The Value of a Qualified Lead

As salespeople we are all excited about what we do, that’s why we do it. We are passionate about our products, services or solutions and will talk to anyone anytime about it if they show the least bit of interest. That’s what makes us great at what we do, but I also feel like maybe we’re giving the cookies away for free. It’s in our nature to “sell, sell, sell” anytime we can, but I’ve found that’s not always the best approach. You know you’ve got a great product, so don’t give it away the first time you talk to everyone. Make sure you have a truly qualified lead, before dedicating more valuable time. 

There’s a system of selling called the SPIN method that, if you’re not familiar with, you should take a look at. The method can be broken down into a few basic parts. SPIN stands for: Situation, Problem, Implication, Need/Payoff. This is how to qualify your leads: ask questions! Find out what their current situation is. Do they use a competitor? Do they have events or marketing goals they need to scale up to meet?

Then ask questions to identify the problems they are having. Is it lack of communication between sales and marketing? Are they filling their pipeline and losing customers in the mix? The implication is as simple as “What would your team do with…?” or “If I can solve that for you would you…?”.

These steps are all you should be doing to find a qualified lead. Once you get to that point you’ll know; if it’s a good fit and what pain points they have that you can solve. Hopefully, a bit of additional qualifying info such as: do they have a budget, are you talking to someone with the authority to make this purchase, and what is their time-frame for the need (classic “BANT” criteria).

From there you can decide if it’s worth YOUR time to spend more time with them, or nurture them and move on. Hopefully that 15 minute call got them excited to move to the next step: filling their need. Go ahead and set up that next meeting! Now you’re spending more time with qualified, interested leads and not giving the cookies away for free to every person you talk to.

Interested in seeing other ways Lead Liaison can help your sales process? Check out our Sales Enablement solution here!

Scoring Leads from Marketing Qualified Lead to Sales Qualified Lead

Scoring Leads from Marketing Qualified Lead to Sales Qualified LeadEffective B2B lead management involves more than simply preventing viable leads from falling off the radar. The effectiveness of a lead management program is really measured by how well it moves suspects from marketing qualified leads (MQL) to sales qualified leads (SQL). The difference between the two statuses can represent tens of thousands of dollars in closed business.

A lead scoring system helps to differentiate between leads that are likely to buy now and those that require more nurturing. However, it is most effective if it is constructed properly.

There is often disagreement between sales and marketing departments about what constitutes a “qualified” lead. This makes some sense because the parameters are different among the two departments. A lead scoring system, used as part of a lead management program, provides an opportunity to put values on parameters used by each department.

The lead scoring model should have a threshold – a minimum score – that indicates that a suspect has met enough criteria, the right criteria, to be worthy of a sales engagement. Lead scoring provides a systematic way to transition leads from marketing to sales in a way that gives the sales team confidence that the lead is viable and prepared for a sales engagement.

The question is: at what point is a marketing-qualified lead ready to be transitioned to a sales qualified lead?

For example, take two suspects that have entered your marketing funnel. One is a VP of operations, the other a line supervisor. The VP has visited your website a few times and spent about 15 minutes on your product pages. The supervisor has visited your site fifteen times, downloaded two white papers and several fact sheets, and attended a recent webinar.

Which lead is considered a better sales qualified lead?

In many industries, a VP is a more sales-ready lead because of the likelihood that he has buying authority. However, there are companies that allow purchases by supervisory staff. The greater level of activity by the line supervisor might indicate better timing, but does she have buying authority? Which parameter means more?

This is where applying weight to scoring parameters is important for lead scoring to be effective. Some activities and/or attributes provide greater impact on sales-readiness than others, but which ones matter more could be night and day from one company to another. Examining which behaviors have led to sales in the past is a good way determine weights for certain qualities and behaviors. For example, if the evidence shows that your product sells well after being noticed by subordinates who influence the C-suite after conducting research through white papers, then recent white paper download activity, when combined with the subordinate’s title, should be weighted more heavily than a C-level executive who visited the website a couple of times.

According to marketing experts, a 10% increase in lead quality translates to a 40% increase in sales productivity. This should motivate executives to align sales and marketing departments through a lead scoring system, like the one in Lead Liaison’s Briefcase™ lead qualification dashboard.

Lead scoring can help most businesses improve sales conversions and shorten sales cycles. But it’s important to remember that the scoring model you use to move leads from marketing qualified lead to sales qualified lead status is dynamic (newly uncovered evidence affects existing scoring metrics) and comprehensive (incorporates parameters from both departments).

How does your company score its leads? Post a comment here or drop us a line.

When Does Your Marketing Qualified Lead Become a Sales Qualified Lead?

When Does Your Marketing Qualified Lead Become a Sales Qualified LeadHow does your company define a lead as “qualified”? Are the leads that fit a demographic/firmographic profile and respond to marketing touchpoints considered qualified?  Your marketing and sales departments may disagree on which leads are truly qualified to become a sales opportunity. In this post we look at when your marketing qualified lead (MQL) becomes a sales qualified lead (SQL).

A marketing qualified lead is a suspect that has advanced through multiple marketing touch points and fits an optimal lead profile. A sales qualified lead requires more to be considered a viable sales opportunity:  it must be ready, willing, and able to pay for your solution.

In order to qualify as a sales opportunity a lead must have the following:

  1. An established need. This can be indicated through online forms or by contact from a sales agent. The need must be solvable with your solution. There are plenty of B2B needs to be met, but if your solution does not directly address the need completely or partially, the lead is not sales-ready. Even the most cash-rich prospects are of little value if there is no need – perceived or real – for your solution.
  2. Money to purchase. a marketing-qualified lead may show substantial interest and be completely engaged, but without capital to make a purchase, your sales agent is wasting time. Even the most inexpensive solution will be unavailable to companies with no budget.
  3. A plan to buy. Many companies understand they have needs that must be met through buying from B2B vendors, but don’t always plan for purchases. A marketing-qualified lead cannot evolve into a sales-qualified lead without understanding where the prospect is in the buying cycle. A lead may be fully marketing-qualified because of fit and interest, but it does not reach a sales-qualified status until there is a firm plan to commit money towards a solution. Your sales agent will be “spinning wheels” until the prospect gets buy-in from decision-makers to move forward with a purchase.
  4. Possesses purchase authority or decision-making capacity. There may be a few layers of authority involved in a purchase. This is where a marketing-qualified lead is clearly different from a sales-qualified leads. Sales agents know that, in order to close a deal, they must be engaged with a buying authority or a decision maker. An influencer may be marketing-qualified but, without purchase authority, he may not be the appropriate contact for a sales agent.

Some – but not all – of these characteristics of a sales-qualified lead can be captured through marketing touchpoints. By implementing a lead scoring system that includes both marketing qualification criteria and sales qualification criteria, your company can more easily differentiate between a marketing qualified lead and a sales qualified lead.

It is important to include sales agents when determining scores that indicate a marketing qualified lead. A few examples of sales qualification criteria include:

  • Funding available immediately                          10 points
  • Funding available within 6 months                   5 points
  • Budget in process                                                2 points
  • No funding available                                            0 points
  • Expressed a direct need                                     10 points
  • Expressed a potential need                               8 points
  • Unaware of a need                                              3 points
  • Expressed lack of a need                                    0 points
  • Lead contact is decision-maker                         10 points
  • Lead contact is purchasing agent      5 points
  • Lead contact is influencer                  3 points
  • Plans to buy immediately                   10 points
  • Plans to buy within 6 months             5 points
  • Plans to buy within 1 year                  2 points
  • No plans to buy                                    0 points
  • Would spend over $1,000                 10 points
  • Would spend under $500                  5 points
  • Would spend less than $100             1 point

Sales and marketing should be aligned in establishing the difference between a marketing-qualified lead and a sales-qualified lead. Implementing a lead scoring system to rank marketing suspects and sales opportunities will improve conversions and enhance the transition from marketing funnel to CRM priority.