Lead Generation vs. Closing Sales

Get in the weeds. Lose the leads.

When I learned the difference between lead generation and closing sales, it changed everything for our web design agency.

In the beginning, I didn’t distinguish between lead generation and closing sales. It was all bundled together into one big ball, and landing new clients felt like luck. It was unpredictable and very difficult to reproduce on a consistent basis. My business depended almost entirely on word-of-mouth referrals. All other forms of marketing fell flat.

My website wasn’t generating leads. Nobody was submitting my contact form. The phone wasn’t ringing. Then I had an incredibly eye-opening realization about high-ticket lead generation for building websites for local businesses. It’s actually a two-step process.

Leads and Sales

Leads are discovered. Clients are chosen.

Generating leads for high-ticket web design and digital marketing is NOT about trying to pre-sell people on working with you. It is extremely difficult to build a landing page – or even an entire website – that’s capable of generating thousands of dollars of buying intent. Even if you could do it, you probably wouldn’t want to because building a profitable business requires you to select profitable clients.

When I realized the difference between leads and clients, it fundamentally changed my approach to both inbound and outbound marketing. In other words, it changed what I said on my website (people coming to me), and it changed what I said when I was talking to people (me reaching out to them).

Lead Generation Is About Curiosity

Lead generation for web design is just getting someone curious enough to want to learn more. It’s not about convincing someone to buy anything. Save the selling for later. The goal is simply to offer an outcome that people want. Then provide enough context for people to believe that the outcome is achievable if they work with you.

That means we need to focus on three basic concepts in our marketing.

  1. Who is this for?
  2. What is the outcome?
  3. Why does it work?

Nothing else matters at this point in the customer journey. The goal of lead generation is to move the client from feeling stuck in a problem to sensing hope on the horizon. It’s not about tech specs, pricing, or sales.

Saying Too Much Kills Lead Generation

When I was new to sales and marketing, I thought the primary goal of lead generation was to get people to understand exactly what it was that I could do for them. The goal of almost everything I did was to educate people about my services.

Of course, this would immediately overwhelm people. They don’t want to get down into the weeds with me. They were just daydreaming and swallowing yawns until I shut up.

Get in the weeds. Lose the leads.

It was worse than wasted time. Nobody got what they wanted, and everyone left feeling frustrated.

The Ironic Truth About Getting Leads

The ironic truth is that you have to learn a lot in order to listen. The client does not care about what you do yet. When it comes to lead generation, the first thing the client needs to know is whether or not you can help. In order to figure that out, the client needs to be heard.

If you want more leads, show people you know their pain.

Listen in such a way that you’re able to describe your clients’ problems equally as well, if not better than they can articulate them themselves.

When someone believes that you fully understand the problem, they will automatically assume you also have the answer.

I find two things about this truth to be ironic.

  1. The client cares more about the problem than the solution.
  2. You have to know the solution, but you can’t talk about it… yet.

Knowing The Solution First

If you don’t know what the solution is, you won’t be able to ask the right questions. Essentially, you’re searching to find the missing piece. But if you don’t know what the complete picture looks like, you won’t be able to recognize the missing piece.

It’s just like any other sequential process. The order matters.

If my daughter tried to bake cookies but they didn’t turn out right, I’d say, “Tell me what you did.”

Then I’d listen to her to figure out where things went off the rails. But if I don’t know the full solution first, I won’t recognize the missing piece.

The Goal Is Getting The Lead

Onboarding new clients for web design and digital marketing projects ultimately happens in two steps. The first step is getting the lead to meet with you. The second step is closing the sale. Right now, we’re exclusively focused on lead generation. We’ll worry about closing the sale later.

Bottom line: We want calls on the calendar.

Important note: The bottom line is NOT to sell something. Lead generation is all about getting leads. It sounds so obvious when you hear it, but it is such an elusive truth hiding right there in plain sight.

That means all we need to do is pique someone’s interest enough to want to learn more. There are a lot of little details that go into getting someone to want to learn more. It’s such a deep rabbit hole that I don’t believe I’ll ever hit the bottom. But there are three major levers we need to crank.

Lead Generation Formula

When a person believes these three things, you will always get the lead.

  1. This is for people exactly like me
  2. This is exactly the result I want
  3. I believe this will work

Check out this next video to see a bunch of examples of what you can say to generate more leads from your website.

Blue Theory

Blue Theory is the coaching community where web designers consistently land clients at higher prices.

Show up, and your business will grow. Guaranteed.

The Authority Framework

Discover the counterintuitive strategies I’ve developed over the last 20 years for landing serious, growth-oriented web design clients.

This is a modern approach to solving the most frustrating problems of running your own web design business.