Don’t let your online leads go cold. In an increasingly buyer-centric selling environment, marketers play a pivotal role in pipeline growth by attracting prospects with engaging content and landing pages.

A dedicated lead generation specialist on your marketing team can manage marketing-generated leads, identify promising prospects quickly and efficiently, educate and nurture as needed, and finally hand them off to a sales rep to close.

As the bridge between marketing and sales, the majority of the lead gen specialist’s day is filled with e-mail follow-ups to in order to get the sales process started.

Here are 3 key best practices:

1. Do Your Homework

Fortunately for all of us; there are hundreds of tools that you can utilize to learn more about a prospect before you get on the phone. For instance, ask a customer to fill out a form before downloading a piece of content. Gating your ebooks, white papers and webinar recordings. It’s a great way to get basic information about an interested prospect.

Once you have basic data, you can explore user accounts on LinkedIn, Twitter, and a target’s company website to gain valuable insight on a prospect’s role, company, and industry. But don’t gate everything. Leave blog posts, videos and infographics open for anyone to consume anonymously.

2. Build Rapport

Nobody wants to be sold to anymore, so find a way to connect with each prospect individually, and educate your target without coming off as too salesy. This skill comes down to knowing your audience; doing your homework plays a huge role.

When you have an idea of what your prospect is looking for, you can tailor your messaging to resonate with her objectives and move her further along the sales funnel. It’s rare that a prospect is willing to hop on the phone right away, so it is essential to speak the prospect’s language and nurture her into wanting to get on the line with you.

3. Set The Agenda And Stick To It

Your prospects are busy people. They may have responded to all your emails and consumed all of the content you’ve sent them; but when you finally get them on the phone it is important to first outline why the call will be valuable to both parties.

This final strategy is helpful with prospects who have a difficult time opening up about their businesses and would rather go straight into pricing conversations. When a prospect has a clearer understanding of what the purpose of the meeting is, the better.