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blog | March 02, 2018

Lead Generation and Qualified Sales Leads

The lead generation process looks much different than it did even a few years ago. Thankfully, buyers no longer need to call salespeople to learn the merits of the...

By WorkWiseSoftware

The lead generation process looks much different than it did even a few years ago. Thankfully, buyers no longer need to call salespeople to learn the merits of the company’s products, and cold calling as the main method of attracting new prospects is becoming a thing of the past.

The internet has given rise to the “self-service buyer”. The wealth of online information allows buyers to perform a larger portion of the buying cycle on their own. Buyers now become aware of new products on the web, research and compare those products, and validate past performance through reviews and ratings from the web.

Social connections allow buyers to speak with existing customers and ask questions about reliability, service and performance. These changes mean that more businesses are focused on digital marketing activities than ever before. This also means that sales involvement has been pushed to later stages in the buying cycle, but necessitates that more is known about the prospect before contact is actually made. New CRM tools allow a digital prospect to be tracked, enhancing your knowledge of where the prospect has been, what knowledge he or she has, and the stage of their buying cycle.

How Should We Qualify Sales-Ready Leads?

The Traditional Method

The most popular way to classify leads in the past was the BANT system. It looks like this:

Although this classification has been used for a long period of time, there are some inherent weaknesses. These weaknesses become magnified in the new digital age, since direct contact with the prospect is delayed. The central problem lies in determining these criteria prior to contact by a sales person. Buyers do not serve up these answers readily, and often require much persuasion to do so. Marketing always faces a dilemma in how to determine these answers prior to turning the lead to sales.

The New Method

The new internet age has ushered in some new tools and techniques to help track and analyze the buying position of each prospect. Specific content is prepared for the needs of the prospect at each stage of their journey, and offered through several channels. Consumption of this content is tracked through various means, and the prospect is advanced to the next item of content to match their current need. As an example, one email might be used to develop awareness in a prospect. That email could also contain an offer of new content appealing to the next stage of the buying cycle- the interest stage. In this manner, prospects can be walked through an entire buy cycle.

Sample information that could be collected with the new method:

Demographics

Behavioral

Interest versus intent

Watching progress in the buying cycle- movement

The amount of information that can be collected is only limited by your imagination and the perceived value by the prospect. Prospects are quite willing to offer more information about themselves, if the value of the content is important to them. Prospects can also become unhooked when asked for detailed information that they feel is unnecessary at that stage of the relationship.

Through diligent collection of this information, patterns can now be determined that show the typical paths that lead to a high probability of sale. These patterns can then be established as the new criteria to score incoming leads, and determining when they are ready to be advanced to sales.

Example Criteria of a Qualified Lead

The criteria of a qualified lead can be specific, or subjective. Here are some examples:

Prospect Derailed

Another great use of prospect tracking is in determining when prospects have become unengaged with the sales process. This determination can then be used to restart efforts and offer specific content to re-engage. Some examples that reveal potential un-engagement include:

Shared Definition between Sales and Marketing

One of the critical aspects of creating a good lead qualifying system is participation of both sales and marketing in the definition of what is qualified. There is a natural chasm that builds between sales and marketing when the definition is left open. When there is a crisp definition of the criteria for each stage, all confusion and animosity disappears. The definition needs specific evidence that will build credibility with each department that each has performed their respective duties. Sales can then become more confident in the quality of leads they receive, and willingly follow those leads. Here are some signs that your current lead qualification process is not working:

Summary

The internet has moved more of the selling activities to the buyer, and engages the sales person later in the buying process. To assure that your offering survives the prospect’s new buying process, you need to develop the appropriate content necessary, and to purchase the tools required to keep track of their activities. CRM has become the central tool to maintain these systems and refine your new sales process. In the end, the new methods will provide more information and engage more interest in your products.

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