Leads are the lifeblood of any B2B business, but chasing leads who will never buy is a waste of time and money that could better be spent elsewhere. This is an area where “work smart rather than hard” is good advice. If leads are coming through your website, you need to take at least two steps before you set up a sales meeting:
- Use a website form to prequalify.
- Direct the leads to salespeople who can qualify the leads further before spending more time on them.
In order to work efficiently, before you even begin to set up marketing programs to attract leads, you should set up a good CRM system to automate and support your entire process from acquiring leads to making sales and finally to serving customers.
Prequalify Your Prospects with a Website Form
Let’s say you are offering a heavily-researched white paper with insights to help people grow their businesses. Before prospects can access the white paper, they must complete a form that you created with your CRM. Questions on the form will pre-qualify prospects so your salespeople can follow up with the likely candidates, or you can begin email drip campaigns according to segmentation. The balancing act is asking enough to pre-qualify the prospect, but not so much that they abandon your site. Don’t be afraid to ask the deal-breaker questions, but keep it short. Following are some ideas for questions you might ask; try to keep it down to no more than six of these:
- Company name
- Email: This should be required, and you will want to send them an email with a link so they can download the white paper to prevent getting fake email addresses.
- Phone: You may or may not want this to be required because this requirement will turn some people away. However, if you do require it, you will have a higher quality lead.
- Title: Title is one way to make a broad-brush determination if the prospect has purchasing authority.
- Product interest: You might ask them to indicate the products in which they are interested. Of course, this may be obvious from how they came to your site (such as an ad for a specific product).
- Industry: For some companies, it may be important to know the prospect’s vertical to determine whether or not they can use your product and who in your organization should follow up.
- Company revenue: This question helps determine if a company can afford your product and also helps you to prioritize the big fish. Make sure this is a multiple choice question. If it is fill-in-the-blank, people are more likely to lie.
An example of multiple choice revenue options for a relatively high-end product or service might look like this:
o Under $5,000,000
o $5,000,000 to $25,000,000
o $25,000,000 to $50,000,000
o $50,000,000 to $100,000,000
o Over $100,000,000
After the leads are pre-qualified, your CRM system should channel them to your sales team along with the answers to the form questions. Now it’s time for salespeople to further qualify the leads before setting up longer meetings. What your salespeople ask depends on your company and what you are selling, of course. However, here are some general areas to probe that can help determine whether the prospect can benefit from your product, what the prospect thinks is important to their buying decision, and where the salesperson should concentrate in order to close the sale.
Are you talking to a decision maker, an influencer or none of the above?
When you go to sell a product, you need to be sure you are ultimately talking to the decision maker. Is this person one of the people who can say “yes” to the sale or can they only turn it down? You are wasting your time selling to someone without authority to approve the sale. Even if they present your information to someone who does have the authority to say “yes,” that presentation will be severely watered down. So if your lead is not the decision maker, see if they are able to put you in front of the decision maker.
Before you can sell a product or service, you must know what the company is using. Only then can you explain the additional benefits of your product. What do they like and dislike about their current product or service? Perhaps your product could streamline the work and provide additional, money-saving efficiencies. Perhaps it offers new possibilities they have never been able to accomplish before. Whatever it is, you need to understand how you can help the prospect to be more successful. Don’t be afraid to ask for the detail you need. If you feel you cannot offer them a better option, perhaps you should take a pass.
What is their biggest business challenge (or their biggest challenge relevant to what you are selling)?
The more information you have, the more you can explain how your product can solve some of the prospect’s problems.
Why did they reach out to you?
If this is an incoming lead, there must be some reason they contacted you. Maybe they just saw the white paper featured in a social media ad and decided to download it. But probably they felt this area of their business could be improved somehow. Find out why.
When are they ready to act?
If the prospect is interested in buying a product or service such as the one you offer, are they thinking about doing so in the next month? Or two years down the road? Are there reasons they cannot act soon, such as an unbreakable contract or money issues? No use spinning your wheels with a prospect who is unable to buy.
“A Little Time Spent Qualifying Leads Will Increase Your Revenues and Save Time”
Time spent pre-qualifying and qualifying leads is well spent. Just a little time upfront can enable your salespeople to be more productive and make more sales.