A sales lead is somebody with a problem that can be solved by a product solution you can provide. So a sales lead can be described as a prospect who wants what you have to offer and leaves a contact detail for you to follow up.
This person might know nothing about you or your product or service or whether the service or product you are offering is indeed what they are looking for. So further action is required from you to establish intent and interest.
A lead may be looking for a product that you have, but not every lead is ready to buy your product, especially if it’s new to the market, innovative or disruptive.
As stated in an earlier post about lead management, lead quality is usually determined by the person’s inclination to perform actions leading toward purchase of your product or service.
You cannot treat all leads as equal, nor can you measure or determine the success of your marketing campaigns based on the number of leads the campaign might have generated.
Instead, you need to focus on marketing qualified leads so that it will be easier for the sales team to increase revenue. These are leads that have been qualified and are deemed worthy of being handed over to sales for conversion.
Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL)
Just handing over leads to sales isn’t enough to create revenue, and it can actually be counterproductive. Marketing qualified leads may be fewer in number, but focusing on them can generate higher revenue.
A marketing qualified lead, according to Business2Community, is “any lead that has a better chance of buying from you than other leads.” Market qualified leads are leads that have been identified as ready to make a sale by following their activities.
These leads have higher chances of converting; they may have expressed interest in what your business has to offer, but whether they are ready or qualified to purchase is uncertain.
This is an important point of exchange between marketing and sales, so it is important that marketing and sales teams be on the same page where the terminology is concerned.
The definition of MQL for each company is different, as the sales and marketing needs for each company are different. But there are certain common traits and actions that show that a lead is a good customer for the business and ready to talk to a salesperson.
MQL has two dimensions – fit and interest.
Marketing qualified lead fit
This defines whether the lead actually fits your ideal customer profile. You may be interested in targeting a certain type of clientele.
This may include factors such as: job titles; a certain age range; where they stand in the decision-making process; whether they are individuals, companies or organizations; and whether you are dealing with end users or manufacturing units.
All these aspects must be considered when determining whether the lead fits in with your business model and client profile.
Marketing qualified lead interest
The activities of a lead are a great indicator of whether they are ready for conversion.
Leads who just download a white paper or follow you around on the social media may not really be interested in you, but are definitely aware of you.
A lead who asks more specific questions or asks for a demonstration is certainly interested and ready to buy.
Lead qualification cannot be avoided for the simple reason that not every lead is ready to buy from you, and if you are new in the market, or have a product that isn’t easy to sell or is innovative, then it’s even more difficult to convince a lead to convert.
Again, in order to qualify a lead, we have to bear in mind the two factors discussed above: lead fit and lead interest or behavior. A good lead is one who has both qualifications, fits your ideal client profile, and demonstrates sufficient interest.
There is a difference in lead qualification for B2B and B2C leads. A qualified lead is the starting point for the sales funnel or sales pipeline. Once the lead is qualified, then you can begin lead nurturing.
Lead nurturing is perhaps one of the most important steps in a marketing strategy; it’s designed to tap customers across different channels. Buyers today are much savvier, and this means that they won’t immediately buy.
The marketing strategy needs to build up relationships and trust with customers while educating them about the product and its possibilities. This nurturing is what creates a qualified lead who is ready to convert.
You may want to read more on lead nurturing and funnel optimization.
Is the Lead a Good Fit?
If and when a lead is transferred to the sales team is determined by how much the lead resembles the buyer persona/ideal customer profile for your business.
It can also be determined by job title, position and description, and whether the lead’s role is influencer, buyer or end user.
Other factors that influence a good lead fit include company size, industry and geographic location. Is the person someone with whom you would like to have a business relationship?
If the answer is “Yes,” then look for possibilities for making that happen. Look at the company profile and personal LinkedIn and other social media profiles to discover more about the lead.
Lead Interest and Behavior
In order to gauge how leads are engaged with your company, you have to pay attention to certain factors. These include:
Determining whether the lead resembles your present client base and ideal customer profile.
The lead’s activities, which can reveal how close they are to buying. They could be at any stage of the funnel and may require lead nurturing to coax them to convert. A lead who has visited your site just once may be aware of your company but may not be sufficiently interested to engage. A lead who downloads a white paper, looks at the pricing information, or asks for a demo shows a lot more interest and engagement.
Studying the data. This requires a lot of data and may be expensive, but it’s worth the money if you can afford it. There are several ways in which you can analyze the data: you can look at website visits, signups for newsletters and e-mails, e-book and other downloads, form submissions, e-mail clicks, social media following and likes, and LinkedIn engagements.
Lead scoring is a methodology used to rank prospects against a scale that represents the perceived value each lead represents to the organization. The resulting score is used to determine which leads a receiving function (e.g., sales, partners) will engage, in order of priority.
So we can say that lead scoring is a system for determining which leads are more productive and ready to convert, so that sales and marketing can engage and nurture them.
The system assigns points or scores to your leads, based on activities they engage in while online and information you may have obtained about them. There are two different methods of lead scoring:
- Traditional lead scoring
- Predictive lead scoring
Predictive lead scoring can accelerate the process of lead qualification and help in prioritizing leads that are ready to be handed over to the sales team; this process is crucial to quickly identifying and reaching the right leads.
The main difference between the two systems is that, unlike traditional lead scoring, predictive lead scoring is not dependent on adding up scores for each end user/customer based on distinct actions.
How Does Predictive Lead Scoring Work?
Predictive lead scoring examines customer profiles and behavioral statistics from the CRM and marketing automation solutions that you have installed.
These systems are designed to look for patterns, and they do so by examining internal data and third-party resources, which also include Internet sources. These systems discover patterns in the data that cannot be identified by rule-based scoring or gut feeling, which are employed by traditional lead scoring systems.
Predictive lead scoring systems scan millions of data signals on the Internet and discover signature data sources to understand and recognize the digital identification of your ideal customer.
Based on that fingerprint, predictive lead scoring systems can generate a scoring system in which all leads, contacts, accounts, and opportunities are scored based on how strongly they correspond to your existing customers.
Predictive lead scoring is used mainly by small and medium-sized businesses, a majority of which operate in the high-tech industry. These businesses evaluated the system and found it to be highly effective in increasing sales productivity.
Traditional and predictive lead scoring methods are both useful in helping you assess your leads. When it comes to effectiveness, predictive lead scoring takes the lead in comparison to traditional lead scoring.
Predictive lead scoring in short:
- It evaluates the data that has been collected through data marketing and CRM systems, and discovers what you need to know about your leads.
- It collects and collates information from the web through the lead’s company website, third-party websites, social media, press releases and job boards.
- It provides predictive analysis that identifies the highest-value leads, which are leads that most closely match the company’s ideal and existing customer base.