When clients or prospective clients approach us to generate leads for them, one of the first questions we ask is: what does a lead mean to you? A surprisingly high number have no clear definition of what they are hoping to receive and, importantly, what they will be paying for. All leads are not equal and, without a clear lead definition, it is impossible to measure the value of your lead generation effort.
These are just some of the things that need to be clear:
- Are you looking for leads or appointments and, if so, appointments over the phone, or face to face?
- What stage of lead? If someone is researching a solution to implement 12-18 months from now, is that still a lead?
- What level of decision maker? Is a lead anyone who has influence into the decision making process, or do you need to speak to the person who will sign off budget?
Why is a definition so important?
If you don’t have a definition, you will generate a mixed bag of leads of varying quality, not only wasting valuable marketing spend, but absorbing your sales team’s time as they wade through to find the real opportunities.
With a clear definition, you can manage your pipeline and investment sensibly by:
- Qualifying out poor quality leads, so budget/time/resource is not wasted.
- Nurturing longer term prospects – feeding them into an automated program, for example, to keep them interested until they are ready to buy.
- Applying your most expensive sales resource, where it will produce the biggest return.
What does a good qualification process look like?
Deciding what a good lead looks like for you, is just the start of a successful strategy. It is important to build a framework that ensures good leads are identified and brought to the surface so they can be prioritised and sent through to your sales team.
Key elements of a good process include:
Data input: the old adage applies – rubbish in, rubbish out. No matter how smart your lead qualification criteria and your process, if you feed your systems with poor quality data that doesn’t match your target audience, you’ll never produce good quality leads.
Clarity: find criteria that work for you that can be easily communicated and understood. Using an established set of criteria for your lead qualification, such as BANT, can make life easier, or you may need to create an acronym/approach of your own. The important thing is that your definition is robust and understood.
Stages of qualification: decide when to apply qualification within your sales process. It is critical to qualify poor leads out at the earliest opportunity, but you may need a multistage approach that identifies different levels of lead at different stages, and routes them accordingly. In this context, SiriusDecision’s Demand Waterfall provides a helpful framework.
Methods of qualification: once you have identified the different levels of lead, you can decide how you handle each, and apply the appropriate resource and investment. For example, you may use marketing automation to score and filter in the early stages, then feed marketing-ready leads into the appropriate marketing programme for further nurture. Automation is invaluable when dealing with high lead volumes, but human to human interaction provides a much higher level of qualification and ensures your valuable sales resource receives a steady feed of leads that are truly sales-ready.
Measurement and analysis: with clear lead criteria and a robust qualification process, you are better able to measure the performance of your campaign and ROI. You can analyse lead quality and conversion rates by source, identifying the pots of data and channels generating the best results. Equally, you can capture and analyse the reasons why leads don’t convert, and use this insight to hone future strategy.
Most telemarketing and lead generation agencies have a robust approach to qualification and will guide clients through their process, ensuring the definition of a lead is clear from the start. At The Telemarketing Company, our briefing process ensures we have a clear understanding of what represents a valuable outcome and a good lead for each client, before any calls are made. A stringent quality assurance (QA) process checks every lead against agreed criteria before it is released and live online reporting measures performance at every stage of the campaign, and across each data segment. Call recordings, shared for each call outcome, reinforce the QA process and provide valuable insight that can improve lead conversion.
A flexible channel such as telemarketing can deliver higher-value, better qualified leads to your sales team at any stage of the sales process. If you would like to know more about our expert lead qualification and lead nurturing services, get in touch today.