Lead generation is both an art and a science, it takes dedication and precision in skill and experience to create and deliver successful campaigns which produce high quality B2B sales leads. As a business, generating these leads and turning them into paying customers is an inescapable principle of thriving in the competitive IT and technology market sectors.
With such a focus placed on generating leads, both sales and marketing must consider the steps needed to both increase the volume without diminishing the quality of leads produced.
Qualifying a B2B sales lead?
With B2B sales leads of a high quality being the life blood of a successful inside sales team, understanding what qualifies as a ‘lead’ is key. With both sales and marketing involved in the lead generation process it is essential that an understanding is reached on what defines a lead. Quantifying the perfect customer into an applicable buyer persona takes input from both teams and will include consideration areas like:
- Company’s annual turnover
- Employee/IT user numbers
- Job title
- Purchasing power
- Project time scales
Knowing the answer to each of these points is critical in determining the quality of your leads and in identifying the true sales leads which will convert into highly valuable paying customers and the ones who are never likely to materialise into anything of worth.
In such a high intensity environment, sales can’t afford to be chasing wild geese or elusive leads which means that the lead qualification processes established by both sales and marketing is critical.
Building the relationship between sales & marketing
Establishing a firm definition of a ‘sales lead’ requires a healthy smarketing relationship to exist between the sales and marketing teams. By clearly defining expectations and achieving equal commitment to the delivery of internal SLAs, goals and targets can the two teams be joined in the overall process of organisational lead generation and the delivery of enough sales qualified leads to grow the pipeline.
Converting MQLs to SQOs
Lead generation starts with marketing, and it is through their hands that a lead first passes. Working with sales, marketing must determine which of the overall lead qualification criteria must be identified and met before being deemed ready for sales attention.
How to generate quality B2B sales leads
To ensure the maximum number of MQls generated are converted to highly qualified sales leads, these 4 steps should be considered:
1. Widen the net
In order for your lead generation campaigns to drive results you need to ensure the pool of potential prospects you are hoping to engage with is wide enough. From an inbound perspective, this makes growing the volume of traffic to your website the primary goal.
Encouraging more of the right kind of visitor to visit your website is key to driving inbound lead generation as it provides the greatest opportunity to drive engagement and lead conversions.
For marketing to implement the strategies needed to achieve these increased levels, a developed understanding of the targeted buyer personas, and how they progress through their purchasing journey is key. Included in the development of organisational buyer personas should be the insights gathered by sales as the interact with both qualified prospects and customers. The knowledge and experience sales can provide on prospect behaviour can prove invaluable in search engine optimisation strategy development and content creation – both key elements in a strategy designed to drive the volume of website traffic.
Form a direct perspective, this includes ensuring that the database you are working with is up-to-date and relevant to your basic lead qualification criteria. Data enrichment and profiling campaigns are also essential in ensuring that the data set you are working with contains the right types of prospects in terms of decision making authority. Whilst also providing accurate phone and email details, giving your inside sales team the greatest number of opportunities to find and qualify sales leads.
2. Converting website traffic
Having traffic visit your website is just the first step in generating qualified sales leads, being able to identify them and collect their details is a key next step. Converting your website traffic relies on having a solid content offer which compels them to interact with your website and leave their details in exchange for downloading it.
To ensure you are converting the right kind visitors – the ones who will go on to become sales leads – your website must be optimised with content which speaks directly to the goals and challenges of your personas. What’s more to maximise your conversion rate potential you should ensure that the content held on your website is primed to address the needs of all stages of the buyer’s journey.
With sales providing marketing with their input on the types of content which will resonate most effectively within the market place, the content created can then be perceived as being of a much higher value. The more valuable a prospect deems a content piece the more information they are likely to leave in exchange; allowing more information to be collected about them; aiding in the profiling and qualification processes.
The more information which is collected in the conversion pathways, the better able you are to determine a leads potential quality and their readiness for sales engagement.
3. Nurture contacts into leads & opportunities
Not everyone in a sales database is a sales qualified lead, but that doesn’t mean they never will be. Nurturing your leads from the first initial point of contact all the way through to a paying customer can take time and require multiple touch points. To ensure that the greatest percentage of your leads make this journey and aren’t lost due to inattention requires a structured follow up process and for clearly defined ownership of roles and responsibilities split across both sales and marketing.
Understanding when a lead passes from the hands of marketing and into sales requires a well-established lead scoring system which enables everyone to quickly identify the progress of any particular lead and the next steps required. This also enables both teams to prioritise the leads being generated and ensure the most relevant are progressed to sales for qualification.
In order to take ownership of the nurturing process and generate qualified leads effectively sales need to be empowered to reach out to their leads with tailored emails, relevant content and valuable resources specific to each prospect’s unique place in their buyer’s journey.
Marketing automation tools are an excellent platform for creating complete transparency in the development in the development of a prospect; gathering intelligence as they progress throughout their buyer’s journey and clearly transition from the responsibility of marketing to sales. Their ability to empower both sales and marketing in the lead generation process means the number of qualified sales opportunities identified and converted into customers can be maximised.
4. Convert leads into customers
For sales, the final step in the journey of a fully qualified B2B sales lead is the moment in which they convert into a customer. Reaching this point within the B2B, IT and technology sectors requires sales to have developed a strong relationship and rapport with their prospects.
The role of a sales person in the buying cycle has moved away from the traditional and perhaps stereotypical one of old. Today, sales must assume the position of trusted advisor offering relevant and insightful support in finding an appropriate solution to the challenges faced by each prospect.
From the first point of contact right through to the closing stages, sales must be seen to be providing their leads with the resources and information they need to make an informed decision.
Building this relationship of trust is a key step in generating high quality sales leads and is of the utmost importance in converting them into long standing customers.
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