As an industrial marketer, your primary goal is to generate leads for your manufacturing business. However, not every person that fills out a form, downloads an eBook, or requests a call makes for a great prospect. In fact, many of these folks are not a great match for your products or services.
Unfortunately, however, very few manufacturing companies have a system in place to separate good leads from bad ones. This results in sales people wasting a lot of time and effort chasing down less-than-ideal prospects while ignoring more serious opportunities.
That's why you need a proven process for qualifying your leads.
So What Is A Qualified Lead?
“Qualified” is sales-speak for “they can’t waste my time and I can’t waste theirs.” In other words, a qualified lead is someone who meets certain criteria that justifies speaking to a salesperson.
Sales and marketing teams need to work together to define that criteria. Here are some things to consider.
Decision-Making AuthorityJust because someone is interested in buying your products and services doesn't mean that they actually have the power to do so. They may have to climb the corporate ladder in order to get approval from higher ups. You need to determine what types of titles — managers, VPs, owners, etc — that your sales reps should be interacting with.
Think about your top customers. What do they have in common? Maybe they have a certain headcount, organizational structure, or budget? Is there an industry that they all hail from? Whatever they have in common, chances are that prospects who share those traits will also be qualified leads.
Now, think about the opposite of your ideal customer. What processes, stipulations, and terms will make you want to walk away? Eliminate leads that are more trouble than they're worth to keep your sales reps focused on better opportunities.
If it’s a solid qualified lead, you won’t have to do much guesswork as to the level of buying interest and comfort in the product once you’re done interacting with them. A good lead shows that you know they need to close within a certain timeframe, they have the ability to pay for it, and they understand how your product or service can benefit them or solve a problem. Bad leads are the exact opposite, vague and dubious information that may or may not lead to moving the sales process forward at all.
Two Elements of A Qualified Lead
When it comes down to it, every qualified lead is composed of two important factors:
- How a prospect can fit into the sales process.
- How much engagement has taken place with them.
A fit prospect should resemble the ideal prospect, as determined by those conversations between your sales and marketing teams. This includes characteristics such as the candidate’s job title, industry, budget, and location. If it fits, that’s more than enough reason to pick up the phone and get things moving.
Secondly, prospecting engagement levels helps determine how motivated they are to buy. Did they enter your web contact form with “email@example.com” or did they pick up the phone and call you? Do they want you to demonstrate the product or are they simply interested in the free tradeshow t-shirt? Engagement is a multi-dimensional process, requiring eyes and judgement on all of your interactions with them, from Twitter replies to lunch appointments.
A Word About Lead Scoring
If the process of distinguishing between a qualified lead and an unqualified lead sounds tiresome, that's because it is.
Fortunately, however, there are tools that make it easier. Through marketing automation software like HubSpot, you can "score" your leads in real time. Lead scoring is the process of assigning a value to an action (i.e., filling out a form, visiting specific pages, requesting certain information, etc.). If the person reaches a certain threshold, then they are deemed qualified.
Keep Your Pipeline Full
With enough due diligence, deals can be won with minimal effort and maximum efficiency. More importantly, by keeping your pipeline full of qualified leads, you’ll build a terrific sales run rate. If one qualified lead doesn’t end up buying from you, then there’s always another to fill its spot.
At Thomas, we specialize in helping suppliers like you generate highly qualified leads. To learn more, contact our team today.