Don’t pursue unqualified leads

Internet lead generation can be enough of a challenge, especially if you only staff a small team. But this prospect gets even trickier when your sales pipeline is full of low-quality leads. Year after year, attracting the right number of qualified prospects usually tops the list of challenges in surveys of B2B marketers, but many companies still do not have the right systems in place to improve this situation. An integrated marketing platform can help your team boost efficiency when it comes to sales pipeline management.

Handling your pipeline comes down to your lead generation practices. Many firms chase after the highest number of leads possible, but this is no guarantee of quality. If prospects aren’t a good fit for your product or service, there is little chance they will ever convert. In particular, many small companies may panic about the number of prospects they have to pursue and add leads to the pipeline that aren’t enough of a match. Quality should always take precedence over quantity because qualified leads have a much higher chance of converting, according to an article for Salesforce written by Joanne Black. In the past, sales representatives were taught to bring as many prospects as possible to the company, but this has all changed as new tools emerged to make the sales process easier. An integrated marketing environment can eliminate clogs in the pipeline and ensure you’re attracting better quality prospects in the first place.

Why you should focus exclusively on qualified leads

While it can be a scary proposition for smaller firms to have a shorter pipeline, qualified leads have a number of benefits that trump quantity every time. These prospects are less likely to haggle on the price of your product and will typically spend more, Black wrote. These clients are also a great source of referrals, which can ensure a healthier pipeline.

Although you may find yourself working with fewer clients, you can actually grow revenue in this way because these leads will be your ideal customers. There’s no sense in filling your feed with unqualified leads because these individuals will never convert and you could be wasting the time your salespeople have to interact with prospects who are really interested. Additionally, small companies typically have a limited lead generation budget, and focusing solely on qualified leads helps you make the most of your available resources.

Start the qualification process from the very beginning

Measuring how qualified a lead is can be a highly scientific process, which makes this difficult to accomplish without the right tools in place. It’s important to assess leads for fit as they enter your revenue funnel, Emma Vas wrote for Invenio. Most companies have criteria to determine how well a lead fits with your organization, but some businesses end up with a large number of unqualified leads because they ignore these characteristics in favor of having more leads to work with. An unqualified lead is a prospect who doesn’t meet any of the established criteria. In many cases, this means you should drop the pursuit. If your team constantly sees unqualified leads, it may be time to reassess your criteria. Some prospects may meet some but not all of the guidelines. These leads can be directed to nurturing campaigns to help buyers form a stronger connection to your organization.

This is where buyer personas come into play. These fictional representations of your ideal customers can help you get a better idea of the kinds of leads you should be targeting. The BANT Method works well for this purpose, according to Vas. This means asking if the lead has the budget, authority to make a decision, need for the product and timeline. These four items are widely used in B2B sales to determine if it’s worthwhile to follow up with a prospect, but you can add further characteristics to refine your targeting efforts. Black wrote that a lead’s industry, geographical location, company size and job role can all give additional evidence on fit. For example, some B2B firms may only target small companies or businesses in a particular region. Even if a prospect has the budget, decision-making authority and need, it won’t matter unless they meet the specific standards for your product.

An integrated marketing environment can help you create criteria for lead generation and qualification to ensure a healthier sales pipeline. Fewer leads is only a problem if they’re all unqualified. Establishing a more specific definition of a qualified lead can ensure your sales team is going after the right prospects, which will make them better able to close deals when the time comes. Working with your ideal customers is a lot easier than trying to chase cold leads.