Inbound marketing not only increases your leads – when done right, it also increases the quality of your leads. Ideally, your sales team should only be engaging with inbound leads who are warm and informed – and most importantly, qualified. The way we begin this process of separating the wheat from the chaff is to first hone in on what a “qualified” lead looks like for each of our clients.
What does a qualified lead look like?
Think of the leads you’ve had in the past year who were fully prepared to buy. What characteristics did they have in common? How do they find you? What social media are they on? What are their frequently-asked questions? The best answers will probably come from the men and women on the front lines: Your sales team.*
Timing is Everything
Once you know what qualities a strong lead should have, you can take one, or both, of two actions:
- Adjust your content marketing to target qualified leads, and inform nearly-qualified inbound leads.
- Devote a “Sales Development” team to review, contact and qualify raw inquiries from marketing, before delivering the best prospects to sales.
The benefit to having a Sales Development team is that they can cut down your lead response time (According to Forbes, businesses lose more than 70% of potential sales due to late follow-ups). What is the magic number of effective lead response time? Five minutes. A Lead Response Management study reported that achieving a five-minute response time resulted in four times more qualified leads than a ten-minute response time. Conversion rates skyrocket within that five-minute time frame as well.
Nail the 5-Minute Follow-up with Automation
But, if you don’t have the resources for a Sales Development team, Inbound Marketing can come to the rescue with marketing automation. You can nail that five-minute follow-up with instant, automatically generated email responses that let your lead feel heard, and encourage them to take the next step in their buyer’s journey. You can even include a questionnaire in your email to qualify them. Try to make this email feel as though it isn't automated and coming directly from an individual on your team.
Leverage Your Inbound
On average, outbound leads cost 61 percent more than inbound leads. Inbound marketing doesn’t necessarily shorten the sales cycle, but it does shorten the amount of time your sales team has to work on developing leads. That’s because Inbound Marketing is all about providing useful information to target clients (which warm them up into informed, ready-to-buy leads). You’ll want to invest in some quality content that offers tips, advice, ideas, and inspiration – sending out the message that you want to help them, not sell to them.
At the same time, however, you want your content to educate the consumer. Have some of your content address these issues:
- What do you wish leads came to you already knowing?
- What steps should leads have taken before reaching your sales team? (Ie. if you’re a real estate company, your best leads have already gone through the loan pre-qualification process)
Teach people what you wish they knew – and those seriously interested in working with you will appreciate the information.
For more information, check out our articles on:
- Better Leads, Less Time: Why CEOs & Sales Love Marketing Automation
- 3 Tips for Following Up on Inbound Leads
*We believe that marketing and sales have to have open communication with one another – how else will marketing know how to improve lead quality?
Looking for help aligning your Sales and Marketing efforts?