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The Essential Steps of Inbound Marketing Lead Qualification

November 10, 2016 Daniel Berry

One of the great benefits of inbound marketing is that, if you do it right, you can avoid the breakdown in communication between sales and marketing. The information a sales team can mine from inbound marketing is robust, actually.

Inbound marketing gives sales teams complete lead intelligence.

In other words, sales teams will receive information on an individual leads’ engagement, download history and social media presence. Through this information, a sales representative will know how to tactically engage with a specific lead. 

Typically, as part of a “kickoff” meeting, the sales team will inform the inbound marketing team what they deem as a marketing qualified lead (MQL). This is the de facto hand off point from inbound marketing to sales, so this definition is especially important.

Every company will have their own distinct version of an MQL, but must similarly narrow down the leads that are genuinely interested and a good fit for the company. Here are the steps to doing just that:

  1. Is the Lead a Good Fit? You could segment your ideal leads in many ways. You might have a preference for companies of a certain size (at least 4,000 employees) or revenue ($10 million annually). You might also be interested in speaking to specific lead profiles (i.e. CEO, CMO, influencer, buyer, etc.).
  2. Is the Lead Interested? Inbound marketing can glean plenty of information detailing a lead’s interest in a company. A lead that barely browses your website or interacts with a single social post isn’t showing any significant interest. Someone that schedules a free consultation or tour, however, shows considerable interest.
  3. Good Fit and Interested: If interest and fit converge, these leads become top priority for sales and will require immediate follow-up — ideally within a 24-hour timeframe. Studies have shown that the faster the follow-up from sales to the qualified lead, the higher the conversion percentage.
  4. Interest, But Not a Great Fit: These people have shown genuine interest, but do not necessarily match with the ideal customer profile. In this case, sales should proceed with a low-cost follow-up to see if there’s a potential opportunity.
  5. Good Fit with Less Interest: For leads that have shown to be a good fit, but haven’t actively engaged with the brand, these individuals will require additional nurturing from the inbound marketing team. Through additional nurturing, leads will generally become more willing to enter a more serious relationship with a company.
  6. No Interest or Fit: If neither a good fit nor interest exists among certain leads, they aren’t worth the time of the sales team. They become low priority for the inbound marketing team and can be taken out of a company’s communication stream entirely.

For inbound marketing to be effective, sales and marketing must be aligned. It all starts with proper lead qualification.

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