A highly effective SaaS sales process begins with an equally effective lead acquisition strategy. But how do you find the right people with the right intent? That’s a mountain sales leaders have to move every single day.
Yes! And to make matters worse, you have to compete with other SaaS teams to get their undivided attention, and get it quick.
But fear not, dear friend! There’s not just one, but five proven solutions to the challenges you face. Below, we’re doing a deep dive into the art and science of SaaS lead acquisition. And detailing 5 time-tested tips you can use to get high-value leads.
But first, let’s begin with the basics.
What is Lead Acquisition?
Lead acquisition is the marketing process of identifying, targeting, and qualifying a lead towards a sales opportunity, someone who shows interest in your products/services and fits your ideal customer profile with a 95% match.
Here’s a snapshot of what the lead generation process looks like.
There are two ways to go about acquiring leads: finding the lead yourself (outbound) and letting the lead discover you organically (inbound).
Let’s take a deeper dive, shall we?
Inbound Lead Generation
Inbound lead generation is the process of attracting and nurturing contacts into leads through organic methods like search marketing, social media, or direct referrals, so they get interested and initiate the first action. This could mean signing up for your newsletter, sliding into your LinkedIn DMs, or reaching out to sales professionals for a demo.
For example, most gated content on brand sites has a pop-up form wall. If you’d like to access the content, you’ll have to enter your contact info. Hence called a “lead” magnet 😉
See how Freshworks uses case studies to get contacts.
This is the lowest-hanging fruit for generating inbound leads. Here’s another example of a lead magnet from OSlash, nestled cleverly between sections in a blog post.
Outbound Lead Generation
Outbound lead generation is the process of identifying and directly targeting contacts closest to your ideal customer profile (ICP) and converting them into a lead through cold calling, ABM, Search Ads, or direct mail. This approach is highly specific and proactive.
For example, you can reach out to potential buyers via LinkedIn cold DMs. Here’s one way you can approach the process strategically (zoom in for better legibility!).
So…which one is the better lead acquisition technique for SaaS? Outbound or inbound?
It depends (as usual!), on various factors: response time, budget to spare, ROI, credibility, and quality of leads. But ideally, a mix of both inbound and outbound lead acquisition tactics will give you the best results. With inbound, you can attract more high-intent leads, while outbound efforts can help in bringing visibility and generate demand for your SaaS product.
But inbound or outbound, not all leads that express interest are dying to learn more about your product or hop on a discovery call with sales. Because not all leads are created equal.
When speaking of lead acquisition, there’s one aspect everyone tends to overlook: lead qualification.
Why You Must Qualify Leads Before Adding Them to Your CRM
Most incoming leads, especially inbound, will not be sales-ready. That means every second and every penny you spend chasing a lead unlikely to buy is a cost you pay from your own pocket. This makes lead qualification non-negotiable.
As a lead moves down the sales funnel, two layers of qualification should be applied to it (and in the order provided below).
- Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs): When a lead expresses interest in the brand by interacting with marketing content like search Ads or signing up for a trial but hasn’t connected with the sales team yet.
- Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs): When the sales team has interacted with and qualified the lead as ripe for a sales opportunity, you get SQLs.
This is important because, if your sales funnel is overflowing with the wrong-fit leads, it’s as good as empty and as useful as watering plants on a rainy day.
In such a case, your lead acquisition strategy will need a full-blown overhaul. If you’re unsure how to begin the process, our lead qualification checklist can help. Check out!
Is Lead Generation the Same as Lead Acquisition?
Let us explain the difference between lead generation and lead acquisition using a simple equation.
Lead generation + lead qualification = lead acquisition.
As evident, lead generation is only the first step of the sales process. It’s also as much a function of marketing as sales. To know if a lead is actually valuable and worth pursuing, you have to set qualification criteria at multiple touchpoints.
This exercise helps in filtering out suspects from hot prospects and gives you a legitimate number of potential customers likely to convert. This combined process from the first contact to becoming a qualified lead is called lead acquisition.
5 SaaS Lead Acquisition Strategies to Steal Today
Clear on the concept? Alright, it’s now time to check out the best lead acquisition strategies for SaaS.
#1 Embed Interactive Demos in Landing Pages and Email Nurture Campaigns
You know the age-old marketing adage: show, don’t tell? That’s exactly what interactive demos offer.
As a product marketer, you know how landing pages and email campaigns are two marketing channels that rarely disappoint. But with embedded interactive product demos? You’re off to a great start with lead generation.
Fulcrum, a SaaS ERP, MRP, and MES platform for manufacturers, received 32k+ views, 400+ leads, and 280h+ of watching time with their product walkthrough alone. Meanwhile, this interactive demo resulted in a solid 15% conversion rate for Tabular, a data automation platform.
It’s also the simplest way to show the product in action to potential buyers moving in a self-serve manner.
Here’s exhibit A:
Storylane’s 10-minute interactive demos can help you create such interesting lead magnets. Our platform is also user-friendly, so you can design live+guided tours, product walkthroughs, and a whole lot more without having to go through a complex process.
#2 Create Content Mapped to the Customer Journey
Content continues to reign supreme in the SaaS land. But what type of content is best to attract, impress, and engage prospective customers? To know, you must look at their level of awareness and create content mapped to the stages in the customer journey.
Because SERPs are a battleground, and there’s more bloodshed than glory even for the most consistent content marketing efforts. Imagine getting so many search results for a heavy-intent keyword such as Mailchimp!
But SEO is a long, hard game. And if you’re new to it, here’s how you can get there.
Alternatively, as Tim Clarke, Sr. Reputation Manager at RizeReviews, suggests – using paid media like targeted ads can also help you attract best-fit leads as you’re starting to scale. His rationale? “Targeted ads are personalized messages sent to prospects who meet specific criteria, such as age, gender, location, or interests. With targeted advertising, you can acquire high-quality leads that are more likely to convert into paying customers.”
#3 Go for a Founder-Led Warm Outreach
“The biggest trap in SaaS is spending a tonne of marketing $$ even before there is a product-market fit,” announces Ashwin Krishna, AVP - Marketing at HighRadius, in a LinkedIn presentation titled The Biggest Trap in 0 to 1 Enterprise SaaS Journey.
Instead, he suggests going for a founder-led warm lead outreach: “As a founder, you’ve got to be absolutely, absolutely focused in terms of selecting a set of accounts. Must win top accounts, and identify the decision-makers and start doing 1-on-1 outreach.”
He continues: “Pick a set of enterprise accounts where you have connects, where there is a friend who’s working, where there’s a friend’s friend who’s working and do warm outreach.”
#4 Use Social Proof Like Customer Reviews and Testimonials
Cody Candee, Founder and CEO of Bounce, talks about the necessity of standing out in the crowded SaaS space, saying: “Customers are exposed to literally hundreds of promotions a day, therefore to separate yourself from the crowd you should encourage your current customers to leave reviews.”
Andrew Chen, Chief Product Officer for Videeo, agrees on how “testimonials are great for generating leads because they encourage these people to share their experiences and express their satisfaction with your products or services with your target audience.”
Cody also stresses on “encouraging your customers to leave reviews, post video testimonials, or even leave opinions with third-party publications, and then making them readily available through your digital platforms to provide social proof. By doing so, you can create an effective lead acquisition strategy that is driven by one of the most significant factors in consumer decision-making.”
But a simple, generic quote from an unfamiliar face won’t cut it. As Richard Harris, 3x Salesforce Sales Leader and Business Consultant writes on LinkedIn.
#5 Harness Virtual Events to Find High-Intent Leads
“Whether you’re streaming a commencement ceremony, demonstrating your expertise, or a keynote, hosting virtual events is a fantastic way to generate leads,” opines Saad Alam, CEO of Hone Health.
And the best part? You don’t need to make hefty investments in conferencing tools. As he continues, “LinkedIn’s virtual event promotion tools allow you to optimize promotion with intuitive banners and call-to-action buttons, create a native event landing page, and easily share events with your followers. LinkedIn then allows you to showcase highlights from the event on your business page’s video tab, serving as an intuitive hub to showcase your products.”
This is how acquiring and nurturing a lead using a webinar will look like.
Before You Go…
…a final tip! Cut back on complexity and simplify the customer acquisition process.
Why? It’s simply psychology. There is a higher level of disconnect when engaging with complex and complicated stuff. And a complex lead generation process falls in a similar bucket.
As Ryan Rottman, Co-Founder & CEO of OSDB, shares: “The digital world has re-trained our brains to expect speed and efficiency, so creating a complex process to get on a subscription email list or requiring many steps to get to a desired result runs counter to this condition, and can lead to people quickly opting out.”
What does a lead development specialist do?
A lead generation specialist is responsible for attracting and qualifying leads to support the sales and marketing team in building a sales pipeline to improve the company’s bottom line.