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The First Steps Toward Effective Lead Qualification

The First Steps toward Effective Lead QualificationLead qualification is a multi-step process that moves suspects through your marketing pipeline and determines if they become a quality lead. It all starts with a lead inquiry. In this post we’ll discuss the first steps toward effective lead qualification.

Lead Inquiry

The first step in lead qualification is generating a lead inquiry, which is an interest signal from a suspect. The suspect may be genuinely interested in your solution or his reaction to a marketing message could be just curiosity. It may be tough to differentiate the two based upon one contact; however, there are techniques, such as opt-in forms, that can indicate a higher level of interest.

Outbound or inbound marketing can be used to generate a lead inquiry. Whether the inquiry comes from digital assets or through offline engagements, if you don’t take every lead inquiry seriously you may be leaving money on the table.

In order to make lead qualification effective, you should review your online and offline marketing messages regularly. Are viewers taking action or moving on to the next solution? You rarely get a second chance to make a first impression, so if your response rate is minuscule, take the time to adjust the messages for maximum effectiveness.

Once a lead inquiry is received, it’s time to take the lead qualification process to the next step: lead capture.

Lead Capture

It is important to not let a lead slip away without making a second attempt. Lead generation programs, such as Lead Liaison’s Streamer™, allow companies to capture preliminary information without having to request it from the suspect. This allows you to capture enough information to be able to make a second contact.

Lead capturing can be automated. One of the more effective techniques is the lead capture page or landing page. The key is to provide enough compelling information or a strong marketing message on that page to compel a suspect to opt-in for future engagements.

An auto-responder should be used to connect immediately following a lead inquiry. Time is of the essence in this competitive world, so we recommend automation for every inquiry that is received. An auto-responder service can mean the difference between a lost opportunity and a sale. Basic auto-responder services are available for free, while more robust services can be purchased.

Like your lead inquiry assets, it’s important to review and refine lead capture assets so they accomplish their task on the first contact. Once there is enough information captured from a suspect, the lead should be entered into a lead scoring system.

Lead Scoring

A lead scoring matrix is crucial to qualifying  suspects and prioritizing leads. There is no standard model that will apply to all industries but there are two commonly used criteria sets. The first set includes the physical, demographic, and firmographic data that is often easily captured through opt-in forms or webinar registrations. This information qualifies a lead according to relevance. Does the suspect work at a company that fits your lead profile? Does the company have the capacity to purchase your solution?

The second criteria set includes behavioral traits. This information can be captured through online activities, such as website visits or white paper downloads. By including online and offline marketing engagements, your lead scoring system can help determine which activities may lead to purchase decisions.

These are the preliminary stages of an effective lead qualification process. In our next post, we’ll discuss the advanced steps that move a lead from suspect to sales opportunity. To find out the most effective lead qualification process, contact us today!

8 Metrics Of Precise Business Lead Qualification And Nurturing

8 Metrics Of Precise Business Lead Qualification And NurturingBusinesses that directly cater to other businesses often times lack precision in quantification, scoring and proactively nurturing leads.  This lackluster approach, not purposely taken, could cost potential sales to fly away permanently, drastically diminishing your marketing ROI until another path must be devised to pick up the slack.  Today we examine the eight metrics of precise business lead qualification, what’s involved in each process and how each step takes exacting effort to properly grade each lead that comes across your desk.  Our intent is to save businesses time, money and frustration when gathering leads relevant to other businesses they wish to furnish services or products to.

1.       Identify Contact Methodology

In order to accurately mark your lead as plausible for engaging, tracing the source of where the lead found you is an imminent necessity.  Since every business marketing team desires to understand where their marketing dollars are being ostensibly spent, tracking where the lead came from through a simple questionnaire, customer service inquiry or even direct email contact will help keep your marketing efforts tracked.

2.       Review Request Reasoning

This is where the adage of selling ice to an Eskimo comes into play.  Step two in our process is identifying the needs of your inquiring business to match those needs with your service or product offerings.  Should your business misalign with their needs, the lead needs to be File 13’d since it will do little good to keep it in your database, unless you foresee drastic shifts in business offerings in the near future.

3.       Separate Levels Of Seriousness

In business, you have askers, doers and some which remain on the fence when making purchasing decisions.  Your database or spreadsheet needs to clearly mark your leads’ level of seriousness for your sales closers to move in and seal the deal, or at least rescore the lead as probable. Taking this step is vital for marketing professionals who want specific reasoning to target future lead possibilities.

4.       Identify The ‘Why’

Eventually, you’ll meet an impasse where the business which contacted you will either cordially accept your business based off cost, level of return and customer service, or simply turn their cheek.  Taking the time to converse with your lead will render why they felt inclined to invest in your services or why declination was given.  Careful documentation for internal usage will allow your HR, VP and other business officials to make necessary product or service adjustments and get more “yes’s”.

5.       Follow The Lead’s Interactions

This step is vital should your lead capture efforts render leads for service offerings.  Once your lead has converted to a sale, every interaction needs to be recorded and documented to assure top levels of service have been given, carefully detailing the interactivity of customer service, techies, and other business officials who discuss business with the other business representative.  May seem mundane to some, yet this step is for basic quality control and internal training of customer support personnel while also important for future sales potential to this lead.

6.       Exit Survey

Once your product or service has been amply delivered to the business, it’s time to take an exit survey to grade your delivery, knowledge and overall handling of this business lead.  This doesn’t have to be an exhaustive two-hour affair; a few simple yet succinctly written questions could capture loads of information.  For example, asking the business lead to “Describe your overall business experience with us” could capture vital information used to improve services delivered to future leads while also deciphering whether your benefits are meeting or exceeding the costs.

7.       Save and Document

Once you’ve closed the lead from your exit survey, you can save this lead in your database and document the overall experience your company delivered to the business client.  This documentation can be a singular paragraph or two-sentence statement put into a ‘comments’ section of your CRM.  This statement can immediately be recalled when future interaction is made.  You now have one lead in your database that has been properly acquired and needs only to be nurtured.

8.       Follow-Up

Notwithstanding to your normally aggressive sales approach, contacting the representative of the business you did business with after one week of the lead being closed will not only show you’re truly interested in delivering quality goods or services, it proves your sales department has more than altruistic commission figures in their heads when dealing with business leads.  Don’t offer sales coupons, pitches or pander other products similar to the one sold; simply approach as you would an old friend.

Conclusive Thoughts

Each step in our lead qualification and nurturing piece carries the highest vitality since you’re dealing directly with other businesses and corporations.  The way you treat your leads is a reflection of business efficacy, strong standards of practice and ability to handle leads which your marketing teams assist in capturing.  Keep everything outside of status quo when your business collects every lead, and treat every lead like it was your biggest – it just may actually be one day.

What is Lead Scoring?

What is Lead ScoringWhat is lead scoring? Lead scoring is the process of using technology to automatically qualify leads for sales. Many organizations are flooded with inquiries and/or have a large database of contacts collected over time. Lead scoring helps businesses filter through inquiries and contacts and start prioritizing leads for sales.

What is lead scoring similar too?

When building a lead scoring model, make sure you look at scoring like dating or getting married. Your score should take into account criteria from both parties, not just one. Is the prospect a good fit for your business? Equally important, is the prospect interested in buying? Categorize your scoring into different ‘buckets’. Develop criteria for what you consider a good lead such as industry relevance, company size, and target buyer/role. Then, come up with a set of criteria that your team feels is indicative of prospects intent to purchase. For example, if a prospect visits your pricing page, visits 5 or more pages or makes multiple website visits within a certain period of time – all examples of online behavior that technology can automatically detect.

What is lead scoring without..?

Opposite lead scoring

For every positive lead score consider using a negative lead score. For example, visiting a web page on pricing might be a good sign; however, visiting a page with job postings might be a bad sign and deserve a negative score for that specific action. In summary, make sure your lead scoring solution allows scores to be incremented and decremented.

Limits

Make sure your lead scoring solution doesn’t have limits, such as capping at 100. Having a cap limits differentiation of one lead against another, making it more difficult for sales to figure out whose hot and who’s not.

The ability to score your existing database

Make sure your lead scoring solution allows you to statically score your existing contacts. For example, run a set of scoring rules across your CRM leads and/or contacts based on criteria. Being able to score your database as well as future inquiries makes sure your scoring program is consistent across past and future leads.

The end result of a solid lead scoring program is a hyper-efficient lead management process that produces higher quality leads for sales and allows marketing to make revenue contributions. Marketers get a stake in the sales process and get to work closer with their sales force, creating a more cohesive organization.

What do you feel is important in a lead scoring model? What is lead scoring to you?

Contact Lead Liaison to learn more about how your business can benefit from lead scoring with Lead Liaison’s proprietary technology that uses a three-prong approach to lead qualification.

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Automatically Distribute Leads to Sales

Automatically Distribute Leads to SalesMany businesses are able to generate leads and inquiries but have no way to automatically distribute leads to sales in a systematic manner. Companies make huge investments to generate leads from the internet, which warrants responses at internet-like speeds. An interesting article from Harvard Business Review highlighted the benefit of responding to leads quickly in a study of 2,241 U.S. firms. According to the report:

– James B. Oldroyd, Kristina McElheran, and David Elkington / Harvard Business Review

The article suggests three root causes of slow lead follow up:

Three Root Causes of Slow Lead Follow Up

1. Retrieving leads from CRM systems’ databases at one time throughout the day vs. continuously, in real-time, without a way to automatically distribute leads to sales
2. sales teams are focused on generating their own leads rather than reacting quickly to customer’s online behavior and inquiries, and
3. rules for distributing leads among based on geography and “fairness.”

Lead Liaison’s software platform solves the aforementioned issues with a simple solution that can automatically distribute leads to sales. Here’s a short summary of how we help our clients quickly respond to high priority leads:

Use Technology and Alerts to Automatically Distribute Leads to Sales

• Qualify leads using various lead qualification metrics including common buy signals, lead score and a measure of the prospect’s total activity.
• Distribute leads in real-time based on sophisticated lead distribution rules based on region, company name, number of employees and annual revenue. Distribute leads in round-robin or directly to a sales person and add leads to a “hopper” (a queue) if no rules match.
• Send real-time email and text message alerts to sales to urge response.
• In depth lead tracking and lead capture solutions to build complete profiles of visitor’s online behavior, a key indicator of a prospect’s interests.

What advantages or disadvantages do you see by automatically distributing leads to sales?

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Pass Only the Best Leads to Sales

Pass Only the Best Leads to SalesIf you’re a sales person then you’re likely one of the highest paid people in your company – no shame to that. However, if you’re in management then you know sales people are one of the highest costs in your company. Unfortunately, high costs are magnified especially when sales doesn’t produce results. One way to increase return on investment (ROI) in your sales people is to pass only the best leads to sales.

We queried fifteen top sales people across five different industries and asked them one question, “If marketing could pass only the best leads to sales, what would you like to see?” We compiled the top six replies and mapped them to Lead Liaison’s technology.  to help you better understand how we can improve your sales and marketing processes by passing only the best leads to sales.

What Makes the Best Leads How Technology Delivers
Highly qualified contacts Lead scoring technology to numerically assign custom scores to leads as they engage with your company. Each event carries a score, or weight, defined by your company.  The higher the score the more qualified the lead will be.
Recently expressed interest By using lead tracking to track the very first time a lead interfaces with your website even before they submit a web form or click a link in an email. Using a date/time stamp on the lead we’re able to determine how recent their engagement was.
Expresses behavior characteristic of someone ready to buy Buy signal technology that automatically looks for the most common buy signal patterns and alerts sales via text or email messages.
If the individual has the right role Buy syncing titles with CRMs to map a lead’s online behavior with their profile and qualify them further using lead scoring.
Highly active leads who touch many marketing assets Total activities, a measurement of inbound and outbound activity.
Someone ready to buy in the short term Lead nurturing to add leads not ready to buy into a nurturing process that builds relationships with the lead until they’re ready to buy.

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Automatically Identify Buy Signals for Sales

Automatically Identify Buy Signals for SalesIt’s almost always the case that sales could use more help from marketing to qualify leads. Marketing is glad to help; however, they’re up to their eye balls in work. Cranking out new content, preparing for the next big trade show, managing the company’s CRM, fine tuning the website and answering to other members of the leadership team to name a few. Wouldn’t it be nice if marketing could automatically identify buy signals for sales?

Now they can! With no effort…it’s all done automatically, behind the scenes using technology. Historically, vendors have struggled getting their marketing automation solutions adopted by B2B businesses. A typical system introduces way too much complexity and an overwhelming number of features; marketers need a simple solution. Case in point, it’s important to make it easy to automatically identify buy signals for sales. Some businesses don’t want to spend countless hours configuring “lead scoring” rules and setting up business logic. Here’s the good news – now they can do it out-of-the-box, with zero configuration.

Lead Liaison allows marketers to turn on/off the most common buy signals. For example, here’s a short list of what can be enabled/disabled to automatically identify buy signals for sales:

  • Clicking through multiple emails in a certain number of months
  • Multiple website visits in a certain number of weeks
  • Web form submissions
  • Total activity (a measure of how active and interested a lead is)
  • Website visitor viewing more than a certain number of web pages
  • Website visitor viewing a specific web page
  • Viewing a landing page

Even better, buy signals can be layered on top of one another. For example, a select number of buy signals could be enabled requiring all buy signal conditions are met before sales is contacted.

Quick lead follow up is also vital. Its imperative the sales person receives buy signal alerts from marketing via a text message (SMS) or an email to reduce delay in lead response time. More importantly, sales should be able to choose how they’re notifying and if they’re notified.

At Lead Liaison, we’re getting rid of the complexity in traditional marketing automation and helping marketing automatically identify buy signals for sales. Feel free to contact us to learn more about how we can help you solve your sales and marketing problems!

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Automatically Qualify Leads for Sales

Automatically Qualify Leads for SalesIf you’re in marketing then you’ve probably had your organization press you for more leads at some point. It’s usually sales that places high demands on marketing to continually generate more leads – and it’s usually marketing that claims they pump new leads into the funnel all the time. These debates on and on, back and forth, time after time until one group starts to form a negative opinion about the other. The walls of communication break down and trust disappears. Fortunately, there are two solutions to this problem. Define what is a lead is and automatically qualify leads for sales.

Create the Definition of a Lead

First, businesses should create a definition for a lead and establish certain criteria before “stamping” any old contact as a lead. Come up with certain criteria such as revenue, industry as well as level of interest before declaring all names in your system as a “lead”. Whatever your definition is, make sure it’s something both your sales and marketing team mutually agrees with. Place the definition into a Service Level Agreement (SLA) which should serve as a contractual agreement between sales and marketing.

Automatically Qualify Leads for Sales

Second, marketing can automatically qualify leads for sales. Many times sales people get frustrated by marketing as they feel marketing is just dumping business cards and “raw” contacts on their plate. Sales people feel like there’s been no screening or interviewing of the contact to qualify their interest. Instead of relying on your expensive sales team to qualify leads why not use technology to automatically qualify leads for sales. Lead Liaison’s revenue generation software can your marketing team automatically qualify leads for sales by:

1. measuring a prospects total “activities”. An activity could be a website page view, a form submission, a whitepaper download, an online chat and more. It’s a measure of how active the lead is. Based on this measurement leads can be filtered and distributed to your sales team.

2. using weighted measurement of a leads interest. Automatically qualify leads using a concept called “lead scoring”. For example, assign 20 points to a lead if they fill out a web form, add 10 points to a lead if they visit the pricing page and add 30 points to a lead if they visit your website more than two times in the past week. If the lead reaches 50 points or more then escalate awareness of the lead to sales and hand it off via email while automatically loading the lead into your CRM, such as Salesforce.com.

Defining a lead and automatically qualifying a lead are two steps your marketing team can take to build relationships with your sales team and prioritize leads for your organization.

Contact Lead Liaison if you’d like to learn more about our solution to help your business automatically qualify leads for sales.

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Sales Automation Software

There’s a lot of talk on the web about marketing automation; consequently, sales automation gets left behind. Although, it’s arguably the most important thing! Are you looking to provide automation for your sales team? If yes, you’ve found the right corner of the web. Sales automation software helps organizations improve productivity, relationships and employee satisfaction – all key contributors to revenue generation. Three core technologies make up a sales automation software package. We’ll discuss these three technologies and to help you understand how software simplifies a sales person’s life and can get your company on the fast track to higher revenue.

The Ideal Way

Sales Automation Software

Ideally, every business would fully automate their sales processes if they could. However, that’s not possible especially given the need for most B2B companies to personalize the sale. The “human touch” is often times a requirement, especially for B2B companies with transactional-based businesses. Regardless of your sales process almost every lead goes through the following lead management life-cycle:

Many of the pieces in the lead management life-cycle can be automated using sales automation software. Three key areas that must be automated to achieve an effective sales process are sales prospecting, lead qualification and lead nurturing.

Core Sales Automation Software Technologies

Automating Sales Prospecting

Sales automation software makes prospecting easy by integrating company, people, news, job, competitor, social media profiles and financials together in a single platform. Additionally, sales automation software natively integrates a professional contact database of millions of people making it easy for sales to find prospective buyers who match their target profile in a single click. With a second click, sales can import the contact along with their full contact information into their CRM.

Automating Lead Qualification

Sales automation software automatically qualifies leads by listening to a prospect as they interact with your marketing material. For example, monitoring a lead’s online behavior as they traverse your company’s website. When key buying signals are met and/or the prospect meets your qualification criteria they become a marketing qualified lead (MQL). At that point, the lead is ready for sales. Sales automation software quickly delivers leads to sales by sending a text message and/or email alert. Advanced sales automation software also pushes hot leads into a CRM such as Salesforce.com and automatically schedules a task for sales to follow up.

Automating Lead Nurturing

Sales automation software automatically nurtures leads to advance them through the sales pipeline. The majority of all sales people don’t have time to follow up with all their leads especially if the lead is not quite ready to buy just yet. Let’s say a marketing qualified lead is presented to sales via sales automation software, sales has a call with the prospect, but the prospect is in research-mode only. Nine times out of ten the sales person will take some notes, update their CRM and move on to the next hottest lead – the “archived” lead is forgotten. Lead nurturing automates the sales process by sending personalized (looking like it comes from sales and sent from one individual to another) emails over time to help sales build a relationship and connection with the prospect. More importantly, the prospect won’t forget about the sales person (and their solutions) either. When the prospect is ready to buy, sales will know.

Finding a great sales automation software package to deliver sales prospecting, lead qualification and lead nurturing is not easy. Fortunately, Lead Liaison has one. If you’re interested in sales automation software and much more let us know!

What part of the sales process not mentioned above would you like to automate?

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