Generating high volumes of leads is easy – there, I’ve said it! [James kicks the cat in the direction of the pigeons, expecting to ruffle a few feathers!] Generating a constant flow of higher quality leads and continually improving the quality is not so easy, but certainly worth some effort.
I think it’s reasonable to assume that every business strives to improve the quality of inbound leads – maximising the effectiveness of marketing budgets and reducing the time wasted servicing leads that amount to little or nothing. In order to improve lead quality, there needs to be a way of measuring it – understanding what quality means and learning how it can be influenced.
CRM systems facilitate the scoring of leads – which is great. Although it still blows my mind how many businesses don’t even have a CRM, let alone use them to their full extent! Most CRMs can integrate with 3rd party services to receive rich information about prospective clients. But, the information is limited and doesn’t do anything to consider the detail of what’s really important to a specific business.
Lead Scoring for the Bean-Counters!
Typically, credit reference agencies like Experian can provide a feed of instantaneous financial data – anything that’s filed at Companies House and anything that’s compiled to substantiate a company’s credit rating. This will include an indication of the size of a company by headcount and revenue, their industry classification, credibility of their directors, any outstanding disputes, their overall credit worthiness… everything you might want to know if you’re considering offering a line of credit to a prospective client – providing some reassurance that they’re not a high risk, but offering no guarantees.
Propensity Scoring for the Internet-Stalkers!
Companies like Lead Forensics pride themselves on being able to provide detailed information on individual website visitors, including their contact details, but even more spookily, details of the actions visitors take before and after visiting your website – suggesting that certain actions can demonstrate a greater readiness to buy, or a propensity to buy. The theory being that if someone has visited similar websites, left and then found your website, visited a certain number of pages, downloaded a piece of premium content… etc… they’re more likely to be open to having a conversation with you, so you should apparently pick up the phone and freak them out with your spooky internet stalking skills!
‘Lead Scoring’ and ‘Propensity Scoring’ do have their place. If you’re selling items from stock or selling a very repeatable service, then you’re unlikely to worry too much about the company or the individual who is asking to buy it. If their financials stack up, you might offer 30 day terms. If their actions trigger an auto-alert in your CRM, you might have your sales team pick up the phone. But, if you’re providing a service where there’s an intellectual and emotional investment in the work, you’ll want to enjoy what you’re doing and like who you’re working with… especially when you’re applying yourselves and having to work very hard.
Quality Scoring for the Real-Marketeers!
If you’re looking to build longterm relationships, with the most strategically advantageous clients, you’ll need to gauge the quality of prospective clients. And, you’re probably doing it already, based on instinct alone. You’ll be considering how professional does the company appear, how closely aligned are their requests with what you offer, can you demonstrate that you have the necessary experience, how complicated will it be to deliver the work, where are they based, what impact will the project have on cash, do you have capacity in the required departments, could this be a longer term partnership, are the visions of the two companies compatible… etc… intuitively and subconsciously, you’ll be assessing loads of criteria and very quickly building a picture of whether prospective business is giving you a good gut-feeling.
I’m a strong believer in intuition and gut-feeling, but I’m also a believer in harnessing the power of data to improve the effectiveness of marketing!
Intuition is only manageable if there’s one or two people responsible for nurturing prospective clients and those individuals are very much aligned in their appreciation of what makes for good business. But, if there’s a wider team, their views are likely to be different – they might not have a full appreciation of the intricacies of the whole business and what impact certain types of work might have to operations. Or their care for quality might be diminished due to financial incentives and their motivation to meet sales targets.
And, if you’re looking to improve the quality of inbound leads generated through particular marketing activities, you’ll need to be able to describe what quality looks like in order to provide meaningful feedback to internal or external marketing teams – enabling them to refine activities purposefully, without repeatedly stabbing in the dark in the hope they’ll eventually hit the mark.
What Does Quality Look Like?
Everything is different for every business – how can a business truly differentiate if everything is the same. The things that are important to you might be completely obscure, but absolutely brilliant – this could also be the source of your next marketing magic. The things that are important to someone else, might not even blip your radar. What’s important is that you understand what matters to you and that you can establish an effective way of measuring this.
Understanding the criteria is the first step towards making work easier, more rewarding, enjoyable, meaningful, valuable, productive, positive… whatever you want or all of the above. The types of clients that send shivers down your spine and fill your team with dread will be identifiable and filtered out through the sales process. You’ll have greater work satisfaction and your team will be buzzing with energy and enthusiasm. Ultimately, you’ll have a more profitable business – because if you can’t profit from a more energised team doing more of the work they enjoy… well?!
Make Lead Quality Your Primary Metric
The sooner you start thinking about marketing in terms of quality, the sooner you’ll be able to start collecting useful data and using data to refine your marketing proactively to improve the quality of your inbound leads.
As the title suggests, lead quality has become an obsession of ours – we’ve established a methodology for helping clients understand what quality means to them, in order to report lead quality alongside other marketing data, including marketing spend and conversion attribution. Once we’ve got a process in place, we can understand which marketing activities are generating the highest quality leads and adapt marketing accordingly.
Give us a call and let’s figure out what quality means to your business and see if we can significantly improve the quality of your inbound leads.
Remember… quantity is easy. It’s quality that really matters in B2B.