Lets begin by understanding a few basics. While Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) is vetted by both the marketing and the sales team; Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) are prospects that likely to become a buyer according to the marketing team. If you do not have a process of identifying an SQL, you are not only wasting the efforts put in by your sales and marketing team but also deteriorating the closing rates.
This is where a standardized system of categorizing leads as qualified becomes important.
Here are 4 surefire ways of doing this
- Aligning marketing and sales team
According to sales, marketing team doesn’t hand over qualified leads and marketing team has complaints of sales not effectively following the leads.
Begin with defining SQLs and MQLs so there is always an agreement on what is passed on.
Ask relevant questions like
- What should determine immediate follow-up from sales?
- Which message resonates with prospects during sales conversation?
- What makes a lead unqualified?
- What are the red flags that one should look for? etc
Once you have a clear definition, marketing can categorize leads with clarity and align their efforts with the needs of the sales team.
2. Lead Scoring Metrics
You can track this progress in the sales cycle using marketing automation software and set up a lead scoring system (LSS) to assign a value for each action. Once the lead reaches a certain threshold, they can be referred to the sales team. In LSS you will have to define two factors
- Buyer persona: Every company has an ideal buyer and you will have to define it. Gather relevant information from various sources, for example, by asking questions on your website such as job title, industry, company size etc. It will help you understand which leads have greater chances of converting.
- Level of engagement helps determine readiness in buying. It is based on the behavior of the lead and takes into account factors including website activity, number of downloads, email activity, social media interaction etc. Once your lead reaches a particular threshold, the sales team can reach out to them.
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3. Create content for each stage of the sales cycle
Remember we told you, that each one of your lead is at a different stage of the customer journey and you need to know it before your teams take ANY action. “”ANY”” action also applies to the content you make available for your potential buyers at each stage. Top-of-the-funnel leads: These prospects aren’t looking for a solution. So, do not send them salesy content! Instead, send them content on latest trends or educational posts, guides, ebooks, whitepapers, video lessons etc to address the pain points which are commonly experienced by your customers.
Middle-of-the-funnel leads: These prospects are well aware of their problems and looking out for solutions. They are most likely interested in content like comparison sheets, webinars, checklists, case studies etc which can help them decide which solution is good for them.
Bottom-of-the-funnel: They are almost ready to buy. They are interested in knowing what the product can do for them, demos, trial periods, presentations, consultations etc.
4. BANT system
We have used BANT (Budget, Authority, Need and Time) system for several of our clients and the results are always impressive. It helps you figure out:
- Does your prospect have the budget to buy? Are they willing to purchase a product/service to solve a pain point?
- Does your prospect have the authority to buy?
- Does your prospect have a need for your product/services?
- When is your prospect looking to buy?
The answers help distinguish qualified leads from the others. All the steps will not only help you qualify a lead more accurately than before, it will also help your sales team to seal more deals.
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Vikas Bhatt is the Co-Founder of ONLY B2B, a premium B2B lead generation company that specializes in helping businesses achieve their growth objectives through targeted marketing & sales campaigns. With 10+ years of experience in the industry, Vikas has a deep understanding of the challenges faced by businesses today and has developed a unique approach to lead generation that has helped clients across a range of industries around the globe. As a thought leader in the B2B marketing community, ONLY B2B specializes in demand generation, content syndication, database services and more.