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The Two Key Elements of Qualified Leads
In organizations that have well-developed lead generation processes, the marketing and sales teams agree on the definition of a qualified marketing lead. This definition typically involves two key elements: the fit of the individual, and their engagement with the organization during the lead generation process as they actively consider a purchase decision.
Fit: This is the aspect of qualifying a lead that is based on explicit information such as job title, industry, company revenue, and geography. Based on these criteria, which generally remain fairly constant over time (at least over a few quarters), Marketing and Sales can agree on what a qualified buyer should look like. This image should be based on historical trends about what types of individuals and organizations have typically purchased or actively engaged in a buying process. Based on an assessment of fit, you can assign each lead a score (1-4 points) and a rank (A,B,C,D).
Engagement: This is the determination of a marketing lead’s level of buying interest. It’s based on their activity and response to marketing campaigns, and takes into account all aspects of online (and offline) behavior. Email response, web visits, whitepaper downloads, search activity, social media activity, and event attendance all contribute to understanding a buyer’s level of engagement. Based on these factors, you can assign each lead a score (1-4 points) and a rank (A,B,C,D).
Aligning Marketing and Sales
Once you’ve defined your matrix of fit and engagement, you can begin lead scoring along the X and Y axes of a graph. You can then assess each lead based on the square in which they fall on the graph. “A1” leads have the right titles (fit) and are highly interested (engagement), while “A4” leads have the same titles but aren’t engaged at all. “D1” may be a junior individual or in the wrong industry, but is highly engaged and active. Based on this definition, Marketing can reach an agreement with Sales as to which of these leads should be deemed “Marketing Qualified Leads” (MQLs) and passed along for follow-up.
Sales should also commit to an agreement on how quickly they’ll follow up on qualified marketing leads. Studies have shown that the speed of follow-up directly affects your ability to get a first meeting – and this ability can drop by a factor of 10 or more within a few days of delay. If you don’t connect with qualified leads in a timely fashion, you should bring them back into Marketing to nurture them further through marketing automation until signs of buying interest resurface.