Is This a Lead, an Opportunity, Or is It …?

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Two off the hottest topics in sales and marketing are finding/generating leads and then turning those into opportunities. Social excels at both. Still, I see a lot of confusion between what constitutes a lead, an opportunity, or something that will most likely be found on a roll in the smallest room of the family home. In the end, every lead will become either an opportunity (something that you can work through your pipeline) or … that other thing.

Lead scoring (which is another social strength) can go a long way toward determining whether or not the lead in question is a good lead (qualified) or a crummy lead (unqualified). Let’s take a look at leads generated by web marketing activity and then those that may be generated by sales directly. But, before we do that …

Are we dealing with the M.A.N.?

The first thing we need to understand is that, for a lead to be any good at all, we have to be able to answer “yes” to these three questions about the lead…

  1. Do they have the money?
  2. Do they have the authority to spend it?
  3. Do they have a need that we can satisfy?

We would call this person “the M.A.N.” (money, authority, need) and, without all three, what you have is little more than a roll of tissue.

Be willing to experiment

One of the key responsibilities of marketing is to create qualified leads for sales. This is done through a combination of building brand awareness while at the same time capturing interested parties (leads). This is commonly done via contact forms on web pages. From this point, lead nurturing and scoring begins. Remember, this person has now opted into a message by filling out the form to begin with, so, at the very least, we know that there is some level of interest.

What needs to happen next is to match the level of interest to the buyer and, the higher the score, the more qualified the lead. The web itself can provide many clues to be used in determining this score. Some of the factors that might be considered include:

  • Title
  • Company name
  • Industry
  • Annual revenues
  • Number of employees
  • Web pages visited, visit frequency, and time spent on each page
  • The web offer that they may have accepted for download

Too much or too little?

All of this data, and more, will go a long way toward determining a lead score, but, even a great web form is forced to perform a delicate dance … how much information, and what information, can we request (require) and still have people fill out the form? If we request too much information, qualified buyers may not wish to take the time, or they may not be so inclined to share your requested data. If too little is asked, you may end up with more potential leads even though they will likely be tougher to qualify or possibly, on the surface, unqualified.

It takes a willingness to experiment (A/B testing is a popular way to do this) with:

  • Your call-to-action which entices folks to accept your offer
  • Your (probably free) offer in return for providing the contact information
  • Your required fields in order for them to obtain your offer

Once somebody completes the form, what happens next? How fast will the information be disseminated to sales or perhaps to the person who follows up and does the initial qualifying? Or, does it go nowhere? I know of one well recognized company that, by the time I hit “submit” on the form on their website, my phone is already ringing. I am not puffing up this example. This may be a little too fast (it is for me) but, somebody has to follow-up in a timely manner and this action needs to be recorded and accounted for (or why do any of this)?

Web lead capturing also points out another interesting phenomenon that has evolved as a result of social media and web marketing specifically. Over 80% of potential customers do their research and make some sort of informed decision before they ever actually contact a company and/or its sales staff. This is a dramatic shift in buyer behavior!

What about leads that are being handled by sales?

Still, not all leads come to us via internet interactions. Some leads are:

  • Generated by salespeople
  • Delivered via phone
  • Arrive to us in an email

How are salespeople generating leads? Traditional methods would dictate outbound prospecting by either phone or foot. Social sales would favor many of the same techniques that are being utilized by today’s modern marketing departments. Generating and qualifying new leads has always been a sales responsibility and, as a salesperson, you simply cannot afford to ignore the power of social media as a selling tool!

I’m a salesperson (and a solo entrepreneur) and I have never taken a marketing class let alone worked one single day in this field. But, marketing has always been a part of sales and, if it earns commissions, I’m a marketer too.

With the lines becoming blurred between sales and marketing, with salespeople carrying some of the traditional marketing load on their own shoulders, help create more of an alignment. Now, instead of a fog, we have a coordinated effort. Ultimately, ALL leads need to be qualified by sales.

New buyer behaviors also raise interesting questions. Having navigated the gauntlet of free web info, is a particular buyer, when they finally come to us in person, a player? Maybe yes and maybe no. You still have to ask questions. How did they hear about us and what have they heard? In the old days, folks used a phone book. Today, you better be visible online and able to be easily discovered.

What are you doing as a salesperson to generate and score leads?

About the Author:

Craig Jamieson

This monthly Social Sales column is contributed by Craig M. Jamieson. Craig has been in B2B sales since 1977 and during that time has served in a variety of positions including; sales manager, division sales manager, national sales manager, district manager, and as a business owner. He is the managing partner of Adaptive Business Services in Boise, Idaho which owns and operates NetWorks! Boise Valley B2B Networking Groups, is a Nimble Social CRM & HootSuite Solution Partner, a TTI Performance Systems VAA, and Craig also conducts workshops and seminars relating to sales and social business applications. +Craig Jamieson

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