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In a perfect world, a salesperson could follow up with a prospect the second after an inbound lead converts on your website. Timing is a crucial component of adapting your sales process to the buyer’s context. The closer you can be to help the buyer at the moment they express interest, the more helpful and successful you will be.

Legacy salespeople haphazardly gather contacts that seem like they’d be good-fit customers as quickly as possible. They purchase lists. They aimlessly search online networks like LinkedIn. Once they have a stockpile of hundreds -- or sometimes thousands -- of buyer names, legacy salespeople bombard this list with generic value propositions. They begin aimlessly calling these leads, either in the order they find them or maybe even alphabetically. Sound all too familiar? Here’s how you avoid this painful process altogether.

How to Prioritize Active Buyers Over Passive Buyers

The majority of buyers have already started their buying journey before engaging with salespeople. The crux of an efficient sales process is determining which of your prospects have started their buyer’s journey, and focusing your time on those prospects. You should identify the right business opportunities from the start. The Inbound Sales Methodology gives salespeople have a framework for turning strangers on your website into customers.

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The three steps outlined below are a truncated version of the ‘Identify’ class in HubSpot’s free Inbound Sales Methodology training course. This five-class course provides you with the tools to build an inbound sales process in less than three hours.

Click here to register for HubSpot’s free Sales Training course.

1) Define your ideal buyer profile.

The ideal buyer profile defines which companies are a good fit for your offering and which ones are not. If you sell to businesses, the definition should be at the company level, not the contact level.

2) Identify leads that match this profile.

Your best leads are strangers that match your ideal buyer profile and are active in their buying journey. Modern salespeople prioritize active buyers over passive buyers. Keep in mind that you should evaluate the company against your ideal profile, not necessarily your point of contact. If the company is a good fit for your business, you can be introduced to the decision maker when the time is right.

Here are four efficient ways to get started identifying active leads:

  1. Configure your website to send inbound leads to your CRM in real time. That way, when a website visitors completes forms on your website, you will be automatically notified that they are an active buyer.
  2. Create a view in your CRM to view all new inbound leads. If possible, have the CRM alert you via email when a new inbound lead is generated.
  3. If the inbound lead is from a good-fit company but the contact is a lower-level employee with no buying power, don’t worry. This is still a good lead. Perhaps an upper-level employee asked a lower-level employee to do research on solutions. Bingo -- they found you! Something is probably happening at the company that spurred them to begin researching.
  4. If the inbound lead does not fit your buyer profile, move the lead to “unqualified” status. These leads should no longer exist in the new Inbound lead view. Pursuing these unqualified leads is a waste of time, when you have better fit leads at your fingertips.

3) Enrich the data.

Enriching a qualified lead with data allows you to truly personalize the sales experience to the buyer’s context. Enrichment data comes in two categories: Information about the buyer’s interests and the buyer’s demographics.

Common enrichment data about the buyer’s interests include:

  • Information provided by the buyer in the lead form
  • Content the buyer has consumed from your company (web pages, blog articles, ebooks, etc.)
  • Conversion event of the lead (i.e. demo request, free consultation request, free trial, ebook download, etc.)
  • Lead nurturing emails the buyer has received and which emails were opened
  • Original source through which the buyer found your website
  • Relevant commentary observed in the buyer’s social media presence, or content they’ve produced or was produced about them
  • Public information you can find about the company from third parties
  • Relevant information you can find about the company by speaking with their employees, customers, vendors, or partners.

Common enrichment data around the buyer’s demographics include:

  • Title or role
  • Industry
  • Size of company (i.e. employees, revenue, etc.)
  • Geographic location
  • Longevity of the contact with the company

If possible, configure your marketing software and website to capture this enrichment data automatically and add it directly to the lead record in your CRM. Infer and Datanyze are two examples of data enrichment tools.

Remember, the key to prioritizing active buyers over passive buyers is to identify who your ideal buyers are at the right time in their buyer’s journey.

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Originally published May 30, 2016 6:30:00 AM, updated July 28 2017

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Prioritize Sales Leads