It seems counterintuitive, but at Root3 we don’t believe more leads are better. Instead, we believe better leads are more. In fact, we find most lead generation marketing programs fail not because they don’t generate leads, but because they generate too many unqualified leads.
“If we turned over 250 leads to a business development team, it would be counterproductive. The teams we work with are not built to qualify and nurture a high volume of targets – they are built to close high-value leads. Value over volume – that’s our process and that’s what we deliver,” explains Root3 CEO Scott Christiansen.
Many marketers pass white paper downloads, webinar attendees, or tradeshow fishbowl business cards off to sales as leads. For every 100 of this type of lead passed off there are likely 5 immediate deals, 10 that could close in 6 months, and 20 that could close in the next 12-18 months, but none of this value will ever be realized. “A high-value sales team will get 10 uncompleted calls into this list and believe it is a waste of time,” says Christiansen. “Qualifying this list should not be their job. We contact those 100 leads and find out where they are in the sales cycle – only sending marketing qualified leads to sales. The rest, we nurture until they are ready to buy.”
A sales qualified lead that is handed off to the business development team should be packaged with as much information about the lead’s intent as possible. Information that should be captured in the CRM should include marketing activity history like web and email engagement as well as general qualification details like goals/challenges, authority/decision making power, timeline, and budget, if possible.
What is a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)?
Most marketers understand the general principles and tactics needed to generate marketing leads. However, the ability to move leads through the funnel from marketing lead to marketing qualified lead (MQL) to sales qualified lead (SQL) requires another layer of expertise.
Marketing qualified leads show an interest in buying by taking an action (or two…or three…) to engage with your business, without actually buying. But even if a lead is taking action and indicating interest, all leads don’t proceed down the sales funnel to customer status.
Examples of marketing qualified lead actions:
- Scheduling a software demo
- Downloading gated content (white paper, eBook)
- Joining a webinar
- Watching a video
- Signing up for a newsletter or mailing list
- Clicking on a digital ad
- Following you on social channels
- Contacting you to request information
After sales qualified leads are handed off, the marketing team then nurtures the leads who are deemed not ready to buy today but could be ready six months from now.
“It is critical for marketing and business development to stay on the same page in terms of the quality and quantity of leads being delivered,” adds Christiansen. “The teams should meet regularly to discuss the SQLs and refine the qualification process to help better identify good versus bad leads. We are continually refining and optimizing our programs and process. Data tells part of the story, but communication plays a key role as well.”
Root3 probes for a variety of feedback and intel, including:
- Customer feedback: What can we learn from potential leads who back out? Are they put off by something you could change? Listen for both facts and sentiment.
- Lead trends: What do successful leads have in common? Which content, demos, and ads convert the highest quality leads? This helps marketing focus on what is working and what helps close a deal.
- Competitive edge: What makes leads choose you over the competition? What can you control or improve?