Tuesday, August 16, 2016

4 Tips to Help You Qualify Leads Online

Leads onlineOnce upon a time there was a school of thought that said: "If you have a lead, develop it ... period."

That thought process was, of course, fundamentally flawed. In the digital marketing age, however, that thought process can be deadly. Ask any modern day sales person and he or she will admit that pursuing worthless leads is a waste of time and money most businesses can ill afford.

Because leads come from a vast array of digital sources, it is important to reassess the way you qualify your leads to be sure you are using your resources wisely and identifying the leads that will net a positive ROI for your company.

Reading Digital Body Language to Qualify Leads Online

Unlike a face to face interaction where you can read the body language of your lead, or even like a phone call where you may be able to pick up on auditory cues, leads that come from digital sources like social media and fill-in-web forms are a little harder to decipher.

There are some signs you can look for, though, that help you identify good quality leads. Here are some tips to get you started:

1) Examine the digital behavior exhibited.

The article "Lead Qualification: Rethinking BANT in the Modern B2B Sales Cycle" states: "Prospects are constantly leaving us hints about their readiness to buy. It's important to look at what sort of "online body language" a prospect shows. Examples include website visits, responses to email offers, marketing content downloads, and a willingness to complete online registration forms. What pages are they visiting? How deep do they drill down into product information? Did they watch a demo? Did they read the datasheet you sent them? Did they give up an hour to watch a webinar on a problem your product addresses? These kinds of actions indicate serious interest."

2) Pay attention to your buyer persona.

Your buyer personas were developed for a reason. They represent the most likely composite picture of potential leads. If the lead you are considering spending time on differs radically from your buyer personas, think again before you invest lots of time into him or her.

That is not to say you should totally disregard this lead. However, it probably should signal you to put this lead a little further down your list in favor of others that more closely match your known target audience.

3) Check frequent flyer status.

Because the buyer journey has changed in such a way that most buyers have done extensive research before they are ready to purchase, your lead may have interacted with your company in a number of ways, including social media, landing page fill-in-forms, and website visits.

B2C's "Signs You Shouldn't Pursue an Inbound Lead" suggests: "Before you call any inbound lead, check the company records to see if another salesperson or wholesale distributor has contacted the lead in the past. If the lead has been contacted numerous times in the past and never responded, then there's really no point in you trying to call again. This person probably loves your company, but doesn't really have a need for your products or services, which is why they are unresponsive."

Leads online

4) Follow protocol when you make the call.

At some point, it is time to make the call to further qualify a lead you acquired online. When that time arrives, it is important to find out some basic qualifying information with well-phrased questions. Hubspot offers 18 sample questions to get you started in the right direction. While you will have to craft your own questions based on the product you are selling, the gist of the Hubspot questions is helpful for any lead qualifying that needs to be done.

Basically, your questions should cover items such as:
  • What problem your lead is trying to solve
  • What methods they have used in the past to address the problem
  • What budget they have allocated for the solution
  • Who is involved in the decision making process
  • When the lead anticipates making a decision
  • What other solutions are under consideration
Ascertaining the answers to these questions will help you identify quality leads and take appropriate action to nurture them.

The Takeaway

As a marketing method, digital marketing generates more leads at a better price than outbound marketing. However, to see a positive ROI for your inbound marketing efforts, you must accurately identify your quality leads and avoid wasting time, energy, and money on leads with little chance of converting.

To qualify leads online, you must examine their digital behaviors, remember to match your leads with proven buyer personas, check your company records to be sure you have not already tried to develop the lead, and follow good protocol when you make a qualifying phone call.

Are your lead generating and qualifying strategies all they could be? For an objective opinion, request an assessment today.

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