While it's exciting to have a full pipeline of sales leads, it’s important to realize that not all of those leads will lead to a long term partnership and closed business. Yes, it’s critical to generate leads to sustain a prosperous business or career, but your focus needs to be on finding quality leads rather than finding lead quantity. Even more preferably of course, is finding a large quantity of qualified leads. That’s the proverbial golden goose of marketing and sales!
A quality lead is someone who has high ability or intention to purchase your product and/or establishing a business relationship with you and your company. While there’s never a 100% guarantee of converting even the most qualified lead to a sale, there are some telling indications that a lead may materialize to a sale:
One of the first and greatest indications of whether a lead will become a strong partner and buyer for your business is fit. Does the lead fit the buyer persona your company created? In other words, does the lead have the demographics, psychographics, behaviorgraphics (it’s very possible that we invented that word in case you were wondering) that would buy your product? For instance, if you sold luxury sports cars would a man with three young children making a modest income be a good potential lead that eventually would convert to a sale? Probably not.
Another good indication of fit may also be where you met the lead. Did you randomly meet the lead on the “street” (coffee shop, train station, dry cleaner) and randomly stumble upon a conversation about a business related conversation or did you meet the lead at an industry related trade show? If you met the lead at an industry related event, did your lead seem interested in what you were saying? Did they ask questions or blankly zone out? When you handed the lead your business card, were they happy or reluctant to take it? All these granular behaviors can indicate if the lead is a good fit.
Continual Interest and the 3 Ps
Once you establish that a lead is a good fit, continual interest is the next key in determining a qualified lead. Interest shows the lead cares about your product or the value you can provide. One way to determine continual interest is through voluntary engagement with your brand after the lead’s initial interaction. Are they opening your emails? Are they continually returning to your website? If ongoing interaction occurs, there’s a good chance the lead is qualified.
Pay attention to what specific emails they’re opening, what links they click on in the emails and what pages on your website they consistently visit. Look for patterns and trends to see if there is a specific product line or service that peaks their interest. If a lead continues to interact with your content or business but isn’t converting to a sale, don’t stress out. 80% of all significant sales occur only after 5 to 12 continuous follow ups - the lesson to be learned here is polite perseverance, persistence and patience.
Once you have a healthy pipeline flowing, your immediate challenge changes from generating leads to properly segmenting them based on qualification. Lead Scoring overcomes that difficulty by allowing you to assign quantitative values based on a lead’s characteristics (behavioral, financial, demographic-specific, etc.). You can create a lead scoring model, something made simply using a marketing automation tool like HubSpot, based on the lead factors that are most important and relevant to your business and product offering. An example of how lead scoring works goes like this:
You send an email blast with a Call to Action (CTA) to a landing page (nice work by the way!). Recipient A only opens the email but Recipient B opens the email and clicks on the CTA. While Recipient A gets some lead scoring points for opening the email, Recipient B gets more points both for opening and for clicking. You can continue this example by assigning points for actions taken once Recipient B visits the landing page. Does she submit a form to download an offer? Does she visit your website after downloading the offer? All of these engagement behaviors equate to a higher lead score! While it’s not an exact science, lead scoring enables you to make informed decisions about how, when and who you follow up with as well as your next steps in pursuing a sale. Simply put, lead scoring makes you smarter and more effective as a salesperson.
Go for the Yes (or No)
2016 has just begun - it’s a new year and a new opportunity to create your lead generation and lead qualification process. There’s no better time than right now to get rid of the “junk” you’ve been hopeful to close and focus your efforts on a) the leads you already have that actually could close or b) finding leads to qualify in the first place! Once you find and identify those qualified leads, keep them engaged and follow up with them until you get them to say “Yes” or “No.” While “No” isn’t the answer you’re hoping to hear, it’s still a definitive answer that prevents you from wasting time on the wrong opportunities. And don’t forget - the lead gen, lead qualification and lead follow-up process doesn’t have to be intimidating. When you have a purposeful and productive approach, you can almost make a game out of it - sure it’s work, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyable. After all, “they” say sales is a numbers game. The more people you talk to, the more opportunities you have to close. When the people you’re talking to are qualified people, those closing opportunities increase even more.
Finding quality leads and finding enough of them to significantly impact your success isn’t necessarily easy. A marketing partner can help by generating a quality pipeline for you and closing the loop on every sale. But not every marketing agency is created equal, so if you go the road of working with one, here’s a guide with tips and suggestions for picking the right one for your specific needs.