arguments for your investors to show you can generate new business.

Include offline activities if relevant (eg amount paid for speaking / exhibiting at a conference and number of leads generated), to have a full view and compare all touch points.

Example of KPIs in scorecard

Graphic by Max Bonpain

9 — It doesn’t work? Yet…!

If you’re just starting out, put small budgets to test and learn and build a benchmark.

If you’re not getting the results you’re hoping for, consider whether you have:

-The right message / offer: is your content attractive (is it being opened and read?!)

-The right people: are your targeting criteria too broad?

-The right place (channel and context): should you be on LinkedIn rather than Facebook?

-The right time: are you reaching your audience at the right stage of their decision journey

-The right price: is your budget well allocated and your bids competitive enough?

10 — Money, money, money!

For “new starters”, the big question (and related anxiety) is about budget: how much can I afford and how much should I invest?

Well, as long as you get a return on your spend, you should invest!

The good news is you can start with low budgets: blogs, SEO, LinkedIn invites are free and you can do low budget advertising tests to build your funnel and understand conversion rates and cost per leads.

Even though attribution models have shown that reaching target audiences through different channels delivers an incremental conversion rate overall, there is a minimum threshold of spend for efficiency, so my advice is to test a couple of things but then invest in the single most effective channel. You can add new channels once you hit diminishing returns.

Importantly, use your digital channels to amplify any offline activity: advertise that conference you’re going to speak at, make sure you put the leads you get there in your CRM system, and nurture them as appropriate.

Want to know more or get some help? Reach out!    or    318-349-4998

Top of the Funnel Marketing: How to Get from Content to Leads

Marketing happens in many stages.

There is the awareness phase, interest, consideration, intent, evaluation, and finally—the purchase phase. During each step of the journey, marketers must stay in contact and keep their leads engaged and interested.

While the goal is to eventually take leads to the bottom of the funnel, that cannot happen without dedicating time and energy to a top of the funnel marketing strategy.

The content of this article is originally published on Top of the Funnel Marketing: How to Get from Content to Leads by Kylie Ora Lobell.

What is top of the funnel marketing?

Top of the funnel marketing refers to the first stage of the buyer’s journey. It is the part of the process where marketers will spread brand awareness about their products and services to generate leads that will hopefully, eventually, become customers.

Marketers and media buyers should target the top of the funnel when attempting to bring in new leads to nurture. At this point, they will be looking at as many leads as possible, and then narrowing them down as they go through the funnel. Since top of the funnel leads are unfamiliar with a brand, it is in this stage that marketers must prove their value.

Top of the funnel marketing is useful when trying to find new consumers who haven’t discovered you before. It’s not for targeting repeat customers that are already aware of what your company does and sells.

top of the funnel marketing

The structure of the marketing funnel.

The top of the funnel is the awareness stage.

Here, your content should aim to inform your audience about topics related to your brand and not focus on selling.  Research and analyze what kind of content your audience wants and create around those interests.

For example, if a tech company that creates smart watches might produce educational and/or entertaining content related to smart watches, smart technology, efficient devices and more.

At the top of the funnel, your goal is to collect email addresses and phone numbers to nurture.

You could ask for an email in exchange for a valuable whitepaper or e-book that they could not find elsewhere—you need to demonstrate that you’re a thought leader that can supply value.

You should also include calls to action (CTAs) at the bottom of your content, like blogs and whitepapers, that compels  readers to visit a product/service landing page. In that case, it is their choice to click your CTA, and you’re not trying to sell them on anything until they get to that landing page.

In the middle of the funnel, you’re proving your worth to your potential customers and creating more of a dialogue with them.

For instance, a blog in the top of the funnel may be informative and fun but it doesn’t show that you are the best company in your field.

Middle of the funnel content should include content like customer testimonials, case studies, free trials and live webinars that show you are knowledgeable—an industry leader that has proven to drive results for your customers.

At the end of the funnel is when a salesperson will make a hard sell to a potential customer.

You can provide leads with free in-house demonstrations, limited time promotional codes for your services and one-on-one consultations. The goal is to ultimately sweeten the deal and make the sale in this stage.

See our article on performance marketing to see how to drive relevant KPIs for all of these stages.

See our article on conversion rate optimization to get better at hitting those KPIs.

What type of top of the funnel content should you create?

Top of the funnel marketing is all about content these days.

In the past few years, content marketing has taken over the traditional advertising model. Instead of creating outbound content like billboards and TV commercials, brands are now focusing on inbound content that will attract their leads.

Today, 81% of shoppers will conduct online research prior to making a purchase, according to MineWhat. And according to HubSpot, in the B2B world, 47% of buyers will view three to five pieces of content before engaging with a sales representative.

On the B2C side, companies that blog 11 times per month will receive nearly three times more traffic than those blogging zero or one time per month.

Top of the funnel content is critical because it is how you can attract that potential customer. Your ideal lead may be searching on Google, and your article pops up. She will read it and click the call to action, find herself on your landing page, and read all about your products and services. Now, you have someone who may eventually convert.

Your lead may also see your content on social media or stumble upon it on her favorite publication through your paid native advertising efforts. She may see one of your videos in-feed on the website of a newspaper she loves to read.

If your content is good, and she is in the market for your products and services, she will be intrigued to learn more. She may hand her email over to you receive access to a great ebook you are offering or click on your call to action. Then, you can move her through the funnel.

When coming up with your own top of the funnel content strategy, you should consider creating the following types of content:

  • Blog posts
  • Native advertising posts
  • Infographics
  • Videos
  • Whitepapers
  • SlideShare presentations
  • Social media posts
  • Research studies
  • Guides
  • Direct mail
  • Webinars
  • Events
  • E-books

The type of top of the funnel content will completely depend upon the audience. For example, a B2B audience might want in-depth blog posts and case studies on niche industry subjects, while a B2C audience might like to see short and entertaining videos about a topic related to the business. Do your audience research to determine which content will work best according to their needs.

What are some examples of top of the funnel content?

If you want to truly grasp how to create effective top of the funnel content, you need to see it in action.

NASCAR’s dive into sponsored content.

In a Q&A with Taboola, NASCAR Digital Media’s Senior Director of Content Rights and Partnerships Sarah Davis talks about why NASCAR branched out into sponsored content.

Davis discusses the value of sponsored content for her brand and how she uses content to reach NASCAR fans. Their a good example of how to leverage branded content to make noise around a customer base.

AM:PM uses branded video for a big impact.

Another piece of top of the funnel content is about AM:PM, one of Israel’s leading markets. The article covers how AM:PM used cartoon branding videos that advertised some of the products available in their store.

Publishers advertised their videos in-feed, and AM:PM saw incredible results from the campaign.

In both cases, the brands aimed to educate and provide value to theie specific audiences. They are all about the audiences’ wants and needs and do not try to make a sale at this time.

What should result from top of the funnel marketing?

If top of the funnel content is effective, audiences will want to learn more about a company and what they have to offer.

They’ll then move onto the interest stage of the marketing funnel, which is the middle, where they will want to see how the company can help them.

Finally, at the end of the tunnel, the audiences will hopefully convert and buy products and services.

How can Taboola help top of the funnel marketers?

Taboola, a content discovery platform, is useful in every stage of the marketing funnel. It allows marketers to reach large, built-in audiences, whether users are in the awareness or purchase phases.

Instead of creating top of the funnel content that only a few hundred or thousand people will see, Taboola can project and amplify the content to more than one billion relevant users and potential customers across premium publishers.

The Taboola content discovery platform eliminates one of the toughest steps for marketers: building an audience. Marketers can simply focus on what they do best, which is creating stellar content. All they have to do is click “publish,” and their content will go out to the specific consumers they are looking to target.

Audiences will see content in-feed, where it fits in naturally on a publishers’ platform, and be able to watch a brand’s video on programmatic or managed service channels. All of the content appears in safe and viewable spaces, where consumers know they will be protected.

Now is the time for marketers to invest in top of the funnel marketing. In today’s environment, it is the most effective way to reach potential customers and make valuable sales. If you want help with your

Why Lead Generation Is Important for Your Business

Lead generation is the most talked about topic in the marketing world. But what is Lead generation? How does it help? what are the techniques used to generate more leads? Get answers to these questions and more through this blog today.

Be it a small startup business or a big multi-million-dollar business, Lead Generation is the only common word which is used the most by the marketing and management team of any company. Lead Generation is actually what gives meaning to even run a business. It is like the blood in the veins of an organization. So, what exactly is Lead Generation? First, we need to learn, what is a lead?

The content of this article is originally published on Why Lead Generation Is Important For Your Business?

What Is A Lead:

A lead can be anyone (Typically a person) who has expressed his/her desire in your products or services. A Lead can come through many sources such as your website, through word of mouth, or even through a phone call. Digital Marketing Solutions which direct traffic to the website, improve search engine rankings, and increase web referrals account to an astounding 93% of leads.

What Is Online Lead Generation:

It is the most important aspect of Online Marketing which refers to developing the interest of a possible consumer by providing them the information about your products or services. Lead generation is basically developing an interest in a person so much so that he/she contacts you for more information and perhaps even end up buying it.

Lead generation is a start to the process which ultimately leads to a possible customer transforming into a regular customer down the line. Having a lead generation strategy is imperative for you and your business.

Why Is It Important:

The vast majorities of salespeople are losing the will to work in the area when they think they have reached the limit of companies and people to sell their products to. This, of course, is not true and hardworking salespeople are trying to find a solution to the problem by targeting the right group with the help of Online Lead Generation.

Businesses today are heavily depended on Lead Generation as it enables the websites of such businesses to generate more traffic which may lead to the further conversion of such found Leads into Customers. This leads to an increase in conversion rates helping a business gain huge profits in the process. Google has made the process of connecting the consumers and the providers very simple helping the prospects find exactly what they need online and also for the providers to showcase their products and let the world know how different their products and services are from their competitors.

So, when a potential client is looking out for something they need and your website distinctly grabs the attention of the client the chances of conversion shoot up sky-high automatically. A quality and funneled lead generation process will definitely make it easier on both the client and the business side by getting exactly what they need online.

Important Tactics for Lead Generation

1) Content Marketing:

“Content is King”, this was the topic of the essay which was written by Bill Gates and was published on Microsoft Website. He stated in it “Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting”. And these words are coming true after nearly two decades after as blogging and content marketing are the very best methods of generating leads. Content marketing attracts and provides knowledge to the interested audience about what you. Business has to offer to the audiences. What this does is that it makes the work of the sales team a bit easier by helping them gather relevant leads with prior knowledge of their products and services.

2) Social Media Marketing (SMM):

Social media is rising and is probably the most widely recognized platform to promote your business. Through social media means it is easy to get quick popularity and also to know the potential leads which is very necessary.  SMM (Social Media Marketing) has increased its reach from being just a means to connect people online to become the biggest hub of connecting people to the products and services they need.

3) Hiring A Lead Generation Specialist:

Getting yourself a lead generator will definitely help you get new leads with the ones you already have. As the legendary Bruce Lee said, “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times”. Lead generators have been working and polishing their skills and have perfected in providing the one most important thing that is there for most businesses which are to generate new leads from outbound marketing using cold calls.

4) SEO (Search Engine Optimization):

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an essential process which is done to rank websites. The Better the rank of your website the greater the chances are of a business website to be visited by a bigger and relevant traffic. More traffic means more leads and if these leads get converted than there is no stopping your business from reaching new heights.

These were some of the processes which help in Lead Generation. PPC, Web Design & Development, and remarketing are also other online Lead Generating activities. The market today is undergoing a lot of changes day in and out. All this is because of the everchanging algorithms of search engines and various Digital Marketing tools. Also, many companies still prefer the traditional way of lead generation rather than the digital way. Businesses have to understand that the way people trust and buy things is changing rapidly. Hence companies that do not follow such important and updated trends of lead generation are at risk of being overtaken by their competitors who prefer the online way of generating leads.

Lead generation is a very cost-effective and result providing solution to all businesses who are facing problems in raising the bar of their business. Generating Leads also helps a company build a tighter relation between the sales and the marketing team as they have to work with each other side by side for the development of their company and themselves as well. Lead generation can also be made possible by employing various new Digital Marketing techniques available in the market now. Most of the Digital Marketing agencies provide Digital Marketing services which help clients to get the leads they deserve through content marketing and social media marketing. A 360° web and Digital Marketing partner is a must if a company wants to generate new leads and stay ahead in the competitive world. So, more qualified leads, more the customers, more the profits, this is why exactly lead generation is important for your business.

If you desire help with your digital inbound lead generation, contact Ideal Sales Leads:   or call 318-349-4998