In most companies the marketing team will generate a bunch of leads and send them over to the sales team for follow-up and prospecting, and a percentage of them will become opportunities and customers. If you are facing a lead generation dry spell this is probably a good course of action.
However, if you have plenty of leads flowing in at the top of the funnel, you are probably inundating your sales team with a lot of low quality leads that end up wasting their time. While your sales reps may want to hoard a ton of leads, one must remember to use Obi-wan's Jedi mind trick that would play out something like this:
"These aren't the leads you are looking for. You can close more deals with fewer, higher quality leads. Move along!" And your sales reps move along, call fewer leads and close more business!
The reality is fewer, better quality leads (i.e. sales ready leads) will help sales reps be more productive as they will have more relevant conversations and in general be able to help solve genuine problems faced by their leads and prospects. Getting the highest quality leads into the sales teams hands produces a higher yield on marketing leads and overall higher ROI.
4 Ways To Generate Higher Quality, Sales-Ready Leads
1. Use Qualifying Questions: While shorter forms are great for conversion, sometimes one must compromise. Adding an extra question of two to a form that helps qualify them for your sales team can make a world of a difference. e.g. A question around decision making time frame can help a sales rep prioritize when to follow-up on a lead, or decide to punt the lead off to marketing for further nurturing till they are ready to buy.
At HubSpot one field we use is "The biggest challenge". This helps us understand what's on the mind of the lead and the sales rep knows what to email them or talk to them about during a conversation. The contents of the field could also be grounds for disqualifying the lead so no follow-up is required or sending them back for re-marketing.
2. Score Your Leads: Lead scoring is an important way to use the data from your forms to assign points to each lead on some scale like 1 to 10 or 1 to 5. A higher the grade the better the lead. e.g. If B2B leads are more important to your company, your should ask for that information from your leads on your forms and score the B2B leads higher than the B2C leads. Sending only the B2B leads get to your sales team ensures they have conversations with relevant leads and saves them time, effort and aggravation!
3. Split Your Lead Funnel: Most companies track their leads in a simple lead funnel as you can see here to the right. However, at HubSpot with the combination of qualifying questions and some automated workflow rules in our salesforce.com CRM system we are able to partition our leads into various funnels or "buckets" as seen below.
By routing leads with lower close rates to other buckets we ensure our sales reps can focus on "inbound funnel" bucket that yields the most customers, maximizing their productivity. At the same time we run small experiments to see if we can yield customers from our other buckets.
As you can see in (hypothetical) image above we track each bucket meticulously to understand the close rate of each kind of lead and we are able to yield results from buckets of leads that were deemed no fit for our product at some point.
Side note: Low quality refers to the quality and completeness of information for the lead , not the specific people.
4. Nurture Your Leads: Lastly, there is no such thing as a bad lead. Sometimes people enter bad information and those leads cannot be used. But organizations should think of leads as sales ready, or not. Marketing teams should use automation to identify leads that are not sales ready and hold them back in a separate lead nurturing funnel and continue to educate them and keep them engaged till they are sales ready.
When sales teams get leads that aren't ready, they should send them to the nurture funnel so marketing can continue to have conversations with them till they are ready to buy.
These steps help maximize yield from your best leads and keeps your sales team highly productive.
What kind of techniques or marketing automation are you using to manage your leads? Please share your thoughts in the comments.