Typically there is no single answer to the challenges today's competitors face. Such is the case with lead qualification strategies. There are common hurdles to overcome, such as data sharing among legacy systems, but lead qualification is a practice that is nuanced by the diversity of the markets you serve.
In many companies, Marketing sends Sales as many leads as possible - claiming all are qualified - because their KPIs demand high production of leads (qualified or not!). Then Sales complains about the quality of the leads because they spin their wheels trying to determine which ones are ready and able to buy (ultimately ignoring or discarding perfectly good long-term leads). Sales KPIs demand conversion each quarter. So, the constant war between Marketing and Sales continues.
Even in cases where sales qualifying agents are deployed, lead quality can suffer because of the company's definition of "qualified". The popular concept of BANT (budget, authority, need, timing) is typically used but, according to some experts, may lead to over-qualification of your leads, which slows the sales process. On the flip side, if Marketing is delivering every lead to Sales then it's likely most are under-qualified.
Here are 4 tactics that can minimize under- or over-qualification of your leads.
- Automated marketing platforms can provide a uniform process of lead qualification. The system must be set up to deliver leads that are qualified using a specific set of criteria that combines attributes with behavior. Most platforms provide lead scoring capabilities that can help determine "on paper" which leads should be contacted by Sales.
- Deploy a Marketing and Sales dashboard that provides a comprehensive view of each lead's progress through the pipeline. A good dashboard should gather qualifying information, track behavior, and measure success against benchmarks. A tool such as Macroscope™ helps determine if the intelligence that qualifies a quality lead transforms into revenue.
- Check your attribution modeling process. Look at the attributes that define your customer persona and make sure that every characteristic is accounted for in your qualification process. During the qualification phase some attributes can be gleaned through automated functions while others must be identified by Sales.
- Establish common ground between marketing and sales departments. Define your markets, establish a common definitions for a suspect, qualified lead, and prospect (or whichever terms your company uses). Companies that align Sales and Marketing are often more productive. (Hint: executing a service level agreement between the two teams can be effective at establishing common ground.)
Lead qualification is very much an art form that is different for each enterprise and industry. There must often be a balance between digital engagements and personal contacts in order to qualify leads effectively. Just remember: there is no single answer to achieving B2B lead qualification success.