Guest Post by Austin Duck, Content Marketing Manager for CircleBack

The first rule of lead generation is not talking about how to do lead generation, right? Or, at least, it seems that way. Just look at the common advice: don’t put all your eggs in one basket, be proactive and transparent, put the first things first…? Frankly, it feels more like a grade school lesson on being a functional human being than it does an industry blog post for lead gen professionals.

So is that all it takes? Does the ability to tie your shoes in the morning qualify you to be a lead generator?

Obviously, no. It’s just a problem people actively want to not address while still reaping the SEO benefits.

And that’s because lead gen is hard. It’s a highly sophisticated activity that only maxes out with your technical understanding, imagination, and your ability to manage complexity. It’s much easier to offer self-affirming platitudes of optimism than to get into the nitty-gritty of how lead generators keep themselves primed and ready for the next big opportunity, the next breakthrough in marketing or sales qualification, the next distribution tool ready to be added to the demand workflow.

But that’s what this is: a hard look at the actual habits of effective lead generators and what they actually do every day that enables them to crush their goals and drive real value for their organizations.

5 Habits of a Highly Effective Lead Generator

Effective lead generators make knowing and connecting with people a priority.

Because both MQL and SQL are highly dependent on timing – business buying cycles, decision makers transitioning in and out of roles, etc. – top-of-their-game lead generators devote a lot of time to networking and studying trends within their networks. Using tools like self-updating address books, these pros know which industries churn at which times of year, which key players in key targets are moving into and out of roles pivotal to the selling process, and how best to reach out to them.

Effective lead generators invest deeply in their audiences.

Anybody can blast emails to a list or force-feed generic “marketing” or “sales” audiences a piece of premium content on LinkedIn, but the true artists among lead generators live and breath their audiences. They know, for example, which blogs their audiences read, how they get the information that they do, how they research new products, etc. Some of this comes from intuition – like the fact that a CEO is a lot more likely to check an email than they are to download premium content from your blog – but most of the info will come from places like Google Analytics, not typically a B2B marketer’s domain. But with it, you can understand a better story of how current customers come to you, making it easier to strategize as you attempt to generate more of the same.

Effective lead generators don’t take sides in the “inbound / outbound” debate.

Though Hubspot would like us to believe that content will solve all of our problems, it won’t. But it isn’t worthless, and neither are email campaigns. It’s really just about finding the balance that works for your audience and delivering a thoughtful, strategic allbound approach. If you have 5 channels you know are effective with your audience (let’s say email, paid Facebook, paid LinkedIn, organic Twitter, and premium content on your own blog), that should be your guide. There are no quick fixes, and if you don’t feel like Goldilocks while developing your lead gen strategy, you’re doing it wrong.

Effective lead generators work with the eye of a designer.

Working in something like Marketo makes it tempting to slap together “good enough” landing pages and deploy them with the quickness, but you shouldn’t. Anyone will tell you that UI & UX are vital to any lead gen efforts that use landing pages as a touchpoint. They need to look good, make sense, be clear and exciting, and on brand. Typically, this will involve some level of A/B testing as you further develop an understanding of what color and design stories your audience responds to best, which drives the actions you want, etc..

Effective lead generators are obsessed with the lead gen space.

We all find ourselves in jobs we don’t care about every once in awhile. We punch a ticket, we do the status quo, and we check out. Lead gen has no room for people like that. Rockstar lead generators have RSS feeds for days keeping them up to the minute on industry trends, news related to possible target companies, and relevant tech. They spend their down time sharing tips in LinkedIn groups, on blogs, or whatever location of the web their job leads them to. They live and breathe the infrastructure of their process because they know that, without it, without the sharpest tools and the sharpest intel, they’re just going through the motions and won’t end up anywhere good.

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Austin Duck is Content Marketing Manager for CircleBack, the intelligent contact manager that offers real-time updates to contact information as people in your network change jobs, careers, etc. He lives in DC with his wife and army of cats.