B2B sales is all about the leads. Most of the B2B companies depend on their marketing teams to generate leads for sales and inside sales teams. However, simply generating leads is not going to end their liability. It is also important to do lead management. After all, it is not about the number but the quality. And generating high quality leads is the number #1 challenge of any B2B marketer. But are they the only ones responsible for leads?
I would say NO..
Strengthening the quality of B2B leads and sales requires commitment from both Marketing and Sales. They must align their thoughts and focus on both quantity and quality of leads.
Here are 6 tips Generate High Quality Sales Leads
TIP#1 Learn to Differentiate between Inquiries and Leads
A raw inquiry could be any contact generated by the marketing team. It could have bogus phone numbers or email IDs or contact info of someone who is not your target audience. But an accepted lead is one that contains valid and desirable contact information for the sales guys to work upon. It is the job of the marketing department to ensure that only legitimate and accepted leads are loaded in the lead tracking system.
TIP#2 Separate out Marketing Leads from Sales Leads
Marketing leads are those which need to be nurtured and cultivated over time to make them sales-ready. They are in the early stage of buying cycle and might require additional information or content. Email or Social Media could be the best mediums to nurture the existing marketing leads.
On the contrary, Sales leads can be referred to prospects who are further along the buying cycle and are ready to interact with a salesperson. This will enable sales or inside sales reps to invest their time on the right leads only, increasing the probability of closing more deals.
TIP#3 Keep the Definition of “Qualified Leads” uniform for both Sales and Marketing
It is crucial for the sales and marketing teams to agree on a common definition of “Qualified Leads”.
According to a study by MarketingSherpa, only 45% of businesses have established a company-wide definition of a sales-ready lead.
Sales teams should only focus on leads who are ready and willing to buy. Selling to prospects who doesn’t need your product would unnecessarily extend sales cycle and eat up valuable time of sales resources. Marketing should focus on nurturing leads that are very less likely to buy now.
For example, divide your leads into 3 categories- A, B and C(hot, warm and cold respectively). Sales team should work on the A category as they are the most qualified ones and if they have enough time left then can move on to B category. Meanwhile, marketing team can cultivate the B and C leads till they become qualified for A group.
TIP#4 Put into Action a Lead Scoring System
Opt for an automated lead management system that can prioritize all your leads based on lead scoring. But make sure that the scoring process is adaptable to the ever changing industry and customer demands. Based on a methodology agreed upon by both marketing and sales, rank and assign score to leads according to their interest levels and sales readiness.
In an Eloqua study of 10 B2B companies using lead scoring systems, on average, deal close rates increased by 30 percent; company revenue increased by 18%; and revenue per deal increased by 17%.
The definition of a “qualified lead” should have two dimensions:
- Fit- Exact knowledge of a prospect’s role, designation, company that determine whether he/she falls into our target audience and is an ideal decision maker.
- Engagement- Information based on their activities like level of interest, website pages visited, frequency of visits to determine if they are ready to begin an interaction with sales.
TIP#5 Engage in Lead Nurturing
All salespeople would agree that most of the prospects require further nurturing before they become completely sales-ready. Marketers need to establish and nurture their relationships with those prospects at every stage of the sales funnel and through every step of the buyer’s journey to make them qualified.
A Forrester Research study found that companies that excelled at lead nurturing were able to generate 50% more sales-ready leads at a 33% lower cost per lead than other companies.
Lead nurturing refers to both listening to prospect’s needs and providing valuable information and answers that they require. Sending newsletters, industry info and other relevant data on a set interval would not let your prospect forget you. Your three main goals should be to:
- Maintain permission to keep in touch with the Prospect: You can’t progress with your nurturing activities without the prospect’s permission. If they lose interest in your content, probably they would unsubscribe from your content (blogs/newsletters) or would ignore your message.
- Educate your Prospect with key ideas and thoughts: During the lead nurturing phase, make sure you educate them about the latest industry trends and activities of their competitors. Instigate them to think that a solution like yours is going to be really beneficial and would resolve their pain points.
- Do not miss the signs of progress through the buying cycle: Watch for their digital activities and engagement level to understand where the prospects have reached in the buying cycle. As they will start progressing, an efficient lead scoring system would give you an indication when the time to get a salesperson involved would come.
Various studies show that buyers now are really only engaging with sales or inside sales reps in about the last third of their purchasing process.
According to Brian Carroll, author of Lead Generation for the Complex Sale, up to 95% of qualified prospects on your website are there to research and are not yet ready to talk with a sales rep, but as many as 70% will eventually buy from you or one of your competitors.
TIP#6 Use Lead Qualification Questions
Sales team should not always assume that the leads passed on to them by Marketing are qualified and “Sales-Ready”. In order to ensure that a lead is qualified enough, they should adopt the ANUM(Authority, Need, Urgency, Money) methodology and ask them lead qualification questions accordingly. Learn more about lead qualification 14 Lead Qualification Questions to Spot your ‘Sales-Ready’ Leads