YMC does a lot of lead generation for our B2B clients, and if you know anything about a B2B sales environment you’ll know that one of the most common questions that the sales team will ask when they see a new lead is “yes but are they qualified”?
In an environment where the sales team is often being held to some pretty high revenue per hour metrics, this question has a very tangible business impact. If your B2B marketing efforts are causing the sales team to chase after innumerable bad leads, it might be time to rethink how your marketing efforts can help qualify sales leads.
How to Define Qualified Leads
You may have sat in dozens of meetings between sales and marketing where this question was hotly debated. Generally, I’ve found that there are several reasons why sales and marketing teams disagree over the definition of a qualified lead:
- The sales team doesn’t trust the leads marketing is providing because they don’t have enough experience or understanding with how those leads were qualified
- The organization as a whole doesn’t feel comfortable with its lead analytics
- The sales and marketing staff learned what constitutes a “qualified lead” at another organization, and…
- The definition of a qualified lead is different at every business
It’s this last point that’s often most vexing. And so to keep things simple Young Marketing Consulting encourages a very short definition of a qualified lead:
The definition of a qualified #marketing lead? They’ve expressed purchase intent.
Once you all agree on that definition, the next decision for your team will be what lead activities are related to purchase intent. These activities could be any of the following:
- Inbound contact (phone, email, etc.)
- Web browsing behavior (e.g. visiting your pricing page)
- Download/registration activity (taking a trial, signing up for a webinar, etc.)
- Purchase (making a purchase of a related item)
Now that you’ve defined a qualified lead, the next question is how can marketing encourage that lead to express purchase intent? And the answer is lead nurturing.
What is Lead Nurturing?
Lead nurturing is the act of continually putting offers in front of a lead to drive them to purchase.
Your goal is to keep your product or service top-of-mind for your leads until they either choose to purchase or decline your offer. And marketing can help accomplish this objective by regularly testing different offers for the lead audiences in question. Discount offers, educational materials available for download, invitations to webinars or Q&A sessions, social media outreach and sharing, all of these activities and more can be considered lead nurturing. As long as you’re reaching out to your leads on a regular basis with some kind of communication, you’re nurturing them.
What Are Some Good Ongoing Lead Nurturing Activities?
Generally, you want to encourage your captured leads to move through your marketing funnel toward a sale as quickly as possible. So, your activities should focus on time-sensitive calls-to-action that your audience will find irresistible. A few of the more successful lead nurturing campaigns we’ve seen have included:
- An automated “Welcome” email campaign that provides a time-sensitive discount or bonus for purchase
- Ongoing newsletters on topics of interest to “cold” leads, who are then reactivated based on the their open/click/web visit behavior
- Small purchase opportunities to see if a lead is willing to make any kind of sale, which can then be leveraged into a larger opportunity
- In-the-moment web browsing capture, either through a chat window on your site, a lead pop-up, or other action that encourages a web visitor to give you more information before they leave your site
This list is by no means exhaustive, but we hope it will help you understand how marketing can support the sales team in qualifying leads.