Lead Management

What I Learned Rebuilding My Company’s Lead Qualification System

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Are you chasing the golden goose, or are you on a wild goose chase? When you’re first starting out and trying to scale your company, it’s hard to know for sure.

When we were still a small, scrappy team, we took a piecemeal approach to developing our sales process and didn’t involve anyone who actually worked exclusively in sales. It worked for a while, but after my company doubled in size and we had made deep investments in our marketing efforts, we realized we needed to revamp our sales process.

The first thing we tackled was the initial messaging we sent out to leads when they converted on our homepage. At the time, leads would encounter delays, going cold before sales had a chance to act on them. The sales team spent so much time on intro calls, we couldn’t move our best leads down the pipeline once we discovered who they were.

In this blog, I’ll cover how we scrapped our old, slapdash rigmarole and created a new, scalable workflow based on our real-life experiences, as well as how we immediately improved our sales process.

Recognizing the Problem

Our old lead qualification system lacked one crucial component: intelligent automation.

We spent hours manually qualifying every lead, determining which ones were worth more attention in the sales cycle. This squandered time, and worse, it relegated a highly-capable strategic thinker to a repetitive task, wasting talent that would be better used on higher priorities.

On the sales side, the problem was even worse. Our team was slammed with both qualified and unqualified intro calls with leads. Some leads were considering starting a company, while others were leaders at Fortune 500 organizations. Because we had no automation, all of them got the same level of attention.

This focus on intro calls meant that 90% of the time, the sales team couldn’t focus on down-funnel activity. We were wasting talent, time, and opportunities. So we decided to fix it.

What We Did

To correct our course, we designed a step-by-step plan to rebuild our lead generation strategy.

First, we created a new lead qualification workflow. When the workflow captures an email address and sends it to our marketing automation solution, the lead automatically receives a score of zero. Then, the workflow asks four questions:

  • Which industry does this lead come from? (0­–3 points)
  • What is this lead’s monthly revenue? (0–3 points)
  • What is this lead’s marketing budget? (0–4 points)
  • What are this lead’s growth goals? (no points)

Out of a possible 10 points, we set a score of four as the cutoff for qualified leads. When leads qualify, the workflow encourages them to call us. When they don’t, the site redirects them to our blog, puts them on an email list, and tells them they will hear from us later.

With the qualification workflow in place, we designed two separate email workflows to streamline our incoming leads. Qualified leads receive an email designed to get them on the phone with our director of sales. Unqualified leads receive a pricing communication that’s upfront about our fees, informs them what we offer, and lets them decide whether they have the budget for our services.

This new system created a more manageable funnel for our sales team. Thanks to the qualification score system, the sales team only spends a third of its calls on introductions, 90% of which are now with qualified leads. Our system also freed the sales team to refine our down-funnel sales process. Now, we have new email workflows, a growth audit cycle phase, and a master services agreement signing process.

The real proof is in our conversions. Our rebuild doubled our monthly average of new clients from five to 10.

Lessons Learned in the Rebuild

While our rebuild was successful, we could have benefitted from knowing a few things before we began. If you want to follow our example, consider these lessons.

Time Is Everything

Our directors of sales and marketing were slammed with manual work prior to the rebuild. Had we known how much of that work automated qualification could save, we would have started long ago.

Sales reps effectively follow up with leads only around 25% of the time. You don’t have to let unripened leads wither on the vine. Use automated programs to handle lead scoring, like we did, adjusting the scores and metrics to fit your preferred demographic. If other marketing tasks steal your time, automate those, too. Automate special landing pages, pop-ups, and promotions to free your employees for more important tasks.

Not All Leads Are Equal…

Before our new process, we were willing to listen to anyone and everyone. As we scaled, that became unrealistic. We needed to be more discerning about which clients we worked with, which calls we took, and how we approached prospects in different price tiers. This is especially true as we grow, hire more, and increase our pricing to reflect the growing demand.

You can avoid lowering the return on investment of your time spent chasing leads by clearly identifying the types of customers and purchase behaviors you want to pursue. Break down prospects by industry, company size, job titles, and other factors relevant to your product, then focus your attention on your best prospects. If you do well with executives at technology companies with 1,000 to 5,000 employees, set your lead system to prioritize those leads.

…But Everyone Deserves a Voice

Prioritizing one demographic doesn’t mean ignoring the rest. Unqualified leads can find their way to our director of sales by qualifying themselves through our pricing email. If an unqualified prospect receives that communication—which includes transparent pricing—and still wants to talk, we want to have those conversations.

Instead of shutting down unqualified leads, put them into an email cycle that keeps them informed about your business. Segment prospects into lists based on lead type if you offer different tiers of products, and loop them in on company news, new products, and other relevant information. Leads who aren’t qualified might become qualified later, particularly if they consistently receive valuable information from you that they can use to make a decision. If you shun them at first, they won’t view you in a positive light when they’re ready to buy.

Lead qualification automation saves time, boosts revenue, and frees talented people to work on projects with higher return on investment. Stop wasting their time and energy. Follow these steps to implement a qualification system that works for you.

Have you built a scalable lead qualification system that works for your business? Are you considering a rebuild? Tell me about it in the comments, I’d love to keep the conversation going.