The most effective lead strategy methods are constantly changing, and for your company to succeed, you must evolve with them. If you aren’t reassessing your business plan and lead strategy tactics at least once a year, you’re missing out on opportunities to find new prospects.
We’ve compiled a list detailing the top lead strategy approaches for 2021, coupled with impressive statistics that will make you want to get started using them today.
Because consumers check their email 20 times per day on average, the logical place to start thinking about lead strategy is email marketing. This type of marketing is a great way to update customers about new features or products you have available, and more importantly, nurture potential new customers into purchasing your product for the first time.
The first step in developing an email marketing strategy is to implement a tracking pixel into your email campaigns. The tracking pixel will provide better statistics to measure email engagement and give real-time data. Use software that will integrate with website data for the most accurate view of users’ behaviors.
With only 25% of leads ending up being legitimate and converting into actual sales, a lead nurturing campaign based on software with cutting edge data analytic tools is imperative for trimming the other 75% of leads that have no realistic chance of ending in positive sales outcomes. You can create lead nurturing campaigns with marketing automation workflows you set up, and then relevant information is automatically sent to the prospect based on what they viewed on your website.
If you don’t already send out a newsletter, you need to start. Newsletters are a great way to inform your current customers of your complete service or product offerings in order to cross-sell them on other services they need.
In the US, 75% of marketers generate their leads through event marketing. At events, you get to meet with people who are more likely to be interested in the services or products you provide since events all have a common theme or industry they serve. Also, conferences are a great place to show people your company’s brand and let them know what you stand for. Although in this new reality we all should think more about the future of sales.
Meet New People Through Networking
Networking—it’s been around longer than the internet, and it’s still important to include in your lead strategy. Networking is one of the best ways to build a great foundation to get to know other people who may potentially be interested in your services.
When you start going to trade shows, you can expect to see 5% to 20% of your new customer base being acquired at these events. When networking, you need to remember you’re not meeting these people with the intent of selling to them.
You’re simply making new business connections. Even if you’re able to help them, or you can sell them something they need, it shouldn’t be your top priority when attending networking events.
Cold Calling The Right Prospects
You might hear people say cold calling is dead, but the fact of the matter is, in 2020 cold calling was still relevant. When you combine this tactic with the right tools, it can be extremely effective.
Use a lead intelligence tool that can identify website visitors and provide you with their information. This way, you’re only calling people who are interested in your services.
90% of people say a video helps them in making their buying decisions, and 64% say seeing a video makes them more likely to purchase: Creating video content is a must.
You can start creating video content by hosting live and recorded webinars. Create a content calendar where you can schedule out topics as well as dates and times when the webinar will go live. Then, send people emails asking them to sign up for the webinar, and promote it on your social media channels.
Another way to get started with video content is by going live on social media platforms. You can do this from your smartphone, and you’ll notice you reach a larger audience compared to the response you receive from a standard image or video posts.
3.5 billion people are on some social media platform, making it an expansive marketplace to start reaching new people who fit your target demographic(s).
Facebook is great if you’re looking for a less formal way to reach your potential customers. 32% of Facebook users regularly engage with different brands on the platform, so you can expect people to engage with your page.
Post interesting content and images that will grab people’s attention and you can quickly build a large audience, even without advertising on Facebook. If you do decide you want to use Facebook advertising, you can do so without spending a lot of money. The average cost per click on a Facebook ad is $1.72.
LinkedIn is one of the best places for B2B companies to generate leads and is a must-have in your lead strategy. 89% of B2B marketers admit to using the platform for their lead generation. LinkedIn is also a powerful platform for international businesses, with 70% of its users located outside the US.
One of the best tools LinkedIn offers to aid in your lead strategy is their lead generation forms. These are specific ads that run on LinkedIn and are geared towards getting people to fill out their information so you can contact them about their product or service.
These lead generation forms work so well because people are actively engaging with you by volunteering their information, with the understanding that you’re going to reach out to them. That individual is no longer a cold lead; that person has now been converted to a warm lead ready to receive your pitch.
For companies that have an actual product and not a service, Instagram is a great place to showcase it. The platform only allows posts with images or videos, making it the perfect venue for grabbing attention with eye-catching photos. 90% of Instagram users follow one or more businesses, so posting on this platform can yield great results.
Public Relations Strategy
Most companies only look at public relations (PR) strategies after something bad has happened. But that’s like looking at buying car insurance after you have had an accident. With the majority of people having a cell phone and the ability to share videos online, your company could find itself facing a PR disaster overnight.
Consider hiring a PR manager if you don’t already have one. And work with them to start doing community outreach and implement positive campaigns before a crisis occurs. Be sure to fully inform employees about your company’s values and its guiding mission to prevent anyone from doing something that could be detrimental to your business. PR may not give you immediate leads, but its ability to aid you in cultivating your company brand is well worth the investment of time and resources.
Create A Content Marketing Plan
Blogging generates 3 times as many potential customers compared to outbound marketing, and it also costs 62% less than traditional marketing campaigns, making it a powerful lead strategy. However, it’s not enough to just create content and post it to your site; you need to have a plan that includes the following tactics:
Search Engine Optimization Plan
It would be nonproductive to create content, only to find you’re not showing up in search results. Or that people simply aren’t interested in the content you’re providing. This is why you need to create a search engine optimization (SEO) plan. This way you can understand the types of information your customers are searching for and develop your content accordingly.
A Link Building Strategy
A backlink is an incoming link from one website to yours and is an important factor Google weighs when deciding where your website should rank. To gain more backlinks, you need to look for opportunities to guest post on blogs within your industry. For example, if you’re a web app designer, check out these 11 blogging platforms that specialize in web development and volunteer to write guest posts.
Keep Your Website Updated
A good content marketing plan can easily go wrong if you have a bad or outdated website. Google recommends websites aim for a loading time that’s less than 2 seconds. If you create a great article or guide that you know your target customer would love to read, but it takes too long for the page to load, odds are most people will not have the patience to wait and see it.
Therefore, keeping your website updated is an essential component of your lead generation plan and be sure to know all you need about inbound vs outbound marketing.
Start Generating Leads Today
Now that you know the top lead strategies for 2021, it’s time to get started. Check out this informative post on B2B lead generation strategies for additional information.
If you spend more of your time scouring the internet for leads than actually closing deals, consider adding lead capture pages to your marketing strategy. With lead capture pages, you can automatically populate your CRM with fresh, highly qualified prospects, letting you spend more time connecting with people and less time combing through lead databases.
Best of all, lead capture pages can be implemented quickly. With the right software and strategies, you can get a lead capture page up, running, and working for your business in no time. Before you know it, you’ll find new leads for your business without lifting a finger.
A lead capture page is an essential component of an inbound marketing strategy. Visitors usually land on the page after searching for business solutions or learning about your company through social media, blog posts, or search engines.
A lead capture page attracts potential customers by offering a free resource, such as a white paper, report, or trial of a product. In exchange, the prospect fills out a short form with their contact information. This supplies your sales team with a continual source of leads.
The info collected from a lead capture page is then uploaded to your CRM, becoming the foundation of any contact record in your sales pipeline. Once you’ve identified a lead, lead intelligence software can uncover additional details about a prospect, analyze how engaged they are, and offer insights into how to best communicate with that person.
How Lead Capture Pages Help Sales Teams
Between calling clients and closing deals, your salespeople are busy enough. Lead capture pages give them the freedom to focus on these high-touch tasks and understand their prospects better.
Find qualified leads on autopilot
An efficient lead capture page reduces the time your salespeople would otherwise spend trawling LinkedIn or contact databases for leads. It also automatically begins the qualification process, as leads who express interest in your offerings are likely to be more receptive than cold leads to communications from your sales team.
Gain insight into prospects
Manual lead generation can’t compare to the level of contact enrichment that lead capture pages help provide. Many programs that build and run lead capture pages can take the data submitted and use it as a launchpad to uncover tons of other details about leads. This gives your sales reps a greater understanding of who they’re selling to.
Score and prioritize leads
If members of your sales team often wonder which leads they should prioritize over others, a lead capture page can help. When used in tandem with lead scoring software, you can analyze the online behavior of leads captured from a web form and more accurately predict which ones are likely to buy. That way, sales reps know exactly who to focus their energy on and who they can pass on.
15 Lead Capture Page Software Options
Many tools with lead capture page functions come packed with additional features that help you get more from your leads. These software options usually fall under one of three categories:
Lead capture page software with lead intelligence and nurturing
CRMs with lead capture page builders
Landing page builders
Lead Capture Page Software with Lead Intelligence and Nurturing
Act-On integrates with your CRM to help you attract, convert, nurture, and score leads with ease. Its web form builder tracks conversion rates and the source of form visits so you know which of your marketing efforts are working best.
Automatically starts sending drip campaigns to leads
Comes with features that help score leads based on their website activity, so sales reps know their level of engagement
Easier to use than direct competitors like Marketo
Incredibly feature-rich and on the pricier side, so it’s not feasible for many small and medium-sized businesses
Karta was designed as the most complete marketing and sales solution on the market. It touches almost every aspect of the customer journey, from letting you build lead capture pages to scoring and prioritizing leads for your sales team.
Includes lead tagging and scoring features
Doesn’t require integrations to manage all aspects of your business
Zoho CRM, one of the top-rated CRMs available, comes packed with features like web forms for lead generation. The tool can meet your customers at every stage of their lifecycle, from marketing to customer support.
Drag and drop web form builder makes it easy to launch lead capture pages in minutes
Multiple levels of billing is great for businesses that plan to scale up
The interface is so user-friendly, many customers claim not to need training before getting started
Customers report that importing and exporting leads sometimes leads to corrupted files
Emails generated by Zoho CRM can sometimes get sent to leads’ spam or blocked entirely
Instapage started as a dynamic landing page builder but has since transformed into an advertising conversion cloud. With Instapage, you have all the tools you need to optimize your advertising funnel and turn more leads into customers.
Create an entire advertising funnel to attract visitors to your web forms, then convert them into leads
Automates the process of creating multiple landing pages that match the messaging of your social media or search engine ads
Drag and drop landing page builder creates stunning lead capture pages with no coding required
Doesn’t integrate with email marketing platforms like ConvertKit, so you’ll need to find a workaround if you want to start automatically nurturing new leads from form submissions
Unbounce offers many of the same features as Instapage but at almost half the price. Small businesses that want to build unique lead capture pages to match all their ads will love Unbounce’s functionality and affordability.
Drag and drop builder lets you collaborate with team members and make edits in real-time
Lets you create pop-ups and sticky bars for even more lead capturing opportunities
Uses A/B testing to automatically optimize pages for the best conversions
The builder isn’t as intuitive as some of its competitors, so new users should expect a slight learning curve
Certain landing page features require additional coding
Mailchimp has long since upgraded from an email marketing tool to an all-in-one marketing platform, offering features like a landing page builder, conversion rate tracking, and even free domains.
Easy to integrate with almost any tool
Start building and hosting landing pages for freet
Its paid version is the most affordable of its competitors, making it ideal for small or new businesses
A landing page builder isn’t nearly as dynamic as others on this list
Limited segmentation ability
No plugin with Spotify
Cost: Mailchimp’s paid plans start at $9.99 per month.
Tips for Creating an Optimized Lead Capture Page
Not all lead capture pages are created equal. To maximize your conversions, there are certain best practices you should keep in mind when designing a form.
Limit the fields in the lead form
Having too many fields, especially ones that feel irrelevant or invasive, can lead many visitors to navigate away before they finish completing the form. The quicker a visitor can enter their info, the more likely they are to convert.
For example, visitors who want to sign up for a free trial of LeadBoxer only have to enter their email address to get started.
This is presumably so attendees can receive the link and a calendar reminder for the webinar. If Kinsta were to ask for less relevant information, such as company name or job title, visitors might be put off and leave the page before completing their registration.
Choose the right positioning for the lead form
There are three places you can position the lead capture form: above the fold, at the bottom of a page, or in a pop-up. Each has different benefits.
If the form is above the fold, that means you can see the form at the top of the page without having to scroll. This type of form is quick to grab a visitor’s attention and works best when used as a post-click landing page for a search engine or social media ad.
This method keeps visitors focused on the form, so they’re less likely to be distracted by other links or elements on the page before submitting their info.
The info collected through lead capture pages is sensitive enough to qualify as personal data under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The GDPR, which regulates the personal data of all European Union residents, requires that you disclose how and why the data is collected, as well as how you handle the data and dispose of it.
Generate Leads on Autopilot for Your Sales Team
Your B2B marketing strategy is incomplete without a lead capture page. A lead capture page is the simplest way to find and qualify prospects for your sales team, who can then redirect their energy on nurturing leads and closing deals. In the long run, this relatively inexpensive strategy can end up generating significant revenue for your company.
However, even if you follow all the tips and best practices for creating an optimized lead capture page, the page only works as well as the software you pair it with. With the right software, you’ll never have another high-quality lead slip through the cracks because of pipeline mismanagement. Your best bet is to use a lead intelligence tool that can take the info you collect from lead capture pages and turn into actionable data that helps you prioritize leads and convert them into customers with ease.
Engaging with a sales rep may be the core of a B2B or high-ticket item buyer’s journey, but lead nurturing is what moves the process along. Without a personalized marketing experience filled with carefully timed emails and retargeted ads to keep you top of mind, many of your leads could stall out or fall through the cracks.
Lead nurturing software automates much of this process, letting your sales reps stay focused on high-touch connections. With lead nurturing software, you can deliver tailor-made emails, texts, and other content in response to any number of lead behaviors, all at scale.
Whether you’re a small business with a limited budget or enterprise-level operation, there’s a lead nurturing solution and demand generation marketing strategy that’s the right fit for you. We’ve compared the pros, cons, and costs of the 12 best lead nurturing software options to help get you started:
Lead nurturing software cultivates a relationship with your lead even when your sales reps are off the clock. It usually works closely with customer relationship management (CRM) tool to deliver personalized content to prospects after they exhibit certain behaviors, like downloading an ebook or clicking on a link in an email.
Features you’ll likely find in lead nurturing software include:
Email Automation – Automatically send emails to leads depending on where they are in the sales process, then move them in the pipeline based on how they respond to the email.
Lead Scoring – Assign leads a number value describing how engaged they are with the process so sales reps know who to focus their attention on.
Campaign Management – Create campaigns across different platforms to engage with leads wherever they are.
Personalization – Switch up the messaging, tone, or details of content based on a lead’s characteristics and preferences.
Lead Segmentation – Group leads according to their characteristics or behavior in order to deliver them the right content.
The 12 Best Lead Nurturing Software Options
Whether you want just one feature or all of them, chances are there’s a lead nurturing solution to suit your needs.
LeadBoxer primarily nurtures leads through its lead scoring technology. The software assigns each prospect a number expressing how likely they are to buy based upon their previous behavior and interaction with your brand. With this level of intel, sales reps know exactly who to direct their attention to so they can better engage with top prospects.
Includes lead segmentation for easy grouping and filtering
Website and email tracking gives you insight into who to retarget and what content to serve them with
Can identify and track anonymous leads
Doesn’t include email automation or drip campaigns
Doesn’t include campaign management
Cost: LeadBoxer starts at $195 per month and includes everything you need to track and score leads.
Nutshell is first and foremost a CRM that manages your sales pipeline. However, it comes packed with tons of lead nurturing features like personalized email campaigns and automated messages for each stage of the sales process, making Nutshell a good fit for small businesses that need an all-in-one tool.
Combines pipeline management with basic lead nurturing
Lean and intuitive interface
Includes reporting function that analyzes how well your lead nurturing activities are working
Not as many automated marketing features as HubSpot or SharpSpring
Starter plans don’t include all email automation features
Cost: Nutshell’s plans start at $19 per user per month.
When working together, HubSpot’s Marketing and Sales Hubs are a lead nurturing powerhouse. The marketing automation features allow you to create emails, content, offers, and outreach that are personalized for specific lead behavior. On the sales side of things, reps can schedule a series of tailor-made emails that land in a prospect’s inbox at exactly the right time.
Includes tools to help create blog content, landing pages, and emails so every step of a lead’s journey is optimized
Know exactly how much you’re spending on each lead with ad ROI tracking
Tracks lead email activity to show you who is engaged and who isn’t
If you want the full range of features, prepare to splurge on a bundle
Doesn’t identify anonymous website visitors with the same depth as LeadBoxer
Cost: HubSpot Marketing Hub and Sales Hub start at $50 per month, while a bundle starts at $112.50 per month.
If you’re looking for a tool that can do it all and then some, SharpSpring might be right up your alley. In addition to its many features, SharpSpring nurtures leads by sending carefully timed emails at every step of the sales process to keep your brand on a lead’s radar. However, it’s features like the visual marketing automation builder and VisitorID that really set SharpSpring apart.
A CRM combined with marketing automation
Personalized emails that send in response to lead behavior
Create marketing automation workflows with a visual builder
Might be too bulky for smaller businesses
The introductory cost is nearly five times more expensive than HubSpot’s comparable product
Cost: The smallest plan for small businesses starts at $550 per month.
Keap starts working for you from the moment a lead fills out an info form. The program instantly segments leads into different groups and sends them carefully timed messages based on triggers like downloading an ebook or viewing a demo. All these features fit snuggly inside Keap’s CRM, so you can keep all your sales and marketing processes in one place.
Combines lead capturing, nurturing, pipeline management, invoicing, and payment all in one platform
Plenty of features while still easy to use
Stellar support team
Some Keap customers complain of emails going to spam
Has a tendency not to save work if the program freezes or logs out unexpectedly
If you struggle to visualize exactly how a customer journey should unfold, Autopilot is the answer. Users rave about how easy it is to build multiple drip campaigns with a series of triggers for different lead segments. The program doesn’t come equipped with its own CRM, but offers several integrations so you can connect it with the tool of your choice.
The visual builder makes creating personalized email journeys a breeze
Comes packed with templates to make your messaging shine
Easy to use and great customer service
Integration with Salesforce and other CRMs can be clunky and not work as expected
Can be slow to load in your browser
Cost:Autopilot’s basic plan starts at $49 per month.
Act-On is a lead nurturing solution that caters to larger enterprises. It integrates with almost any CRM on the market to help companies automate their email marketing, track website visitors and their activity, then score and prioritize leads so sales reps know who to prioritize. Best of all, it offers an easier to use interface than Marketo but with just as many features.
Comes equipped with automated campaign templates that are easily customizable to suit your buyer journeys
Includes lead scoring and list segmentation options to help you target leads at various levels of engagement
Can create different lead scoring rules for different audience segments
Lacks lead attribution functionality, so you can’t be sure how people arrived at your business
Act-On is so feature-rich that the learning curve may be too steep unless your team has someone committed to using the program full-time
Cost is likely prohibitive for many small and medium-sized businesses
Karta is perhaps the closest you can get to an all-in-one marketing and sales solution. From building landing pages to lead tagging and scoring, the software includes so many features that it practically negates the need to integrate it with any other tools. With Karta you can also create automated emails based on certain lead behaviors, so lead nurturing happens even while you sleep.
Create behavior-based automated emails for your leads
No more fumbling with integrations and potential points of failure to get all your business tasks completed
If you want to start a business from scratch, Karta has all the features and tools you need
It takes a long time to learn how to use the program effectively
Documentation and video tutorials are still in their infancy
If you want to reach leads wherever they are – literally wherever – Marketo has you covered. Marketo manages ad experiences as well as email campaigns so that leads are targeted with the right content at the right time across any possible platform. Marketo can even deliver experiences through mobile push messages or after lead behavior on social media platforms.
Create and schedule email campaigns based on lead behavior like web visits, social shares, or checking in for an in-person event
Assigns a lead score based on unlimited dimensions and characteristics so sales reps know who to contact and when
Engage leads through personalized ads and even mobile push messages
Cost of entry can be prohibitively expensive for some
The interface feels dated and lacks the email design functions of many competitors
Pipedrive is the highest-rated lead nurturing software on Capterra, but it’s also one that is lightest on features. Its main function is a standard-issue CRM with some automated email capabilities built in, but this is par for the course with many CRMs in its class. If you want some basic lead nurturing nested directly into a familiar CRM, Pipedrive might be the right fit for you.
Good if you want a CRM with lightweight lead nurturing features, like automated emails at each stage of the sales process
Gives a probability for how likely a lead will be won so reps know which accounts to prioritize
Lack of LinkedIn integration can be a serious downside for B2B companies
No way to design unique campaigns based on lead behavior
Cost: With email automation features, Pipedrive starts at $25 per user per month.
EngageBay’s all-in-one suite offers the best in marketing automation, pipeline management, and customer support. The holistic customer profiles let sales reps know what the appropriate follow-up activities are and whether or not now is the right time to sell or to offer more service.
Create automated messages to nurture leads across SMS, social media, email, and the web
Equipped with lead scoring and prediction
Customer segmentation allows you to deliver personalized journeys
Email templates aren’t as easy to use or dynamic as competitors
Design limitations when creating sign-up forms to attract leads
Cost: Start using EngageBay for free or get a basic contract for $9 per user per month.
SalesExec is Clickpoint Software’s solution to lead nurturing for companies that rely on a high volume of calls to reach their ideal customers. It also comes equipped with the email automation features that are standard in most lead nurturing solutions.
Offers SMS nurturing and call routing to make sure a lead always reaches the right rep
The interface is easy enough for a first-time CRM user to use
Customer support is prompt and highly attentive
Limited reporting functionality
Cost: SalesExec starts at $46 per user per month.
Nurture Your Leads On Autopilot
These days, it’s hard not to find a marketing tool or CRM that comes equipped with at least some lead nurturing features. Whether you want to deliver personalized email campaigns that delight or segment leads for easier prioritization, it’s never been easier to find a software solution that delivers it all within your budget.
If you want to keep your sales reps focused on the most promising prospects, take a look at LeadBoxer. LeadBoxer helps you nurture the most engaged leads with its automated lead scoring technology. Set dozens of dimensions to grade leads, from company size to website activity, so sales reps know exactly which prospects are ready to be turned into customers. Try it for free today.
According to research, the average B2B buyer is already 67% of the way through the buying journey before having extended contact with a salesperson. By that time, they’ve likely formulated some ideas about possible solutions to their pain point. And might even be leaning toward buying from your competitor.
Intent data is the key to identifying those leads sooner, nurturing them earlier in their buying journey, and making more sales. This comprehensive guide will outline the fundamentals of intent data, including:
By the end, you should know exactly how intent data fits into your marketing and sales processes. You’ll also learn how to pick the right intent data supplier for your needs. So you don’t end up with the wrong strategy for your business.
What is Intent Data?
Intent data shows the likelihood that a person or company is in the market to purchase a solution for a pain point. It’s derived from information about the online research contact or account is conducting about a particular topic. As well as context clues that might signal their purchasing intention. Topic and context data are the two main types of intent data. Both rely on tracking cookies, cross-domain tracking and IP addresses to form a complete picture.
If a hiker needs to buy new hiking boots, she may scout online reviews of top brands. Before she ever goes to the store and tries on a pair. Anyone looking at her search history might assume she’s interested in the topic of “hiking boots”. The same is true of B2B leads and target accounts. Forrester claims that 68% of B2B buyers research by themselves, a significant increase from 53% in 2015.
In addition, 47% of buyers viewed 3-5 pieces of content before connecting with someone in sales. Even before signing up for a free trial of the software that might solve their problem, your lead is probably researching their pain point and weighing multiple options. Topic data tells you what they’re researching. There are four types of topic data available.
Anonymous First-Party Behavioral
These are unknown visitors to your company’s site and the actions they take while there. They haven’t yet filled out a form or explicitly revealed information about themselves. However, it’s possible to identify their company by tracking their IP address. A lead generation tool like LeadBoxer can help fill in the gaps and show more contact information about these otherwise anonymous visitors. Consequently giving a more complete picture of who they are and what they’re researching on your site.
Known First-Party Behavioral
These visitors to your company’s site have provided their contact information by filling out a form, therefore they are “known” individuals. Lead generation or marketing automation software can track what pages they visit and other ways they engage with the site.
Anonymous Third-Party Behavioral
These are unknown visitors to sites you don’t own but that might still be relevant to your business. You can track different topics over a network of sites and see what’s most popular.
If you’re a supplier of project management solutions, and someone from a company that fits your ideal customer profile is reading articles about “project management” on Business Insider, you can access that information through intent data suppliers. A few of which we’ll review in a future section.
Known Third-Party Behavioral
These are visitors to sites you don’t own that have shared some of their contact information. Like with anonymous third-party behavioral, you can access their information and the topics they’re researching through the right supplier.
Context data tells you whose intent data is valuable and who only has a passing interest in a topic. There are a few details that are especially useful for establishing context.
If a sales professional is researching “sales pipeline management”, it’s possible they’re looking for a CRM tool that can help manage leads. If a marketing professional or content creator is researching the same topic, it may be more likely that they’re putting together a blog, video, or another piece of content on the subject.
Job Postings or Leadership Changes
Job postings and leadership changes can tell you whether or not to reach out to a lead. If you sell advertising services but the target account is in the process of looking for a new marketing director, now might not be the best time to approach them. And if the account has announced the recent hire of a marketing director, it’s a better opportunity to pounce and offer a better option than what the predecessor left behind.
A new round of funding is another indicator that a company could be open to new solutions, both because they have a bigger budget and because they may be growing their operation and need more sophisticated tools to manage their company.
Did new legislation just pass that requires an account to operate their company in a certain way, or opens them up to new business? If you have the solution they need in response to these changes, this context lets you know if you should act.
Keep a close eye on accounts that make the news. Press about an expansion of operations or increase in earnings might indicate that they need new solutions, while bad press may mean that they need some space to do damage control before focusing on other things. However, not all bad press is a sign to stay away. If an account makes the news for poor customer service, maybe now is the time to reach out and offer information about your CRM software.
What to Use Intent Data For
There are several uses for intent data, but before diving into the specifics, know that if your competitor isn’t already using intent data, they might soon. Polls show that nearly a quarter of B2B companies are already using intent data, while another 35% plan to use it within the next 12 months. Using intent data in some capacity will become increasingly necessary to stay competitive. These are the main ways that it can benefit your business.
Reaching Leads Early
The most obvious use of intent data is to establish contact with leads earlier in the buying journey. Getting in touch with leads before other salespeople do is one of the biggest ways to get a leg up on the competition; research shows that in 70% of cases, the first salesperson to connect with a lead is ultimately who they give their business to.
Context data can help make a distinction between who is actively researching a pain point and who is just reading about a certain topic without any intention of making a purchase. This information illuminates whether or not a lead fits your ideal customer profile. A tool like LeadBoxer quickly shows you the highest priority leads by allowing you to search by filters such as location, industry, and company size.
First-party leads that give off certain signals can trigger automatic marketing or sales processes, such as an email series, that can instantly start nurturing them when it matters most.
Hone in on what content works best at engaging first-party leads, and what needs more refining.
Personalization of Outreach
By knowing what topics and articles leads are researching, sales agents can personalize how they make contact and develop a relationship with them. They can mention specific topics and establish relevance quickly to capture and hold a lead’s attention.
Get even more granular with your advertising strategy by honing in on leads who give off certain signals. That way, you’re not wasting any of your advertising dollars on people who only have a passing interest but have no intention of buying your product.
Targeted Account List
Develop a list of accounts who are engaging with third-party sites about relevant topics but aren’t yet engaging with your company. You’ll be able to connect with leads who your sales team might have otherwise never considered.
Analyze and Retain Customers
Intent data works with existing customers, too. Monitoring what current clients are researching so you know if they’re thinking about switching to a competitor or if there’s something you can upsell them on. With intent data in your toolbox, you can continue to anticipate and solve problems long after the initial purchase has been made.
How to Obtain Intent Data
There are several intent data vendors out there who can help you access intent data on your site or data available on third-party sites.
First-Party Intent Data Vendors
First-party intent data is nothing new. You may already have access to some thanks to free tools such as Google Analytics. Other vendors can provide you more details about who is visiting your site and turn anonymous visitors into known visitors.
Google Analytics is a free tool that monitors the activity on a site, such as page views and how visitors arrived at the site. While it can’t identify individuals, it can hone in on IP addresses and show you what accounts are active on the site.
In the example above, several businesses use branded aliases, making it possible to identify which accounts are visiting a site. However, Google Analytics can’t provide any further context than that. It also can’t go into detail about what the visitors’ unique actions were on the site.
LeadBoxer catalogs all known visitors to your website. If a visitor fills out a form, the information they provide automatically populates their profile within the software. LeadBoxer can then calculate a lead score for that person using other data points such as what pages they visited, what topics they seem most interested in, and how engaged they are with the site.
With this information, you’ll know exactly when to act on a lead. LeadBoxer takes it one step further and can help identify previously unknown visitors. For example, if the visitor didn’t fill out a form but arrived at the site via LinkedIn, LeadBoxer can trace back to that person’s LinkedIn profile and use the information to populate the visitor’s information within the software.
Like LeadBoxer, BounceX can identify many website visitors (40-70%) who would otherwise remain anonymous. It then creates personalized marketing experiences – similar to account-based marketing – for these visitors based on their engagement.
BounceX can automatically engage with visitors who have not yet filled out a form or appear that they’re about to leave the site. In a way, it identifies users who are displaying intent and then begins to nurture them before a sales agent ever steps in.
While sophisticated, BounceX is said to have nearly a $4,000/month price tag, making it a serious investment for most businesses. It also doesn’t prioritize showing you accounts who express high intent but instead tries to let the AI nurture users through website personalization.
Third-Party Intent Data Vendors
If an account is researching topics around the web that are relevant to your product or service, these solutions will help you find them.
Bombora can tell you what companies are expressing active intent to purchase your products or services long before someone from that company ever lands on your site. This tool does this by monitoring 6,000 intent topics across 3,800+ publisher websites.
Bombora only tracks IP addresses, cookie IDs, and company domains provided by the publishers’ registration data. They can tell you what companies are expressing intent, but they can’t tell you exactly which employee is doing the research or who your sales team should engage with. In short, there’s no context data with this vendor.
Aberdeen bought The Big Willow, and intent data supplier, back in 2018. They offer a lot of the same value that Bombora does but take it a step further by integrating their solutions into Salesforce.
Companies expressing active intent pop up in the Salesforce dashboard so sales teams know exactly which accounts to jump on. You can also see how those accounts will impact the pipeline. You can also choose to integrate Aberdeen Marketscape, a product that shows all the topic keywords researched by each account showing intent.
This helps establish more context. If you’re not already using Salesforce, getting started with Aberdeen’s intent data (and then Marketscape) might be a little too complicated and cost-prohibitive.
How to Select an Intent Data Vendor
There are several different suppliers of intent data out there. It’s important to work with the one that best fits the needs and size of your company, or else you risk losing time and money. Here are a few considerations to keep at the top of mind when screening vendors.
How many sites are in the vendor’s network?
Ask this question if you’re considering third-party data vendors. The network refers to the websites they monitor, which tend to be publisher sites like Forbes. The larger the network, the better, as this gives them a bigger pool of data to draw from.
How many topics does the vendor monitor?
Third-party data vendors monitor a finite amount of topics. At the time of this writing, Bombora claims to have nearly 6,000 topics in their system, while Aberdeen claims to have hundreds of thousands of keywords at their disposal.
Can the vendor give context?
On its own, a list of names and topics they’re researching isn’t very useful. You need context to know if their company fits your ideal customer profile, as well as what their job title is and if they have any purchasing authority. Third-party data vendors can’t give much context at this time, but some solutions for first-party intent data can.
How to Use Intent Data
Trying to make use of intent data in its raw form is inefficient. Intent data works best when used to calculate a lead score. A lead score is a concise, visual way to describe how promising the lead is and therefore how much it’s worth pursuing them.
Some solutions, like LeadBoxer, will not only capture intent data but will automatically input it into a lead score. You can adjust what data points to use for calculating a lead score based on the needs of your company.
Here are three of the most important factors to keep in mind when adjusting what data points to use for a lead score.
This is as simple as asking the question: does this lead fit our ideal customer profile? Are they the right size company, in a certain location, etc.? If an account showing active intent doesn’t fit the mold of your ideal customer, then their lead score will go down.
Take into consideration not only the topics researched by that account but the frequency and recency of the research.
Has this account not only engaged with relevant third-party pages, but with your site or social media profiles? A solid first-party data vendor will be able to track and show you individual actions. Use that information to increase their lead score. The more specific the data points used to calculate a lead score, the more accurate and useful the lead score will be. This will help weed out accounts that aren’t the right fit or are researching topics without having any intent to buy a product or service.
When Intent Data Isn’t Enough
Intent data isn’t a magic bullet for identifying leads earlier. There are limitations to this technology that will hopefully improve as time goes on. Be aware of the following when incorporating intent data into your marketing and sales processes.
When a Visitor is Registered Under the Wrong IP Address
If an unknown visitor to your site or a third-party site is registered under the wrong IP address, you won’t be able to tell what company they work for. This often happens by accident but nevertheless makes it impossible to identify the correct account.
When a Buyer is Conducting Research Out-of-Network
Third-party intent data vendors like Bombora and Aberdeen don’t aggregate data from every corner of the internet. They only draw information from sites within their networks. If a buyer is researching on sites not covered by that network, then you’ll never know.
Decay Rate of Third-Party Data
Given the amount of content people consume regularly, you shouldn’t expect sales agents to always be able to reach out to a lead and reference content they read a week or two earlier.
Third-Party Data Lists Account But No Contacts
Bombora and Aberdeen only list the account, not the contact information of the individual who was searching.
While it’s certainly useful to know which accounts have an interest, you’re still limited by not knowing who to reach out to.
When Used At the Expense of a Sustainable Sales Pipeline
Relying on intent data is no reason not to have robust marketing strategies that help draw new leads into your sales pipeline. Like most sales tactics, it’s best used in tandem with other processes.
Get an Edge Over the Competition With Intent Data
Intent data is a hot technology that more and more businesses are using to gain an edge over their competitors. By seeing what topics leads are researching, you can reach out to them sooner and have a better chance at closing the deal. While it’s not the end-all, be-all way to keep your sales pipeline full, it is a valuable tool to have at hand.
Third-party intent data still isn’t as precise as some would hope it to be. Vendors can only provide accounts, not individual contacts, and don’t offer much in the way of context data. Third-party data also decays more quickly than first-party data.
Some first-party data is free and already at your fingertips via Google Analytics. A tool like LeadBoxer can keep you apprised of who exactly is visiting your site whether or not they’ve filled out a form. It’s also easy to get context data and use each data point to calculate a lead score, showing you exactly which leads to act upon at that moment.
Are you struggling to find enough time in the day to fill your prospect pipeline? Truth is, every sales rep has the same amount of time in their day. But the difference? Only some of them use sales prospecting tools to help them find prospects faster, and close deals quicker.
Let’s look at the best 30 sales prospecting tools on the market that can fill your prospect pipeline:
Tools to Help You Find Prospects
Price: Starts at $99/month
Free trial: Yes
What it’s all about:
LeadBoxer is a one of the best sales prospecting tools that tracks activity on your website and email behaviour and finds prospects before they even contact you. The tool provides vital information you need to follow up with a prospect such as their interests, their company name and the size of their organization:
By giving you a birds-eye view of the lead or customer, you can then decide if they are worth following up, or if they aren’t a good fit for your company.
Plus, you can set criteria to exactly what you need from a website visitor to flag them as a prospect. LeadBoxer will automatically assign the profile with a leadscore. This gives you a super clear visual of prospects who are a good fit for your product.
If you’re prospecting and would like to focus on identified leads, you can do that easily with LeadBoxer. When you’re setting up your criteria in the LeadBoxer dashboard, all you need to do is adjust the email address slider and visitors with a known email address will be given a higher lead score.
The same criteria can be added to company size, phone numbers and number of times the person has visited your site.
No more dead ends, LeadBoxer only puts verified leads into your pipeline.
Price: Professional Plan – $11.25/month, Turbo Plan – $41.25/month
Free trial: Yes + limited free forever plan
What it’s all about:
If you find the majority of your prospects on LinkedIn, this tool is about to save your life.
Dux-Soup automatically scrapes leads for you and invites them to connect with you over LinkedIn.
What the tool does is looks at your LinkedIn prospect profiles, tracks their movements and then, sends them a personalized message from your account. What’s more, the tool will also follow up on warm leads through 2nd and 3rd LinkedIn connections for you.
Not only does it contact prospects for you, but the tool interacts with your CRM as well and not all sales prospecting tools do that. Once Dux-Soup reaches out to a prospect, it then tracks the progression of the interaction and transfers everything into your CRM. This means your entire team will stay in the loop with the clients you bring into the company’s pipeline.
Price: It’s a mystery! The company offers “custom” price plans.
Free trial: Yes + forever free plan for first 50 accounts
What it’s all about:
How many times have you contacted a prospect and found out that they aren’t actually ready to buy?
It’s not only frustrating, but it takes a big chunk of time out of your working day as well.
That’s where LeadSift comes into play. It tells you when you’re prospecting and only targets people who are on the buying journey.
No more wasted time on those who aren’t ready to buy.
According to LeadSift, only 3% of leads are actually interested in buying a product, which means a lot of people you’re putting an effort into are never going to buy your product. This tool eliminates prospects who are months or years away from purchasing and leaves you with a pool of prospects who are ready to buy. Right now.
But we’ve saved the best until last with this one. LeadSift steals some of these prospects from your competitor’s websites. The tool automatically watches your biggest competitors and, if a prospect begins engaging with one of them, you’ll be the first to know (along with getting their email address, too).
Price: It’s free!
Not exactly a prospect scraping tool, but Capterra is great for finding new companies to target.
Depending on what industry you’re selling your product to, Capterra can filter through millions of companies in a matter of seconds and give you a list of potential targets. And there are few sales prospecting tools that are capable to do this.
From there, your sales team will be able to filter through them and find prospects a lot quicker than they would if they stuck to Google searches.
Price: Starts at $49/month.
Free trial: Yes! You get 14 days.
Mattermark is a sales rep’s best friend because it searches for prospects using super specific filters.
Want to narrow down a prospect search by company size? How about a business model? B2B? Industry? Niche?
You can do all of that on Mattermark – one of the best sales prospecting tools.
It’s also integrated with a lot of the big name CRMs on the market, so the tool can cut back on dreaded admin time.
A neat hack with this tool is it lets your sales reps save a specific list. If one of your reps has searched for B2B companies with 50+ employees in the Seattle area and found promising results, they can use the same search for next time (and change it up when they need to).
Price: Starts at $29/month, then moves up to a custom plan
Free trial: Yes, CrunchBase offers a free plan
What it’s all about:
CrunchBase is THE tool to use if your company is looking for prospects in growing companies and innovative startups.
For sales teams, the tool gives your reps an important insight into a company’s funding rounds, business category, and their date of establishment. A lot of companies on the database also have contact information on their listing, along with a bit of information about the company’s structure.
Once you’ve conducted a search, you can export your findings into a CSV file and add them straight to your CRM to make following up easier. This is very convenient for any sales prospecting tools.
But you won’t get a list full of bogus emails either—SellHack verifies every single email it pulls through LinkedIn.
Price: Starts at $97/month
Free trial: First 25 leads are free
What it’s all about:
Here’s another tool that works well with LinkedIn. It takes a look at your prospect list, with a focus on those on LinkedIn, and switches them from contacts into prospects.
If you feel like you’ve run all your resources dry, LeadFuze has an email finder tool that can fish out emails from a bunch of third-party sources.
According to LeadFuze, they “find the most accurate email possible.”
Price: Starts at $49/month
Free trial: Yes
What it’s all about:
AeroLeads is more than an email finder, it provides a full breakdown of information on a prospect.
With the tool, a sales rep can do a simple web search and find out not only an email of a prospect, but also their business name, key decision maker names, phone number, location, and even social media profiles.
It’s a tech tool. AeroLeads has an algorithm that filters through all the results and only gives you the best ones.
Not only does the tool scrape the entire internet for you, but when you’re finished, you can download your results into a CSV file and add them straight to your CRM.
Price: Starts at $49/month
Free trial: Free for your first 100 emails
What it’s all about:
Skrapp is built with one goal in mind—finding email addresses from LinkedIn accounts.
The tool has a Google Chrome extension which you can use when you are on a prospect’s LinkedIn profile to see what email address they used to sign up to LinkedIn with.
Once you’ve found their email, you can save it to a list to use later while you search for more targets.
Tools to Help Pitch Prospects
Price: It’s all very hush and varies by team size
Free trial: No
What it’s all about:
If you want to set yourself up for a pitch with as much information as possible, Charlie is your guy.
Just provide a prospect’s details, and it’ll return to you a one-page sheet on your prospect. You’ll be given information on prospects like their passions, hobbies, professional history, and any news about their current company.
Who knew prepping for a pitch could be so informative?
Price: It’s free!
What it’s all about:
Owler is a free database that’s filled with information about who a company’s top competitors are.
Plug in the company of a prospect, and you’ll not only find out who they’re up against, but you’ll also be given their social media accounts, number of employees, and annual revenue.
Plus, you can find about their funding history and any acquisitions that have taken place.
Crystal is like having a coach for pitching prospects.
It doesn’t give you links to a prospect’s Twitter account. But what it does do is provide eerily detailed insight into how your prospect talks, how they behave, and what drives the decisions they make in their business.
The tool uses social media and text analysis and runs them through an algorithm to figure out exactly what conversations and tone you should approach a prospect with.
It’s like a mind-reading tool for sales teams.
Price: Starts at $19.95/month
Free trial: Yes
What it’s all about:
Nudge digs into the background of a prospect so you don’t have to spend hours doing it yourself.
Ever prepared for a pitch and thought, have I contacted this person before? Maybe I’ve dealt with their company on another occasion? Is there anyone at the company who has actually worked for your company in the past?
Instead of spending hours of your day trying to find out yourself, Nudge does it for you. Plus, it can rate the relationship you have with a prospect from “very weak” to “very strong”, so you know if you need to put in a bit more work with them.
Price: Starts at $25/month
Free trial: Yes
What it’s all about:
Struggling to get a prospect on board? Try sharing in their successes with the help of Mention.
Mention is a media-monitoring tool that can help you follow a prospect’s success. If a prospect’s company just celebrated a major win, or they were recognized for an award in their industry, congratulate them first.
What better way to shine a good light on yourself and your product by shining the light on them first?
Siftery does one thing and it does it well: finds competitors. You can plug in a prospect’s company to find out exactly what products they’re using so you can plan your next move.
Not only that, Siftery can filter what tools your prospect’s company is using down to individual departments. So if your prospect is in the marketing department, you’ll uncover all the sales prospecting tools the marketing team uses.
Price: Custom plans available
Free trial: Yes + forever free plan
What it’s all about:
Apollo finds the perfect things to say to your prospect for your next email or call.
The tool gives you recommendations on what to say by judging a prospect’s online persona. It also integrates with your email, CRM, and professional networking sites like LinkedIn so you’re covered no matter what platform you’re using.
Price: Custom plans depending on your needs
Free trial: No
What it’s all about:
Emissary was built by a product leader at Google, so you know it has to be good.
Using the tool, you can unlock critical information. Information that goes beyond the standard analytics and data you’ll find on other sales prospecting tools.
Is a prospect you’ve been working on really a key decision maker in the company? Or is there a hidden influencer that you’ve failed to spot? Emissary can tell you.
Plus, the tool will chart the best paths on how you should approach your prospect.
Tools to Automate the Boring Stuff
Price: Starts at $49/month
Free trial: Yes
What it’s all about:
Nobody likes doing admin work, especially your sales team. We all know they would rather be out selling than creating quotes.
This is where PandaDoc comes in. The tool can save your team a massive amount of time by automating daily tasks like quote creation and tracking contracts. It also gives your sales team access to a bunch of proposals so they can just fill in the blanks, rather than drawing one up from scratch.
Everything is kept in the PandaDoc dashboard, so your team can track sales activity and check if a contract has been signed. If it hasn’t, the tool will automatically send a reminder.
Price: Starts at $8/month
Free trial: Yes
What it’s all about:
Back and forth emails to organize a meeting with a prospect is high on the list of the worst parts of preparing for a pitch.
If you’re constantly getting caught in a 15-email exchange before settling on a meeting time, you need Calendly.
The tool lets you set up a schedule, and then your prospect can choose what times suit them best.
Once your prospect has picked a date, Calendly automatically removes the time slot from the system so you won’t be double booked, and adds it to your chosen calendar.
Price: Custom pricing depending on needs
Free trial: Yes, a demo is available
What it’s all about:
Outreach sets up touchpoints for your prospects so that when they’re interacting with you, they are replied to straight away.
The earliest stages of a customer’s journey are the most important, and if they aren’t looked after, they’ll leave. Outreach will automatically reply to a prospect, and then if you don’t receive a reply from them, it’ll follow-up with them again.
Don’t think of it as a bot, but more a sophisticated messaging system. It’ll A/B test every message that’s sent, so you know which ones work best and why.
Price: Starts at $4.99/month
Free trial: Boomerang offers a free basic plan
What it’s all about:
Are some of your prospects in a different timezone? Maybe you get distracted by new emails hitting your inbox every 5 minutes?
Boomerang can help your team stay on track with scheduled emails. It has a function that will let you schedule an email to be sent in advance, so it hits your prospect’s inbox at the perfect time.
Plus, you can set it up for automatic follow-ups. If a prospect hasn’t replied to an email in a couple of days, Boomerang will follow up automatically.
29. Yet Another Mail Merge
Price: Starts at $24/year
Free trial: First 50 emails of the day are free
What it’s all about:
Want to see who’s opening your emails?
Yet Another Mail Merge links your Gmail with Google Sheets and tracks your email opens. If you’re casting a wide net to prospects and want to know who is actually biting, this tool is for you.
Price: Starts at $12/month
Free trial: Yes + limited free forever plan
What it’s all about:
Every company uses different tools for meetings, so it can be frustrating when you end up with dozens of tools on your desktop.
GlobalMeet lets you have meetings through their cloud-based software, so no download is required.
To get a prospect to join you in a meeting, all you need to do is send them a link and the meeting is ready to go!
Smarter Prospecting Closes More Deals
If filling your pipeline is taking up too much time, there are ways to automate a lot of the work that goes into landing a new client.
Spending hours trawling through LinkedIn, following up on emails, and preparing for pitches are all tasks that can now be done with a sales prospecting tool.
Picking the right tools will save your team hours of time on admin work and get them back to doing what they do best—closing deals.
Our world is full of acronyms. And while there’s no shame in asking a colleague to define terms, few of us feel comfortable raising a hand in a crowded meeting and asking a speaker to unpack a sentence. Consider MQL vs. SQL. You may know that the “L” in these terms stands for “Leads.” If you’re in sales or marketing, you may even be tasked with increasing MQLs or SQLs.
However, that is a basic understanding. Digging in a little deeper about the similarities, differences, and uses of these two terms can help you to be even more effective. Let’s learn more about both.
Defining Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs)
The acronym MQL stands for “Marketing Qualified Lead.”
In the shortest definition we could find, courtesy of Hubspot, an MQL is a person that is more likely to become a customer when compared to a typical person.
Think of it this way: Many people may connect with your company. They may visit your website, attend your webinars, or chat with you at a trade show.
For some of these people, the goods and services you offer are exactly what they’re looking for. But for others, your product or service is not a good fit. They may never be in the position to buy anything from you at all.
The people in that first group — those who are interested and have the potential to buy your product — are your MQLs.
Separating MQLs from unqualified leads typically involves using a lead-scoring program. You’ll assign a certain set of points to actions people might take, such as:
The acronym SQL stands for “Sales Qualified Lead.”
This person has not only shown a deep interest in your products and services, but they have also shown some sort of intent to purchase. They not only like what you offer, but they actually need to buy what you sell. They also may need to make that purchase in the near future.
While defining an MQL can be done through automated software that assigns scores, defining an SQL is a little trickier. Typically, this is something that involves a conversation between someone in sales and the potential lead.
May have specific questions about how your product works or how much it costs.
And may not understand how your product fits into the other products they’re using.
May not be entirely sure the solution is right for them.
May not be able to find the answers they need in the marketing materials they’ve seen so far.
At the end of that discussion, if the salesperson senses a real opportunity, this person moves into the SQL category.
Why Does Knowing the Difference Between MQL vs. SQL Matter?
You may be wondering why it’s so crucial to understand whether someone is an MQL or an SQL. After all, a lead is a lead, right?
Understanding where your leads fall into these two categories can help you understand who should be in charge of that next conversation. This could mean the difference between making or losing a sale.
For example, we’ve long been told that people move through a traditional sales funnel in which they become aware of a product, consider options, make a decision, and then become an evangelist for the brand.
While this simplified form of a sale might still make sense in some industries, others consider their sales moving through more of a “tornado”.
In this model, users are consuming a great deal of information throughout the entire journey, and they may bounce back and forth between channels.
They may use social media posts in the awareness phase, for example, and then leap back to social media to evaluate solutions and understand usage. They may swing far away from the product before purchase, rolling out to e-commerce before finally deciding to look at a product catalog.
Consumers are doing a lot of the heavy lifting here, and they’re relying on marketing resources to guide the conversation
Pushing a savvy consumer to sales at the wrong time could cause a sense of pressure, and that could derail the sale. These people are doing their own homework. They’re not ready to talk yet.
Similarly, connecting a consumer with sales too early means sales must inform the consumer about the product’s ins and outs — and that’s a task best left to marketing.
On the flip side, sending a lead to sales too late might lead to missed opportunities. By the time these people get to the sales team, they may have made a decision and chosen a competitor.
When you have a firm understanding of the typical steps a consumer takes in order to become marketing qualified, and when you know what sorts of behaviors seem to suggest that a purchase is right around the corner, you’ll be well positioned to guide and shape these crucial conversations.
The Transition from MQL to SQL
By now, it’s probably clear to you that an SQL begins life in the company as an MQL. But this move from one state to the other isn’t spontaneous and organic. It requires an ongoing nurturing and communication process. It’s here that many opportunities are lost.
A handoff meeting between marketing and sales can be vital.
The marketing team can offer up a list of all of the resources the person has consumed over a period of time, typically pulled from marketing automation software program, which can help to guide the sales process.
For example, if the prospect has been almost exclusively researching one specific type of product, the salesperson knows the product that should open up a conversation.
Similarly, the salesperson can walk in the customer’s footsteps and read back through all of those resources, looking for knowledge gaps that the consumer might have. Those are ideal conversation starters that can pull the sale forward.
What happens if the sales call didn’t go as planned? This could be a sign that the MQL isn’t so “qualified” after all, but all hope isn’t lost.
Maybe a series of follow up email messages about key features, or an invitation to a webinar, could help encourage a deeper level of comfort with the product. In a few weeks or months, that person really could be marketing qualified, and the next sales call could be a touch smoother.
MQL vs. SQL: Putting Theory into Action
While defining an MQL vs. SQL is vital — it’s also personal. That means there’s no handy template you can download in order to sort your leads. Instead, you’ll need to have some in-depth conversations within your sales and marketing teams. You’ll need to discuss your:
Typical time to close projects.
Lead scoring method.
You’ll need to think about how each persona interacts with your company during each buying phase. You will define what steps are meaningful and signal a deeper commitment.
You’ll also identify the assets you’re missing that could compel action. Those are the decisions that will help set up your lead scoring method. You’ll use them to understand how an MQL is passed to sales — and what comes next.
When you have a theory in place, sales and marketing will need to keep that conversation going. It’s vital for marketing to know more about the leads that sales finds easiest to convert.
How long have these leads been in the pipeline? What assets did they touch? And what sorts of companies are they from? What are their titles?
Sales teams may encourage their marketing colleagues to lock MQL rules down tight. That way, the leads they’re given almost always convert into SQLs and sales.
Unfortunately, a system that’s calibrated too carefully can lead to very empty, loose sales pipelines. And that can leave sales teams with little — or nothing — to do all day.
Meeting regularly to discuss opportunities won, opportunities lost and lessons learned can help the entire group to come up with a plan for the future.
Ready to Get Started?
Identifying MQL vs. SQL starts with capturing the right data. We can help you grab that data.
Use LeadBoxer to track activity from all of your leads at all stages of the purchase cycle. Try it for free to get the data you need in real time. Or, schedule a demonstration. We’d love to show you how it works.