Not all business leads are created equal. Some are pure gold. Others will waste your time and cost you money. Understanding how to separate the wheat from the chaff will help you become a more efficient marketer and help you and your sales team hit their targets and grow your business.
In the 20+ years I’ve worked in marketing, I’ve developed the following strategies to identify the hottest leads, nurture lukewarm sales inquiries and remove tire-kickers from the sales process.
Hot or Not: Tricks of the Trade
- No Marketing Gimmicks: Marketing gimmicks tend to attract time wasters. Competitions, giveaways and free drinks might attract the crowds — but how many of them will actually want to buy your product? It’s a common mistake to make, but having too many leads isn’t a good problem. While you are sorting through high volumes of unqualified contacts (who have cost you money to generate), you’re wasting time that could be spent with a genuine prospect. If you offer real value in your marketing output (for example: producing a piece of content that helps a potential client to solve a real problem in his or her business), you will not only attract more genuine business leads with real potential but also have the time to process them in a timely and efficient manner.
- Employ Efficiency: Creating a constant flow of new content to attract new leads is time-consuming and highly inefficient. Marketing automation technology will enable you to maximize the opportunity of every piece of content you create, ensuring it is shown to the right person at the right time, steering them through the sales funnel in a timely and efficient manner. Remember, just because the content is old to you doesn’t mean it won’t appear fresh and useful to a prospect who has never seen it before.
- Generic Domain Names: I don’t waste time with generic domain email addresses (Gmail, Yahoo, etc.). These leads go straight into my marketing automation nurturing process, where workflows and lead scoring technologies can help turn up the occasional nugget of gold. Sometimes incredibly hot prospects hide behind generic email addresses because they don’t want marketers to flood their work inboxes with marketing emails or to track them down and pester them with sales calls. Great content will help keep these leads engaged and may even persuade them to pick up the phone and call your sales department.
- Target Domain Names: Sometimes we know exactly who we want to sell to. When a lead is generated from an organization you have actively targeted, lead scoring technology identifies this lead as hot, Hot, HOT! and automatically passes it over to the sales team. These are the kind of leads that need to be called straight away.
- Unknown Domain Names: When a lead comes in from an organization you’ve never heard of, a really quick way of qualifying this lead for either a sales call or continued nurturing is to run a search on LinkedIn to identify just exactly who the lead is and whether they have the authority to make a buying decision. I also like to check the domain out on SpyFu.com — this will tell you if the prospect’s organization is spending any money on paid search and highlight if they have access to a budget to spend with you. A couple of minutes of research is all it takes to see if an unknown lead should continue on its nurturing journey or be bumped up a little in the sales process.
- Speak to People: A little human engagement prior to a sales call is a vital stage in warming up a lead. As part of the nurturing process, a well-trained inside sales team can help identify the various challenges a prospect faces and help a sales professional create a more informed and therefore targeted sales approach. Remember, inside sales isn’t about the “hard sell,”, it’s about taking the time to ask the right questions and listen for the right responses. Your sales team will not thank an overly persuasive inside sales representative for booking sales appointments with completely unqualified prospects.
- Drips, Not Floods: It’s better to deliver a small number of high-quality leads over to your sales team than to flood them with an abundance of tire-kickers. Not only will lukewarm or cold leads waste their time, they will damage the relationship between sales and marketing and potentially spark a confrontation I like to call the sales blame game.
How do you manage your business leads efficiently and effectively? Share your comments below:
This post first appeared on the iContact Email Marketing Blog.