How to Qualify a Lead in Under a Minute

One of the reasons that our Pardot sales team loves using marketing automation is because of its lead qualification capabilities. Traditionally, one of the largest sources of tension between marketing and sales teams is lead quality — but with an automation system in place, you can turn contention between your two teams into content.

How? You may have heard us mention a little something we like to call “blended lead scoring and grading.” By implementing a lead qualification system at your company, your marketing team can “screen” leads before they get sent to the sales team for follow-up. This system works by evaluating a lead’s score (a numerical value that indicates how interested they are in your company) in tandem with a lead grade (a letter grade that indicates how good of a fit they are for your business, or in other words, how interested you are in them).

Marketers can use these scores and grades to automate the lead assignment process, so that only leads who meet a threshold score and grade get passed to the sales team. This ensures that only high-quality leads make the cut when getting assigned to sales. However, despite the potential for complete automation, it’s important to include “the human element” in your lead qualification process.

Here’s what I mean. Let’s say a lead has been browsing your site for several weeks and has racked up an admirable lead score within that time. They’re in the right industry and meet the criteria that you and your sales team agreed upon when putting together your ideal prospect profile. But when you pass the lead onto the sales team, you get the following feedback: despite the high lead score and grade, the lead is worthless to your sales team because their website doesn’t support your product.

Ouch. Fortunately, giving each lead a quick, “60-second” scan before sending them off to your sales reps can ensure that no lead is getting passed on that shouldn’t be. At Pardot, we use (and recommend) the following one-minute lead qualification process:

1. First, know your buyer profile.

Go beyond the A+ score that’s listed in their prospect record by evaluating each of the criteria that you’ve discussed with your sales team. For example, are you dealing with a B2B or B2C company? How long is their sales cycle? Is this lead an executive or a director? Double checking each of these items can prevent headaches down the line.

2. Know the difference between interest and intent.

A quick glance at your prospect records can tell you all you need to know here. Take a look at your lead’s activities to see what they’ve been doing on your site. Are they looking at white papers, blog posts, and webinars? This kind of activity indicates interest in your company, but does not mean that these leads are ready to buy. Looking at your pricing page or requesting a product demo on your site, on the other hand, indicate that a lead is showing intent. These are your hotter leads!

3. Make sure you’re selling to the right person.

This information can also be found in your prospect records! While a lead’s score and grade might be off the chart, you don’t want to pass them along to your sales team if they’re only an intern. Take a look at their job title to make sure they’re in a position of influence before passing them off to sales.

4. Check out their website!

Will your product integrate with their site? Do they use forms to collect information? Do they use a shopping cart? What kind of product or service do they offer? Looking at your lead’s website is one of the best ways to determine whether or not they’ll be a good fit for your business.

5. Use your CRM…

…to double check that no one on your sales team is currently working with another lead from that company. If not, then pass them along! But if they are, make sure you assign that lead to the same rep for follow up.

Taking these few extra steps can help ensure that your sales and marketing teams continue to work together in harmony. Keep in mind that this process will quicken over time as you learn which areas of the prospect profile to glance at, and where to look on each prospect’s website.

Want to learn more about the marketing automation features that makes our sales reps’ lives easier? Take a look at our recent eBook by clicking on the banner below.

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