Of course you want to fill the top of your marketing funnel with lots of leads. But as soon as they enter the funnel, you also want to start qualifying them to see which ones are worth the additional time and effort to guide toward the bottom. Lead scoring and grading help you do just that, calculating a lead’s value to your company (score) and likelihood of converting to an active customer (grade). Using lead scoring and grading together can be an effective way to ensure that only high-quality leads are passed on to your sales team. Lead management software can automate lead scoring and grading as well.
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Recently,[when?] there has been a rapid increase in online lead generation: banner and direct response advertising that works off a CPL pricing model. In a pay-per-acquisition (PPA) pricing model, advertisers pay only for qualified leads resulting from those actions, irrespective of the clicks or impressions that went into generating the lead. PPA advertising is playing an active role in online lead generation.
It's tough to figure out if your lead generation strategy is working if you aren't looking at industry data. That's why we partnered with Qualtrics to survey more than 900 marketers from all different industries in North America and Europe to create a demand generation report with data on website visitors, leads, opportunities, customers, and revenue.
If you are fanatical about having the most comprehensive listing of companies available, then Hoover's may be for you. It consists of what is probably the largest datatabase of business in the world, a mind-boggling 65 million+ companies and 85 million+ individuals within those companies. Hoovers is a standard fixture at many professional sales organizations and the premium version lets you create lists and have access to more information that the free version.

Customer journeys today are quite a bit different from a generation ago. Buyers are knowledgeable, they want to feel kinship with your brand, and they want you to answer their questions and respond to their needs —  but not until they’re ready. Crafting a solid lead generation strategy can help you find leads, separate the “ready to buys” from the “just lookings,” and nurture the qualified ones down the funnel and through your sales pipeline. It’s the difference between waiting for something good to happen to you, and getting out there to make your business grow.
Because lead generation is the first step in the sales process, both quality and quantity are important factors. Quality leads are leads that a salesperson has a good chance of closing, which means they must at least have the potential to become customers. Every lead list will have a number of junk leads – people who are not qualified to buy the product for some reason – but the smaller the percentage of bad leads, the less time salespeople will waste while processing that list. Quantity is also important because even a salesperson with a list of 100% good leads won't be able to close every one of them. A salesperson with 100 good leads might be able to make 10 appointments, out of which 4 will close the sale. Therefore, if a salesperson has a quota of 40 sales per month, she will need 1000 good leads per month just to make the minimum required number of sales.
Product qualified leads are contacts who've used your product and taken actions that indicate interest in becoming a paying customer. PQLs typically exist for companies who offer a product trial or a free or limited version of their product (like HubSpot!) with options to upgrade, which is where your sales team comes in. An example of a PQL is a customer who uses your free version but engages or asks about features that are only available upon payment.
Display ads are typically highly targeted to different demographic or behavioral actions. You can select where you want the ads to be seen by choosing an online publication that you feel is a place where your leads spend time, or you can also leverage re-targeter ads that can cookie a lead that views your site. With re-targeter ads, once a person gets cookied, your ads appear on other sites that he or she visits afterwards. Through online ads you can reach more of your target audience, educate potential prospects, and drive leads. Display ads also serve a purpose at every stage in the funnel—building brand and audience at Top of Funnel, educating and helping evaluation at Mid-Funnel, and increasing conversions at Bottom of Funnel.  
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