The Art of Qualified Leads
Years of Training Not Required
If done correctly, lead qualification is a bit like a well-choreographed dance. It requires two willing partners – sales and marketing – and an interactive plan that maps out each step. It’s an art that can be acquired by any company, of any size, any industry. The only criteria – a willingness to stop talking about better solutions, and a little initiative to take the first steps to create a better solution. We’ve outlined your first 3 steps:
1. Where are the inbound leads coming from?
The answer to this question may shed light on why leads are or are not meeting qualifying criteria. There are many tactics used to help drive inbound leads. The best approach should be based on the goal – is the objective focused on volume and the need to grow a sales database? Or is the objective focused on growing a sales pipeline with leads that meet specific criteria used to define “qualified”? Many of our clients will respond with “we need both”. Fair enough, providing the sales team is set-up to truly handle the qualified volume. In these situations, you’ll want to cast the widest possible net over a pre-qualified audience – meaning, any activity you engage with has already been quantified and qualified to meet your pre-qualified criteria of what an ideal lead looks like. Below are a few of the inbound lead gen drivers we use to support this type of effort:
- Digital Referral Engines
- Digital News, Information, Research resources
- Tradeshows and Conferences
This is a highly effective approach – we’ve never had a failure. However, there is critical due diligence that needs to occur pre and post-launch.
- Ferret out all of the Referral and Digital publication options and run some performance impact estimates. This will shed critical visibility on fair pricing, ROI, and estimated volume. Now ask, “Can the sales team handle the volume if the estimates are within +/- 10%?”
- This approach requires an automation system – make sure that marketing and sales have agreed to scoring rules. The leads may all be qualified, but there are leads that will be closer to “sales ready” – those are the highest priorities, and the contacts most likely to pick up the phone.
- Don’t wait the customary 30 days to determine if the plan is working – armed with the performance impact estimates from your pre-launch, you will know within one to two weeks. Be sure to reach out to any resource that’s under-performing – they’ll quickly make adjustments, or in rare cases, you’ll want to stop the campaign and re-allocate toward other resources.
- Check your scoring rules! As leads stream into the sales database/funnel, there are typically adjustments that need to be made – add more filters or loosen filters based on what sales can handle.
- Sales – don’t touch any leads until they’re ready! It’s tempting and exciting to see the pipelines fill up – but keep in mind why we wrote this article, you’re looking for qualified, sales-ready leads.