Marketing-qualified leads are a core focus of our marketing strategy at Intero Digital. These are leads who we've decided would be a good fit for our services based on certain qualifications that we've deemed important characteristics of a good client.
Marketing-qualified leads are important for a few reasons:
Because we know marketing-qualified leads can provide immense value to a business, we've made qualifying leads a big focus of our marketing and sales enablement efforts. To give you a picture of what qualifying leads might look like in practice, let's talk for a bit about how we qualify leads at Intero Digital Content & PR Division.
I used to qualify all of our leads manually. At the time, it was one of my primary focuses, and while it was tedious, I knew it was important. Because I was on sales calls, I could compare what that person looked like on paper with how qualified he or she actually was based on the sales conversation. While we had parameters in place for what we thought made a lead qualified, hearing those conversations helped me shape the qualification parameters and gave me a deeper understanding of what translated to a good sales call.
A couple of years ago, we decided that it was time to take what I'd learned about what set great leads apart from so-so leads and automate the process. We took the parameters I looked for when manually qualifying leads and translated them into HubSpot for automatic lead scoring. Our leads are assigned a point value based on company size, their monthly content marketing budgets, their job titles, whether they're actively looking for a content partner, and their level of engagement with our content and our marketing emails. Some of these are self-selected by the lead, and others are things that HubSpot takes into account using what it knows about the lead's company (such as company size) or engagement data.
Moving to an automated lead qualification approach has been a game changer. I've been able to spend far more time engaging with leads who are likelier to buy. This is a big part of why our call numbers have gone up and why inbound marketing has been so much more successful for our company.
I realize you might not be quite ready to dive into a full-blown lead qualification process like ours right away, and that's OK. But I recommend that you take these few steps to start learning more about your leads and start tapping into the power of marketing-qualified leads:
What would be a lead's ideal budget for your services? Who do you find are the best people to talk to within companies you want to work with?
Once you've decided on a few parameters, go through 100 of your leads and see what you can learn about them and how they score in terms of your list of parameters. From there, take the 10 with the highest scores and see what they have in common.
If you have software that stores information from leads' journeys, find out what their lead sources were and whether the leads have been interacting with your content. From there, you can start using the similarities to help create a guide to qualifying leads that are the best fit for your business. Also, because you just did all that work, let's go one step further.
Send a personalized email to the 10 people you learned so much about and tell them specific ways your company could provide value.
As you review your list of clients, look for any qualities that stick out as common themes: How have your most successful clients been to work with? How have they been able to see such great value as a result of your services? Insights like these would probably be great parameters to add to your qualifications list.
This is also a great way to cross-reference which types of clients tend to be the best ones for you. Maybe your most successful current clients are in similar industries, their teams are similar sizes, or they're all B2B companies. Whatever the similarities may be, these can be helpful to consider when you're sculpting parameters for your marketing-qualified leads.
Have a conversation with your sales team or even sit in on a sales call to hear some of the qualities of leads who seem like great fits for your services. You can reverse-engineer that to look at how big the lead's team is, which titles or positions have more decision-making power or understand why your services are valuable, and what the buyer's journey has looked like with your company.
I sat in on sales calls for years. It not only gave me a better perspective on how our marketing-qualified leads actually performed in the sales process, but it also allowed me to better understand which people I should focus on reaching out to within companies, where our services could fit in different marketing structures, and how to pitch our services differently depending on each lead's needs and goals. Even though they're all technically marketing-qualified leads, they're all also very different, and it's important to understand that.
Marketing-qualified leads can provide immense value. Qualifying leads allows you to send leads to the sales team who are likelier to actually do business with you, which can lead to gains in the number of clients you work with and the amount of marketing-generated revenue you bring in. I hope these three steps help you start learning more about your leads and thinking about how you can implement a process for qualifying leads for your business to see greater content marketing ROI.