For marketing managers in small to medium-sized businesses, the number one question you hear from your sales team is, “When are we getting more leads?” The second most common question? “What about lead quality?”
Quantity means nothing if the quality isn’t there, especially for a small and often busy team with sales cycles of 6-12 weeks. If a qualified prospect can take months to turn into an opportunity and potential customer, it’s crucial that the Inbounds Leads passed to sales are as close to qualified as possible.
An inbound marketing company can help your online presence and to capture leads to your website, but your sales team is the internal backbone throughout the sales funnel. In a nutshell, more leads come in earlier in the purchasing process, and it might take longer to qualify. Sales and marketing can take extra steps to build rapport and evolve the relationships.
Let’s dive in on how to qualify Inbound Leads!
How sales qualify quality leads
A reliable sales team should already be qualifying their leads continuously. Without qualification, lots of issues can crop up, including:
- Time wasted chasing leads that aren’t high enough in quality.
- Not enough time invested in cultivating the high value leads since there are too many.
- Bad deals that make it to the closing stage but never should have been considered.
- A lower overall close rate because you don’t know fully what a lead needs.
For this reason, your sales team should actively ask a series of questions that build a strong profile of a prospective customer in advance to qualifying that lead to a follow-up.
The questions should cover the following topics:
- Persona fit – Is this person the type of decision-maker that you’ve identified as a good fit for your business? Do they have the decision-making power or influence to push a deal forward, and will that deal match your ideal customer persona?
- What are their pain points – Not just at a company level, but at an individual level. What does your lead need and desire from a prospective partner? It might not relate to the project being discussed but can be identified more quickly in a long-form sales conversation.
- Know the alternatives – What other options are the prospect considering? Are they shopping for a new provider to replace their current one, or is this their first time dealing with one?
The issues can be identified in a well-structured sales conversation where carefully defined questions are asked to the prospect. It could take more than one call for you to determine if someone is a match for your companies products or services, but it’s a necessary step.
How can marketing help?
When implementing inbound marketing strategies, the number of leads that come through your funnel could double or triple. The increase in inbound lead volume can be golden for your company when it’s struggling to generate more business.
It can also be a burden for a small sales team that doesn’t have time to schedule meaningful qualification calls with twice as many leads every month. Processes should be applied to help qualify leads before they reach sales.
Some of the most effective strategies include:
- Clear language and forms when capturing user information – Make it clear up-front what type of prospect you want. On your request for quote forms and other bottom-of-funnel conversion points, ask for company size, needs, and other scope questions to qualify the lead.
- Ask for an increasing amount of information on forms – If you have a funnel setup that will guide prospects by downloading multiple pieces of information, ask for different questions on each form, depending on their path. It allows you to gather a more extensive profile of who they are, who they work for, what type of products or services they are interested in, and who your competition might be.
- Build a nurturing track to guide people toward a direct outreach – When someone downloads a document, requests information, or engages with your marketing materials, enroll them in an email nurturing track that provides more valuable information and resources. Guide prospects to your more detailed forms and to request for quote forms where they can further self-qualify.
- Support sales with a manual lead qualification – Digital marketers can review leads periodically to remove low-quality leads and other leads that might not be a good fit for your ideal customer profile. If you can hand off a more curated, ready-to-talk list of prospects to your sales team, they can dive in quicker and generate better results.
Too many marketing teams get caught up in “more is better” and end up overwhelming their sales teams with an increasing volume that they have to sort out. This can make it harder to close a deal than it was before.
By leveraging existing automation tools, spending more time qualifying Inbound Leads before the conversation stage, and manually removing the lower quality prospects from your leads list, you can create a more reliable stream of contacts for sales outreach without impacting overall quality.
If you’ve created the right strategies and executed and not enough leads are coming in, and web traffic is at a halt means that your business needs to hit the reset button and start with a custom website redesign.