I read recently that a company trimmed its registration form to include an extremely basic two-field form and found its conversion rate more than tripled with this simplification. At the same time, the company expanded its e-mail follow-up process and was able to increase the amount of personal data collected over time.
Create the Universal Lead Definition, and Apply It to the Remaining Inquiries
There are things your sales team must know before an inquiry is worthy of being called a lead. You should:
- Identify company size, industry and geography. You may choose to remove inquiries based on specific marketing requirements or limitations at this point, including non-U.S. or student e-mail addresses, or contacts residing in locations or industries that you don’t serve. This step can reduce your leads by as much as 10 percent.
- Ask business situation questions such as number of users, current systems platform, etc.
- Determine the inquiry's role in the organization or authority in the buying process.
- Determine if your organization can help based on the lead's business need.
- Identify the prospect’s stage in the buying process. Many “leads” are actually still early in the buying process, conducting general market research, and although these contacts are very valuable and should be nurtured and managed over time, they clearly aren’t ready to buy.
- Purge those inquiries containing any obvious bogus information. Remove duplicates and invalid names and e-mail addresses. (Simple forms tend to generate less invalid information than lengthy, time-consuming forms.)
Create a Behavior Model to Prioritize Leads Based on Activity and Data
Use your CRM or marketing automation suite to prioritize based on:
- Size of organization: Is there an organization that fits your “sweet spot” better than others?
- Fit: Can you meet leads' immediate needs?
- Differences in activity based on time frame: Emphasize recent activity. The ongoing uncertainty about the health of the economy doesn’t necessarily reflect every prospect’s current situation. Even in beleaguered sectors, strong companies will see opportunities for growth. Activity within the past three months—such as downloading a whitepaper or responding to e-mails about upcoming events—receives a higher score. The same activities that took place six months or a year ago receive lower scores if a prospect has not engaged in additional marketing activities since then. This technique allows sales to focus its attention on prospects who have demonstrated strong interest in recent marketing campaigns. Definitely maintain older leads in your database, and keep these lower-scoring leads in the nurturing program until their activity increases again.
Use the Phone (or E-mail) to Qualify High-Priority Leads Based on Scoring
Some companies may use third-party list providers to verify information. Just remember, the phone is the gold standard for qualifying most leads. A good conversation is the best way to assess a company’s interest. (InTouch has found e-mail to be a great way to create a one-to-one dialogue by asking questions as well; be sure to test this with your audiences.) Use data from your lead-nurturing and lead-scoring systems to have relevant chats with prospects.