Oysters are cool. Not just because they taste great with hot sauce, but because they’re like prize boxes with hidden treasures. If you look through enough of them, you may discover a priceless pearl inside.
Leads are like that. They don’t taste as good as oysters (with or without hot sauce), but they do offer the potential of an abundance of treasure in the form of sales.
Only, like oysters, you may need to go through a lot of them to find that treasure. But it’s worth it.
So how do you narrow that search? Glad you asked. Sit back while I shell out some pearls of wisdom about why qualifying B2B leads is the key to sales success.
Mass vs. Class
Keep in mind that, while generating thousands of leads through your campaigns may be a good thing and looks very impressive on marketing reports, it’s quality that counts, not quantity. It’s important to qualify those massive amounts of leads to determine which ones are high-class (i.e., sales ready).
If you’re like most companies, your sales team has a high sales target to reach every month. So, don’t waste their time with low-level leads from contacts who aren’t really interested in your products.
Evaluate them first. Use a lead management system to determine which ones are the potential pearls and which are empty shells.
Qualifying your leads not only optimizes your sales teams’ efforts, it also helps you understand which of your tactics are generating the best quality leads.
Qualified vs. Nullified
If you don’t have a lead management system in place, create one. While lead generation initiatives work to collect leads, your lead management system analyzes them swiftly and efficiently after every campaign.
Leads have a very short shelf life, especially the higher quality ones. When a potential customer shows an interest in your products, they won’t wait around patiently for you to get back to them with information. They will quickly reach out to your competitors.
You’ve heard the phrase “time is money”? That definitely applies to leads. The longer your sales team takes to respond to a prospect, the more likely you will lose that prospect — and the sale.
That’s why it’s vital that you determine which leads are the most qualified and which are null and void. And you do that by scoring them.
Scoring vs. Ignoring
Scoring leads is the process of grading them to determine where they fall in the marketing/sales funnel and how close they are to becoming customers. The four levels of lead quality classify this way:
- Inquiry: Responded to your marketing but doesn’t meet minimum qualifications to be considered a valid lead.
- Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL): Expressed enough interest in your product that they are worth sending to your sales team.
- Highly Qualified Lead (HQL): Assessed by a member of your sales team and displays behavior that they are willing and able to buy.
- Sales Qualified Lead (SQL): Ready to buy your product and hopefully become a loyal customer.
Unless you’re focusing on account-based marketing initiatives, it isn’t often that high-quality leads will enter the funnel at their specific level (i.e. some people know right away they want to buy your product, so they start off as an SQL).
In most cases, you’ll need to nurture the lower-level prospects by providing information they need to pull them up to the next level. So never ignore them.
You never know when an inquiry is just a few strategic nudges from becoming a customer.
Summary vs…. (Okay, I’m out of rhymes)
Marketing strategies are the road signs sales teams follow. Leads pave the roads that carry them toward success. The better quality the leads, the smoother the drive.
Managing and qualifying those leads is a meticulous and time-consuming effort. But, as I said above, it is definitely worth it.
But if you don’t have the people or resources to establish and maintain an effective lead management system, then let us know.
Lead management and qualification are just a few of the marketing solutions we offer. So let’s talk. Contact us today.