Build Lead Gen Machine resized 600In this post I want to walk you through the 7-steps to building a lead generation machine.


Step #1 – Define Your Prospect Universe

Who is my ideal customer?  If you want to outperform the competition you must 1st get clarity on who is your Ideal Customer. In my last blog post, I walked you through the mechanics of account segmentation.  Account segmentation involves:


  1. Defining the prospect universe – who is best fit to be your customer
  2. Determining the size ($) of the market potential – Total Available Market for your products & services


Don’t skip this step or you’ll build your lead gen engine in the dark.


Step #2 – Build Buyer Personas

Step #1 defines your ideal customer profile at the company level.  But you don’t sell to companies, you sell to people.  So the next critical step is building Buyer Personas.


Most complex purchasing decisions are made by a group.  The group or Buying Decision Team typically consists of:


  1. Ultimate Decision Maker – Final approval of the decision.  Only person who can say No when everyone else says Yes.
  2. User Prospect – Buyer(s) who will be using the solution.
  3. Technical Prospect – Buyer(s) involved in evaluating the solution (Purchasing, IT, etc.).
  4. Key Influencers – Anyone with considered input into the buying decision.


Don’t skimp.  Do the buyer research and build all the applicable buyer personas. Buyer Personas can vary by product, vertical and geography.  Make sure you account for these variances.


Step #3 – Map the Buying Process

IN 2011, the SEC published their landmark study on buyer behavior.  The study found that B2B buyers completed 57% of their ‘buying journey’ before first contact with a sales rep.  In 2013, the number has grown to 65%.  In this new buying environment, the new skill is “selling when a rep isn’t present”. 


The key to successful marketing is influencing the buyer early in the journey.  You have to ‘get their attention’ early with relevant messaging.  To be relevant, you need to understand the macro & micro decisions buyers make as they advance down their buying timeline.  The best marketers do this by mapping the buying process of their key personas.


A Buying Process Map (BPM) is a tool that maps the decision making process used to purchase a product, service or solution.  Using a BPM ensures your ‘message’ aligns with where you buyer is on their buying journey.  When your message aligns with the buyer, your message is relevant.  Relevance leads to value and value builds trust.  Trust brings the buyer back for more. Download our Buying Process Map Prototype here.


Step #4 – Audit Your Content

Content is king.  It fuels the marketing machine.  It is also leveraged & re-purposed by sales for 1-on-1 prospecting.  Content must be contextual and relevant.  You need content that both stimulates demand and nurtures your leads.  In short, you need content that pulls buyers along the BPM.


A content Audit has two components: Inventory & Mapping.  You first need to inventory what you have by persona.  Secondly, you need to overlay your existing content atop the BPM.  The 2nd step reveals your content gaps.  You now have a content-creation blueprint.


Step #5 – Build a Campaign Framework

There is a skills gap in knowing how to build & execute marketing campaigns.  If you cannot run effective campaigns, you will be hard-pressed to generate leads.  See this blog post for Campaign Planning best practices.


Step #6 – Create a Lead Nurturing Process

Just because someone form-fills doesn’t mean they want to speak to a sales rep.  Seems pretty obvious, right?  Yet many marketing departments act this way.  They send leads to the field that aren’t sales-ready.


Here’s another common mistake.  Many marketers believe Marketing Automation alone fills the gap.  A lead churns through a few automated campaigns, hits a scoring threshold and then gets pushed to sales.  Better than the first example, but still not a best practice.


World class marketers implement a nurturing process that combines ‘process, people and technology’.


  1. Process – a multi-staged & gated lead management process that combines both automation & human interaction.
  2. People – Lead Development Reps dedicated to one-on-one nurturing and lead qualification.
  3. Technology – Marketing automation that scales marketing campaign capabilities and provides visibility into ROMI


Step #7 – Measure

The final step in the process is measuring results.  What is the return on marketing investment?  In my opinion only three metrics matter: (1) number of leads generated, (2) number of leads passed to sales and (3) new revenue attributable to marketing leads.  Measure what you want, but don’t forget these three.


CALL TO ACTION: You’re the marketing leader.  Everyone looks to you to build a sustainable lead gen machine.  Have you omitted one of the steps above?  If so, you’re not running on all cylinders.


Download our Buying Process Map Prototype here.