How to Become a Lead Generation Specialist

How to Become a Lead Generation Specialist

A lead generation specialist helps businesses bring in new leads and increase the number of people at the top of their sales funnel. The marketers and salespeople on the team can then develop strategies to nurture those leads and bring them through the sales funnel, hopefully converting them into customers.

If you’re interested in becoming a lead generation specialist, this article will explain the importance and value of leads, how lead generation specialists bring in leads for businesses, and what steps you can take to enter this career field.

What is lead generation?

Lead generation is the process of finding and engaging potential customers for the organization to build a stronger, deeper sales funnel. Those considering making a purchase and entering the sales funnel for a particular business are known as leads.

A key component of lead generation is nurturing qualified leads. Nurturing is the process of engaging with leads, strengthening the business's relationship with them, and helping them move down the sales funnel toward conversion

What does a lead generation specialist do?

A lead generation specialist works with a business to improve their ability to nurture new leads and increase the number in their sales funnel. As leads begin to come in, the lead generation specialist will also help qualify and score the leads so that the marketing and sales teams know where a particular lead falls along the buyer’s journey. They can then use this information to capitalize on the lead potential, follow up appropriately, and use their time efficiently to nurture leads most likely to convert.

Lead generation specialists possess good communication skills, evaluation skills, and a keen understanding of the modern consumer to optimally attract and nurture these early leads.

Outbound marketing: Cold-calling and emailing

Outbound marketing, where the company initiates contact with potential leads, is a common prospecting strategy employed by lead generation specialists. With cold-calling and emailing, which are types of outbound marketing, the specialist reaches out to potential customers to offer information about a particular product or service that might be of use to them.

Cold-calling and emailing often work best when the lead generation specialist has some background information on the person in question, their business, and the reasons they might be attracted to the company’s offerings. Lead generation specialists often perform initial research on potential contacts that fit their target audience so that they can determine the best person to contact and the best sales points to emphasize with this lead. They use resources like LinkedIn to learn more about the people they prepare to call.

The lead generation specialist then works to “warm up” the lead. They work to spark interest and begin the conversation and then hand the lead over to the sales team when the customer is ready to move to the next stage of the buying journey.

Lead qualification grading and scoring

As the lead generation specialist begins to accumulate leads, they need to score the lead to determine their likelihood of converting. Not every lead will convert. Even if the lead falls into the target audience, that doesn’t mean the product or service will necessarily fit into their existing service infrastructure or fill a particular need.

The grading and scoring process makes it easier for everyone across the marketing and sales teams to understand where the lead is in the buying process. This helps the teams prioritize their efforts so that they use their time most efficiently.

How to qualify and score a lead

When qualifying leads, the lead generation specialist uses a scale to rank quality leads. This scale typically ranks leads as:

  • Marketing qualified lead (MQL): These are leads who’ve engaged with marketing efforts but are not ready to receive a sales call.
  • Sales qualified lead (SQL): Sales leads have expressed an interest in becoming a customer and are ready to speak with the sales team.
  • Product qualified lead (PQL): This lead has used the product, such as through a free demo version, and expressed an interest in becoming a customer.

To determine the category that a particular lead should fall into, a lead generation specialist uses the following information:

  • Ideal buyer profiles: Creating buyer profiles, or personas, helps companies better target their leads and know how to engage their audience. A lead generation specialist will use buyer personas to understand the people most likely to respond to outreach attempts and analyze their typical obstacles—such as concerns about cost—to help determine where they are on the buyer’s journey.
  • Discerning between interest and intent: Lead generation specialists also need to look closely at how people engage on the business’s website and respond to contact attempts to determine if they simply find the product or service interesting or have a purchase intent. Certain signs, such as what pages they’ve visited on the website or how many emails they’ve opened, help indicate purchase intent and should be noted.

How do you become a lead generation specialist?

Those who thrive as lead generation specialists know how to identify buyer intent and nurture the relationship so that the lead has the potential to convert. The following sections provide steps that interested professionals can take to give themselves the best start.

Another way to jump-start your career as a lead generation specialist is to take advantage of Upwork. Independent lead generation professionals are connected to the top clients by an intuitive platform that considers their skills and expertise.

Get a degree

A majority (51.2%) of lead generation specialists have at least a bachelor’s degree, with 9.7% of lead generation specialists having a master’s degree. These advanced degrees can help aspiring lead generation specialists develop their critical thinking skills. Depending on the courses taken, aspiring lead generation specialists might also learn more about marketing strategies and theories and information on the psychology of marketing.

Even though most lead generation specialists have a college degree in a related field such as marketing, it’s not required. However, it might just give you a leg up against the competition.

Develop your soft skills

Successful lead generation specialists understand the importance of soft skills, including:

  • Communication skills: The ability to communicate effectively with potential leads and team members is critical. Communication skills will help potential leads see the value of the product or service being offered. The specialist will also need to communicate effectively with marketing and sales professionals so that they understand the state of the lead.
  • Problem-solving skills: The ability to think on your feet and quickly determine the path forward when faced with an obstacle is critical in lead generation. If you have a lead on the phone who asks a difficult question or faces an obstacle, you need to be able to generate a quick response.
  • Research skills: You also need to have a talent for researching different lead candidates to help you with your lead generation calls.

Learn about sales and CRM software

To thrive, lead generation specialists need to understand how sales teams and customer relationship management (CRM) platforms work together. As a lead generation specialist, you’ll need to know how to operate within this system, including how to use the major CRM platforms.

Many sites offer a variety of introductory courses to some of the top CRMs, like Hubspot and Salesforce. Visit our Business Resources page to see some popular options for discounts on training and other special offers.

The better you understand how to operate within sales teams and use CRM platforms, the easier you’ll find it to integrate within any new team you join. You’ll know how to enter contact information appropriately in the CRM so that the rest of the team can keep the process of nurturing leads moving forward.

Learn how to analyze lead gen data

Successful lead generation also requires a significant amount of analysis. You need to analyze the lead information so that you can approach cold calls and other contact using the most applicable talking points.

As you speak with a prospective lead, you need to properly analyze the data about their behavior so that you know how to categorize them appropriately. This allows you to give your team the most accurate information about their leads so that they can nurture their prospects and convert them into customers.

Apply for the position

When you’re ready, apply for full-time or part-time lead generation work. Upwork makes it easy for independent professionals to create a profile and connect with clients based on their skills and experience.

Start your lead generation specialist career today

Becoming a lead generation specialist requires hard work and careful analysis, but those interested have the potential to uncover a successful and interesting career for themselves.

If you’re interested in becoming a lead generation specialist, be sure to follow some of the steps outlined above. Take advantage of the potential offered by Upwork to communicate with potential clients to see how you can build your career.

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How to Become a Lead Generation Specialist
The Upwork Team

Upwork is the world’s work marketplace that connects businesses with independent talent from across the globe. We serve everyone from one-person startups to large, Fortune 100 enterprises with a powerful, trust-driven platform that enables companies and talent to work together in new ways that unlock their potential.

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