Are you finding your actual customers?
Naturally, a question such as this should turn your mind towards your prospecting machine and your capabilities when it comes to harvesting leads and creating conversions with cold emails.
If you’re still reading this, the answer you gave is either non-committal or no.
So let’s get into the nitty gritty and talk about the fine points of what differentiates…
…a qualified lead from an unqualified lead, and how you can fill your sales pipeline with only qualified leads. By better understanding this you can access more quality leads and increase lead conversions.
While effectively prospecting your leads is crucial, taking a step back to assess whether or not you’re even appealing to the proper demographics warrants some serious consideration.
What Is a Qualified Lead?
First, who is your ideal customer? The success of your lead engagement hinges upon understanding your buyer persona.
Once you have clearly established who you’re targeting, you should expect these qualified leads to have certain characteristics:
- Have completed, or are in process of completing, your nurturing campaign cycle.
- Are in control of their own buying cycle and are completing self-education research.
- Have a clearly defined budget to work with and are currently researching solutions.
- Have low churn rates because they close on their own terms.
- Your company’s sales and marketing teams should coordinate to define the parameters of a qualified (and unqualified) lead.
Here are the 4 parameters of the industry-standard BANT method for determining if leads are qualified:
- Budget: Does this lead have the budget for my product/service?
- Authority: What is the lead’s authority within their organization?
- Need: Does the lead need my product or service?
- Timeline: How quickly does this lead need a product or service implementation?
When you filter leads through these four standard criteria, you’re able to paint a clearer picture of whether it is an unqualified or qualified lead…
…and whether it’s an opportunity worth pursuing right away.
What Is an Unqualified Lead?
By comparison, unqualified leads:
- Are unsure about what you’re offering.
- Have not been nurtured enough to close their sales cycle (uneducated about company).
- Don’t know what solution they’re looking for.
- Lack the budget for your product or service.
While it may be possible to convert unqualified leads into buyers, the churn rate is through the roof. Ultimately, focusing lead generation efforts must reach those in a position to afford your service, who are in a position to purchase it, and that actively needs your product or service within the near future.
There are 6 telltale signs that certain leads are not worth time or energy yet:
6 Warning Signs You Need Better Leads
1. Short Call-Time
It’s exceedingly frustrating for a sales rep to spend time prepping for a call, only to realize that it’s a waste of time. Expecting a 100 percent close rate on leads is unrealistic, but certain leads don’t warrant the phone call in the first place.
The marketing team is responsible for creating content relevant to the company buying persona in order to generate leads in the right demographics. If this goes undone, expect many short, sales calls—with no return. Cold email outreach must be personalized and full of value for the specific target.
2. Resistance to Scheduling the “Next Step”
After the cold sales email has triggered a response, your sales team will work to move the process along with follow-up sales emails and phone calls. If a lead is resisting this next step in the sales process, it’s the result of some friction regarding your product or service, pricing, or the lead’s overall need.
By comparison, a qualified lead will be much more inclined to keep contact with your sales reps. After all, you have something they want.
3. Not on Budget
If your lead is in the market to spend $100 and your service costs $500…
…there’s a serious lack of communication in the consumer/organization relationship.
Any qualified lead should understand the pricing structure and what can be expected with your offering. A clearly defined pricing page on your website will clarify this.
Will the price drive away some visitors? Yes! This is good, first step towards identifying qualified leads. Your cold email outreach, and sales reps especially, should only be engaging in-budget leads.
4. High Rate of Email Unsubscribers
If you’re receiving a high rate of email subscribers, alarm bells should be ringing. This means the wrong people are receiving your marketing content. This goes back to making sure your buying persona is aligned with your offering and your marketing materials.
An unsubscribe is a lead qualifying himself. This saves time, but it does not get your company any nearer to increasing sales email triggers and developing a sustainable sales pipeline.
5. Low Reconversion Rate
To effectively qualify leads, your marketing content needs to be pushing them down your sales funnel through lead nurturing and marketing automation practices.
Lead reconversions allow the leads to further qualify themselves as well as with your company. This weeds out unqualified leads from the ones who will eventually become customers.
If you’ve noticed leads not reconverting and engagement with your brand ends relatively quickly after downloading an offer, your premium content is in the hands of the wrong customer.
Simply, these leads don’t have a need for you.
6. No Decision Makers in Sales Pipeline
In many cases, the leads downloading your e-books or trial courses aren’t the decision makers in your company. However, with valuable content, it won’t be a hard sell to bring their boss on the phone to work towards a sale.
That said, a portion of your lead engagement should come from C-Level, or above, executives. This is the clear sign you want that you’re reaching the right people with engaging material. This will eventually allow you to effectively target them with cold email outreach most effectively.
If any of these 6 scenarios occur with any frequency within your organization, you have some underlying issues to attend to within your prospecting machine. Being able to efficiently identify and target qualified leads is a necessary step in producing a scalable, full sales pipeline.
In Part 2, we’ll discuss how to increase conversions with qualified leads. Stay tuned!
Article reprinted by kind permission of MOBE