When it's qualified.
Your sales funnel is working the way it should, and leads are coming through. But not all leads are created equally. We all know that you're going to have to kiss a lot of frogs. For every person who'll ultimately buy your product or service, there are the tire kickers, the preliminary shoppers and those who can't or won't buy what you're selling. In fact, only about 25% of leads end up converting into actual sales. Every business needs to create marketing (three touchpoints is a good standard) touchpoints that lead people through their funnel.
Fortunately, you can separate these individuals from the "qualified" leads you really want. Here's how.
Identifying Marketing-Qualified Leads
There are two types of leads: marketing-qualified and sales-qualified. Marketing-qualified leads are the ones that have been targeted through your marketing outreach program. They're usually fairly early in the sales funnel, meaning that they might not be ready to buy yet, but probably will if you keep marketing to them. These are people who are considering your product or service.
To qualify as a lead, these people need to meet minimum criteria. Obviously, your marketing outreach will go far and wide but may capture the details of people who are unlikely to convert. Think spammers, students, competitors, and your own staff. You can minimize these by asking leads to provide information such as company name and job role when they sign up to your list. Still, regularly review your lists and remove anyone who falls under these categories, as there's no point in marketing to them further.
Everyone else, on the other hand? They stand a good chance of becoming a sales-qualified lead.
Identifying Sales-Qualified Leads
Once you know enough about the leads in your marketing system, you can start selling to them. These people are your sales-qualified leads. Exactly what defines a sales-qualified lead depends on your own internal criteria, but a few examples include:
- showing increased interest in your product and services
- sharing pricing or financial information
- a good "fit" in terms of role, company or industry
Basically, these are people who are looking at your product as a solution to their needs. They're past the considering stage and are looking at making a decision.
Sales-qualified leads often come up through your marketing funnel, but they can also be people you've met in person or who are on a target lead list. In the latter cases, these people skip the marketing-qualified leads process and head straight to be a viable prospect.
You can fast-track people on to your sales-qualified leads list with questions that ask what their purpose in signing up is, and how soon they're likely to need your product.
Measuring Your Leads
Sometimes separating sales-qualified leads and marketing-qualified leads can be tough. But you don't want to keep marketing to someone who's ready to buy or try to sell to someone who's not. That's where metrics are important. Metrics help eliminate the guesswork from the lead qualification process.
Break up your marketing efforts into channels, and then assign points to each action taken by a lead, with the most points going to what you deem the most important action. Once the lead has generated enough points, you can move them up from a marketing-qualified lead to a sales-qualified lead.
What's an example? Say you sell business software. A lead who opens an email is showing some interest, but not enough that you can sell to them. However, if they request a demo through your website, download a specific white paper or have an in-depth conversation with you at an event, they'll probably amass enough points to qualify as a sales-qualified lead. On the flip side, don't forget to account for negative factors, such as unsubscribing from your emails.
Reaching Out To Your Qualified Leads
Whatever you do, don't be among the 46% of marketers who don't have an auto-escalation threshold. Ensure that sales-qualified leads get sent straight to your sales team and that they get a notification right away. This way you'll be able to capture leads who are ready to convert before they start considering a competitor's offer instead.