If you’re generating plenty of leads, but the sales force doesn’t think those leads are good enough, what’s the best way to address the issue? Here are some ideas to consider:
1. Change your offer.
The one factor that most impacts lead quality is the offer. Offer a free book, and you’ll generate a high response but a lot of junk leads. Offer a free trial, and you’ll generate higher quality leads but a much lower response rate.
If your leads are less qualified than they should be, think about how (or if) your offer serves to self-qualify prospects. Ideally, offers should appeal to prospects who at minimum are experiencing the pain, problem, or challenge that your product can solve.
2. Improve communication to your sales team.
A prospect who downloads a white paper, for example, is not necessarily expressing an explicit interest in your product. He or she may only be acknowledging a particular business problem or technical issue (the problem or issue your product can solve).
If the same prospect receives a follow-up call that begins: “I understand you’re interested in our product,” the prospect will deny any such interest, and the sales rep will write off the lead. Alternatively, if the conversation begins: “I understand you’re experiencing [insert problem here] …” the rep will have more success and the lead will be deemed more qualified.
Make sure your reps know how leads were generated, what information those prospects have requested, and how to follow up appropriately. Sometimes, what appears to be poor lead quality is simply a disconnect between sales and marketing.
3. Change the mix of programs
Broad-based, so-called “pull” campaigns such as paid search and content syndication are likely to generate more inquiries at a lower cost, but with a higher proportion of unqualified leads. Conversely, targeted “push” campaigns such as e-mail and direct mail generate fewer leads overall, but more highly qualified responses on average.
If your conversion rate from raw inquiry to qualified opportunity or sale isn’t what it should be, it could be that you need a better mix of programs.
4. Institute a lead nurturing program.
There are some remarkable solutions available today that will serve to qualify and nurture leads before they even reach a sales rep. If you’re generating a significant number of leads each month, if your sales force is “cherry picking” leads and leaving most to die a lonely death in your CRM database, or if your leads just aren’t converting to sales as they should, it may be time to implement a lead nurturing system. With such a system in place, you can:
- Validate inbound registration data in real-time to prevent duplicate or “junk” leads going to the sales force
- Send only qualified leads (leads that meet a set of pre-defined criteria) to the sales force, and for the rest, automatically trigger a series of e-mail communications that will serve to further profile and qualify those prospects (sending them to the sales force only when they reach the same qualification threshold)
- Funnel all qualified leads seamlessly into your CRM or SFA database, including a record of precisely which campaigns that prospect has responded to (see: “improve communication to your sales team”, above)
Lead nurturing programs have been shown to substantially increase the ROI from lead generation programs, and dramatically improve sales force productivity (because reps spend more time closing deals, and less time qualifying raw prospects).
CDI is actively involved in designing and deploying lead nurturing programs for our clients. If you’re interested in exploring such a solution for your company, contact us for a free consultation.