Now here’s a question that used to cause a lot of conflict between marketing and sales teams.
Marketing teams felt like: “We’ve done all this work to get you the right leads, why aren’t you calling them?”
Sales teams felt like: “We have a really good understanding of when a lead is ready to be approached. Thanks for the info, but, we’ll make the call on this one.”
Naturally, this kind of dialogue causes a lot of friction and potentially wastes time and effort on both sides. Thankfully, with intelligent customer relationship management (CRM) technology and advanced inbound marketing methods, the process of qualifying leads can be much more transparent for modern businesses.
So where do you start?
With a good understanding of what a worthwhile lead is, of course. What I’m saying is, not all leads are right for your business, so the sooner you start pursuing quality over quantity, the sooner you will start seeing real return on investment (ROI). You’ll then have to set up the processes and implement the tools to help you score, track and understand the value of the interactions your business has with potential customers.
What is a quality lead?
Good quality leads are identified through a process of careful and deliberate segmentation. This means that you need to establish the framework for who your ideal buyer persona is and target your advertising towards individuals who meet that criteria. From that point on, you sift through the incoming leads to ensure that the individuals you are prospecting have the willingness and ability to make a purchase from you.
You’ll need more than a name and number to have a lead. Specific demographics come into play; you may have to get very granular when outlining your buyer personas because your product may be that niche. Secondly, you need to keep an eye out for the buying signals that tell you whether this person is considering making a purchase.
For example, Klood offers a inbound ROI calculator for visitors who want to see how much inbound marketing will impact their bottom line. The fact that a visitor has used this tool tells us that they are a lead at the decision stage of the sales funnel and are interested in using the inbound approach which enables us to approach them in the most helpful and effective way.
Essentially, what it comes down to is:
1.Will this lead make a purchase?
2.Is this potential client the right fit for my business?
When have you got a sales opportunity?
There are a few tell-tale characteristics that will help you to qualify your leads.
1. The need is there, and the lead is aware
Good quality leads already know that they have a need for a product or service. What they don’t know is: What is the right solution for me?
At this stage, you need to nurture them with the relevant content and information that is going to nudge them towards making the right purchasing decision. This is an excellent time to ask questions that will help you drive down to the core pain points they are trying to address.
2. The enquirer has the authority to buy
Not everyone who does research on your website is going to have control over the purse strings. You have to create CTAs that help you to discern whether you are dealing with a decision maker or a junior member of staff. If it’s the latter, politely ask them to pass you up the chain, thanks!
Understanding the purchasing process of the client and whether buying decisions fall within their jurisdiction will save you a lot of time in the long run.
So find a way to ask these questions early on.
3. There is a timeframe in place
This is a double-sided characteristic. Firstly because you have to factor in your own sales process – does your product or service warrant a lengthy decision-making process for the buyer? If so, what does the timeline look like?
Secondly, you have to identify whether there is a sense of urgency on the side of the buyer. If they can’t supply any ballpark ideas of when they plan on making a purchase, you may be wasting your time here.
However, if there are positive signs, just not enough to indicate a sale for this quarter, keep the prospect on file and say hi a few months down the line. You may find the lead in a more favourable position to make a purchase.
4. The lead is receptive and engaged with your information
If you can see that this individual is signing up to regular updates from your business, filling out questionnaires or downloading eBooks and brochures, you are dealing with someone who is clearly trying to educate themselves about your business and your offering.
Using a CRM tool such as HubSpot, you will be able to track the kind of interaction that prospects are having with your content. This will then help you to show them the next step of your buyer’s journey with a lot more confidence.
Lead qualification will always be a unique process for every individual business depending on the nature of the products and services you sell, the size of your team, the tools and business models you employ to market your offering and, most importantly, your ideal buyer persona criteria.
When creating an inbound marketing strategy, we will help our clients to start outlining this process much more clearly by defining the metrics that both sales and marketing teams need to use in order to establish whether a lead is qualified or not. If you’re ready to start getting more quality leads and growing your business more rapidly, get in touch with us for a no obligation chat with our friendly Business Manager, Ellie.