Before the age of technology, a salesperson would travel about their territory to meet personally with individuals, to get a “feel” on their sales leads. As is today, when they came across a person ready to buy, it was considered a “hot” lead. By comparison, a “warm” prospect is a person merely browsing for products or services, and a “cold” lead is someone who may not even know what you’re selling.
Qualified leads generally received more attention. Lunches, rounds of golf, or maybe a happy hour together would give the salesperson a chance to address their prospects needs and expectations to close the deal. On the other hand, warm leads maybe got a phone call as a follow-up.
With the Internet, much of that personal sales approach has nearly disappeared. Today, when shoppers are considering a service or product, they immediately go online with their smartphone or computer and browse for what they want, read reviews, and decide. This stage of engagement is regarded as a warm lead; but how do you best identify that prospect and convert it into a sale?
What’s critical to understand is how to capture that lead.
Many companies today have turned to automated software that helps identify and analyze a prospect’s engagement behavior and determine what stage they are in the lead qualification process. Technology helps, but you still need some key components in place to take advantage of the process.
To successfully qualify leads, you must have three critical fundamentals in place.
A Clear Definition of “Lead”
Defining what a lead means to you is a crucial step in determining whether they are qualified enough to move onto the next sales stage. Typically, anyone who is in the “buying stage,” meaning they are prepared or preparing to purchase a product or service, is considered a qualified prospect. In the age of the Internet, this could mean following your social media account, subscribing to a newsletter, or being a frequent visitor to your website.
Each business should have a unique process for identifying what defines a lead for them. In differentiating the types of leads you collect, you will be in a better position to determine who is worth pursuing, and who is not.
To define the types of leads your business pursues, first sit down with your team to discuss your target market. Next, identify who is in your current database and review their buying habits. It would be best if you also considered how your team determines when a lead advances from a warm to hot prospect.
Establish a Scoring System
A lead scoring system will also help you better assign values to prospects based on actions they take, their buying behaviors, or even their browsing habits. By doing this, you will have a clearer vision of which leads are ready for nurturing.
Here are the four categories for a lead scoring system:
Lead fit – This category includes collecting demographic information on your prospects, such as title, role, and location; collecting info on their business, such as industry, company size, and brand, and collecting BANT information on company purchases, such as budget, authority, timeframe, and inventory requirements. Much of this information can be captured through a simple registration form on your website or a survey.
Lead interest – By following your prospects’ engagement with your website and analyzing what they browse and how interested they are in your products and services; you can gauge their interest level to decide how much attention they need to turn them from a warm lead to a hot lead.
Lead behavior – A prospects behavior online often sheds light on their immediate buying stage. Signing up for a newsletter or catalog is an early stage prospect but browsing a pricing guide or product listing can indicate a prospect that is further along in the lead stage. By taking advantage of this information, you can nurture a prospect along, until the sale occurs.
Lead buying stage – Timing is everything. Understanding what stage your prospect is in and if it’s the right time to sell, will be dictated by the information you gather. Start by sending them information on your products or services and evaluating their response. By analyzing their response and assessing their interest, you’ll get a better idea of what stage they reside within the buying process.
Testing and Optimization
Now that you have a clear definition of your leads and have established a scoring system, it’s time to test and optimize. Testing should be a regular activity of checking your marketing plan to see what techniques are working and then optimize your website to take advantage of those systems.
You want to ultimately develop a system that delivers an engaging customer experience and allows you to nurture leads and drive sales. So, the best bet is to test everything to ensure it aligns with those goals.
Some of the things you can do to optimize your systems are:
- Assess how different subject lines result in a different response
- Check to see the difference in response rates for short or long emails
- Check click-through rates to see how prospects respond to varying content
- Change the designs of your email messages and gauge customer response
- Change the frequency of your sends and keep track of audience response
Through testing and optimization, you can coordinate between sales and marketing to determine which approach results in the best conversion strategy.
As you work towards utilizing these three techniques to turn warm leads into sales conversions, keep in mind that with the Internet, marketing is always evolving and as such, you must always stay on your toes.
By using proven strategies and keeping an open mind to new and emerging approaches, such as AI-driven marketing platforms, you can ensure that your marketing efforts will result in a steady stream of qualified leads converting to sales. If you are a private lender looking to enhance your marketing, reach out to Geraci Media Group today.