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Executive Perspective: 2 Things You NEED to Understand to Qualify Your Leads

Are you part of the 61% of marketers that sends all leads directly to sales, despite the fact that only 27% of those leads will be qualified? If you are, you might want to think twice about your lead qualification strategy.

Flooding your sales team with leads isn’t always a good thing. Pardot’s VP of Sales, Derek Grant, recently introduced me to the concept of intent versus interest — and taking this approach to lead qualification can make all the difference to the success of your strategy and the happiness of your sales team.

Let’s take a closer look at this concept to help sales and marketing solve the age-old mystery: which leads should get passed to sales, and which should remain in marketing’s hands?

Leads Showing Intent

Personally, I like to call these leads “hand raisers,” or leads that are actually showing clear intent to talk to a salesperson by asking for a demo, requesting a quote, or signing up for a free trial. These are leads that need no qualification and should go directly to sales — there is absolutely no reason to hold these handraisers in a queue since these folks have already raised their hands and asked to be contacted by your team. Chances are, these prospects have done the same with three of your competitors, and the first person to call them back is already ahead of the game.

Don’t take my word for it:

InsideSales research shows that a lead contacted within five minutes has a 100x higher contact rate versus waiting even 30 minutes.

Leads Showing Interest

Marketing automation can play a big role for these leads, too. Imagine that someone downloads eBook “XYZ” from your website, clicks through a few of your blog posts, and signs up for a webinar. At many companies, this lead might be treated as a “lead with intent,” but in reality, that might not be true. It’s safe to say the lead is “interested,” so any follow-up emails should provide an opportunity for them to request a demo or take a hand-raising action. The goal here is to move leads from “interest” to “intent” — and the more you are able to do this, the better your MQL to SQL conversion rate will be (and the more your sales team will love you).

According to MarketingSherpa, email marketing has 2x higher ROI than cold calling, networking, or tradeshows. I’ll take this one step further and say that smart and timely email marketing might result in even better results.

My final point: treat your prospects the way that you want to be treated. No one likes unsolicited phone calls, but everyone loves someone who can solve their challenges. It’s marketing’s job to make the sales team look like a hero by distinguishing between leads showing interest and leads showing intent, and provide the appropriate insight into action needed by sales. This gives sales the intelligence they need before picking up the phone, and most importantly, makes prospects feel as though your company genuinely understands their challenges and is there to help.

Share your story or ideas about intent versus interest in the comments! Does this strategy work for you?

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