Sales lead generation means finding people who you think could be potential customers and connecting with them to see if they will buy what you are selling.

In our experience about 70% of the success of a lead generation campaign is down to who you target, and the other 30% is down to what you say to them (your messaging).

So, if you want to succeed at lead generation, you need to put effort into searching for the right people.

Why Is Accurate Targeting Important?

Better response rates

Firstly, if you target the right people, they are more likely to respond.

For example, if you are selling accounting software and try contacting every C-level executive at a target company, you are not going to get a response from a lot of those people because (obviously) they don’t need your product.

If you instead focus mostly on Finance roles and people who hold P&L responsibilities, the response will be better.

Better sales conversion rates

Lead qualification is an important part of the sales process. It happens after you generate the lead and give it to the sales team. They have to qualify the lead to ensure the person has a real requirement for your product or service and, just as importantly, can access the money to pay for it.

If your sales team is spending more time disqualifying leads than qualifying, then you are targeting the wrong people and wasting your sales team’s time.

If you are careful, ensuring you are targeting the correct audience, you will generate more qualified leads than disqualified and your sales people will make better use of their time.

Shorter sales cycles

One final way to know if you are hitting the correct targets is the length of the sales process. If your sales cycle should normally take 4 months but you notice it is taking a lot longer with new leads, then you could be targeting the wrong audience.

Defining your Target Audience

Your target audience is a specific group of people you want to target because you think they are most likely to buy your products or services.

A target audience is a subset of your target market.  For example, your target market could be financial services companies, but your target audience could be IT managers at mid-size banks.

It is important to define who your target audience is, understand what their needs are, and how your product or service can fulfil those needs.

Finding Contacts That Match Your Target Audience Profile

The first step in defining your target audience is to look at your existing customers to create an Ideal Customer Profile. The Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) is a simplified description of which companies you sell to most successfully.

Which sectors do you sell to, within those sectors, what roles do you typically sell to and what size of company?

You can get this information by looking over your sales for the previous 2 years and categorizing the companies by sector and size, then identifying who was the main point of contact during the sale.

You can expand this Ideal Customer Profile by researching your industry and competition to identify other promising target profiles that you don’t currently serve.

For example, targeting a new sector, or a new company size, or a new country.

Once you have a clear understanding of who you want to target, you can identify contacts that match that profile, and then create messaging tailored specifically to them and their needs.

How do you know your target profile is right?

One way to know if you are hitting the correct targets is to analyse the level of engagement – how are they responding when you try to connect with them?

Do some groups respond at a higher rate than others? Do people with certain roles or industry sectors or company sizes respond more often?

You can measure engagement across each of the channels you use to connect with target customers.

For outbound email your first measure of engagement is “how many positive responses are we getting – are we generating sales calls”? You also look at open rates to see if some groups open at a better rate than others. And you check if some people are opening multiple emails in a sequence, which indicates some interest in what you are saying, even if they have not responded yet.

For social media, you can use the analytics dashboards on LinkedIn, Twitter and other platforms to measure engagement using metrics like likes, comments, shares, followers etc.

For your website, you can cross-check the impact of your outreach activities against your website analytics data so you can see if you get visits from people you are targeting.

But note that while shares, comments and site visits are all welcome, the real measure of successful targeting are responses – a reply from a target contact saying “Yes, I’m interested in what you are selling and I’d like to talk”.


Targeting is 70% of the success in lead generation.

Follow the simple steps above to make sure you are targeting the right people.

We also provide some related articles on How to select a target market and How to write Outbound Emails when reaching out to your target audience that you may find useful.

Written by Michael White

Michael White is co-founder and CEO of Motarme, the Sales Technology and Services vendor. You can find him on LinkedIn .

Motarme provides sales prospecting and lead generation services to Business-to-Business (B2B) technology, engineering and services companies.


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