In those early startup days, most entrepreneurs will take any leads they can get their grubby little hands on. If you’ve ever been cornered by a founder, it’s plain as day how passionate (maybe a little annoying) they can be at the genesis of their business. That’s because their circle of interests is pretty small early on and they often have no choice but to dedicate lots of time to chasing any and every opportunity.
Eventually that changes and as momentum builds, the pendulum swings past the point of being desperate for an audience. You begin to discover that talking to anyone and everyone isn’t the most efficient route to securing new customers. Every minute you waste talking to someone who will never say “yes to the dress” is just another minute you missed talking to someone else who will.
So, rather than spread yourself and your team thin, follow these steps to attract marketing qualified leads.
1. You can start by understanding what makes a “quality” lead.
To capture quality leads, you need to understand the attributes that make them great.
Characteristics of a high-quality lead include:
The ability to identify specific pain points:
These leads not only have a problem, but they should also desire a solution.
Seeing the value in what you offer:
A great lead sees so much value in your solution that they don’t hesitate to purchase.
Feeling a sense of urgency:
A qualified lead understands that time is of the essence and the more that is spent debating logistics, the longer the problem goes unsolved.
Knowing your company exists:
Prospective clients know who you are and the solutions can provide. It’s easier to convince someone to purchase if they already have a good idea of your business. (Protip: this is where Case Studies and Testimonials come in handy.)
Successfully qualifying and targeting leads involves effort from both the sales and marketing teams. Make sure they agree on the characteristics of a qualified lead so the rest of your strategy can seamlessly fall into place.
2. Shift your strategy
One of the main reasons small businesses focus on lead volume is because it’s easier to measure quantity over quality. But we all know running a successful business isn’t about taking the easy route.
If you’re currently incentivizing volume, it could be killing your overall sales. Just about any lead looks “qualified” to someone focused on getting more, rather than better, leads. Consider a shift to marketing-generated and marketing-influenced revenue as the true success metric. This will force marketers to measure attribution and campaign effectiveness, which will be more beneficial in the long run.
3. Establish buyer personas
Getting inside the brain of your buyer provides a level of insight that no other marketing activity can replicate. Customer surveys, sales call participation, focus groups and secret shopping are all excellent tools for learning what your target buyers and influencers need to build trust.
4. Make your research tangible
Buyers don’t typically tell you they have the qualities you’re looking for, so you have to measure and score behaviors to indicate when a lead has reached your critical threshold of “qualified” and is worth pursuing.
Once you’ve conducted buyer research, you need to translate that data to lead/account-scoring methodologies. Find tangible, measurable aspects of behaviors and desires. Utilizing a marketing automation technology like Marketo will allow you to communicate in real time with buyers all while tracking their interactions.
5. Turn numbers into new operations
Be prepared to integrate changes in process and technology with changes in your organization. Your entire staff needs a uniform understanding of the new metrics. To educate them, first document the lead management process and then hammer that message home through training. Tell, Show, Do, and Review.
Hold “lunch and learns” with your team, perform and execute a comprehensive roll-out, and teach the sales team how to interact with qualified leads. Make training a continuous process so your sales and marketing teams feel comfortable with the changes.
6. Build a revenue model
The goal is not to speak to fewer people, the goal is to talk to the right people at the right time in their business stage. As quality comes into focus and you interact with fewer but more sales-ready leads, your revenue model will be crystal-clear. You may see less leads from marketing, but the leads you do see will get have a higher chance of conversion, creating more deals and more activity in the pipeline.
7. Keep in mind that nothing happens overnight
This is not a quick-fix solution. Changing the mindset of your staff will take time. Although you might meet opposition at first, training your team and sharing important metrics will help them understand the value in qualifying leads.
So sit tight, get those analytics tools ready, and start seeing results in the months ahead.
What tools and tactics have you used to attract more marketing qualified leads? Let us know in the comments.