In B2B marketing, “lead” is a term everyone uses. Most marketing plans include the number of leads as a primary performance metric (KPI). However, the success of a campaign is not determined by how many leads are generated but by the quality of those leads. So what is a quality lead and how do you define it?
Your sales team will judge every lead marketing generates. So the first step towards a successful campaign and cooperation with Sales and other stakeholders is to define what a qualified lead is. A qualified lead is a potential customer that has taken certain actions towards making a purchase. There are two types of qualified leads – marketing qualified lead, and sales qualified lead.
According to HubSpot, a marketing qualified lead (MQL) is one that the marketing team has identified as likely to become a customer based on criteria such as: web pages visited, content downloaded, CTAs clicked, and engagement with social posts. A sales qualified lead (SQL) is one that is ready to talk to the sales team. They have expressed enough interest in your product or service to indicate they’re ready to move into your sales process. This involves research and vetting by the marketing department before handing off to the sales team.
MQLs and SQLs are selected by a set of definitions that will be unique to your company and its sales and marketing process. It is critical that marketing and sales are aligned with those definitions. So how do you define the right MQL and SQL for your organization? Here are a number of helpful tips.
Know Your Target Audience
Precisely define your target buyer persona which will help you vett leads before handing them off to sales. Do this with the stakeholders so that all parties agree on what the persona is. Your eventual SQLs should closely match the chosen buyer persona.
Vett Each Lead With Specific Criteria
Create a checklist of clear, precise criteria and research the lead using all available resources and information:
- Company industry
- Company size and revenue
- Number of employees
- Job title and seniority
- Age group
Examine Their Previous Behavior
What is your lead’s past marketing activity on the channels you own? Did they fill out any other forms on your website? What other activities did they do? Do they follow you on social media and are they engaging with your posts? Did they open your emails?
Check for Previous Sales Contacts
If your Sales team uses CRM systems, make sure to check if that lead already has a trail in it. Maybe sales reached out in the past, but your marketing activities re-engaged that contact now. Perhaps you can pull valuable data on their company and other clients.
Use Email Marketing Automation
Email marketing is an excellent qualifying process that will move prospects further down the funnel. After their initial contact, a series of nurturing emails can help them get closer to the buying decision and weed out prospects that are not truly interested. Email automation can be utilized in several ways with the goal of:
- Getting additional data: asking leads to update their contact info, provide additional information, answer qualifying questions or perform the next set of actions
- Helping them move through the funnel stages by providing specific additional content: from awareness to consideration – from consideration to decision
- Giving them added value and free content
- Sending tailor-made offers based on their preferences and prior activity
Automate Sales Processes
Not only can you automate your marketing efforts, but there are also opportunities to automate aspects of your sales process in order to save salespeople time and notify them when a new qualified lead comes in. Many CRMs offer these types of automation specific to sales that can help with:
- Notifying sales of new leads
- Sending reminders for follow up
- Sending automated sales messages
- Changing lead information automatically based on the lead actions
- Switching ownership between different team members as a response to lead journey and actions they take
Optimize Your CRM
Your CRM should be a tool actively used by all participants in the sales and marketing process. This means working in it in real-time, but for the tool to save your time and effort, it needs to be properly set up. Make sure to do the following:
- Set up lead scoring rules relevant to your organization that can help you easily see the quality of each lead. A lead score is a measure of activity a lead has taken towards a purchasing decision.
- Create a tagging system that will help you easily segment and build audiences.
- Create a lead ownership structure so that you can move prospects to appropriate team members and not lose time and focus.
- Build your opportunity and deal pipelines to visually follow each lead through each stage of their buyer journey.
- Create custom sales and marketing reports for easy data analysis and review of the marketing and sales progress.
These suggestions should provide a catalyst for getting you on the road to a better lead qualifying process in order to get the best of your marketing efforts and bring prospects to that final stage of the customer journey – a sale.