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Generate Leads and Get the Most Out of Your Sales Funnel

7min read


Whether new to sales or looking to revamp your lead generation strategy, knowing how to generate your own leads vs paying for leads is crucial to growing a healthy pipeline of high-intent buyers and converting more sales. 

In this post, we will break down:

  • What is lead generation? 
  • What are the stages of a sales funnel?
  • How to generate quality leads with Cole Information. 


What is lead generation and why is it important?

Sometimes referred to as the top-of-funnel strategy, lead generation is a set of marketing activities an organization uses to attract potential customers into its sales funnel.

Different organizations approach lead generation in different ways depending on the product or service they provide – there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. If you’re in real estate, insurance, or home services, a multichannel, hyperlocal approach allows you to prospect smarter in the areas you most want to sell and be the first to reach out to potential customers that fit your ideal client profile. A multichannel marketing strategy gives you the most reach by connecting with your prospect through both digital and physical channels as well as speaking directly to them over the phone.

In general, a good lead generation strategy checks off five fundamental criteria;

  • Creates awareness and interest
  • Educates the customer about the problem you solve and the product you sell
  • Builds trust and demonstrates your authority, and eventually, 
  • Leads to a sale. If it doesn’t lead to a sale right away, you
  • Stay top of mind when the time to buy is right.

Generating your own leads is a powerful way to fill your pipeline with pre-qualified buyers. Qualified prospects are leads who fit your ideal client profile. 

When you use a lead list like Cole’s, you can build a customized prospect list based on specific client-profile search criteria like demographics, time in the home, and upcoming insurance expiration dates. 

By already knowing who you’re trying to sell to, you can target your marketing campaign to suit their needs.

However, not every potential customer is ready to buy… yet. That’s why it’s important to think about the steps someone goes through in deciding whether or not to work with you. Those steps are often called a sales funnel.


Let’s start with the basics: What is the sales funnel?

A sales funnel is the path your prospect takes from first becoming aware of your product or service to either completing a sale and becoming a customer, staying in your funnel until they are convinced to make a purchase, or leaving without a purchase or the intention to do business with you. In a perfect world, everyone who enters your funnel would exit having made a purchase, but that isn’t realistic. The sales funnel works to qualify your prospects, either convincing them to do business with you or convincing them that you aren’t the right fit for their needs. 

The sales funnel has three basic parts, and each part has several sales and marketing activities that occur in order to “sell” your prospect.


Awareness- the top of your funnel.

The awareness stage is exactly what it sounds like, generating initial awareness of your product or service. This can happen through lead-generation content and outreach like word-of-mouth, a podcast, an ad in the newspaper, a post on social media, etc. The purpose of lead-generating content is to spark interest by delivering valuable and memorable information and to capture the potential client’s email. Email capture, also called lead capture is a top-of-funnel strategy that captures contact info, converts prospects into leads, and allows your marketing campaign to send content designed to convert the lead to a sale.  

For more info on the sales process and launching an email campaign, check out our post here.


Consideration- the middle of your funnel.

After the prospect enters your sales funnel by engaging with your lead-generating content, you now have direct access to their inbox and can start marketing to them. Your marketing needs to be convincing, offer value, and explain how your business solves their problem. If the lead generator they downloaded to get into your funnel pertains to roofing, your email marketing can reinforce the subject by stressing the importance of maintaining a well-kept roof with proper gutters, shingles, and routine inspection. Every email communication should have a direct call-to-action, a link, or a button that calls your target prospect to reach out to your business. The middle-of-funnel activities revolve around providing your prospective customers with the information they need to make a buying decision. Even if your efforts don’t result in a sale the first time through the funnel, your prospects aren’t lost completely. They simply may need to go through your email funnel again until the time is right to buy. 

As your leads cycle through your funnel again, your marketing should offer more value in the form of case studies, testimonials, and other educational content designed to overcome any objections they may still have. Case studies are great because they prove how your product or service has helped someone just like your target customer. 


Decision- the bottom of your funnel.

Once your prospect has moved through the consideration stage, it’s time for them to make a decision to buy or not. Rather than let them passively make this decision, you should be actively convincing them to buy from you with special offers, discounts, and incentives to buy now. If you’re successful, they convert to a customer and you can focus your marketing efforts on retention, loyalty, and referral business. If they did not convert, you can continue to market to them via a new campaign so that you stay top of mind.

During the decision stage, the prospective client will be making comparisons on pricing between you and your competitors. This is the best time to make your best offer to secure their business. A discount, coupon, or referral bonus are great incentives to nudge your prospective client to commit to a purchase and better yet, refer their friends or family.

Now that you’ve captured all this great contact information, what do you do with it and how do you manage it? We have some ideas for how to manage your customer contact info and automated email campaigns, up next.


Manage your email campaigns with CRM (customer relationship management) software like Hubspot, Salesforce, or MailChimp.

A CRM takes the hassle out of managing multiple lead lists and thousands of emails. The great thing about CRMs is that you can automate your marketing campaigns. CRM software also gives you insight into the engagement of your recipients and the effectiveness of your email marketing. This insight allows you to adjust your approach based on key metrics for successful email campaigns. For more information on email marketing KPIs, check out our post here.


How to generate quality leads with Cole Information.

Generating your own leads can take an investment of time and effort but ultimately, nets better results than a pay-per-lead approach. When you generate your own leads, you are connecting with quality prospects you’ve selected based on your ideal client profile. Having already researched your ideal client, you can take a targeted and strategic approach with your marketing and speak directly to their individual needs which makes them more likely to convert to a sale.

Here’s how it works:

Using a customized lead list from Cole, generate leads based on a target area and set the search criteria for your ideal client’s profile; household income, family size, how long they’ve owned their home; when their insurance policy renews, the age of their roof, for sale by owner properties, just listed, just sold, expired listings, etc. 

You now have a list of prospects who fit your ideal customer profile for that particular market segment and can begin a direct mail campaign that informs them about recent listings in their area or deals and specials you are offering for the neighborhood. This approach builds an initial awareness of your business and starts to establish your authority as the expert in the area.

You can continue delivering relevant, curated content in the form of direct mailings, emails, flyers, and newsletters; helping you stay top of mind and reinforcing your status as an expert in your city. The more points of contact, the more the relationship grows and the more authority, trust, and credibility you earn during the consideration stage of the funnel. 

As your prospective clients move through the consideration stage, boost your efforts with testimonials and case studies from the same area you are prospecting. Offer a free estimate, evaluation, or bonus. Your goal should be to outshine the competition or retain your prospective client’s interest until they are ready to make their buying decision and already know they want to do business with you.


Want some ideas to help you get started with becoming an expert on your city?

Download our free ebook, How To Become An Expert On Your City. 



Generating your own leads with hyperlocal prospecting is a great way to fill your funnel with leads you’ve pre-selected based on your target area and ideal client profile.

If you’re ready to start prospecting smarter, generate your own leads with Cole Information’s custom lead lists. A subscription to Cole allows you to prospect your way with a fully customizable lead list, curated to your target area or client’s needs. 


Learn more about how Cole can help you reach the right people at the right time.

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Call us to learn more about team pricing.


It only takes a few minutes to see how we can help you maximize your prospecting strategy!

A man smiling at his computer

Call us to learn more about team pricing.


It only takes a few minutes to see how we can help you maximize your prospecting strategy!