Leads, leads, leads. They flow into your systems every day—hot leads, cold leads, mystery leads, red herring leads. It’s hard to know who’s worth your resources and who isn’t.
Luckily small business owners have an abundance of technology and tools to choose from when it comes to lead qualification – but picking the right one can be a mystery all its own. So many platforms promise to deliver the perfect solution for tracking leads and lead activity, analyzing behavior and turning that data into an accurate score. Small business owners can’t afford to waste time and budget on the wrong ones or buy tools with overlapping features.
Here’s how to look past the hype and know when to sign up and when to walk away.
1. Figure out your scoring strategy.
To select the right tool, you need to make sure your lead qualification strategy is airtight. Look beyond just BANT (budget, authority, need, timeline) and content consumption as qualification factors. Hitting all of the BANT points doesn’t necessarily guarantee an opportunity, just as the person downloading your white paper and sharing your blog post might have no intention of buying your products at all. Analyze your customers’ buying process and identify the real factors that indicate a lead that’s about to convert.
2. Identify your needs.
As a small business, your lead scoring needs and challenges differ from a major brand’s. Get specific about the problems you need to solve. Do you need detailed metric reports? Automation? Hint: one top matter for most small businesses is integration. Systems that work well together like Salesforce and Marketo help eliminate complicated installations and the need for in-house IT support.
3. Be platform-focused.
Before jumping into the sea of tech options, step back and decide which platform will serve you best. Many small businesses that started out using email service providers (ESPs) a decade ago are now graduating to marketing automation platforms. Why? Because the streamlined workflows, precise marketing campaigns and reduction of manual labor help smaller teams compete with larger brands. CRM has also become cost-effective for smaller budgets.
4. Establish your criteria.
- Functionality and features: Obviously you’ll look for the features that solve your pain points, but you’ll also want to be sure you’re not paying for features you don’t need.
- Learning curve: Can your small business afford the time and training required to get your staff up and running? Some kind of learning curve is expected, but you want to make sure you can start using your new tool sooner rather than later.
- Resources: What kind of training, service, and support are available? Another tip: look for a solution with an active user community.
- Scalability: Whatever your plans for growth, you want to make sure you pick a system that can grow with your business.
- Integration: How well will the system integrate into your company network? Is the API easy to work with?
- Versatility: Can the system solve multiple challenges? Small businesses can benefit from tools and features that streamline many processes beyond assisting with lead qualification.
- Viability: A flashy new product might sound promising. But consider this statistic: a study by Allmand Law reports that around 90 percent of tech startups fail. So be aware that the “next big thing” might go out of business a year after you invest in it.
5. Do your homework—and don’t rush.
Any technology is an investment. With the new system comes implementation, training and new processes. So even if you’re eager to plunge into the benefits of a new tool, take the time to do it right. Talk to other users. Watch demos and videos. Sometimes the “obvious” choice becomes less attractive after a little research.
6. Ask questions.
Once you reach the demo phase, you’ll need to ask lots of questions. Why? Because the person showing you the software will probably only demonstrate the most generic and requested features. That won’t tell you much about how the software can benefit your small business or solve its unique challenges, so go ahead and grill the salesperson on platform details.
Committing to specific platforms can feel unnerving for small businesses on a tight budget. But by understanding your own needs for lead qualification, you can feel more confident about making a smart choice—and enjoy stronger sales.
Meet Justin Gray
Justin is a serial entrepreneur and the CEO and founder of LeadMD, the world’s largest revenue operations agency having implemented over half of the Marketo user base. Justin has made a career of launching successful companies and scaling them, with successful exits of over 200MM+ in the last decade. Justin’s latest endeavor launched in 2016 when he co-founded Six Bricks an online learning startup designed to combat employee and customer churn through experience-based education. Over the past 10 years, Justin has emerged as a strong voice for entrepreneurship, marketing and culture. As a recognized speaker, Justin has been published over 350 times in industry publications and holds his own column, Tribal Knowledge in Inc., while writing for Entrepreneur, Tech Crunch and others. Justin and his wife Jennifer met over marketing and three years later welcomed their son, Grayson, into the world in April of 2017.