Generating leads is important, but at some point you may realize that all leads are not created equal. Simply stated there are qualified and unqualified leads; you will have to learn to distinguish the two. There are various reasons as to why the prospect is not interested in purchasing: Maybe it’s not the right time. Maybe the price is an issue. Maybe there is interest...down the road. Maybe your contact is interested but has to talk to the decision maker... who is out of the country. So how do you overcome all of these obstacles to find the perfect lead?
The secret of how to generate quality sales leads is in knowing who your ideal customer is, being where they are (both online and in-person), and qualifying leads before they are entered into your sales pipeline.
How can you tell which leads will be promising? The answer is to step back to create not simply leads, but quality leads. Ask yourself these 6 questions as you seek to find quality leads:
Who benefits most from your product or service? This first question helps you identify the ideal end-user. Answer this question by looking at past customers who are thrilled with your offerings. It is helpful to create a document identifying just who you are targeting as you collect leads. This document could be as simple as a sticky note on your computer screen or an in-depth potential customer profile.
How can you help this customer solve their problems? Sales is ultimately about offering a solution to a problem. In order to help customers find the solution, it is essential to identify the problem. Again, look at past customers. What problems have you helped them solve? Providing a tent that is easy enough to set up in the dark? A software program that easily creates reports? Nutritious snacks that are easy to store?
The key in today’s market is to shift your mindset from selling to helping.“ When you talk about your own company, you’re selling,” says Jill Konrath, author of Selling to Big Companies. “Focus on the customer instead. That’s the antidote to selling,” Konrath explains.
Being able to articulate what problems your customers and potential customers are facing puts you in the position to understand their needs and offer real solutions. By focusing on the people you can help, you increase the quality of your leads.
You can identify your customers’ needs by talking to them or by gathering information through email or online surveys. Additionally, you can also add a comment box on your web forms asking for them to explain their biggest challenge, giving you further insight. The more you understand about the customer, the more you’ll be in a position to articulate their problems and provide a solution.
Are you where your customers are? Some of the highest quality leads come from networking and referrals. In other words, in-person contacts are still invaluable for many businesses. Places like trade shows and conferences are ideal to make contact with quality leads.
Of course, the Internet is also ideal for finding quality leads. A way to bring awareness to yourself is by creating tailored content for your customers for every stage of their buying process. Keep track of common questions during the buying process and create articles and infographics to answer those questions. The digital revolution has trained customers to do their research online rather than relying on the opinions of sales people. Catering to this behavioral shift, have a site that contains tailored content to allow your customers an online haven to become as informed as possible as they prepare to make a purchase.
Another way to find quality leads, if done right, is social media. Jill Rowley, author of Jill Rowley on #SocialSelling advises to retweet and post information your customers will find interesting. Again, the new rules of selling show us the importance of not being a salesperson but a trusted and knowledgeable advisor who is able to help in the decision making process.
Can they find you when they need to? Evaluate if you are positioned strategically to be available to customers. While this applies to physical space, it is also essential for your web presence. If you aren’t getting quality leads from your website, take the time to evaluate.
First, do you have a contact form so customers can contact you for more information? Web form entries can serve as a way to qualify sales leads, and they should be customized in order to get the best information possible. Additionally, make certain your contact information is easy to find on every page of your site, should customers prefer to contact you directly. One example of a great place to have this would be at the bottom of every page.
Another way to generate quality sales leads is by creating downloadable content addressing customer interests and challenges. Visitors who download your content show a higher interest and are therefore, a more qualified lead. Video content is another great tool to leverage in your favor. Searching YouTube for answers to problems has become a popular trend and a way for potential leads seek solutions.
Do you call them right away? This question is critical, especially in regards to online leads. Make sure you call anyone and everyone who has reached out. That’s right. Pick up the phone and call.
According to a study done by Harvard Business Review and MIT, 43% of search-related conversions happen on the phone. Other statistics point to the importance of not wasting time. Leads contacted within two minutes are four times more likely to buy than the average lead. Results will vary depending on the nature and ticket price of your goods or services, but the point remains, don’t put off that phone call. In fact, 63% of businesses consider phone calls their highest quality leads.
Do you qualify and score your leads? This question is essential as you seek to fill your sales pipeline with quality sales leads. All leads are not created equal. Just because someone fills out an online form, downloads content, or expresses passing interest doesn’t mean they should be entered into the sales pipeline. Most leads will need to be nurtured. Lead nurturing is much like planting a garden. You can’t plant seeds one day and hope to harvest the next. Gardens take water, weeding, and care. Leads, likewise need to be nurtured with helpful content and follow-up to ensure they have the information they need in their buying process.
In the meantime, only well-qualified leads should be entered into your pipeline. Jason Jordan of Vantage Point, explains, ”When salespeople enter only quality opportunities in the pipeline, “they’ll spend less time chasing junk and more time actually working on real deals.” While it may seem counterintuitive, fewer but better qualified leads in the pipeline will yield better sales results.
Remember, a well-qualified lead will have the right title as well as budget authority to make the decision. Additionally, a well-qualified lead will have an immediate need and interest. Qualified leads will also show a serious interest either by talking to a sales representative, or downloading and reading informative content from your website. In short, a qualified lead will look like other leads who have converted to customers.
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