Hard Leads or Soft Leads? Use A Hybrid Approach Instead

Your website really only has one function – to generate new leads for your business.

That seems simple enough.

But in reality it’s a bit more nuanced.

After all, there are a LOT of ways to generate leads.

Someone who wants to speak to you about pricing is considered a lead. But so is someone who signs up for an ebook.

And they’re not really equivalent, are they?

In this article we’ll compare hard leads vs soft leads. And look at a hybrid approach that’s a better way for small & mid-sized B2B companies to meet new customers.

Let’s get started!

Examples of Hard Leads

A hard lead is defined by two characteristics:

  • Taking action demonstrates some interest in working with your firm.
  • The lead is putting some skin in the game. For example they make time on their calendar to speak about their requirements.

Because of these two criteria, these leads tend to be far along in the sales cycle. They are starting to narrow their choices. And are at the point where they want to speak with individual vendors.

Typical ‘call to actions’ for are “Contact Us For A Free Consultation” or “Book a Meeting With An Expert.”

The nice thing about hard leads is they convert really well. Someone who takes you up on your offer for a free consultation is actively shopping for your solution. And they’ll probably buy in the near future (hopefully from you!).

B2B websites tend to get low visitor numbers and hard leads work well with all levels of website traffic.

Hard leads are the default for companies without a meaningful marketing budget. As there’s no need to create new content or email campaigns to nurture leads to a first meeting.

Examples of Soft Leads

Soft leads are a lead that provides their contact information. But even though they’ve registered on your website, there’s no reason to believe they will buy any time soon.

Soft leads are defined by two characteristics:

  • The prospect is receiving something of value (ie an ebook) in exchange for their contact information.
  • The prospect isn’t making any commitments beyond agreeing to receive your content.

Because these criteria are very loose, soft leads tend not to convert as well as hard leads.

Many content-generated prospects have little or no interest beyond the content being offered. And some are unlikely to ever convert.

Examples of soft leads include signing up for content upgrades, video access, ebooks, and other forms of content. A typical example might be an ebook titled, “Get Our Free eBook on 3 Ways to Double Sales in 60 Days.”

In all of these cases the prospect is opting into the CONTENT, not the company. They may be interested in your services. But they signed up for the content.

Content-driven lead generation enables your website to generate a LOT more leads from your traffic. If the lead magnet is super appealing, then it’ll receive a lot of interest.

Content-generated leads are widely used because they are an opportunity to prove your domain expertise. And also enable you to repeatedly remind the prospect that you can help. This is done by sending follow up messages via email marketing.

The expectation is that when the prospective client is eventually looking to hire a vendor, they’ll think of you.

content marketing

Use a Hybrid Approach Instead

So which is right for your business? Hard leads or soft leads?

For small and mid-sized B2B companies, the answer is probably neither. Instead, take a hybrid approach and combine the best attributes of hard and soft leads.

Hard leads work well because the prospect is giving some of their valuable time. Often they are opening themselves up to sharing about their business requirements, too. That signals real buying intent, and high potential for a close.

Soft leads work amazing because you aren’t asking for a meeting. Instead, you are offering something of value.

So the best way to generate leads is to combine these approaches.

Here’s what to do:

 

Step One – Define Your Audience:

This can be expressed as, “We help {audience} achieve {benefit}.

Be very specific about both the audience and the benefit. Compare these two examples:

We help businesses create engaging content for their blog.

vs

We help legal teams leverage their blog to educate the C-suite at large corporations about issues that affect their business.”

The second definition is more targeted. If you want to sell, you have to define your sales targets with precision.

Step Two – Write a Title:

Now that you know your exact audience, create a video title that you KNOW they’ll love. Think in terms of educating your prospects about something that will make their business better. Don’t skimp on this step – brainstorm 100’s of ideas.

 

Step Three – Create Content & Interlink Your Services:

Write out the main points your audience wants to learn about. Focus on providing valuable information that helps THEM. This isn’t a chance to sell your services. It’s a chance to establish your domain expertise and create good will.

To achieve your business goals you do need to share a bit about your company. You can do this simply by introducing yourself at the outset of the presentation. Or you can weave your solutions into the content. This gives you the opportunity to share what you do in an applied context.

 

Step Four – Pick Your Format:

Finally, you need to deliver the information to your prospects in a way that’s engaging for them. But it also helps you achieve your business goals.

Consider using seminars, presentations, workshops, sessions, or live demonstrations. When someone opts into any of these they are blocking off time on their busy calendar to be with you. And they’re also accepting you as an authority in your field. Well run webinars can convert up to 20% of attendees to clients!

What Works Best For Your Business?

There’s no ‘perfect’ type of lead that works for every business, every time.

So play around with your calls to action on your website. Do some trial and error to discover the best way to get new leads for your business.

At the end of the day, it’s all about getting as many CLIENTS from your traffic as possible. The lead method you employ is just a vehicle to make that happen.

What works best for you? Let me know, I’d love to hear about what you’re doing that gets results.

Matthew Murray

Matthew Murray

Matthew Murray is the Managing Director of Sales Higher. He knows any company can THRIVE with enough qualified sales leads. So he’s spent the last decade helping companies meet engaged prospects and win new deals.

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