Every business wants lots of leads, because having a lot of leads is an indicator of success…Or is it?
Having a large number of leads is great, but it isn’t enough: How many of those leads translate into conversions? And how much time does your team spend sifting through those leads to see which ones they should focus on?
The answer is “more than they’d like,” and the stats back it up: according to an HBS Oracle report, sales representatives spend 75% of their time chasing unqualified leads, while 71% of leads are never pursued or worked properly.
Lead qualification is clearly an important step towards improved marketing campaigns and higher conversion rates. While lead qualification can be time-consuming and tedious, there is a faster and more effective way to qualify your leads and filter out the leads worth chasing: automation.
Automating your lead qualification process with marketing automation software will help your team focus solely on high-quality leads based on behavioural and demographic information. Think of automated lead qualification as a way of building a virtual waiting room for your potential clients: it’s a process through which you’ll nurture your leads with valuable content and web personalisation so you can skim only the most interested leads before syncing their details into your CRM or passing them on to a sales rep for a one-to-one interaction.
Let’s use higher education student recruitment as an example. If your goal is to recruit the kinds of students that are more likely to enrol in your institution, automating your lead qualification would ensure that you only pass on your high-quality leads to your enrolment advisors or admissions teams. Instead of scheduling a phone call or face-to-face time with every student who has expressed an interest, you would decide when it’s time to make that first phone call: maybe it’s after they’ve attended a webinar, or after they’ve downloaded a particular informational brochure. Maybe it’s after they’ve done both within a defined period of time (within six months? Within three months?) The choice is up to you – and the timeline is developed according to the lead’s buying cycle.
By the time the student gets personal contact with someone in the institution, you would have collected enough information to know which team to pass these leads to, ensuring further efficiencies within your marketing processes and making sure that you spend time (and valuable one-to-one contact) on only the best leads.
You can build up a more complete picture of your leads over time, with each contact they make with you. Each time a visitor fills out a form on one of your pages, cookie tracking recognizes them and allows you to replace form fields that they have already provided to you with new fields for your lead to fill in. On first contact, you can ask them for a name and email address. As they continue to interact with you, you’ll be able to ask them for their job title, job level, company size, etc.
By using progressive profiling in your forms and placing these forms on your landing pages, you’ll gradually build up a more complete profile of your lead, from which you’ll be able to decide how and when the lead is ready for contact from the sales team.
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Think about what your lead’s journey looks like. If you look at the points where leads can interact with you, you can decide how you want them to proceed along the journey and enable them to receive more targeted communication using automation.
You can do this by setting up triggers. These can consist of opening an email you send them, clicking on a link, requesting more information, replying to an email… You can decide what the triggers are, set them up in your automation platform, and act accordingly as they move along their user journey. The further along the chain of triggers a lead is, the closer they are to being ready for a contact from sales and the higher their lead score.
And, speaking of lead scoring…
It goes without saying that you can automate your lead scoring! While we believe that lead velocity matters more than lead scoring, lead scoring systems (where you assign points to leads to rank their likelihood of making a purchase) are still a vital tool for lead qualification. A lead score is a simple way for sales to identify the most qualified leads in your funnel and approach them according to their level of readiness.
Don’t forget to adjust your lead scoring model according to your buyer’s journey and persona! And, just as importantly, make sure you can sync your marketing automation platform data to your CRM so that your sales team understands the qualification framework and has all the information they need to approach leads with confidence.
Automation allows you to connect your lead scoring efforts with your engagement campaigns and the customised experiences you provide. The further along the buyer journey the leads go as they move from the discovery stage to the consideration and conversion stages, the more relevant information they receive. You can automate their scoring and adjust the score according to which emails and content they interact with – and then set up alerts to sales once they are ready to be contacted.
Automating your lead qualification will help you align your marketing and sales teams, saving time and reducing the cost of converting each lead. Let’s talk about how you can automate your lead qualification – get in touch with us.