Creating contacts which lead to demand

The anatomy of a great ‘lead’

Throughout the course of the past 20 years, digital sales and marketing has picked up in popularity, with an abundance of themes and jargon thrown out into the ether.

Although not designed to confuse, it’s all too easy for business owners to not know the differences in the types of ‘leads’ they will generate.

Today we are going to break down the difference in the three core means of generating interest – contacts, leads and demand.

Contact generation marketing

Simply, contact generation is the capturing of a person into your database.

The information you take will be of a bare minimum, typically the first + last name of the contact, as well as an email address.

These are people that would be considered as part of the top of the marketing and sales funnel, they are just starting to explore the issues which have brought them to your site. They are people who will offer their details for:

  • Newsletters
  • Blogs
  • Templates
  • Account creation
  • 3rd party events

Now, given why they are offering their information to you, it’s logical that these are people who won’t be ready to talk to you immediately about a demo, pricing or a free consultation.

Contacts will likely find their way to you through awareness-based content (like a beginner’s guide to podcasting), and should be classified like this in your CRM. For example, in HubSpot this would be a default lifecycle stage of ‘Contact’.

These are people who either have a fleeting interest in your business (or the topic your business talks about), they’re potentially students looking for commercial sources for their studies, or they’re getting a flavour of who you are.

It follows to reason then that you would consider these people of lower value in terms of their place in your pipeline.

Turning these people into leads would be a case of nurturing efforts such as remarketing through PPC, LinkedIn Sales Navigator outreach, and a whole plethora of push sales and marketing such as email workflows.

Lead generation marketing

Lead generation is the bread and butter of marketing.


That is because this is where your marketing efforts demonstrate a clear ROI.

While contact generation is fantastic in the sense that it gives you a database of contacts to nurture throughout their buyer’s journey, a lead is a warning shot. It is the signal of incoming intent.

Lead generation typically looks like a contact giving their details for:

  • Templates
  • Checklists
  • eBooks
  • Whitepapers
  • Webinars

It shows that someone is willing to provide more information for the content they need to inform their purchase.

These are people who will either sit in your database as a contact and you’ve nurtured through email workflows and in-blog CTAs (call-to-actions), or they could be someone completely new who has landed on your eBook or webinar page through PPC or organic.

You would be looking to capture their full name, job title, email, and company name. If, for example, you are using HubSpot, Infusionsoft or Marketo as your CRM and use their web forms, these will automatically capture the company information based on the work email address used.

In any case, they are people you will want to monitor and perhaps make your sales team aware of as they move towards a purchase.

You can nurture leads by either handing them over to business development representatives, for example, or you could use a lead scoring model to ensure that they have completed a particular set of actions before being given to your sales team.

What does this mean in relation to demand generation? If you consider contacts, leads and demand to be split into thirds based on value and likelihood of becoming customers in your sales cycle, it would look like:

  • Contacts @10%
  • Leads @35%
  • Demand @55%

We’ll cover more about demand generation in the next section.

Demand Generation

Demand generation is the burning flag in the ground. It is a person telling you that they are ready to talk about your solution, and, in essence, the focus is on your business development representatives to present a compelling case to ensure your company wins the business.

Demand generation focuses on the bottom of the funnel, the end of the yellow brick road of the marketing and sales pipeline.

Therefore, you would likely classify someone as fitting into the demand category for:

  • Demo requests
  • Product availability (e.g. a postcode checker)
  • Pricing
  • Free trials
  • Case studies
  • Consultation

Here, you would be building on name, job title and email address, adding in phone number and perhaps more progressive qualification questions like budget and existing provider, for example.

Much like leads, you are going to generate demand through nurturing activities, but marketing switches to supporting sales with sales sequencing and ensuring they have a clear value proposition about why the contact should purchase from you.

They are, undoubtedly, the highest quality of interest for your business, and as such should be treated differently.

They have shown a clear interest, and in 2020 where brand loyalties are at unprecedented lows, and buyer confidence is through the floor, this is a good signal that someone does want to buy from you, providing they’re BANT qualified.

And, therefore, there will likely be less of these people, meaning every effort must be used to convert them to business.

Closing thoughts

Contacts create leads. Leads create demand. Demand creates business.

Perhaps that is an oversimplification, but that is the reality.

You must have appropriate marketing and sales tools to nurture people along their buying journey. Someone who wants a newsletter each month is not necessarily going to want to hear about your fantastic new product.

These three stages represent differing values to your business, but one thing will remain crucial as you fulfil your pipeline and choose how to engage these types of interest:

Context is king.