Note: This post first appeared on The Center for Sales Strategy blog.
For new inbound marketers, one of the most exciting moments is when you actually start to see new leads coming in through your content efforts. Based on my experience, that exciting moment is followed by the question, “What am I supposed to do now?”
This is pretty common because all marketers know that not every inbound lead is created equal. Many just aren’t far enough along in their buying journey and others simply aren’t qualified and probably never will be. How do you know which leads are sales-ready, which require nurturing, and which ought to be ignored? There are tools and processes that can help you, including lead scoring, conducting your own online research, and reviewing your lead intelligence. With these tools you can determine the next steps for each lead.Good decisions depend on good information, and my focus here is on the information you are looking to uncover for each of those incoming leads. For instance, lead scoring effective only if you’re scoring the right criteria, and diving deep into contact profiles is helpful only if you come up with useful information.
Here are some questions you should think about to determine who is a potentially sales-qualified lead, one that is ready to be followed up with by sales and fits your initial criteria for a qualified prospect.
- How did they first come across your website? Was it on social media, through an internal connection, organically, or maybe from a referral site?
- What title do they hold at their company? Are they a decision-maker or a college intern?
- Are they in an industry that aligns with your services/products? Is there a product fit and could you actually help them?
- How much have they engaged with your website? Have they looked at multiple pages, blog posts, and downloaded content? Or have they just visited the site once, never to return?
- What kind of content are they looking at and downloading? Where are they in their buying process based on the content they’re consuming?
- Have they connected with your brand in other places? How engaged are they? Do they follow your brand on LinkedIn or subscribe to your blog?
- How well do they match your other desired target persona criteria? You should already know what an ideal lead looks like to your organization, so you can determine how well they fit your ideal customer profile.
Once you’ve done the research on a lead and determined that they are qualified and should be contacted by someone on your team, it’s important that you have a plan in place to reach out and track each communication. Be sure to include your inbound marketing team members as well as key members of your sales department in this conversation. (We like to call this sales and marketing alignment or “smarketing”– and it’s really important!)
Set up a meeting between your marketing and sales departments to outline all of the steps you’ll take. Who will research and qualify your leads? Who will be the first point of contact? How will they reach out (email, phone, etc.)? How will you track the process?
All of these questions, and more, are important parts of ensuring you are prepared when following up with your leads. Getting these details locked down increases your likelihood of converting leads into customers.