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How Do I Know If My Inbound Leads Are Sales-Qualified?

How Do I Know If My Inbound Leads Are Sales-Qualified? Blog Feature

Bob Ruffolo

Founder & CEO, Keynote Speaker, Entrepreneur, Recipient of Comparably’s Best CEO ’17

August 5th, 2015 min read

how-do-i-know-if-my-inbound-leads-are-sales-qualifiedAfter identifying a segment of leads that meets your criteria for fit (industry, job title, company size, etc.) you’ll need to measure and understand how ready they are to engage in a sales conversation.

You’ll begin this sales qualification process by analyzing a lead’s level of engagement and interaction with your website and marketing content.

Some common indicators of sales-readiness include the following activities:

  • Number of pages viewed is a significant measure of engagement: Did they spend time on the home page, opt-in and then leave, or did the visit several other site pages, which may indicate a desire to search for a solution to their pain points.

  • Specific pages viewed is also important, especially when they’re spending time on product and pricing pages, About Us and Team pages, or free trial subscription or free demo landing pages, which indicate consideration- and decision-stage buying behaviors.

  • Downloading consideration - and decision-stage content, such as free demos, free phone consultations, and free trial subscriptions are, accordingly, even more important than spending time on those specific pages.

  • Recent visits and activity frequency are extremely important considerations, as the likelihood of closing a sale diminishes with time, especially when a lead is in the final stages of evaluation and ready to buy when visiting your site.

  • Email activity is another important indicator of sales-readiness, as revealed by the number of email opens and, more importantly, clickthroughs to your blog post or other call-to-action content featured in your emails.

  • Returning to the site 5-6 times should be noted, where they might be reviewing product and pricing pages continuously, looking at customer proof such as testimonials and case studies, or reviewing the company About Us page and Team pages.

  • Downloading content that defines how to solve identified pain points is particularly noteworthy, especially when there’s a demonstrated interest in solving that pain now.

  • Reviewing bottom-of-the-funnel offers including consultation requests, live demos, and free trial offers.

How to Identify Sales-Qualified Leads

Using a CRM like the HubSpot CRM allows you to track and retain these sales-qualified behaviors in your contact’s profile, where a timeline is created for all their activities. It may be possible to monitor the sales-readiness of leads manually when your organization is small and doesn’t have many leads, but it’s more effective to have one person monitoring and identifying the sales-readiness of leads in real time as you grow as an organization.

Business growth normally warrants an increase in lead management resources and justifies using the technology needed to automate the process.

Lead scoring is an automation method used to evaluate and measure engagement by assigning a numerical weight or value to leads. Utilizing a range from 1 to 100, lead scoring is the preference of many businesses, especially those with sales teams that have limited resources.

Lead scoring helps determine which leads get fast-tracked and which get put on the shelf, using assigned values that correlate each lead’s professional information, such as job title, industry, and company size with the behaviors they’ve exhibited on your site.

While it’s helpful to have a lead scoring system in place for lead management, it’s equally valid to point out that there is no foolproof plan for lead scoring. Determining when a lead is ready to buy can be tricky business—with big consequences when you’re wrong.

For context, you might want to check out this post by IMPACT’s Tom DiScipio, where he shares some great insights about lead scoring, sales-readiness, and the hidden value of inbound leads.

That said, four basic considerations of lead scoring can be useful to guide you through the exchange from inbound marketing to our inbound sales and lead nurturing:

Lead Fit: The determination for lead fit comes from the data you’ve collected on prospects, such as the calls-to-action they’ve taken through online registrations or forms to receive gated content. They include information about the contact, such as job title and years on the job (demographics) and information about the organization (firmographics) such as company size, revenue, and location.

An additional, more advanced qualification uses budget, authority, need, and time to determine where the lead is along the customer-buying journey. The initial lead fit score is useful to rough out who might actually become a customer.

Lead Interest: Lead interest value is mapped to the contact’s level of interaction with your content and communication channels, including email-opens and click-throughs, social media engagement, and downloads. For context, you might want to check out this post by IMPACT’s Tom DiScipio, where he shares some great insights about lead scoring, sales-readiness, and the hidden value of inbound leads.

Lead Behavior: The process of lead behavior begins with where they are on the customer-buying journey. This process will be improved over time, but a good initial estimate can be made based on knowledge of your audience and industry. Look at the typical behaviors of leads who’ve become customers, assigning a higher value to them than other latent behaviors, such as early-stage content and blog post viewing, for example, which would earn a much lower score.

Buying Stage: As mentioned before, a lead’s buying stage determines where they are on the customer-buying journey and is used most often to align with traditional scoring techniques, such as the sales funnel.

A Top-of-the-Funnel prospect is someone who is aware of your company and content—who reads blog posts or download ebooks—but who may never become a lead, whereas a Middle-of-the-Funnel prospect is a lead, since they engaged with your content over time and exhibited other specific buying behaviors like downloading ROI calculators or buying guides. Finally, Bottom-of-the-Funnel prospects are sales-ready and you’ll pass them on to sales or provide direct offers like demos, phone consultations, or discount deals.

Defining criteria for each stage of the funnel assists with the lead scoring process and provides a more objective means of determining where they are on the customer-buying journey, which is essential to determining the sales-readiness of your inbound leads. (6)

What's Next?

The content above was an excerpt from our all-new guide, Inbound Lead Management 101. In the full version, you'll learn more about qualifying leads, measuring lead sales-readiness, and overall accelerating sales with technology. Get your free copy here, right now!

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