Whether you are working at a lead gen firm with clients or doing marketing for your own company, you’re probably familiar with this formula for generating leads:

1. You create a compelling marketing asset, such as a new research report, webinar, or free software trial.

2. You secure it online by building a landing page and placing the asset behind a registration form.

3. You drive people to the asset using email blasts, advertising, web links, and social media.

4. You score the registrations based on various factors, such as their company, job title, behavior history, and responses to the qualifying questions on your web form.

5. You pass the leads that score high enough to your client’s or your own sales team to call, while the others you either place in nurturing campaigns.

A common side effect of this process, however, is an increase in inbound sales calls. Lead gen professionals will often include a secondary call to action of “call us now” in their promotional emails, ads, web pages, and other materials. And this is a great thing. Not everyone wants to register for an asset; they want to talk to a human being. And you always want to generate those inbound calls that sales teams find so valuable.

The problem, though, is that these callers still need to be qualified by marketing. They are no different than the leads that register online for your asset. It may be true that many callers will be worth passing straight to sales, but chances are many won’t be. And you don’t want your marketing campaigns to generate a ton of unqualified callers that waste a sales rep’s time.

Include an Inbound IVR in Your Marketing Campaign Plans
That’s why many lead gen experts have started inserting an extra step in their marketing campaigns:

2a. Insert unique phone numbers prominently on all marketing materials that will take callers to a campaign-specific IVR for qualification.

IVR stands for interactive voice response. It’s a technology that enables a caller to interact with an automated menu via telephone keypad or voice recognition. Inbound IVRs are ideal for qualifying phone leads. The IVR will ask callers the questions you determine work best to qualify them for your particular campaign.

For example, if you are using the BANT (budget, authority, need, timeline) model to qualify leads, you can pose those questions to learn if callers are really ready to buy. Or you can ask your sales managers what questions they care about when qualifying leads, then pose those questions to callers.

Leads that score high enough are passed from the IVR directly to sales for an immediate conversation. Others can hear a custom marketing message and be given the option of leaving a voicemail for sales. You can also send them to a second IVR if that works best for your campaign.

It’s the same principle you use when inserting qualifying questions on your web forms. But the IVR results are better because leads passed to sales get connected in conversation immediately. With web leads you have to wait for a sales rep to open the lead, dial the number, and hopefully get the lead on the phone. That could take several call attempts, if it happens at all. With IVR, the conversation is instantaneous, and the lead doesn’t grow cold.

Voice-based marketing automation technologies make it easy for marketers to build IVRs themselves. You don’t need a programmer to do it. And you don’t have to build generic IVRs to fit every campaign anymore. The technology makes it simple to build a unique tailored IVR for each campaign you run, just as you would with email and landing pages.

For more information on IVR, check out the “IVR for B2B Marketing: New Strategies for Lead Generation, Scoring, and Nurturing” white paper.