Lead Qualification - How Much Time & Effort Do You Invest In Identification?
Get A Better Conversion Rate By Targeting Better Prospects
This may seem obvious, and you're right... it is, but in practice the execution of this methodology is rarely used to its potential. In fact, often the common notion that "Oh, I just don't have time to identify and target prospects, I'm too busy for that" can in itself be the cause of all the busyness.
If you could spend 4 hours this week to save yourself 4 hours per week for the rest of your life, would you do it? Learn the two key areas to address and how to proceed...
The Business Lifecycle Graphically Explained
If you're like me, and 40% of the population, you'll learn best by Visual Representation. Let's start with an overview of how marketing turns into cash. Here's a Generic Business Lifecycle;
Now, terminology will change from person to person, from company to company, from industry to industry, from business type to business type, and from country to country. The process may also miss a step or two, but all in all this is the generic process. Let's look at each step briefly;
Campaign: These are Marketing activities. i.e. an Advert in a magazine, this year's Yellow Pages Ad, a direct mail letter to your database, a PR campaign.
Lead: A lead is someone who has shown interest in your product, service or company. Perhaps they made an enquiry from your website or gave you a call... but normally they need to have found out about your company through a marketing campaign or a lead source, like a referral.
Opportunity: Once a lead has been qualified (meaning that we now know more about them through questions and we want to deal with them), they become a genuine opportunity to make a sale.
Quote/Proposal: In some businesses or for some products/services there is now a quote or proposal or tender required. For others they just go straight to an order, but for other businesses this quoting is a critical and often time wasting area of business. Some businesses also have this lengthen with a negotiation process to follow after a quote or proposal.
Order/Contract: This is when the deal is done, we get the go ahead to proceed, a purchase order is received, or a contract is signed.
Fulfilment: This is perhaps the biggest area for differences between businesses. This is because it is actually doing what it is your company does. Generically it can be broke down into four business types;
- Services Companies (Project Management i.e. scheduling, resource allocation, time billing, materials/parts/products/expenses)
- Wholesale/Distribution Companies (Pick/Pack/Shipping/Tracking, Inventory Management)
- Retail Companies (Inventory Management, Point of Sale (POS))
- Manufacturing Companies (Materials and supply chain management)
Invoice: Accurately pulling the different components together that make up the total invoice and aligning and communicating payment terms are want invoicing is about.
Accounting: This is the function of Accounts Receivable Management, doing everything in our power to make sure invoices are paid on-time and followed up on if overdue.
Support: Most businesses support their customers in some way, particularly on-going services companies, handling calls and questions and issues.
The Link From Business Lifecycle To Better Targeting
The first two areas in the business lifecycle, Campaign and Lead, represent the 2 key areas to address. Let's examine each;
- Campaigns: This is more of a marketing issue really, and I'll deal with it in more depth in an upcoming article, but it is worth recognising that if you target the wrong people then you will either end up with a lower response or a large response but in the wrong target market. If it is the later you get, you'll have heaps of enquiries which are a waste of time. Better targeting will solve this.
- Leads: With respect to the business area of Sales, and more specifically... improving conversion rates, then ‘Leads' is our key area to focus on regarding identification and targeting. It is your qualification process. If you do not invest a few minutes asking some simple questions and qualify the lead, to be satisfied enough to be able to say "yes, this person represents a genuine and likely opportunity to make a sale", then you run a huge risk of wasting lots of time going through your sales process of meetings or whatever with people that are just never going to or are highly unlikely to buy the products or services you are trying to sell!
Focus On Lead Qualification To Save Time & Improve Your Conversion Rate
All it takes is to sit down, by yourself, with your team, with your adviser and write a list of questions to ask people over the phone, so simple really. You can use this with in-bound enquiries or for out-bound strategies. What questions do you ask? Well, simply follow this process to uncover your businesses qualification questions....
- 1)Think about the problem you and your business solve for people or the need that your business fulfils. Write this down, along with any thoughts you have about this issue.
- 2)Now consider; who are your best customers, or who would you like to be dealing with? List some names and write their common attributes down in 4 areas;
- a.Demographics (tells us who an audience is),
- b. Psychographics (describe their attitudes and opinions),
- c. Behaviour (tells us what they are doing),
- d. Purchases (tells us what product or service they buy for how much)
- 3) Your list of attributes are in fact the common variables that describe your best customers or the customers you wish to deal with, this is your ideal target market. And you really only want to be spending time with this target market, so to do this your questions need to be designed with the objective of building a quick profile of your ‘lead' and see how that measures up against your ideal target market profile. You'll soon see if they are "qualified" and represent a good ‘opportunity' to make a sale, or if they are just not in your target market and you would be better referring them to another business or sending them some information via eMail and not proceeding to your sales process with them.
Example basic qualifying questions
Generic (Business-to-Business & Business-to-Consumer)
- What Suburb/City/Country are you in (geographical area)?
- What particular Product or Service are you interested in?
- What is it about that product or service that is of interest to you?
- What outcome are you looking to achieve?
- What's your biggest issue with......?
- Timeframe, so tell, how soon did you want to proceed/get underway/make a decision?
- Number of employees?
- Annual Revenue?
- Business Type?
This week's Action Points...
In the past I've made the mistake of not valuing this ‘qualification step' or slipping back to old habits and leaving qualification out, both mistakes were to my detriment. Get some of your time back by doing this, not necessary but incredibly beneficial, step in your business today.