Marketing-for-Leads Guide: Step 4 – Define “qualified sales lead”

Step 4: Determine the definition of a “qualified sales lead” with which marketing, sales and corporate management agree.

Your goal as a marketer is to help generate sales. Although there are some steps in closing sales that are out of your control, what you can do is identify qualified sales leads up front. If marketing, management and sales all agree from the start on what a qualified lead is, there is a better chance that you will generate leads that are valuable to the salespeople. It’s important to confirm the definition, in writing, with all parties. The definition of a qualified lead is different for each company, and each must do the work to define its own meaning of a qualified sales lead.

Typical definitions include criteria such as the following:

  • Does the prospect have a need or an application for your product or service?
  • What is the prospect’s role in the decision-making process?
  • What is the prospect’s timing for purchase or implementation?
  • What is the status of the prospect’s budget?
  • What is the size of the opportunity?

A prospect is a contact at a company who admits to a business problem, either latently or directly, that could be solved by a product and/or service that you are selling. Your role, as a marketer, is to give the prospect hope of solving his/her company’s problem. Here are a few examples:

Problem: The company’s current disparate computer systems require employees to perform redundant data entry, thus wasting time and reducing efficiency.
Solution: Your software product would enable single data entry.

Problem: The company’s managers suspect its truck drivers are wasting time on their routes, but they don’t know for sure.
Solution: Your global positioning system would allow management to track the location of each truck at all times.

Problem: The company relies on face-to-face meetings among employees located in various parts of the country, but it has recently slashed its travel budget. It can’t afford to send the employees to meetings that require air travel.
Solution: Your web-based conferencing service would make it possible for the company’s employees to meet “virtually” in cyberspace.

In addition to having a business problem that you can solve, qualified leads:

  • Have an established project in play. This is apparent if a solution task force has already been appointed or, for a small company, if the inquirer’s boss asked him/her to find a solution or make a recommendation.
  • Have the money to buy a solution, or are in the process of developing a budget.
  • Plan to purchase within a reasonable amount of time.
  • Have negotiated access to power. In other words, they can get you in front of the appropriate final decision-maker(s) when the time is right.

In addition to defining a qualified lead, you should create a glossary of standard terms defining what your company considers to be a “suspect,” a “prospect,” an “inquiry,” a “response,” a “qualified lead,” a “qualified suspect,” a “qualified prospect” and so forth. Again, sales, marketing and management need to agree on the definition of each term. This will avoid confusion later.

Download the complete Marketing-For-Leads Guide here

 

Marketing-for-Leads Guide: Step 3 – How much revenue needs to come from marketing’s leads?

Step 3: Determine the percentage of your company’s new business revenue that needs to come from marketing-generated leads.

This step in developing your marketing-for-leads plan focuses on determining how many leads your marketing programs need to generate so that the company can meet its sales revenue goals.

“Why bother with a marketing plan? We’ve got a sales team.”

Some people may get involved in an old argument, “Why do we need marketing? We have a robust sales force that is capable of bringing in sales. Why bother with a complicated marketing plan?” The fact is, even with a capable, motivated sales team—which includes a combination of salespeople, distributors, resellers and reps—you are generating less sales revenue than you could be if you relied on the efforts of the marketing team to find new business opportunities. In addition, if you depend only on the sales team, your cost of selling is probably higher than it needs to be.

In any business-to-business sales situation, salespeople typically find, on their own, about 40 percent of the new business opportunities needed to meet their company’s sales revenue goal. They develop sales opportunities through referrals, additional projects from past customers, potential customers they meet at networking events and past customers who have moved to new companies.

All of that works well for generating sales up to a point. Salespeople working on their own don’t generally reach the other 60 percent of sales potential for some very good reasons:

  • Salespeople’s quotas and compensation programs reward them for bringing in short-term sales—this week, this month, this quarter. Therefore, they have little incentive to work the longer-term opportunities.
  • Most people generally hate the rejection that results from cold calling. Salespeople are no different. They prefer to spend time with prospects that are ready to buy now, even though in reality those buyers represent only a fraction of sales opportunities.
  • Salespeople tend to spend most of their time with current customers.

So how can marketing for leads be used to identify the other 60 percent of sales opportunities and make the sales team more efficient overall? Lead-generation tactics such as email, direct mail, telemarketing and events are ideal for finding qualified sales leads so that salespeople can spend each sales call where it is most likely to generate revenue. Online marketing via websites that cater to your target audience is another cost-effective way to generate leads.

With the cost of a business-to-business sales call rising each year, companies cannot ignore the price tag associated with calling on prospects. By using the most efficient techniques to generate leads and investing in personal sales calls only when they have a greater potential to bring you closer to a closed sale, you automatically lower the cost of sales. The role of marketing for leads is to identify and nurture leads, moving them along to a point where the cost of a personal sales call, or a series of sales calls, becomes an investment in an actual sale.

Download the complete Marketing-For-Leads Guide here

 

Marketing-for-Leads Guide: Step 2 – How much new business do you need?

Step 2: Determine the percentage of your company’s revenue that needs to come from new business.

If your corporate goal is a twenty percent increase in sales, how much new business do you need to secure to meet that goal?

Say your annual sales revenue currently totals $10 million. At first, it may appear that you only need an additional $2 million in sales to meet your new goal for next year. However, if you also need to replace twenty percent of your sales revenue every year because of non-recurring sales, you will need to find an additional $2 million in sales during the next year just to stay even. So you will actually need an additional $4 million in new sales revenue to meet your goal.

The new-business-needed calculation

The following calculation will help you to determine the amount of sales revenue from new business your company will need to generate from marketing leads to meet its revenue goals.

  • Your company’s current annual sales revenue $ _______.
  • The percentage of business you typically lose during the course of the year
    x ________%.
  • The sales revenue from new business your company must generate during the next year just to stay even = $ ________.
  • Additional sales revenue from new business needed to meet your new target sales revenue goal + $ ________.
  • Total new business revenue needed to meet your target sales revenue goal
    = $ ________.

Download the complete Marketing-For-Leads Guide here

 

Marketing-for-Leads Guide: Step 1 – Set Goals

 

The primary objective of a successful B2B marketing program is to bring in new business. Marketing programs include many elements, ranging from brand building to market research. But no single part of a business-to-business marketing program is more important than generating qualified sales leads. “Marketing for leads” drives sales. Done correctly, it will increase the bottom line and help your company achieve its growth goals. Marketing programs that are bottom-line oriented focus on generating, nurturing and qualifying sales leads.

In this series of blog posts, you will learn, step by step, how to create a successful business-to-business marketing-for-leads program. For an outline of all the steps please see my article “Steps to Implementing a Marketing Plan That Drives New Business.”

Step 1: Set goals at three levels

To succeed, your marketing-for-leads plan must reflect sales goals. Therefore, your first step is to gather information needed to determine your company’s goals for sales revenue in the coming year.

Sales revenue goals need to be stated at three levels

  • Minimum goal What sales revenue do you need to stay in business without layoffs? How much revenue is required to meet payroll and cover other costs of doing business? What will it take to keep your company’s doors open?
  • Target goal Where would senior management like your company’s sales revenue to be? If you are at a current run rate of $4 million, and they say they want to grow 25 percent, your new sales revenue goal is $5 million.
  • Stretch goal If your management wants to get really aggressive, what revenue goals would they like to achieve? Perhaps they would like to double—or even triple—your company’s business in the coming year.

There is a straightforward way to determine your company’s sales revenue goals. Interview the senior executives at your company, either serially or in a joint meeting. The executives to interview include the business and financial decision-makers (e.g., chief executive officer, chief operating officer, president, owner, partner, chief financial officer, controller, head of accounting) and the internal customers of your marketing programs (e.g., vice president of sales, director of channel sales, sales manager).

Remember, you are looking to determine your minimum, target and stretch goals. If the executives describe the goal in terms of company growth rather than in dollars, convert it into a dollar figure. If the executives say they want the company to be the “biggest” in the industry, look at the sales revenue of all your competitors and set your sales revenue goal above that of the industry leader.

It is not uncommon for executives to have different answers about goals. If the various executives you interview state different opinions about corporate goals, you will need to negotiate a consensus. This may be as easy as pointing out the discrepancy to them.

Download the complete Marketing-For-Leads Guide here

 
Need help with B2B lead generation, marketing and sales?
For more information, please call Mac McIntosh at +1-401-294-7730, send him email at or visit www.sales-lead-experts.com