Recently I wrote a blog post titled, “What is an Inbound Sales Lead?” and it prompted some discussion about lead definitions and how to research inbound marketing leads. I wanted to follow up on this post and get into more detail about how to research inbound leads and what “researching inbound leads” means.
Inbound marketing is often explained as a way to generate leads by creating content and requesting that prospects provide their contact information in order to download the content. While this is true, determining the quality of the leads is not always as easy as it seems and could use some explaining.
In a very basic sense, everyone that engages with your company, from the person who likes your YouTube video to the person that downloads a whitepaper, is a lead. Limiting your prospect database to just those who filled out a form is myopic and will cast your net in very shallow water. The result of this narrow focus is fewer leads, fewer customers.
How to Prospect So You Don’t Miss Quality Inbound Leads
If you agree that everyone who engages with your company is a possible lead, then you need to make sure that you have a process and tools in place to research each of these engagements and determine which are bonafide marketing qualified leads. A good inbound marketer is a “lead detective” and spends a fair amount of time reviewing Twitter and LinkedIn profiles to determine who the people are that are engaging socially.
Does it take a lot of time to do this type of research to determine if it’s a real lead or not? Of course it does. But look at the alternative to not researching these types of leads: missing legit leads. Remember, these people have shown interest in what your company has to say and what you’re doing. By simply ignoring them because they haven’t made it easy for you to follow up, you are doing your inbound program an injustice.
Where Lead Scoring Comes In
One way you can speed up some of this inbound sales prospecting is by setting up some automated lead scoring. If you have already been compiling information about your leads over time and counting everyone that engages with you as a lead in your system, you can set up a simple scoring mechanism that allows you to assign points based on specific criteria or properties.
For instance, say someone becomes a subscriber to your company blog and the only information the person filled out was first name, last name, and email address. On the surface, that might not seem like very much information to go on or to assign lead scoring points to, but if you do a little digging like we discussed above (or have sophisticated lead intelligence software like HubSpot), you can find out additional information that can help piece together a profile.
The most important piece of information you want to look for is the LinkedIn profile. If your subscriber entered a non-company email address, you can determine which company the person works for, as well as which industry, job title, and position in the company. Just by finding the person’s LinkedIn profile, you can create a pretty solid lead score based on what’s in the profile.
Use a CRM
Regardless of the depth of research you do on these prospects, you want to make sure that you capture the information you find about these prospects in a way that can be leveraged across your organization. If you’re putting your prospects into a spreadsheet on your desktop, no one else can help you work the leads. Working as team to nurture prospects is much more efficient.
To make the best use of your team’s time, you’ll want to make sure that you’re utilizing some type of CRM for tracking and sharing this type of information. As you learn more about these prospects and enter newly-found information into your database, make sure to save it for others to utilize.
Wasting leads by not appropriately researching them is where many companies end up going wrong with their inbound programs. They expect leads to just fill out forms and become customers without them having to do any of the hard work in between. It’s the in-depth inbound sales prospecting that uncovers new leads, increases the sales pipeline, and drives inbound marketing ROI.