Best Practices in Lead Qualification
Jocelyn Johnson, Marketing Director, Real Magnet
What makes a lead a qualified lead? The answer is (of course), it depends. Every organization will have their own definition – which is a good thing – because every organization is different. The key is to define what a qualified lead means for your organization.
Over my career, I’ve created definitions for “qualified leads” for a broad range of organizations – from information providers to technology companies – which sold their products and services to a similarly broad range of industries, from financial services to consumer goods. At the end of the day, there are a few rules of thumb which can help you qualify your leads. The good news is that a good definition can also help you decide where and how to market your products (so you attract more qualified leads in the first place) and stretch your marketing dollar further.
Lead Qualification Checklist
- Define your ideal lead. Some organizations have an easier time than others defining their ideal lead. For example, an association for women chemists knows their ideal lead would be a woman chemist. On the other hand, a company selling computer hardware to businesses might have a more difficult time defining their best leads.
- Learn from what you do well. Start by understanding your current customer base. Do you serve businesses or consumers (individuals)? If your customers are businesses – what industries / vertical markets are they in? Are your customers in a few specific vertical markets? If your customers are individuals – what traits do they share?
- Consider firmographic data to enhance your scoring. Then look at the price point of your goods or services. If you are selling a very expensive product, then you should use revenue (for B2B) or income (for B2C) as a factor in lead qualification. After all, there is little point in pursuing a deal with someone who can’t afford your product.
- Enhance with Job Role and Level. Is your product or service designed for a specific job function – like IT, Supply Chain, or HR? If so, then job title or role should be part of your qualification process. For example, if your product is designed to be used by the HR department, then a Director of Marketing is a probably a less valuable lead than an HR Manager – all other things being equal.In general, decision makers will be better qualified than staff, as they will control the purse strings, but they need to have decision authority over products like yours. So, in our HR vs. Marketing example above, if you have both the VP of HR and the VP of Marketing in your lead database, the VP of HR will be much more highly qualified – even though both are decision makers.
- Reward good behavior. Another great way to qualify leads is by their behavior. An individual who engages with your marketing campaigns regularly is generally more qualified than someone who doesn’t. They know your company, may have a general knowledge of your product, and could be exploring their options. This is where Lead Scoring plays a key role – by showing which leads are engaged and at what level. By applying scores to actions (e.g. clicks, downloads) or buying signals (e.g. visiting the pricing page), you’ll be able to better prioritize the leads you deliver to sales. Higher scoring leads are likely to be better qualified – and may be further down the sales funnel.
Ultimately, there are three main factors in Lead Qualification – the company (industry, revenue, etc), the person (job role, job level, etc), and engagement. Your most qualified leads will be good matches for all three factors. Understanding how these factors fit your business, and how your leads compare to your ideal, will help you deliver better qualified leads to your sales team.