Have you seen what’s on your sales people’s holiday wish list? What do they really want from marketing? I took a peek. In big bold letters it said: LEAD QUALIFICATION.
You don’t want to be a marketing Grinch, but you can’t take a quick trip to the department store and buy your sales people what they want. So what should you do?
1. Pick Up the Phone
Many marketers think their responsibility is simply to generate leads and pass them over to sales. Then it’s up to the sales people to make the most out of them.
This is a lose-lose situation. Marketing loses because salespeople call a few of the leads they receive and discover they’re not qualified. At this point they decide not to waste any more time, and throw out the good leads with the “bad” leads.
So how do you turn this into a win-win situation?
Pick up the phone and start talking to the leads. When you talk with these people, determine if they have the budget, authority, need and timeframe to buy, and an understanding that your solution will work for them (BANT-S). If so, they are ready for your salespeople.
2. Nurture Them
Naturally some of your leads will not meet all of the BANT-S criteria. Many of the leads that fall into this bucket were the ones that disillusioned your sales force. But you don’t want to discard them automatically. Just because they are not qualified today doesn’t mean that they never will be.
In many cases, especially in B2B marketing, leads have a long buying cycle. So determine what that buying cycle is and nurture the leads with a mix of relevant content and occasional phone calls.
Build a pipeline of leads that your telemarketers call back when the leads are ready to talk with someone.
3. Use the Right Phone People
You need to have different people involved in lead qualification and tele-nurturing than you would for lead generation. That’s because the skills and personality traits to succeed in each of these roles are different. While lead generations are hunters who love the challenge of breaking through the corporate barricades to reach the right person, lead nurturing agents are farmers. They take care of prospects, working with them to help them achieve their objectives.
4. More Isn’t Always Better
Sales people are probably not asking for barrels full of leads, just a few leads that are highly likely to turn into sales. So if you don’t have well qualified leads, don’t send them to sales. It’s better to send them 10 qualified leads a month than 100 of unknown value.
5. Score Your Leads
By scoring your leads you can quickly see who the hottest prospects are based on their online interactions. But you still need to get on the phone and juxtapose your digital knowledge with human insights.
6. Use a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) System
A good CRM system can assure that leads don’t fall through the cracks, and are nurtured according to your best practices. And lead nurturing often results in lead qualification.
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