When leads are qualified, it’s a win-win for the supplier and prospect, because the prospect has a need that the supplying company can fulfill.
Marketing has to generate leads that fill the sales pipeline, do so in a way that is acceptable to the customer, and assure that leads are qualified for sales calls. If leads do not meet sales requirements, prospects won’t be ready for a sales call. In this scenario, prospects would likely feel that a sale is being pushed on them rather than that a company is simply helping to solve a problem.
If you’re doing things right, your leads will be valued by salespeople, and customers will feel as if you’re there to help. Simple telephone conversations can help this process, but only if you handle them in the right way.
Are your leads valued by sales?
It’s clear that many sales representatives do not feel they are receiving high-quality leads. According to American Marketing Association’s Marketing News, a stunning70 percent of leads generated by marketers are never acted upon.
Do your customers feel you are helping them when you call?
Customers have been exposed to excessive telemarketing for many years, from mass surveys to single-product promotions, and they often fail to see how they benefit. That’s because prospects are often expected to interact with unqualified telemarketing agents who don’t know much about the products they represent beyond their scripted questions. This shows little respect for a busy businessperson’s time and, as a result, companies erect barricades to protect managers from unwanted calls.
Get around the defenses with a well-planned offense.
So how do you get around the defenses? Today there are a variety of noninvasive methods to track prospect interest. By digging into the data and observing how a customer has interacted with your online ads, landing pages, blogs, social media, and more, you can identify prospects with the highest interest levels and what they’re interested in, and then you can integrate these leads into a series of marketing-integrated activities that include informational emails, event or Webinar invitations, phone calls, and much more.
Lead qualification breeds trust between sales and marketing.
Marketing departments tend to provide salespeople with more leads than they can handle; however, many of those leads do not meet salespeople’s needs. The challenge, therefore, is not to generate boatloads of leads but to produce sales-qualified leads. Don’t expect your salespeople to separate the wheat from the chaff. When qualified and unqualified leads are shuffled together, high-quality leads become tainted by association and are left untouched.
A good conversation is the heart of lead qualification.
Despite the number of lead-generation options available today, there is still no better way to find out about a prospect’s situation, needs, projects, intentions, timeframe, and potential budget than a good old-fashioned phone conversation. Calls need to be made by people with a deep understanding of the products, market, and typical issues facing your target market, otherwise decision makers will find little benefit in sharing their time with the caller.
Integrate your lead-generation and lead-qualification activities, filtering leads through presales calls to learn which leads are qualified for your salespeople. Once your sales representatives know that they will receive only well-qualified leads, they will naturally be eager to follow up on them.
Qualifying leads on the phone is the key to increased conversions. If a lead is lukewarm, marketing should nurture it early in the buying cycle until it’s ready for a sales call. This system will serve both the customer and the vendor, and because customers interact with the vendor only once they are qualified, it helps build trust in the vendor.