It’s all about creating an efficient process with sales and marketing departments; to have measurable goals that each team agrees to hit so there’s mutual accountability. Smarketing goals should be made together and re-evaluated every month or at least quarterly to identify opportunities for improvement on both teams. For instance, marketing might have a mutually agreed upon leads SLA (service level agreement) to achieve, and sales must agree to follow up with a certain amount of those leads.
What are Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs)?
MQLs are leads more likely to become a customer based on the interaction they’ve had with your brand online. Data is gathered through closed-loop analytics to determine the inherent value of the lead.
These closed-loop analytics are actually a collaboration, with your sales team providing quantitative and qualitative data that involves the entire customer journey. So, instead of guessing what prospects are most likely to buy, you’re aligning your sales and marketing departments based on what known activities and engagement are most likely to end up converting to a sale.
Setting parameters for MQLs needs to be a collaborative effort. Setting too tight a definition could result in not providing enough leads to the sales team, while having too loose a definition could result in wasted time and resources.
It takes some negotiation to arrive at your company’s definition, and over time, it should be reviewed and updated based on measured results. These metrics or goals might include the amount of traffic your site receives, and the number of leads generated.
We find that quarterly meetings allow us enough time to gather good data and make necessary changes. One way to define your MQL is to work backward from a conversion:
It’s important to remember that the MQL isn’t ready to buy, but they are paying attention to your proposed solutions and the products or services you provide. Definitions for MQLs don’t need to be over-complicated for your team. They could be simple, like the prospect has viewed two blog posts and downloaded at least one piece of content from your website. When the prospect meets your defined criteria, they become an MQL.
What are Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs)?
SQLs are leads that passed marketing’s muster and your sales team’s criteria. The lead is now moving from the consideration stage into the decision stage of your customer journey. The SQL continues to engage with your website and increase the number of touch-points with your content.
And, as our familiar trend continues, the key is to provide content that solves their problem and moves them toward making a purchase decision. Some of the criteria for an SQL is the same as an MQL, but the number and possibly the frequency of interactions with your content has increased.
Because there are no set criteria to help define MQLs and SQLs, your sales and marketing departments must communicate with each other on a regular basis to better understand the quality of the visitors coming to your website. Only then will you know the best content to produce and the best channels to use in order to convert them into a paying customers.
There are many programs that help with this process, including HubSpot, which is the platform we use at Vertical Measures and Investis Digital. Other platforms include Salesforce, Marketo, Pardot, Infusionsoft and many others.
How to prioritize resources to respond to your best leads
Not everyone who comes to your site, downloads content and engages with your brand is of equal value. A good example of this is our own website. We publish a great quantity of information around all things digital marketing. As such, we know many other digital marketing companies consume our content.
We also know they are not good prospects for us.
Let us explain. These regular visitors are coming to the site to learn more about digital marketing and to stay current on trends and techniques, and we love that. We continue to communicate with them and build relationships, but we know they are a low priority as a potential sale for our related services. And for that, we use data to better understand who the best prospects are for our company. Here’s how you can do it:
As potential customers/clients move through the customer journey, you can qualify them based on the content they consume and the overall interaction they have with your site. Knowing their particular interactions with your content can allow you to rank and prioritize who and how you will continue to engage. For example, a user might review your pricing page, leave, and then come back several times over the course of days or weeks. In this case, the user is showing a sense of urgency and in most cases will be a much better lead than someone who bounces after reviewing one page.
Are you ready to see how much CRO can boost your business?
To highlight how CRO can impact your company’s bottom-line, we created a handy-dandy value forecast calculator to help estimate additional leads and ROI you can expect from a 1-year engagement with our CRO experts. Check it out!
You can start with demographic information that supports your personas, and then use firmographic information that could include, name, title (role), company, annual company revenue and other information. All this info can help you better understand the exact contact and the quality of the lead for your company. This qualitative data can come from your sales team and from your customer services team. Painting a picture with both qualitative and quantitative data will give you the most complete information for lead scoring.
There’s certain criteria you can use to qualify a lead. One popular method is known as BANT, which was developed by IBM.
This is a popular framework, but may not satisfy your unique product or service. The key is to consider any additional characteristics revealed by the prospect that make them qualified buyers and show intent to move forward toward a decision. You will use this information as you develop your sales qualification lead definition.
Contacting a lead: a case study
Have you ever experienced an overzealous smarketing team? Where once you traded your personal information for content, the company was overly aggressive in contacting you? We all want our businesses to succeed and generally speaking, making a quick connection with a lead results in higher close ratios. That’s not always true, however, as this summary of one of our case studies proves.
Our client was immediately calling anyone that downloaded a piece of their content. Can you imagine that? You download some white-paper and while you’re still reading the opening paragraph a sales rep calls your cell phone five minutes later? Needless to say, their results in closing was a dismal zero percent. We scheduled a meeting with both their sales and marketing teams to share data and anecdotal information (quantitative and qualitative).
Based on this shared information, the sales department changed its priorities to focus on the 3x engagement leads. Their close ratio went up dramatically. It makes sense, right? These leads were much more engaged and had interacted more with the content on the site.
How do you know when is the right time to call? You could do it like some companies and include the following on your lead form: “Would you like to be contacted by one of our consultants?” This way, the prospect self-identifies that they are ready to engage. Or, you could be annoying and have a pop-up launched within five seconds of the first visit to the site.
Our short-but-sweet case study illustrates the need for analyzing data on how users engage with your brand in all digital channels, including your website. From there you must determine their value and segment them by creating MQLs and SQLs.
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