Sales organizations spend a lot of time generating leads for their sales team to pursue. In an ideal world each of these leads would have a realistic chance of converting into new customers. But not all leads will be successful and only the highest quality leads are likely to convert.
To be efficient, businesses need to maximize the number of high quality leads they receive to avoid any potential time wasters. In this guide we’ll look at what a sales lead is, how to spot a high quality lead and how to improve your lead quality.
A sales lead is a person or business that may eventually become a paying customer or client. Leads can be generated in a number of ways, including advertising, content marketing, email marketing, direct mail, referrals and trade show appearances. Social media platforms have also emerged as a major lead generation channel in recent years.
Leads serve as a list of potential targets for a sales team to focus efforts on. They're typically people who have performed specific actions, filled out forms, provided contact information, or expressed interest in a product or service.
Lead generation has become more difficult over time. Only 3% of your marketplace are active buyers that want to make a relevant purchase in the next thirty to ninety days. These are your sales leads.
Understandably, many businesses respond to this need by trying to generate as many leads as possible through any means necessary. But this is often counterproductive and typically results in a large number of low quality leads that likely won’t convert.
Low quality leads are less likely to become paying customers. This is a problem as it takes up a large amount of your sales team’s time and efforts yet they rarely pay off through deals being closed and revenue being generated.
This is a real problem for many organizations and one of the biggest inefficiencies affecting sales teams. According to Gartner, less than half of all marketing qualified leads (MQLs) pass through sales as a potential good fit. The end result is a lot of time being wasted by sales teams pursuing leads that are unlikely to convert.
Successful lead generation is really a matter of quality over quantity. If you generate a large number of leads that are unlikely to actually purchase your products or services, your sales team is going to be wasting valuable time that they could've spent on leads that are more likely to progress down the sales funnel.
Poor quality leads can also cause other problems. For example, if your sales team is constantly pursuing low quality leads and failing to achieve its targets, it can have a detrimental impact on morale. Similarly, sales teams being sent poor leads can impact the relationship between your sales team and the marketing department.
So, what are the characteristics of a quality lead? What does a quality lead do that sets them apart? How can you tell the difference between a high-quality lead and poor quality one?
The answer to what makes a quality lead is relatively simple. A sales lead can be considered a quality lead if the person is interested in the product or service you're selling and if there's a reasonable expectation that they might actually make a purchase. Effectively, lead quality relates to the probability of a purchase being made.
The quality of a lead can be determined through lead scoring. This process involves assigning a score to each lead based on how likely they are to convert. This process relies on collecting data from leads and evaluating what this data says about them. Relevant data could include occupation, age, income and previous interactions.
Lead quality is also affected by the accuracy of the data collected, especially contact information. It also depends on whether or not the person was aware of a product or service being sold before they provided their details. A high-quality sales lead will typically meet all three of the following conditions:
Let’s explore these in more detail.
The lead must want, or have a specific problem that can be solved by purchasing the product or service. If a lead is unlikely to benefit from the product or service, they aren't considered a quality lead.
The greater the need a lead has, the higher the likelihood that a sale can be made, as long as they meet other criteria.
The lead has a budget that will allow them to purchase the product or service being sold.
On a basic level, if the lead can't afford to pay for the product or service, they aren't considered a quality lead. Sales leads may also fail to meet this condition if they object to the price for other reasons.
The sales lead has demonstrated an intent to purchase the product or service being sold or has exhibited the intent to acquire something similar.
Leads showing intent will typically already be aware of the product or service being sold. Intent is usually easier to find because 89% of customers independently research their needs before making contact.
Understanding what makes a quality lead is one thing, but you also need to know how to improve the quality of your leads. The sections below provide some useful advice regarding the steps you can take to achieve this objective.
One of the biggest steps you can take to improve lead quality is to aim for alignment between your sales and marketing departments. This means that both departments have shared objectives and a willingness to pull together in the same direction. It also means prioritizing revenue over any individual goals those departments may have.
We've previously covered the topic of sales and marketing alignment in our blog, with expert insights from both sales and marketing professionals. We recommend reading the complete article, but some of the key takeaways are:
- Companies with aligned sales and marketing teams are up to 67% more efficient at closing deals.
- When sales and marketing are aligned, organizations enjoy 38% higher win rates.
- 85% of sales and marketing leaders believe alignment is the biggest opportunity for improving performance.
Sales and marketing both need to agree on what constitutes a high-quality lead and clearly document this. Relevant data also needs to be shared between the departments. This could, for instance, be information from marketing about how a lead arrived on the company website or what messaging form is most likely to work.
There must be a mutual understanding between sales and marketing about precisely which department is responsible for generating and qualifying leads. Additionally, they must agree on how these leads should be scored. The two departments also have to commit to being in constant communication. This may require sales leaders to attend marketing meetings and vice versa.
You should try to be as clear and accurate as possible when identifying your target audience. Consider who is likely to benefit from your product and is both willing and able to purchase it?
It's highly unlikely that your target audience is going to be a single category of people, but you still need to be as precise as you can. You may be able to identify three or four groups of people or the number could be far larger.
One technique that can be especially useful here is the creation of buyer personas. These are fictional representations of your ideal customer base, that can help you put yourself in the shoes of your target audience. Buyer personas are incredibly important and studies have found that three to four buyer personas usually account for around 90% of an organization's total sales.
When trying to find your ideal buyer you should consider:
- Are they individuals or businesses?
- Where are they from, or where are they located?
- What is their income or revenue?
- Ideally, what interactions will they have had with your brand?
According to research from Demand Metric, content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing. Yet, per dollar spent, content marketing also generates three times as many leads as traditional approaches. This helps to highlight the valuable role that a good content marketing strategy can play.
Lead generation needs to be about quality and not quantity. While content marketing is effective for generating leads at a fraction of the cost of traditional marketing methods, these leads must have the right level of need, budget, and buying intent.
For this reason, your content needs to be high quality and relevant to your target audience. Think about the types of people who are going to buy your product or service, and then consider what their needs are. Try to focus on creating helpful and engaging content that will attract their attention and encourage them to explore further.
For example, if you're selling a project management solution to other businesses, your content marketing strategy should include blog posts, articles, or other types of content that answer questions project managers have or solve specific problems they frequently run into. Think about what they're going to be searching for online and meet their needs. From there, you can explain how your products and services can assist them, this will help you to generate quality leads.
Landing pages and online forms play a major role in modern lead generation, and both of these elements need to be optimized. In particular, your landing pages need to clearly convey what you have to offer and who you're trying to appeal to, while your forms need to be carefully designed to extract useful information. Both your landing pages and forms also need to be designed to filter out people who have no real interest in what you're selling.
One of the best ways to optimize landing pages is through a process called A/B testing. This is a common technique used in web development and user experience (UX) design, which involves using two versions of the same element — in this case, a landing page — in order to see which one performs best with users. From this data you can experiment with different wording, as well as different placement of forms and text, to get your landing pages working perfectly.
Despite the effectiveness of A/B testing for landing pages, only 17% of marketers use it to improve conversion rates. This means those who do choose to use it can potentially gain a significant competitive edge.
It's also important to take the time to optimize your forms so that you collect high-quality data. Research from Integrate suggests this is a serious problem, with as many as 40% of leads being invalid, incomplete, or duplicates due to poorly created contact forms.
You need to design your forms to ask the right questions, ensure that all fields are mandatory, and prevent duplicate submissions. It's also worth including an email address validation component, too.
Email marketing is another crucial way that businesses can generate leads. This method allows you to use your key performance indicators (KPIs) to understand and improve lead quality. Email marketing analysis is often used for lead-scoring purposes because it can provide valuable information about a lead's behavior.
As a post for TechTarget explains, if an email recipient clicks on a link to download a whitepaper or sign up for a webinar, it's a good indicator that they have a sincere interest in what you have to offer. If they unsubscribe from your mailing list, or if the email bounces, the lead is unlikely to be a quality lead, so your resources can be directed elsewhere.
Your email marketing campaigns can also provide you with valuable information about the types of content that attract clicks and which types of content produces the most high-quality leads. This information can then be used to optimize future marketing campaigns and gain valuable insights into the nature of lead generation in your business.
Transpond is an email marketing solution that integrates seamlessly with Capsule CRM, allowing you to get a better sense of how recipients interact with your emails. You'll be able to see who opened emails, how many people unsubscribed from your mailing list, how many emails bounced, and how many of your links were clicked.
The quality of the leads you generate can have a major impact on your overall business success. After all, generating quality leads will mean spending more time focused on those who are most likely to convert into paying customers.
However, achieving improved lead quality requires a combination of great content, the right buyers, alignment between sales and marketing and optimized landing pages and forms.
You must also pay close attention to your key performance indicators, especially when it comes to emails and similar outreach marketing efforts. Capsule CRM has all the tools you need to assist with lead generation and optimization.