Lead Scoring Strategy, Models and Best Practices

Your business can easily collect leads from various sources by running inbound marketing campaigns. But you must nurture the leads effectively by sending the right information at the right time to drive sales conversion. As a key step in the lead nurturing process, lead scoring helps you determine the worthiness of prospective customers by assigning a numeric score to every lead. In addition to assessing the worthiness of individual leads, lead scoring helps you to identify and segregate the highly qualified or sales-ready leads.

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In the first part of this blog series, I have covered: “What is lead nurturing and how to set up lead nurturing campaigns. In the second part, I covered the benefits of lead nurturing. This is the third and concluding part of the blog series. I will cover winning lead nurturing strategies that work.

Inbound marketing campaigns help businesses to generate leads regularly from multiple sources. But no business can increase the number and value of orders only by focusing on generating more leads. In addition to generating leads regularly, your business must focus on nurturing every lead in the most effective way. You can easily increase the volume and size of orders by keeping in place an elaborate lead nurturing strategy.

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Saurav, One of my good friends, who has recently set up his own startup recently, called me last Friday evening and asked me “Hey, I have started working on my 2023 marketing plan. We have a robust email marketing plan ready. Can you quickly tell me what are the other ways to generate B2B leads”. My answer to him was “It Depends. It all starts with your products, target customers, what are the problems they are facing, what kind of problems are solved by your products, and also, the price points of your products. Based on that you will need to create multiple touch points for your target customers to influence their purchase decisions and create your B2B lead generation strategies”.

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Digital marketing campaigns help your business generate open leads regularly from multiple communication channels. But every open lead may fit your ideal customer profile or become a paying customer. You must filter and evaluate open leads based on their purchasing potential. The lead qualification process helps you identify leads that will make an actual purchase by evaluating open leads using a slew of frameworks and parameters.

According to Business News Daily,

Only 1 in 5 leads ultimately becomes a customer. This means that for every new customer you get, there are four who were not persuaded to use your products or services. That’s a lot of time and money lost, but smart lead qualification can minimize this concern.

You can implement a lead qualification strategy to identify the open leads who match the buyer persona created by your business. Also, you can differentiate sales qualified leads (SQL) from marketing qualified leads (MQL). But you can identify MQLs and SQLs accurately only by making a lead qualification checklist. In addition to making lead qualification a multistep process, the checklist will make your salespeople ask the right questions at the right time.

Lead Qualification Checklist for Identifying Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL)

Buyer Persona/Ideal Customer Profile

Salespeople identify the target audience for a product/service based on the buyer persona or ideal customer profile created by your business. The buyer personas are created by combining real and market research data.

Hence, salespeople can use buyer personals as a powerful tool to qualify leads using a slew of parameters – business type, business location, business size, annual revenue, and job role. They can disqualify leads who do not match the ideal customer profile easily and early.

Intent and Interests

Salespeople can identify MQL only by understanding the intent and interests of a lead who matches the ideal customer profile. While understanding the lead’s intent, they must check if the lead has visited your website multiple times.

Likewise, they understand the lead’s interests based on the information collected by her about the product/service and the case studies and tutorials accessed by her while visiting the website. The MQL must be interested in your product/service, along with matching the ideal customer profile.

Lead Qualification Checklist for Identifying Sales Qualified Leads (SQL)

Needs, Issues, Concerns, or Pain Points

The sales qualification process often starts with the identification of problems, issues, concerns, or pain points. The salespeople must ask relevant questions to understand the lead’s concerns or needs clearly. The understanding helps them recommend the appropriate product/service. Also, they can leverage the information to customize the solution according to the lead’s precise needs.

Long-Term and Short-Term Goals

B2B leads always look for products or services to meet specific goals. But your product or service may meet the lead’s short-term goals, long-term goals, or both. Salespeople must ask several questions to understand the lead’s short-term and long-term goals. The answers will help them to customize or extend your solution according to the lead’s goals by adding the relevant features.

Trials and Experience

Many leads these days look for alternative or new solutions after using a solution or investing in resources. The salespeople can influence the lead only when they measure the time, effort, and resources spent by the lead in solving the issue. They must ask questions to identify the pros and cons of the solutions used by the lead. Also, they can leverage the information to provide different and superior alternatives to the lead.

Expectations

B2B leads often look for solutions to beat the competition or outperform competitors. Salespeople must ask specific questions to understand what makes competitors score over the lead. Likewise, they need to understand the expectations of the lead from a brand or business. They can leverage the information to present your product or service as a superior alternative to overcome the lead’s shortcomings and surpass competitors.

Brand Perception

As the lead has collected a variety of information from your website, she must have formed a perception about your product, service, or brand. She may like some features of your brand and may not like specific features. Salespeople can influence the lead’s brand perception by focusing on the positive features. Also, they must change the brand perception by clearing misconceptions and doubts. Salespeople must ask specific questions to know what the lead thinks of the brand.

Budget

Unlike large companies, small businesses and startups often lack the budget required to avail of cutting-edge solutions. The salespeople must know the lead’s budget by asking relevant questions. They further need to know the lead’s budget in the early stages of the sales qualification process. You can make it easier for salespeople to close the deal by adjusting the price according to the lead’s budget.  

Decision Making Process

In most organizations, B2B purchase decisions are made by a committee of decision-makers. The salespeople cannot close sales deals without establishing relationships with multiple decision-makers. While qualifying leads, they must ask specific questions to understand the decision-making process and know the number of decision-makers involved in the process. The information will help them to build relationships with the right managers.

Timeframe

Some leads look for quick solutions, while others look for long-term solutions. Hence, the timeframe for closing sales deals varies across organizations. Salespeople must ask relevant questions to the lead to know when she is planning to place the order. The information is crucial for salespeople to plan lead nurturing activities and decide the lead qualification time.

Solution

After understanding the lead’s needs, expectations, and goals, it is time for salespeople to present your brand as a solution. However, they must ask questions to know what prevents the lead from completing the deal or placing an order. The lead may not close the deal due to a variety of reasons – inadequate budget or lack of authority to close the deal. Salespeople must ask specific questions to identify why SQL is not closing the deal. Also, they must work on the issues to convert the SQL into a customer

You can make a lead qualification checklist to make your business’s lead generation and lead nurturing strategies more impactful. But you must focus on using the checklist as a tool to make lead qualification a multi-step process. However, it is also important to keep the lead qualification checklist flexible enough to include new points and criteria.

In the first part of this blog series, I have covered the basic question: “What is lead nurturing, and how to set up lead nurturing campaigns. In this blog, I will cover the benefits of lead nurturing. And in the third part of the blog series, I will cover winning lead nurturing strategies.

Your business can generate leads from many sources by launching digital marketing campaigns. But you cannot drive sales conversion without complementing the lead generation efforts with a lead nurturing strategy. The term lead nurturing refers to the process of engaging with the leads throughout the sales process by sending the right information and content through the right communication channels.

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