SalesStaff White Paper Collection. All Leads Are Not Created Equal: Why Lead Quality Matters

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1 SalesStaff White Paper Collection All Leads Are Not Created Equal: Why Lead Quality Matters

2 1 Lead generation is not simply a game of producing as many leads as possible. That s because not all leads are equally valuable. Even so, many companies focus on generating a large quantity of leads without regard to lead quality. This has three detrimental impacts: Wasted resources. These companies waste their money on campaigns and staff to generate and follow-up on these unqualified leads. The opportunity cost. Generating and following-up on those leads could have instead been spent on generating and qualifying leads more likely to turn into revenue. Diminished credibility with Marketing. According to BtoB Magazine, only 23% of sales professionals say marketers consistently deliver sales-ready leads. When Marketing turns over unqualified or other problematic leads to Sales, the Sales organization loses trust in Marketing. Sales spins its wheels further qualifying the leads Marketing passes on, only to find they are dead-ends. This tension can impede the inter-departmental cooperation necessary for an effective lead generation program to function smoothly. This paper examines the sources of poor quality leads, and the right approach to generating higher-quality leads. THE SOURCES OF POOR QUALITY LEADS There are several interrelated reasons poor quality leads end up in sales pipelines. An inaccurate definition of lead or none at all The word lead is too frequently used without its critical modifier: qualified. More specifically, the issue is whether a lead is a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) sourced by Marketing and presumably only passed on to Sales if it meets a set of criteria agreed to by both functions. Unfortunately, only 50% of companies surveyed say their Sales and Marketing functions have a formal definition of a qualified lead, according to CSO Insights. CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE > Unfortunately, only 50% of companies surveyed say their Sales and Marketing functions have a formal definition of a qualified lead.

3 2 A lead that has not been qualified is just a name in a database or on a business card. It reveals nothing about that person s interest in, or ability to, purchase from your company or at least influence a purchase decision. Without knowing that, this name is not worth turning over to Sales to qualify further. But it happens a lot. According to MarketingSherpa, 61% of B2B marketers send all leads directly to Sales, and only 27% of those leads will be qualified. Qualified perhaps, but not Sales-ready A critical mistake that both the Sales and Marketing departments at many companies make is to hand over a marginally-qualified lead directly to a sales closer. This is often a result of mistaken logic that a good closer can close just about anyone, so it s worth a shot. But this is rarely true, because even if a suspect meets most of the qualification criteria, that doesn t mean they re ready to buy. A 2010 Gleanster Research study found that as many as 50% of qualified leads are not ready to buy. This is an enormous waste of a good closer s limited bandwidth bandwidth the closer should instead be allocating to leads that have been sufficiently vetted, usually by inside sales representatives. This can also be a result of confusing activity with qualification. Just because a suspect downloads a dozen white papers from your website and attends an online product demo doesn t necessarily mean they re a viable MQL. The wrong size net The specific methods by which companies choose to generate leads changes the perception of how widely a net needs to be cast. Telemarketing, for instance, is generally a slower, more labor-intensive (thus more expensive) approach to lead generation though it can identify high-quality leads through productive conversations. CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE > A critical mistake that both the Sales and Marketing departments at many companies make is to hand over a marginallyqualified lead directly to a sales closer.

4 3 But because it s not a volume play, companies doing telemarketing often narrowly constrict their target list to, for instance, the largest customers in their target industries, or only C-level decision-makers. In some cases, the list is narrowed to the point where it leaves out potentially lucrative opportunities. These big fish targets are always harder to catch, so even if they re qualified, they may simply not be attainable. Even so, many companies will try to stretch qualification criteria and engage in sales cycles with these leads whenever possible. At the other extreme, digital marketing universally casts a wide net. In fact, the size of that net can t be controlled once digital assets are available in the wild. The result can be too many leads to process efficiently, and often most of them will be unqualified. Incorrect incentives People do what they re financially motivated to do. When Marketing or inside Sales teams are given incentives to generate a certain number of leads, they will do their best but may bend their strictness of qualification criteria to suit. Database issues A database of some sort resides at the heart of most B2B companies outbound lead generation machines. By definition, then, the quality of leads generated cannot be better than what s in the database. Companies commit a range of mistakes with their databases, ranging from: People do what they re financially motivated to do. Failure to promptly remove inappropriate prospect records Too few records to run the scale of campaigns necessary to meet revenue targets Old data that doesn t reflect prospects current job titles or companies Poor documentation of previous interaction history Incomplete or missing data Database development is never done. New records need to be continually added and all records need to be continually cleaned to prevent junk leads from surfacing. CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE >

5 4 DETERMINING YOUR DEFINITION OF QUALIFIED Companies vary tremendously in defining their qualification criteria. There s a clear trade-off: the more criteria you employ, the fewer leads you will qualify but the higher quality those leads will be. No model works for all companies, but this section outlines some key factors to consider. Establish the Basics At the highest level, you may want to qualify leads based on a prospect s industry, geography, company size, or job title or level. The key is not to be overly restrictive here, unless absolutely necessary. For example, you may want to target large companies because you think your products will command high average selling prices there. But the largest companies tend to be the hardest to win, so this limits your market opportunity. Or, you might feel you should shy away from smaller companies, but a fast-growing small company might offer you more long-term upside than a mid-sized company that isn t growing at all. The same is true with job titles. What one company calls a Director, another might call a Vice President. Keep it as broad as possible, such as people in the IT department. Get Personal What s most important is mapping out the kinds of people who are going to be your key decision-makers, influencers, and evaluators. These individuals may be in multiple departments, and at multiple levels within an organization. It s important not to disqualify one of them because, for instance, they re clearly not a decision-maker when they are an important influencer. Someone has to test your product. Someone has to approve budget for purchasing your product. Someone has to choose your product over a competitor s. All of these someones may be qualified. CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE > Someone has to approve budget for purchasing your product. Someone has to choose your product over a competitor s. All of these someones may be qualified.

6 5 Another approach to this is to describe your best customer. Beyond job titles and roles in a purchasing decision, what makes a good customer for you? Demographic and psychographic factors can be useful here, but in a B2B context, the more important issue is understanding what personal buyer qualities drove the sale initially, and what personal qualities kept the customer loyal to you. Being able to discern this requires historical data, which new companies or established companies pursuing new markets will not have. And it is not always easy to discern in a qualification process, though questions about pain points are a start. Understand their Buying Journey In addition to identifying decision-makers, evaluators and influencers, it s important to dig deeper into understanding their roles in the entire decision-making process. Ultimately, it s about understanding the pain points that lead target companies to make purchase decisions. With that framework of understanding established, it s easier to qualify prospects against those pains. Understanding this doesn t just help with qualification; it helps with targeting the right people at the right point in their buying journeys. This can lead to more and better-qualified leads, represents a more efficient use of marketing budgets, and help ensure a higher close rate. WHAT YOU SHOULD DO In an ideal world: Marketing should only pass genuinely qualified and sales-ready MQLs to Sales Sales should then only focus on further qualifying and closing those leads Any otherwise qualified leads that are not ready to buy should be nurtured... the more important issue is understanding what personal buyer qualities drove the sale initially, and what personal qualities kept the customer loyal to you. CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE >

7 6 To do this: Get Sales and Marketing Aligned on Definitions First, define an MQL carefully using the previous section as a starting point. Make sure both organizations agree on their definitions of Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) and a Sales Accepted Lead (SAL). Determine What to Do with MQLs and SQLs that Aren t Sales- Ready Just because an otherwise qualified MQL is not ready to buy today, that doesn t mean they never will be. Likewise, a qualified lead that made it to the SQL stage but didn t close may still become your customer someday. Every company needs a plan for keeping these leads warm. Usually, this means nurturing them. Establish a Feedback Loop The Marketing department needs to understand the specifics of why Sales rejected any leads that were handed over. Do the definitions of MQL and SAL need to be tweaked? Or, did something break down in terms of process or communication? Either way, periodically reviewing the flow of leads from Marketing to Sales and making adjustments as necessary will improve the productivity of both departments. CAVEATS Working with a lead generation partner can help you avoid many of the pitfalls of sourcing quality leads, and creating the right approach to gathering higher-quality leads. The Marketing department needs to understand the specifics of why Sales rejected any leads that were handed over. SalesStaff does the heavy lifting of: Working with you to develop your ideal prospect profiles through our proven discovery methodology Building and maintaining a clean, updated database of prospects who match those profiles CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE >

8 7 Designing and executing outbound and inbound strategies to attract those prospects using our own staff and infrastructure, based upon messaging that will resonate with each of your target personas Thoroughly qualifying each prospect against your prospect profiles, and setting appointments for you only with prospects who are thoroughly vetted and sales-ready Nurturing all other qualified prospects to keep them warm When you hire an organization like SalesStaff, you get the benefit of our experience which includes an the thousands of marketing campaigns we have worked on across every industry, targeting every decision maker out there and an internal database that we cultivated as a who s who all for the benefit of our clients. Our 100-Day Pilot Program gives you the opportunity to try us out before investing in a long term commitment. With our proprietary AllBound360 SM strategy encompassing inbound and outbound marketing, we customize our approach to the needs of your company so we can deliver you the most exceptionally-qualified prospects. Let us generate revenue for you through highly-qualified lead generation. The Marketing department needs to understand the specifics of why Sales rejected any leads that were handed over.

9 8 About Us Have you ever wondered why it s so difficult to get in front of your dream clients? Pay-for-performance appointment setting can jump-start your organization s sales pipeline. A 100-Day Pilot with SalesStaff will offer your company the opportunity to build a sales pipeline with our meetings, monitor conversion rates, forecast ROI and provides ample data and results to determine the viability of a permanent partnership with SalesStaff. Pay-for-performance provides for a guarantee of qualified meetings with qualified prospects Various meeting volume options Custom lead modeling according to your marketing plan No set-up or data Fees Pay-Per-Meeting pricing Allbound360 SM A New Approach for the B2B Sales Landscape To build a sustainable lead generation strategy today, you have to synchronize the interaction between both inbound and outbound marketing channels. AllBound360 SM takes a holistic, integrated approach, where outbound and inbound work together to drive immediate sales pipeline contribution, while setting the table for a constant flow of qualified opportunities. With AllBound360 SM, we ve developed a methodology that effectively combines inbound and outbound marketing. The four pillars of the AllBound360 SM approach include: Finding your Ideal Prospect Generating a constant flow of highly qualified leads Initiating a steady stream of relevant, live prospect conversations Setting up appointments, or handing off engaged leads, with your sales team When you think of outbound marketing, think contact. When you think of inbound marketing, think content. When you think of allbound marketing, think connect. AllBound360 SM helps you connect with targeted prospects with innovation, speed and scale. For more details and pricing, contact us to receive a custom proposal from our Program Expert outlining a Pilot exclusively geared to your sales goals, target market and sales qualifiers. Contact us by phone, chat, or through our web form to learn more about how we can grow your sales. What Our Clients Are Saying In evaluating Demand Generation vendors, we found the pay-forperformance model offered by SalesStaff to be extremely attractive. Other per-month or per-rep models we evaluated didn t provide a final guarantee of results. So we were eager to work with SalesStaff, and have been more than pleased with the results. IT Security Client What we liked most about working with the team at SalesStaff was the open communication we had throughout the course of the campaign. They were always available to discuss critical aspects of the campaign. In addition, they successfully developed a structured process to follow-up with key prospects. Managed Services Client What I like most about working with the SalesStaff team is that they do what they say they ll do. Workforce Management Client Click SalesStaff.com Call

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