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A successful lead generation incorporates many functions of your business, from tools such as the telephone to the customer service and sales people. Below are some of the items to consider when creating or improving a lead generation program.

1. CRM software

This tool is a must-have because it allows you to house all the information associated with your customers and prospects. You can also track deals and follow-up tasks, engagement on the website, etc. Many tools now include marketing automation and other features.

You may already have an ERP system that tracks all your manufacturing functions, including customer POs, order history, inventory, etc.

If you have a legacy application that lacks many of today’s sales and marketing functions, but you don’t want to change software due to expense and time, consider a standalone CRM.

2. Customer list

Without a dedicated CRM, customer information tends to reside in many places, including email or contact tools, Excel spreadsheets, and social media accounts.

Having information dispersed like this makes it difficult to conduct a campaign to reactivate dormant customers – as well as keep abreast of your existing customer base.

Once you have your CRM in place, block out time to learn how to use it and set it up accurately. Export your LinkedIn contacts to a spreadsheet, identify which ones are customers, then import to your CRM.

3. Tag list

One nice feature of having a CRM is the ability to tag your contacts by customer type (“inactive,” “active”), industry, or any other descriptor relevant to your business.

Once you’ve tagged people, it’s then very easy to run a simple search by tag and then create a campaign specific to that group of people.

To keep your tags organized, create your list before you import contact names, then refer to the list as you tag people. Add everyone to a “Master” list; this way, you won’t “lose” people.

4. Website RFQ form

One mistake we often see is using a website contact form as the RFQ form. Contact forms should be used to allow people to ask general questions that aren’t sales-related.

Keep your RFQ form as short and simple as you can. If people are viewing your RFQ form but not filling it out, determine why.

One company we worked with, for example, reduced their RFQ form to eight fields — four of which didn’t require information. Form submissions increased dramatically. The company received much better information, too.

5. Written and tested inquiry process

When asked, “What’s your biggest challenge?” manufacturers often say, “Generating more leads.”

Because smaller manufacturers often lack an internal sales department, they don’t have a written and tested process for responding to leads. See our piece, “Auditing Your Online Sales Process to Improve ROI” for strategies on how to stress test your own process.

6. Time and people

We’ve seen many times how a company gets the leads they want but lacks the internal resources to respond to them in a timely manner. Yikes!

Determine who will respond to inquiries and determine who will respond to inquiries and make it a goal to provide a quote within 24-48 hours if possible. Determine where your bottlenecks are and then find the solution for removing each one.

7. Cross-functional alignment

In smaller companies, Sales is integrated with many departments and functions: marketing, website, inventory, engineering, and production.

To effectively implement continuous improvement with your lead generation program, your sales process has to have cross-functional alignment. By this we mean all departments within the company have to know and understand their role in the process of helping the company grow with regard to sales.

If you’re the CEO, this crucial alignment starts with you. How you develop and implement this process depends on your culture, company and team. Your first step is get everyone into a room to listen to ideas and feedback.


Dianna Huff is the founder and president of Huff Industrial Marketing, a full service agency that tackles a host of marketing and communications challenges for manufacturing companies.

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