5 Ways to Improve the Quality of Your B2B Leads

Posted by Douglas Burdett

Are you generating lots of leads but few sales? You might have weak leads. Here are 5 ways to quickly strengthen your B2B lead quality and sales.

How to Improve the Quality of Your Leads

Most B2B companies (and their sales teams) always clamor for "more leads." But what they really want are more quality leads. That's why smart B2B marketers know that if they are generating lots of weak leads, they are in trouble.

In B2B sales, it's all about the leads. The number and the quality.

In the movie Glenngarry Glen Ross, the quality of leads plays a central role in the drama.  (Warning: contains profane language.)

To improve the quality of your leads, here are five approaches that will yield the most dramatic improvements quickly, and increase sales:

1. Get Marketing and Sales to Agree On The Definition Of A “Sales-Qualified Lead”

Marketing and sales need to agree on the characteristics of a sales ready lead. Only pass leads to sales that have met your definition of "qualified."

Unfortunately, only 45% of businesses have established a company-wide definition of a sales-ready lead, according to a study by MarketingSherpa.

2. Implement Lead Scoring

Lead scoring is a process of ranking a lead’s interest level and sales readiness based on a methodology agreed upon by marketing and sales. Companies can score leads in a variety of ways by assigning points and implementing rankings like “hot,” “warm,” or “cold.” Or A, B, C, or D.

It will boil down to a combination of “fit” and “interest.” If there is a fit but low interest, marketing needs to nurture the lead. If there is a fit and interest, sales needs to follow up quickly.

improving B2B lead quality

The actual scoring should incorporate a combination of explicit data and implicit data. Explicit data is information the prospect provides such as title, industry, company, etc. Implicit data is what is revealed by the prospect’s online behavior such as pages visited, and recency or frequency of visits.

In an Eloqua study of 10 B2B companies using lead scoring systems, on average, deal close rates increased by 30 percent; company revenue increased by 18%; and revenue per deal increased by 17%

3. Commit To Lead Nurturing

Lead nurturing is the process of building relationships with qualified prospects regardless of when they will buy, with the goal of earning their business when they are ready.

A 2010 Forrester Research study found that companies that excelled at lead nurturing were able to generate 50% more sales-ready leads at a 33% lower cost per lead than other companies.

Some leads are hot and turn into a quick sale. Most don’t, however. That's where lead nurturing comes in.

Various studies show that buyers now are really only engaging with sales representatives in about the last third of their purchasing process.

According to Brian Carroll, author of Lead Generation for the Complex Sale, up to 95% of qualified prospects on your website are there to research and are not yet ready to talk with a sales rep, but as many as 70% will eventually buy from you or one of your competitors.

4. Create A Marketing-Sales Feedback Loop

If marketing is throwing leads to sales and doesn’t find out what happens to the leads, stop the madness. The system is broken.

Communication between sales and marketing teams is crucial, especially for B2B companies with long, complex sales cycles.

B2B marketers can’t wait until a sale is complete to assess lead quality because the data will be so old it can’t be used to actively manage a real-time lead generation program.

By reporting in a closed loop, marketing is able to send more information to sales (such as additional lead intelligence), and sales is able to provide feedback and sales activity reports to marketing.

At least monthly, lead grades should be reviewed, updated and reported to marketing – thus completing the lead quality feedback loop.

5. Use Marketing Automation Software

If you're trying to improve lead quality without using marketing automation software, you may be working hard, but you’re not working smart.

Automating the nurturing and scoring of leads in your funnel is fairly simple to understand. And if your sales funnel only has a handful of leads in it, you could do it yourself, manually. But scaling your sales is nearly impossible without automation.

To grow your sales effectively, you wonʼt have the time, attention to detail or the analytical horsepower to track, measure, and respond to all of these individual interactions over the totality of an ever-changing prospect database.

A marketing automation platform provides invaluable analytics and measurement necessary to improve lead quality. It also provides an overview of how each of your leads behaves in the sales funnel and how your marketing programs are affecting lead generation, sales and, most importantly, revenues. For best results, integrate your CRM system with your marketing automation platform.

Bottom line: Automate or suffer poor lead quality and mediocre sales results.

 

Fit-Interest matrix courtesy of HubSpot
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