Take a moment and think: Have you ever sat down to unwind in the evening, grabbed a cold drink, and pulled out your phone to browse Instagram, Pinterest, or your favorite blogs? Have you ever signed up for a free ebook? Perhaps a free guide? Maybe a coupon? If any of that sounds familiar, you have more than likely been considered a Qualified Lead!
What is a Qualified Lead, Anyway?
A Qualified Lead (QL) is someone a company has identified as a potential customer. Figuring out who is most likely to buy a specific product or service is key. If companies do not attempt to focus on who actually has the best chance of going from a lead to a sale, they are wasting valuable time and resources somewhere along the way.
A specific definition of a Qualified Lead is extremely important for a sales team, and they should revisit and reconsider it often. According to Hubspot, only 34% of companies with no formal definition were able to advance a lead to a first discussion more than half of the time. When the companies had clear definitions, that percentage increased to 63%!
How to Define a Qualified Lead in Your Business
Every company will define their Qualified Lead differently because each company caters to a unique type of customer. Therefore, individual marketing teams have to consider what criteria will truly give the insight they need. To define the target customer, they may consider:
What content is being downloaded?
What types of websites or social media do they interact with?
Is there a target demographic?
The marketing team encounters the potential customer first. With a solid digital marketing strategy, companies will attract attention from a variety of audiences. Qualified Leads will distinguish themselves through engagement with anything the marketing team puts out there. This may include podcast subscriptions, watching YouTube videos, or engagement with social media posts and ads . Qualified Leads may sign up for email updates/newsletters as well.
Many marketing strategies are depending more and more on providing free content. What better way to show expertise on a topic? For instance, say you are searching for more tips and tricks on marketing and increasing website traffic. You find a company with a free webinar giving you tons of useful information on the topic. You realize the company offers a fairly priced package with an analysis of your marketing approach and advice to improve your overall strategy. Now that you’ve seen that they know what they’re doing, why not go for the complimentary consultation? You have just become a Qualified Lead for the company, all because they earned your interest and trust through free content.
Customers need to show a certain level of interest in what the company has to offer. If this is not the case, is it truly worth the company’s time? Cold calling and prospecting is still a thing in the marketing realm, but it’s much more time and resource efficient to utilize leads. A Qualified Lead is based on actual market research and shows that the potential customer has already taken a few steps in the right direction. Research shows that people have often already made 50% of the buying decision before even talking to the sales team.
Types of Qualified Leads
There are different types of Qualified Leads. When the marketing team has identified someone as a Qualified lead, they are decently confident this could convert to a sale. This is a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL).
Once they hold up their end of the bargain, the marketing team hands the MQL over to the sales team. The sales team further evaluates the likelihood of the MQL becoming a paying customer. Sometimes the customer will express specific interest in taking the next step, giving the sales team even more reasons to proceed. Often the BANT system is utilized at this point:
Budget- Does the Qualified Lead have the money to buy the product/service?
Authority- Are they in a position to make the call to buy a product/service for their company? Are there other people within the company that would have to approve the purchase first?
Need- Does the QL have a problem that can be solved by the product/service?
Timeline- Does the QL potentially need the product soon? Or can they hold off for a while before truly needing to purchase?
If the sales team decides to proceed with the MQL, the MQL transitions to a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL).
This whole process seems straightforward, but nothing will work smoothly unless the company sales and marketing teams are on the same page. It benefits everyone to agree on the criteria for a Quality Lead. Not only does a company need to establish a definition in general, but marketing and sales need to decide on the definition together. Agreeing on QL criteria will optimize conversion rates and digital marketing strategies. How will any company know what’s working best if sales and marketing function as two completely separate entities?
Quality Leads are important and companies are out there using these QL’s to their advantage! Instead of cold-calling or pursuing just any “potential customer”, consider what your business can offer to entice the customer to come to you. How can you adjust your online/social media presence to attract people seeking certain information? What is in your toolbox that could bring your company Quality Leads? Optimize the time of your sales and marketing teams while still finding the customer that is the right fit!