As marketing and sales strategies continue to evolve with changing trends, so must a company’s lead generation and qualification process.

With the ever-changing minutia of lead generation campaigns in mind, this article will explore various tactics, including how to generate leads in sales and how to maximize the potential of leads for your company. 

Demand generation and lead generation may be similar in nature but are completely different and essential B2B marketing processes. Clear up the confusion by reading our full breakdown of the differences between both. 

 

Why is Qualifying Leads Important?

Accuracy is not only essential in your outreach but also in the way that leads are identified and qualified for specific campaigns. The lead management process determines which leads are most likely to make a purchase and avoids mistargeting.

Pursuing leads that have been misidentified or are never going to convert is a costly mistake that can be circumvented with proper qualification. Qualifying leads allows your teams to prioritize those of higher value and boost ROI.

Qualification processes can also indicate which leads require additional nurturing as they progress through the funnel. Doing so avoids damaging relationships by targeting leads who are not yet ready to buy with sales materials. 

For more detail on the impact of improper lead generation, watch our on-demand webinar The Real Cost of Bad Leads.

 

How Does Lead Qualification Work?

There are many methods for qualifying leads that depend on your lead definitions, objectives, and their stage in the buyer’s journey. Below are four methods of lead qualification: 

1. Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)

A marketing qualified lead is a prospect that has been identified as likely to convert. This is determined by analysis of key metrics based on a MQL’s interaction with marketing materials. This can include web pages visited, CTAs clicked, social post engagement, and content downloads. For most leads, this is the first step in their buyer journey before being classified as SQLs. 

2. Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)

A sales qualified lead (SQL) is a potential client that has been identified by the marketing team as being ready to be passed on to the sales team. Similar to a MQL, this is a sales lead that has expressed interest in products and services. However, the difference between a MQL vs SQL is the amount of nurturing they have received. Leads do not become SQLs without first being vetted by the marketing team. 

3. Product Qualified Lead (PQL)

A product qualified lead is a prospect who is ready for conversion after a free trial of a product or service. These leads are more likely to make a purchase of a product if a free demo has been successful in demonstrating how it can provide results and an improved experience. If handled correctly, PQLs can cut down on costs by encouraging faster purchases. 

4. Service Qualified Lead (SQL)

A service qualified lead, also known as an SQL, is an existing or potential client that has expressed an interest in new products and services. These sales leads are prime candidates for upselling and cross-selling opportunities and should be nurtured correctly to take advantage of their high lifetime value. 

 

7 Ways to Generate More Qualified Leads

Securing high-quality leads for your business is a complex, multi-faceted process that requires synchronization and detailed planning. Below are seven ways (or steps) on how to generate leads, simplify your lead flow, and ensure your lead generation efforts are paying out with qualified leads.

 

1. Determine Your Target Market

Delivering your prospects the specificity and personalization they require begins with a clear definition of your target market. Determining who benefits from your product is key to starting both the targeting and lead follow up process. Below are techniques and steps to establish your target market:

Market Segmentation

B2B market segmentation is an efficient method of analyzing broad target markets to identify the specific groups within. This helps to guide specific lead generation and demand generation strategies for each segment based on their unique interests and needs. There are multiple segmentation techniques, each with its own advantages.

Demographics, for example, is an efficient way of establishing a foundation of knowledge on static variables such as age, gender, marital status, job title, or earnings. Psychographics on the other hand, focuses on individual preferences and behaviors that can be used to connect with prospects on a cognitive level. 

Combining these B2B market segmentation methods with others can help to create a detailed understanding of an ideal target market and the first steps for strategies.

Buyer Personas

Buyer personas are formulated with a variety of information such as the type of content prospects prefer, and when. Due to this, segmentation data can be invaluable for creating buyer personas for each product or campaign. Although they are dependent on regular research and updates, buyer personas help to give direction to lead generation strategies and lead follow up.

Lead Definitions

Lead definitions are the parameters that determine what constitutes a lead. This process is essential to the lead generation process and ensuring lead quality. Lead definitions should be built based on knowledge of your target market and should map out the necessary steps an account has to take to be considered a sales lead.

Lead Scoring Process

Once the lead definitions have been set, each step or touchpoint of the process can be assigned a value for lead scoring. Scoring helps to answer the question: how much is a lead worth? By assigning a value to leads, teams can prioritize leads with the highest scores. 

Although scores can be used to indicate quality, it is important to carefully develop a scoring system that accurately reflects your lead generation objectives. This avoids lead scores becoming arbitrary or analysis drawing the wrong conclusions.

Another option is using predictive lead scoring to streamline the process. Predictive lead scoring leverages information already in your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) database to determine which data is most important. This might include time spent on your website or specific content related to products. 

Predictive lead scoring then utilizes algorithms to analyze these data variables and lead behavior to determine which leads are most likely to make a future purchase. As software takes insights from converted clients and their past interactions or behavior, findings can be applied to new leads. 

Although this takes time and an existing database, predictive lead scoring can be effective at improving the lead scoring process. However, findings should still remain subject to interpretation. 

Not sure where to start with B2B market segmentation? Read our full breakdown of segmentation techniques, strategies, and how market segmentation aids product positioning in our definitive guide

 

2. Build Out Your Sales Process

Essentially, a B2B sales process is a blueprint for your salespeople to follow to streamline lead flow and conversion. It should be easily repeatable, align with how your target market typically makes decisions, and be scalable across your sales team. 

What is Lead Flow?

Lead flow describes the influx of sales leads being converted from lead generation techniques on platforms such as a website. Analysis of lead flow can be used to evaluate the performance of both short and long-term strategies.

Why Create a Sales Process?

Developing a finely-tuned sales process shows your team how to generate leads in sales and assists them to implement lead management. Mapping out each stage improves the onboarding of new members and helps them maintain a better standard of work. 

Sales processes allow salespeople to track the progress of sales leads as they move through each step. This makes planning outreach and forecasting movements easier.

On top of this, dividing the sales process into stages aids testing and can lead to the refinement or ditching of ineffectual steps.

Defining Stages in the Sales Process

The number of stages and their purpose should be unique to your objectives, target audience, and lead management strategy. However, most sales processes have an average of seven steps, as detailed below: 

1. Generating:

At this first stage of the sales process, lead generation and identifying new sales qualified leads is the priority. This should be a relatively fast part of the process, especially with the right strategy and software. 

 

2. Researching:

For effective outreach, sales reps should first perform in-depth research into prospects, their company, and needs. This is essential for fueling lead flow and the remainder of the sale process.

 

3. Qualifying:

Sales development representatives (SDR) should combine their knowledge of prospects from their research with direct contact to evaluate their suitability as a client. SDRs should focus on determining the prospect’s needs and whether a partnership would be a good fit for both parties. 

Reaching out to the prospect in this way helps to alleviate some of the sales pressure and demonstrates a willingness to listen. Based on this conversation and interaction with content or other resources, sales teams can then qualify sales leads.

 

4. Making an offer:

Depending on the status of the leads and the specific pain points previously outlined, your sales team should make prospects an offer. This should focus on their needs in a creative way that doesn’t just list product features.

 

5. Handling objections:

Prospects are likely to have a lot of questions that need answering. This is where sales teams need to make sure to give prospects all the information they need to inform their decision. Train your team on improvisation and supply them with processes for solving the most common objections. 

 

6. Closing the deal:

Once all objections have been handled and the prospect is ready for conversion, be sure to clarify all the necessary details with proper lead follow up. This avoids any surprises or delays in a deal being formulated. 

Although a prospect indicates buyer intent, this is not final if the buying decision is not signed off by all of the buyer committee, which is the case in most B2B enterprises. Be sure to strategize on deals or promotions as appropriate to encourage a purchase by all the members in this group.

 

7. Nurturing:

The sales process should not end with closing a deal. Nurturing should happen at all stages of the funnel, including lead follow up. This maintains relationships with clients for longer and encourages repeat sales or upsells. Nurturing keeps you at the top of accounts’ minds and can maximize client value. 

However, be careful to strike the right balance with communication to avoid crowding your clients’ inboxes and creating a sales-hungry impression.

Setting up strong lead generation strategies is essential to generating quality leads for your business and services. To get started with the fundamentals and tactics to boost your success, read our article: Lead Generation Tips, Tricks, and Total Domination

 

3. Content Marketing

Developing a strong, multi-faceted content marketing strategy is integral to generating qualified sales leads and strong relationships with prospects as they become clients. 

Content goes beyond simply boosting lead and demand generation by building lasting value that is essential to lead nurturing. Below we detail how to generate leads with content and the processes you should follow.

Build a Strategy

Set up a strategy to maximize the effect of your content. Create a content plan that aligns content creation with your target market and objectives. This will allow you to prioritize content and adjust tactics as necessary.

Strategize the best timing for publishing new pieces, based on knowledge of your buyer personas. Scheduling content also allows you to plan better promotion which can feed your lead generation and qualify sales leads.

Match Content with Different Stages of the Funnel

Be sure to create content for each stage of the funnel. Doing so ensures that nurturing can take place throughout each stage. This demonstration of attention to detail and awareness of your prospect’s needs encourages leads to move through the funnel.

Lead Magnets

A lead magnet is a piece of content that is designed to capture lead information. Content should be well-researched, relevant, and captivate leads with an educational opportunity. Lead magnets can take the shape of a variety of different formats but should be built to suit your target audience’s preferences. 

Repurpose Content

As the needs of your target market evolve, so must your content. The advantage of developing a library of content marketing is that it can often be repurposed at a low cost. Long content can be compressed into easily digestible formats such as short videos or infographics and vice versa. Repurposing boosts your lead flow and maximizes your content’s potential.

Need help building out your content marketing strategy

INFUSEmedia’s team of creatives and content specialists craft content for some of the world’s biggest businesses.

Our team analyzes your strategic needs and develops content marketing assets that deliver results for your demand generation campaigns. There is no limit to the formats and asset types that we can create, including articles, whitepapers, eBooks, videos, and infographics.

 

4. Website Optimization

As the hub of your inbound marketing, your website plays a vital role in your lead flow and lead qualification process. Therefore, optimizing and maintaining your website is a priority. Below are some steps for enhancing your website’s performance:

Ease the Lead Submission Process

As your primary publishing platform, one of the main focuses of website optimization is facilitating navigation and the lead submission process. Employ adaptive, user-friendly design that allows your prospects to access your site on their preferred device, without long load times or uncomfortable scrolling. 

Be sure to categorize content by topic so that it is easy to find. By using tags, you can implement a search engine on your website that helps visitors find what they are looking for. 

Optimize Contact Forms

Although the purpose of lead generation content is to collect as much information as possible from leads, it is important to limit the number of fields you include. This avoids leads becoming dissuaded from completing forms and losing interest. Focus on the most crucial fields. The remainder can be determined later by sales teams.

Reinforce Your “Hook” with Design

Any content requiring an exchange of information should have a strong hook to persuade visitors. Whether this is an excerpt, offer, or giveaway, the design of pages is crucial. 

Reinforce and strengthen your hook with design elements that maintain clarity while boosting your message. For content pieces, especially longer-form, this might include infographics or images that break down the topic further. 

Making these elements shareable on other sites can also be a great tactic to boost reach and rankings. This will also result in better lead generation.

Chatbots

Featuring chatbots is another method for improving the navigation of your website and facilitating lead flow. Fully customizable, chatbots can be set up with specific responses that can guide visitors.

Essentially, if set up correctly, chatbots can act as 24/7 support. Regularly collect feedback via the feedback button when possible and track analytics to implement improvements to chatbots that better suit your target market’s needs.  

SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) is essential for generating higher-quality leads. Increasing organic traffic is a lengthy process but also has the potential to add long-lasting value, decrease bounce rates, and increase dwell time. 

Start your strategy by researching your target market’s search intent. This will allow you to optimize your copy to match this intent and improve its rankings. Focusing on long-tail keywords improves the quality of leads by adding specificity that reflects the individual needs of the groups within your target market.

Investigating and running campaigns based on competitor keywords means you can prioritize the most valuable keywords for your content and website in general. Be sure to regularly update content with keywords as necessary.

Optimize Landing Pages

Landing pages should be clear and simple to understand to draw visitors to their CTAs. Avoid any confusion by limiting the number of CTAs and boosting your page with design, rather than creating visual clutter. Every aspect of the page should resonate with the message and CTA to maximize its potential for lead generation. 

Make landing pages specific to your target market to ensure higher quality leads. This is particularly important with giveaways or promotions. 

Feature Credibility

Nurturing is an essential step in lead management and generating high-quality leads. Besides content, nurturing can be achieved by demonstrating the value of products and services your company has to offer. Add client reviews and awards your company has won to your website.

Prioritize well-known clients and prestigious awards to take full advantage of their impact on your credibility. By building trust with evidence of your work, you’ll also be able to improve the quality of your lead generation.

As B2B marketers, it is crucial to understand the fundamentals of demand generation, lead generation, and how to develop interest and awareness of your brand.

Read our Definitive Guide to B2B Lead Generation for an in-depth breakdown of how to design and implement successful lead generation campaigns. 

 

5. Channel Strategy

Implementing a channel strategy allows you to shape the buyer experience and match it best to your target market. Below are a few strategies for launching your channel strategy: 

Omnichannel Marketing vs. Multichannel Marketing

Firstly, it is important to determine which channel marketing strategy best suits your objectives. Simply put, multi-channel marketing is business-centric and focuses on sharing the same message across multiple channels.

On the other hand, omnichannel marketing is client-centric, with each channel acting as connected stages in the buyer journey. Deciding on the right marketing channel strategy takes time and investment. However, doing so is to generate leads that are high in quality.

Identify Channels

To not only save on time and budget but also boost results, it is crucial to establish which channels your target market uses. Your channel strategy will likely be mostly digital and include a combination of the following:

Market segmentation methods such as psychographics and buyer personas are invaluable to building a channel strategy. Using your knowledge of your target audience, you will be able to identify the right channels for the distribution of your campaigns as well as the correct time to publish. While this requires time to develop, finding your leads’ preferred channels will increase the quality of your lead generation.

Not sure on how to get started with your marketing channel strategy? Read our article on 10 Digital Marketing Channels for 2022 That Actually Work to kickstart your planning.

 

6. Alignment of Sales and Marketing

Aligning sales and marketing teams optimizes both processes by sharing the responsibility. How marketing teams classify leads as MQLs before the hand off to sales, can benefit from the sales team’s feedback. Insights can be used to update lead definitions and strategies as necessary to generate leads that are of higher quality.

However, be sure to avoid misalignment by encouraging healthy communication between teams. Create a space where team members feel comfortable sharing opinions and criticism to get the best results.

Proper alignment is essential and valuable for the lead qualification process and ensuring you can maximize the value of every prospect.

Sales and marketing alignment is not only invaluable for generating the results you are looking for from your strategies but also for maintaining morale. For more detail, read our 10 Sales and Marketing Alignment Best Practices to get started on optimization.

 

7. Testing and Feedback

Regular testing and fielding of feedback is essential to consistently generate qualified leads. When it comes to your website, be sure to perform A/B testing. This will provide you insight into which tactics are resonating most with your target audience and allow you to make the necessary changes to meet their preferences.

The most informative feedback can come directly from clients and prospects themselves. Ask to interview or share questionnaires with them to collect reviews and their thoughts. Incentivize these to encourage greater interaction. 

Finally, keep track of important metrics. This should include conversion rates and funnel leakage. Measuring the percentage of leads that convert into clients helps you to analyze your lead generation strategy and the quality of leads being produced. Funnel leakage also aids this, as focusing on where leads are lost in the process can uncover inaccuracies in the lead qualification process. 

 

Conclusion

As the needs of your target market and your own objectives continue to evolve over time, generating qualified leads requires continuous evaluation and maintenance. While ensuring the quality of leads may be a complex process, lead generation can be facilitated by following the steps mentioned in this guide. 

Generating qualified leads is a complex and multi-faceted process that requires analysis, evaluation, and maintenance as target markets and your own objectives evolve over time and continue to shape the definition of what is a qualified lead. 

However, by implementing a combination of the strategies mentioned in this guide and informing your campaigns with a detailed knowledge of your target market, you will be able to boost your qualified lead generation and yield the results you are looking for.

Not sure where to get started? INFUSEmedia has helped clients develop and fill thousands of funnels. With a myriad of lead generation tools and services at our disposal, we are ready to build successful strategies for your business together.

Get in touch at [email protected] 

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