Not all sales leads are ready to buy. There is work to be done.
IBM defined these levels to help focus their marketing and sales efforts:
- Lead: Someone who has given their details (you are able to contact them)
- Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL): These sales leads are qualified according to how it is defined. This could be they know the company and what is offered. Some trust has been created.
- Sales Qualified Lead (SQL): Again this is defined by sales. These could be people who have purchase intent in the next 30 days and who has the money to make a purchase, and ability to say yes.
Not all leads will be good leads. Not all leads will buy. It is part of the lead generation game.
For lead generation to be effective, you need to work on nurturing your leads.
Nurturing leads means adding value. This value builds trust. You could also work on automating a lot of this nurturing using marketing automation. This is many times based on the behaviour of a sales lead.
For instance, if someone visited your blog, but none of your product or service pages, they are most likely still gathering information.
When this person signs up for a webinar, workshop or to get a FREE report, they are now a lead.
If that person visits products and services pages because they clicked on a follow up email, they become marketing qualified leads.
If they complete a form asking for a demo, and part of the process they say they are looking to buy, they then become a sales qualified lead.
That process is automated and is called marketing automation.
Lead Generation is not linear
The picture of lead generation and sales funnels shows a linear process. Its not. People move in and out of buying situations.
For instance, if you are a plumber people will phone you typically when there is an emergency. The geyser started to gush water. They have a BIG need NOW. When the geyser is replaced, their need is gone. This means, if you phoned that lead two days later, there will be no sale.
A month later, one of the outside pipes burst. Now this person already knows a company who helped with their geyser. So, they don’t search again, they phone this company directly.
Many times we forget the total value of ONE customer. It is not just that first sale.
Two months later, our clients neighbour is standing outside looking at their burst pipe and asks for the number of the plumber. This is a referral.
To put lead generation in perspective …
- It is the first sale
- It is the second sale
- Is is the referral
Sometimes, all those happen quickly … sometimes it takes a while.
The ONE thing you should do is work on ALL of those. You can’t hope it will happen … luck does not work like that. You need to put in the work for the second sale (stay in touch with sales leads and customers). Ask for referrals. Reward for referrals. Make this part of your marketing and sales processes.
That FIRST sale could go from hundreds, to thousands. Companies who understand THESE lead generation principles perform better, make more sales and are happier with their results.
Companies who expect each lead to be red hot, must buy now, and never follow up, typically see worse results from their lead generation.
It is not one thing that makes a difference, it is everything in the process that works in harmony. It is a balancing act where lead generation, marketing and sales are focused on the client to deliver a great experience. Not only ONE sale, but rather repeat business, and referrals as part of the complete process.