By Rick Faulk & Seamas Egan, Campaigner
Leads are the fuel to your sales pipeline. You put considerable effort into developing inbound marketing activities so that your sales teams have a continuous flow of opportunity. Success however, does not come without challenges. Too many leads without an efficient system to manage them can clog your sales funnel. The result may be good leads growing cold while your teams work to clear the funnel.
Lead generation is only one part of the sales cycle. In reality, less than a quarter of inbound leads are sales ready. Yet, that small fraction can easily become lost in a sea of data. This inefficient process not only hurts sales numbers but increases tension between sales and marketing teams. Sales teams may complain about not having good leads to work with, while marketing points to the volume their efforts generate.
Lead Scoring - prioritizing sales-ready leads based on a pre-determined set of criteria - allows you to work your best leads first, rather than working from the bottom up. While organizations recognize the value of adding efficiency to the lead process, only 21 percent of B2B marketers have actually established a lead scoring program.
Lead development and management is a joint sales and marketing effort. To maximize leads and keep teams aligned, use the tips below.
- Determine key criteria. What is a sales-ready lead? Did the lead visit your pricing page 2-3 times? Did they demo a product or download a whitepaper? Do they work in a certain industry or have a specific title? You will want to consider explicit data, such as title, industry and zip code, as well as implicit data such as their actions on your website, or their specific search string.
- Fingerprint your customer. You can use your current customer base to help you identify the criteria. What did your existing customers do on your website? What implicit and explicit data do you know about them? For example, you may assign a higher score to leads that visit the pricing page rather than the ‘about us’ page.
- Document your findings. Once you identify the criteria, put it in writing. Have a documented contract that clearly identifies the activities, behaviors and interests of sales-ready leads.
- Assign a score. Now that you have your criteria, you can score your leads. Develop a scoring system (letter grade, points, or warm, hot, cold) that allows you to assign a value to each criterion. For example, you may determine that your ideal lead is a senior executive at a large company. Based on your current customer base, you may also know that the ideal customer visited at least three pages on your website, viewed the pricing page and downloaded your free whitepaper. Depending on what you learned through your assessment process, you may weigh each of these qualifications or activities more heavily than others.
- No lead left behind. The next step is to develop a system for taking action on your lead intelligence. Using your criteria in conjunction with your CRM system will make it easy to develop repeatable sales processes to manage all of your leads. Your sales-ready leads can be prioritized to the sales team while other leads are channeled into nurturing programs.
Lead scoring allows you to be more efficient in your lead development and management. It not only allows you to close sales-ready leads, but prevents irritating those leads that are not quite ready to buy. Using lead scoring with your CRM system adds a systematic structure so that you can always apply best practices to your lead process.
About the Authors: With more than 30 years of experience in executive management, sales and marketing for some of the world's most successful SaaS and technology companies, Rick joins j2 Global® as its General Manager of Campaigner®, the sales and marketing brand of j2 Global, Inc.
Seamas Egan, corporate sales manager for Campaigner, has five years of SaaS sales experience working in SMB, corporate and enterprise sales.