10 Ways Lead Gen Has Changed Over the Past 10 Years

by 23 Sep 2022Lead Generation Articles

Smartlead have been lead generation experts for 10 years! A lot has changed about lead gen since we first started out. Find out what.

What were you doing 10 years ago? In September 2012, we were still buzzing after London hosted the Olympics. Perhaps less buzzing about the fact David Cameron was Prime Minister. One Direction were snapping up number ones and BRIT Awards left, right and centre. Gangnam Style was the first YouTube video to hit 1 billion views. And Smartlead Marketing was a brand new, shiny startup lead gen business.

Now, we’ve been in business for a whole 10 years.

Smartlead marketing has been perfecting lead generation for 10 years

A decade on from 2012, maybe we’ll never get over 1D breaking up, and we still do a great rendition of Gangnam Style at the office Christmas party. But now we’ve definitely established ourselves as serious contenders in the lead generation market. So, in celebration of turning 10, we’re looking at how the world of lead generation has evolved since 2012.

10 ways lead gen has changed in the last decade

1. Globalisation

Our world seems a lot smaller now than it did a decade ago. Globalisation was well on its way anyway and has been intensely fuelled by the pandemic and the stratospheric rise of remote working. Not just remote working, but remote learning, remote meetings, remote conferences and remote versions of just about every human interaction possible.

Technology has facilitated global integration to the point that there’s a global sense of sameness and familiarity in business that transcends borders, time zones, language barriers and cultures. As a result, your target audience is likely to be broader and more diverse than ever. We’ve worked with so many clients in recent years, particularly post-COVID, who are increasingly expanding their sales focus into international markets. Long may the increased opportunities continue.

2. Quality over quantity of leads

10 years ago, marketing departments had one overriding objective. “Pass the sales department a ton of leads to work with.” 10 years ago, sales departments had one overriding complaint. “The marketing department keep handing us a ton of leads – and they’re naff.”

This was the basis of the culture of reciprocal buck passing that used to exist between sales and marketing. Marketing were expected to drum up the interest. Sales departments were expected to “annoy the many to convert the few”. But, unsurprisingly, this wasn’t much fun for the sales team. Or the people who were being annoyed by them.

Smartlead marketing working hard on your lead generation strategy

A decade on, there’s a definitive shift in attitudes towards lead generation. It’s no longer a numbers game. It’s about providing sales teams with quality prospects that are supported by intelligent data, well-researched, qualified and actually have a hope of being interested in what they’re selling. In 2022, it’s all about not wasting your time – or anyone else’s time.

3. Third-party intent data

Data has been a driver of change in lead gen in so many ways. But one of the most impactful has been the use of intent data for account identification, account/lead scoring and message optimisation.

The holy grail of lead generation is finding a way to get on your prospect’s radar when they’re at the critical research stage. Third-party intent data is most likely to give you insight into who may be actively thinking about purchasing a product or service just like yours based on their interactions and behaviours collected by other parties and purchased by you (or by us, if you’re using our data).

4. Hyper-personalised marketing

Another benefit of intent data that deserves it’s own category. First-party intent data collected from your customer’s interactions with you can help you segment your accounts and personalise your future outreach. Not just personalise, *hyper*personalise. You can create targeted, relevant content to your prospects using a wealth of data based on what they’ve read, how far they got, which links they followed, which products or services they’ve hovered over. You can use this data to create personalised content, including images and videos, and this was definitely not part of the game a decade ago.

5. The transformation of the B2B buying journey

The customer journey is not linear anymore. Maybe it never has been, but it certainly isn’t now. Buyers want to already be most of the way to a decision before they even engage in a discussion with suppliers. You need to be prepared, willing and able to meet your prospects where they are on the buyer’s journey at the point they engage with sales. It’s your buyer’s process that matters now far more than your sales process. Adapt.

6. Shift to revenue-based lead gen KPIs for marketers

The ultimate goal of the marketing department is to generate awareness and opportunities that can be converted (through the power of sales) into revenue. Therefore, the end goal of the marketing department is to generate revenue. So it has never made sense that the success of this is measured in activity rather than revenue-based metrics. That’s why KPIs are often now based on pipeline and marketing’s impact on revenue rather than MQLs.

7. Sales and marketing alignment

With more of a focus on customer experience and the seamless integration of different touchpoints in the buying journey comes the breakdown of barriers. Sales no longer begin where marketing ends. ABM is all the rage. This means sales teams are empowered by intelligence and data at all stages of the buying cycle. Marketing strategies continue beyond the entrance of the funnel into sales enablement strategies and customer success delivery, adding value at all times.

8. Sales specialisms

Salespeople are no longer everything in the sales process. More often these days, there’s a distinction between researching, prospecting, lead gen, outreach, discovery, proposal, closing, onboarding and delivery. Now, increasingly these functions are broken down into multiple specialist roles, many of them outsourced to specialists. (That’s us btw… just a little plug.)

9. Multi-channel marketing campaigns

We’re seeing a massively increased focus on building strategic, integrated multichannel B2B marketing campaigns rather than clients who are simply interested in using just one of our services. That’s because the draw is in the ROI delivered with expanded reach, increased engagement and higher conversion rates achieved when leveraging multi-channel marketing campaigns. People are much more into joined-up approaches. And we love it.

10. COVID-19 has killed the face-to-face meeting

No industry was immune to the rapidly changing business landscape during the pandemic. Although, subjectively we believe the sales process is probably most markedly impacted by the decline in face-to-face business interactions. 70-80% of potential leads would choose interaction that was conducted digitally over face-to-face (McKinsey). As a result, more often than not now, we’re setting appointments for virtual rather than in-person sales meetings. This means the field sales role is fast becoming a virtual sales role.

Here’s to the next 10 years!

We’re so thankful to all our clients for the opportunity to help you achieve growth, while we have grown alongside you. The past decade’s been a blast. As well as a steep learning curve. With the fast-paced, ever-evolving industry we’re in we don’t expect the next decade will be any less eventful. And we’re ready for it.


Celebrate your success with Smartlead Marketing. Click here to get started by scheduling a call.

smartlead lead generation solutions

Telemarketing for Events Promotion: How to Really Boost Attendance

If you have an event to promote, don’t miss out on the benefits of telemarketing for events promotion. It’s about more than bums on seats.

B2B Telemarketing vs Digital Marketing for Modern Businesses: Ring Ring, Success Calling!

B2B telemarketing vs digital marketing. What gets you the fastest results? It’s the former. But, spoiler alert, a combo would be the REAL winner. Find out all about it in our blog.

Telemarketing Vs Digital Marketing: The B2B Perspective

Discover the strengths of telemarketing vs digital marketing in B2B. How can these strategies complement each other to boost your business success? Find out now.

Supercharge Your Sales: Stop Talking, Start Listening to Skyrocket Your Success

Want to boost your sales? Discover how listening more and talking less can transform your sales strategy and connect you deeply with your audience.

Financial Services Lead Generation: The Magic Formula to Secure Sales Growth For Your Business

Discover the secret sauce that will take your financial services lead generation to new heights. Sales growth for your finance business is just a click away!

Your New Best Lead Gen Pal: Social Media (aka How to Utilise Social Media in B2B Lead Gen)

You know social media is the place to be for most brands. But what about B2B social media marketing? Does it still work the same way? You bet it does. Step inside and learn all about it.