What is a good lead, really? It's a deceptively simple question. This isn't just a theoretical question, either. The quality of your leads directly influences the efficiency and effectiveness of your sales team. Basically, you don't want to waste time chasing unqualified leads with low odds of success.
For a lead to have value, it needs to include more than a vague notion that the person in question is interested in what you're selling. A threadbare lead like that might help you make a sale, but so might calling a random number out of a phone book. Instead, think quality over quantity. By only working with qualified leads, you can close more deals, and spend less time doing it.
What makes a lead qualified?
Data is the difference. In general, a qualified lead is one that hits a key benchmark you use to determine interest. It might come from a prospect who's spent a certain amount of time on your website, signed up for your email list, or engaged through a social channel. These are potential customers who have clearly demonstrated their interest, and not by accident.
To illustrate, think about your own Web browsing habits. Have you ever accidentally clicked a banner ad or CTA, only to click away immediately? In some circles, that's counted as a real lead! Now imagine that your sales team has to sort through flimsy leads like that all day to identify a few real prospects. That's a lot of wasted time for a minimal benefit, compared to the ease of working with qualified leads.
How do you qualify leads?
The first step to finding qualified leads is embracing inbound marketing and sales tactics. Inbound generates qualified leads because it allows customers to find you in the course of their natural sales cycle. Even before you take the data into account, inbound has the benefit of generating leads from prospects who are already looking for you. The next step is identifying which data-points you use to qualify leads, and it requires digging a bit deeper.
Analytics are your friend, and the key to qualifying leads. The basic idea, as detailed in this Hubspot post, is to identify how prospects interact with the marketing channels that generate the most sales for your business.
Take your website, for example. Even without advanced analytics, it's pretty easy to get an idea of which pages on your site are viewed most often, and how long the average visitor spends on those pages. Identify your most popular pages, and look at which ones ultimately generate the most sales.
Once you set a benchmark, you can use it to identify other qualified prospects. So if, say, people who spend five minutes viewing a certain page have proven considerably more likely to make a purchase, you can use that data to qualify future leads based on the browsing habits of new prospects.
It's not just about digging through analytics. You can also qualify leads based on your ideal customer profile, or buyer persona. The basic idea is nothing new – use demographic and target customer data to determine your most likely buyers.
Ideally, you want to look beyond the basics of age and gender. What does your ideal prospect do for a living? What's their salary, and how much of it can you reasonably expect them to spend? Where do they live, and what do they do for fun?
Not every question is relevant to every business. The secret to qualifying leads is that you have to know what you want, before you can find a way to get it. That requires looking inward at your company, before looking outward at those you hope will do business with it.
Once you identify your ideal prospect, you can decide where and how to market to them. Even this basic step allows for better qualified leads, as the people your marketing reaches are already predetermined to be the best prospects.
You can also use customer profiles to qualify existing leads. A person who fits your profile and hits your other benchmarks is a great bet to be interested in what you have to offer. After that, it's up to your sales team to work its magic.
The benefits of qualified leads go far beyond saving time. For one, a successful sales team is a happy sales team. Dealing with customers who are genuinely interested is a great way to build confidence, and close deals. Working with qualified leads also saves money. It's much easier to sell when you know who you're looking for, and where to find them. If you're still working with the scatter-shot leads of old, it's time to see what qualified leads can do for you. One thing's for certain – your sales team will thank you.