Best Practice Toolkits
Qualified Marketing Leads
Sophisticated organizations have an agreement between their marketing and sales teams as to the definition of a qualified marketing lead. This definition ideally involves two key parts; the fit of the individual, and their engagement with your organization during the lead generation process in terms of actively considering a purchase decision.
Fit: This is the aspect of qualifying a lead that is based on explicit information; their job title, industry, company revenue, and geography. Based on these criteria, which are generally fairly constant over time (at least over a few quarters), marketing and sales can agree on what a qualified buyer would look like. This should be based on historical trends in what type of individuals, at what type of organization have typically purchased or actively engaged in a buying process. Based on an assessment of fit, leads can be assigned both a score (0-100 points) and a rank (A,B,C,D).
Engagement: This is the determination of a marketing lead’s level of buying interest. It is 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 an understanding of a buyer’s level of engagement. Again, based on this, each lead can be assigned a score (0-100) and a rank (1,2,3,4).
Marketing and Sales Alignment
With this matrix of fit and engagement defined, leads are scored along both dimensions. “A1” leads are the right executives (fit) and highly interested (engagement), while “A4” leads are the same executives but not engaged at all. “D1” may be a junior individual or in the wrong industry, but highly engaged and active. Based on this definition, an agreement with sales can be reached on which of these should be deemed “Marketing Qualified Leads” (MQLs) and passed to sales.
Sales should also commit to an agreement on how quickly they will follow up on qualified marketing leads. Studies have shown that the speed of follow-up directly relates to the ability you have to get a first meeting, dropping by a factor of 10 or more within days. If qualified leads are not connected with, they should be brought back into marketing in order to be further nurtured through the use of marketing automation until signs of buying interest once again resurface.
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Content is sacred for marketers – particularly in the B2B marketing world. It’s the offer of a value exchange. We’ll give you something of value, and in turn, you’ll give us information about yourself so we can drive qualified leads for the sales team. It’s the carrot we dangle and we want to protect the carrot.
Most clients start out with a lead bucket and an opportunity bucket. Marketing works with leads, sales works with opportunities. However, as you move toward an integrated marketing funnel, it is important to incorporate additional lead stages in the buying cycle.