Lead generation, the process of attracting potential customers and sparking their interest in your product, is one of the most crucial elements of a successful sales strategy.
And yet, it’s not getting any easier as the market constantly shifts and expands. In fact, a staggering 61% of marketers rank lead generation as their number one challenge.
So, what is a marketer or a sales rep to do about it?
The answer is simpler than you’d expect — you should use lead generation software.
What are the benefits of using lead generation software?
Lead generation software is your #1 sidekick in identifying new leads and enticing them enough to give your offer some serious thought.
The figures speak for themselves here: most salespeople simply aren’t getting in front of enough new people — only 15% reached out to more than 1000 leads a year.
Moreover, 61% of marketers find that selling is much harder now compared to five years ago.
And since 50% of buyers say that their overall buying experience was greatly improved thanks to online shopping, one thing is clear: selling has migrated online, which is where you should be, too.
So, if you don’t want to miss out on a lot of golden opportunities and low-hanging fruit, you’ll need an extra hand in the form of a lead generation tool.
That means that finding the right lead generation platform for your specific use case and requirements is the next natural step.
However, finding the one that’s right for you is no easy task — there are enough lead generation platforms out there to make your head spin.
That’s where we jump to your aid!
In this article, we’ll review the five best sales prospecting tools in-depth. That way, we’ll provide you with all the information you need to make your choice.
Here’s what we’ll cover in detail:
1. Good lead generation software must include a decent number of third-party integrations, have versatile use cases, offer good value for money, be safe to use, and have enough sophisticated features to guarantee you’ll see an increase in the number of leads you get.
2. There are five main types of lead generation platforms:
- Inbound tools with a focus on warm leads
- Outbound tools that target cold leads and provide you with a broader target market
- Email marketing tools that use emails as their primary strategy
- Lead management tools that function on the same basis as Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platforms
- On-page lead generation tools that transform your web pages into lead generation machines
3. Expandi is the most versatile outbound lead generation software with a focus on LinkedIn and email outreach. It stands out from the crowd thanks to its cutting-edge features, bulletproof safety, and numerous integrations (among other things).
4. Phantombuster is a good choice for inbound lead generation because it can scrape data from various platforms. It also has some automation capabilities (e.g., liking posts on social media, scheduling content posting, sending messages, etc.).
5. MailChimp is the winner in the email marketing category as it helps you draft personalized emails and offers some CRM features (like contact segmentation).
6. Pipedrive is the best software for lead management since it enables users to keep track of all their leads and ongoing sales processes in one place.
7. OptinMonster is your go-to tool for on-page lead generation because of its capabilities for customizing web pages and optimizing them for maximum conversions.
Elements of good lead generation software
When choosing a lead generation platform, there are several things to pay attention to.
These elements are the thing that separates first-class lead generation tools and those that are mediocre at best. They include the following:
1. Integrations. A good lead generation tool must be capable of fitting into the larger picture of your sales process. So, having options for easy integration with other tools, systems, and platforms is vital.
2. Usability. Having versatile use cases and efficiently accommodating the needs of a wide range of users is always a huge plus. Some of the things that can make a tool highly usable and adjustable include:
- Having many sophisticated features
- Being safe and easy to use
- Being cloud-based
3. Pricing. Your budget will always influence your decision to a certain extent, so it’s essential to find a tool that provides you with the best value for money.
4. Features. Your tool of choice must include functions that enable it to level up your lead generation and outreach. This includes features like:
- Personalization, as making each new lead feel valued and unique is one giant leap toward success
- Options for targeting people based on their interests so you can target leads with laser precision
- Automation capabilities that can do all the heavy lifting for you
5. Benefits. The first and foremost benefit you should expect from your tool is getting tangible results. A good tool will get you a continuous stream of new leads and help you convert them. It should also make the lead generation process more efficient.
6. Safety. A good lead generation tool has to be able to keep you safe at all times. That’s why you should opt for cloud-based tools whenever possible, as they:
- Are virtually undetectable since they don’t work on the front end and leave no trace on your browser (which is a major point when it comes to LinkedIn-oriented lead generation tools)
- Don’t require your device to be turned on in order to work, meaning they can run your lead generation campaigns 24/7
Types of lead generation software
There are several main types of lead generation platforms.
We’ll briefly explain what every category is best for, so you’ll get a clearer picture of what you can expect from each.
1. Inbound tools
Inbound lead gen and marketing revolve around leads who’ve already shown interest in your product or service in various ways, including:
- Consuming your content
- Downloading your eBooks
- Answering a survey
- Reaching out to your team directly
Inbound tools will give you a hand with enticing warm leads to come your way and persuading them that your product is the ideal solution for their needs.
Some of the methods inbound tools use to achieve this include:
- Gamifying your website and content for you
- Personalizing each prospect’s experience with your brand
- Capturing leads who visit your website or social media profile
- Providing automation of various web-based activities that are essential for successful lead generation
2. Outbound tools
Simply put, outbound lead generation is the opposite of inbound.
That means that you’re the one who actively looks for and reaches out to potential leads instead of waiting for them to come to you.
Outbound lead generation campaigns range from cold calling and email to highly-targeted ad display, LinkedIn outreach, and everything in between.
Although making the first step can be risky because you can never be 100% sure that your efforts will succeed in converting a stone-cold lead into a warm Sales Qualified Lead (SQL), you should never give up on your outbound marketing campaigns.
The real beauty of this kind of lead generation lies in the fact that you’re the one who’s in control of when, where, and how you’re going to reach out to prospects.
When it comes to going outbound, a multichannel approach is sure to capture as many potential leads as possible.
Combining LinkedIn outreach and cold email campaigns delivers optimal results, as they’re the most successful forms of outbound lead generation.
The best outbound lead generation platforms will help you tackle outbound outreach and lead generation from top to bottom, preferably by automating the most tedious parts of the process (e.g., prospecting, personalizing outreach for every single lead, following up with them, etc.).
3. Email marketing tools
Their name is pretty self-explanatory, so there is no need for thorough explanations here.
Email marketing tools help you generate leads via email.
Two essential functions most email marketing tools include are options for capturing email addresses and automating email drip campaigns.
However, keep in mind that email marketing tools are not the same as email outreach tools.
Email marketing tools are more focused on helping you capture leads that have already shown interest in your product or service (e.g., visited your web store and bought an item or abandoned their cart midway through).
Email outreach tools, on the other hand, enable you to reach out to cold leads and spark their interest in your product or service by creating elaborate cold email campaigns.
You have to be extra careful when choosing an email outreach platform because opting for one that’s not sophisticated enough will only result in your emails ending up in the spam folder or, worse — your email account getting restricted.
4. Lead management tools
Finding leads and reaching out to them, or getting them to come to you with inbound lead generation, is the first and most quintessential step of lead generation.
But, your efforts do not end there, as the process of gaining leads’ trust, building rapport, and, finally, converting them has only just begun.
That’s why you need an efficient lead management tool that provides a clear overview of all your leads, segments them, and sorts them by priority.
Having all the vital info on every single lead, including the selling stage they’re currently in, will help push them further down your sales funnel.
5. On-page lead generation tools
These lead generation platforms can leverage your lead generation campaigns by improving your web pages.
Your website is often the first frontier of your brand. As such, it’s your first and possibly most important opportunity to make a lasting impression.
The quality, design, and content of your web page can greatly influence whether you’ll manage to:
- Attract and capture new leads
- Gain trust and successfully convert those who are already on the brink of choosing your product but need one more little nudge
On-page lead generation tools will help you make a selling machine out of your web pages by providing each lead with a tailored experience optimized for converting them.
And now, let’s break down each of these categories one by one.
Top lead generation software
📌Best outbound lead generation software — Expandi
Expandi is a cloud-based lead generation software that combines LinkedIn and cold email outreach for optimal results.
Expandi’s cutting-edge AI is capable of automating more than lead generation campaigns alone, as it can cover every segment of the sales funnel — from highly targeted prospecting to lead nurturing and everything in between.
1. Takes care of its users’ safety. Getting restricted from LinkedIn is no one’s idea of fun, especially when you use it for lead generation and sales. That’s why Expandi takes several measures to prevent it from ever happening, including:
- Providing each user with a dedicated IP address to minimize the risk of raising flags on LinkedIn
- Allowing you to set up time zones and working hours during which the platform will be active
- Having smart safety limits that prevent users from sending more than 100 connection requests and 100 messages per day (but you’ll still get to send way more requests and messages than LinkedIn’s weekly limits would allow)
- Being entirely cloud-based, so it leaves no trace for LinkedIn algorithms to detect
2. It mimics typical human behavior by adding delays between actions, gradually warming up users’ profiles, withdrawing pending requests automatically, etc.
3. Sophisticated scraping capabilities that enable you to capture streams of new leads in a matter of seconds. Expandi can extract LinkedIn group members, event attendees, poll voters, users who’ve liked or commented on posts, and your profile viewers.
4. Advanced automation options. Expandi can automate entire action sequences, meaning you can create elaborate campaigns that work entirely on autopilot — from LinkedIn connector campaigns to email drip campaigns and more.
5. Hyper-personalization capabilities. Making each new lead feel valued and unique to you is one giant leap toward success. Expandi enables you to make the most of personalization thanks to its options for creating custom-tailored GIFs and images that will help your messages and connection requests cut through the noise like butter.
6. Enables single-dashboard management of multiple profiles. This is great if you’re a large team or agency or have several profiles operating in different time zones.
7. Tracks all the vital stats for you. Expandi’s analytics reports are both detailed and easy to understand since its analytics dashboard is designed with the optimal user experience in mind.
Expandi has a single pricing plan at $99 per month. There are no additional hidden costs or set-up fees.
That plan includes all of Expandi’s numerous functions as well as access to Expandi’s rich learning resources (e.g., its video blog, the Top 10 Templates eBook, the 1000+ Event Attendees eBook), and the LinkedIn Outreach Academy.
There is also a 7-day free trial that gives you a chance to take Expandi for a test ride before making a decision.
- Bulletproof safety
- Tons of integrations. Expandi’s API and webhooks enable it to easily connect with other tools and systems, including various CRM software
- Support of a wide range of users, from sales teams and agencies to individual users
- A dedicated customer support team that will back you up 24/7. Plus, comprehensive learning resources and a private Facebook community for exchanging tips and ideas
- Various ways of safely bypassing pesky LinkedIn limits
- Multiple data-scraping capabilities
- A multichannel approach that enables you to tackle LinkedIn and email outreach at the same time
- An opportunity to run hyper-personalized lead generation campaigns on autopilot
- Has only one pricing plan, so it’s not that flexible for adjusting to different budget sizes. However, you get access to Expandi’s entire set of features, including access to its numerous learning resources, at the same price, without any extra costs.
Find it hard to believe that a single tool can do all this?
Sign up for a free 7-day trial and see for yourself how Expandi can drive more leads down your pipeline.
📌Best inbound lead generation software — PhantomBuster
PhantomBuster is a lead generation system oriented toward inbound lead generation.
This tool is interesting because it can automate a wide range of web-based activities on various platforms, including LinkedIn, Instagram, Reddit, and Twitter.
- It can scrape all sorts of data from various sources — from Facebook group members and info on users’ profiles to Instagram photo likers and commenters.
- Automation capabilities. Phantombuster can automate various activities on different channels, including liking posts and scheduling content posting on Twitter or Instagram, sending LinkedIn connection requests or Slack messages, etc.
Phantombuster has three pricing plans, starting at $59 per month.
There’s also a 14-day free trial.
- It has solutions for automating activities on several different platforms
- It can be used for data scraping
- It’s cloud-based, so your device won’t have to be turned on for Phantombuster to run your campaigns and sequences
- There are no options for working around the LinkedIn weekly connection request limits. So you can only send up to 100 connection requests per week.
- Safety on LinkedIn can be an issue because Phantombuster asks for access to your cookies to log into LinkedIn as you. You must download a Chrome extension for Phantombuster to achieve that.
- Phantombuster performs actions during a limited number of hours per day and doesn’t include that many activity slots. This isn’t ideal for many people as these slots may not align with your time zone and working hours.
📌Best email marketing tool — MailChimp
MailChimp is an email marketing and automation platform with some basic options for CRM.
Since this sales tool has been around for about 20 years, it’s had ample time to change and adapt its features to contemporary lead generation challenges.
- You can specify which events will trigger sending emails (e.g., a customer’s birthday, shopping cart abandonment, purchase of a similar product, etc.)
- Helps you draft personalized and captivating emails based on industry-relevant data and the type of audience it’s aimed at
- Includes some CRM options. For example, you can create customer segments based on various criteria (e.g., contacts who live in a particular location, customers who spent more than $500 in your webshop, contacts who didn’t open any of your last emails, etc.) for better-targeted campaigns.
MailChimp has one free and three paid-for plans.
Its free-forever plan may sound like a great option for users with tight budgets, but it should be noted that this package omits many vital functionalities.
Moreover, the number of emails you can send and contacts you can store is severely limited in this plan. Finally, you’ll get customer support for only the first 30 days. After that period, you’ll be left on your own.
MailChimp’s pricing starts at $11 per month. However, if you want to get the most out of what this lead generation tool offers, you’ll have to choose one of the two higher-tiered plans.
There’s also a one-month free trial.
- Integrates with many different platforms and tools
- Includes email templates and gives users a hand with creating and optimizing their own emails thanks to its advanced AI creator assistant
- Has a free-forever plan (with limited functionality and customer support)
- Its design is unintuitive, which makes MailChimp pretty complex to use, especially for less experienced users
- Its Premium plan, which includes all of MailChimp’s best functions, costs an arm and a leg
- Customer support is unresponsive
- Lower-tiered plans will include a MailChimp watermark on all the emails you create and send via MailChimp, meaning your leads will know straight away that you’re using marketing automation software to reach out to them
📌Best lead management tool — Pipedrive
Pipedrive is a CRM tool with a strong focus on sales.
As such, it helps users keep track of their sales pipeline from top to bottom.
- Single dashboard overview of all your deals and qualified leads and the stage of the funnel they’re in
- Allows automating repetitive tasks. You can create automated workflows and specify the triggers that will set the automation in motion (e.g., auto-creating a deal whenever a new lead’s added, sending personalized emails at just the right time, etc.)
- Email and communication tracking. This means Pipedrive will instantly notify you when contacts open your email so you can respond straight away. It will also provide you with an organized view of all your contacts in one place, along with the history of calls, emails, and other activities you’ve engaged in with a particular lead.
- Has an option for creating customizable lead generation forms. You can easily share these forms on your website, in an email, on social media, etc.
Pipedrive has four pricing plans in total, starting at $11.90.
Naturally, the more expensive plans are the ones that include all the features you’ll want to see in your CRM software. The cheapest plan, Essential, doesn’t even include the most elementary automation options.
Moreover, some of Pipedrive’s functions are actually add-ons that are charged separately from the standard packages (and their price is not exactly budget-friendly, to say the least).
- It’s highly customizable. You can create custom dashboards and reports, custom-tailor Pipedrive’s visual pipeline to your industry-specific needs, add custom fields, switch off some features, etc.
- Has a mobile app to provide users with access to their CRM dashboard anytime and anywhere
- It’s easy to use
- Supports 21 different languages
- Some of Pipedrive’s best features are add-ons that cost extra, as they’re not included in its standard packages (e.g., lead generation forms will cost you an additional $45.34 per month, while personalized email campaigns come at $18.60 per month)
- Its integrations with third-party apps are complex to set up and don’t work that seamlessly
- Its analytics reports are challenging to comprehend and export
📌Best on-page lead generation software — OptinMonster
OptinMonster is a lead generation platform that helps you turn your website into a lead-capturing and conversion machine.
This lead generation software’s AI tries to identify your website visitors’ intent and interests to ensure the right offer or lead generation form will be displayed at precisely the right time.
This is supposed to decrease the number of visitors who leave your website for good, at least in theory.
- OptinMonster has Exit Intent technology that detects when a lead is about to leave your website without making a purchase or providing their information. The technology automatically displays a targeted pop-up message to try and reduce customer churn and shopping cart abandonment.
- Has options for creating captivating web pages that engage leads and encourage conversions. You can customize virtually anything, as you can add pop-ups, floating bars, countdown timers, lead generation forms, etc.
- You can make animated pop-ups and overlay campaigns with sound effects for greater visibility and gamification
OptinMonster has four pricing plans, starting at $16 per month. There are discounts for each package if you choose to be billed annually.
As is usually the case, only the higher-tiered plans include best-in-class features like Exit Intent (available with Pro and above) or on-page personalization (available with Growth alone).
Although there is no free trial per se, OptinMonster does offer a 14-day money-back guarantee. If you decide that OptinMonster simply doesn’t do the trick for you during the first 14 days of use, you can request a full refund.
- Has options for including subscriber-only content on your website. Creating exclusive content can be the incentive that pushes visitors to become regular subscribers.
- Allows real-time webpage personalization (e.g., showing targeted messages based on leads’ location, creating on-site campaigns triggered by visitors’ activity, etc.)
- Enables A/B split testing to help you pinpoint what works best for your target audience
- It’s easy to overdo it. Bombarding potential leads with tons of pop-ups and offers can often backfire, as you risk giving off the impression that you’re desperate to sell.
- OptinMonster’s lead generation forms can be too static. There are also no options for creating more sophisticated multi-step forms.
- Since it’s a plugin, it can negatively impact your website’s performance and speed
- Only has email customer support
Final thoughts: Lead generation software
There you have it — the ultimate list of the best lead generation tools for various use cases and types of lead generation.
Each tool is excellent in its own way, so your final decision will mostly depend on your preferred lead generation methods and channels.
But one thing is certain — you should definitely incorporate LinkedIn lead generation and outreach into your general sales strategy.
70% of social media leads come from LinkedIn, so it’s clear why this network is the single most important place on the web for finding prospective customers (no matter which industry you’re in).
Simply put, every day you don’t use LinkedIn for lead generation is another day you lose opportunities.
So, equip yourself with a good outbound tool with a focus on LinkedIn — such as Expandi — and drive a constant stream of new leads down your pipeline.
Sign up for a free 7-day trial today and find out how Expandi can transform your lead generation efforts.