10 Ideas for Better Lead Qualification

September 10, 2019 | Kirsten Lyons

As marketers, your job is to deliver leads to sales that will ultimately turn into customers and revenue for the business. But when only 13% of MQLs convert to opportunities it’s no shock that B2B marketers rate generating qualified leads as their top challenge. In fact, 77% of marketers rank improving lead quality was a top priority, even more so than increasing lead quantity. 

Improving lead quality can feel like an overwhelming task. While there’s no way to wave a magic wand and make your best leads stand out, there are many practical approaches savvy marketers can take to uncovering which leads are displaying real buying intent, and which are more “just looking” shoppers.

Let’s explore some lead qualification techniques below.

1. Interview your sales team

It’s hard to increase the number of leads that your sales team accepts and works (improving your MQL to SQL conversion rate) if marketing and sales aren’t on the same page about the “Q” factor. Interview your sales team to get a better understanding of what they look for in a prospect, and organize your marketing efforts to prioritize those attributes in leads.

Further Reading: Why Marketers Should Listen When Sales Talks Trash: Understanding the Disconnect

2. Segment your audiences

Treating all prospects the same leaves little opportunity to surface and prioritize the highest quality leads for your business. Different buyer personas and prospects at various points within the buying process will need very different content and campaigns to support their movement down the funnel. When marketers segment their audiences to deliver relevant messaging and conversion opportunities, lead are more prepared to move through the sales process seamlessly.

3. Manage your data health

Are you still emailing the same list of several thousand names without a clean out? While third party data can be useful in establishing firmographic and demographic qualifying information necessary to find high quality leads, that information degrades rapidly. Your prospects move on from jobs, they get promoted and their role is no longer applicable to your target buyer, or their email addresses change. By implementing a data health program marketers can ensure that they’re barking up the right trees.

4. Build nurture campaigns

Not every person that fills out a form on your website is going to be ready to have a conversation with your sales team—in fact, early follow up from sales often turns off buyers who might have been a fit after a little bit of nurturing. By showing prospects the right information at the right time, you can prep them to see the value in your solution and convert faster.

Further Reading: How to Build Nurture Campaigns Based on Buyer Intent

5. Go where your advocates are

By identifying your brand and customer advocates, marketers can get a uniquely valuable window into what their ideal customer prefers to engage online. What kind of social media do they engage with? What kind of language do they use to talk about your product? How do they conceptualize the challenges? Understanding who your advocates are, and what they engage with can help marketers find lookalike audiences and increase the likelihood that those leads will be qualified.


6. Get more from existing conversion opportunities

Marketers are used to driving prospects toward specific conversion opportunities, but we often only ask for a first name, last name, and email address to call it a conversion. But marketers can improve lead quality by including qualifying questions within the form or conversion site. For example, instead of assuming that the fact that a prospect has clicked through to a landing page makes them qualified, use the opportunity to ask them about qualifying criteria while they are filling out the form. 

Further Reading: How to Turn Your Landing Pages into Qualification Channels

7. Don’t discount disqualification

Build opportunities for your prospects to opt out into your process, as well as triggers for them to be opted out of your nurture efforts based on qualifying criteria. This might sound counterintuitive, but efficiency goes hand-in-hand with lead quality. Forgoing leads that are only “Maybe Qualified” instead of Marketing Qualified improves the likelihood that the leads sent to sales will actually convert.

8. Have weekly meetings with your sales team

Tightly aligned sales and marketing teams are not only more productive, but they’re able to be agile when it comes to lead quality. Buyer persona research and lead qualification criteria aren’t a once-and-done deal—meeting with your sales team regularly can help you get an understanding of what messages are resonating right now, as well as stay up to date on which leads from which programs are converting. When marketing and sales are working in lockstep, marketers can scale programs that are delivering the most qualified leads.

Further Reading: Do Your Marketing and Sales Teams Need Couples Therapy? Use These Steps to Improve Alignment

9. Create qualification opportunities everywhere

Marketers can create opportunities for lead qualification all across their marketing by implementing qualifying questions in channels that normally used to only signal engagement. Consider being able to ask your prospect about their top priorities for the next six months, or what they’re looking for directly within a PDF or blog post—that information makes for much higher lead quality than a simple download or a subscription.

Further Reading: How to Turn Your PDFs into Qualification Engines

10. Put your prospects in the driver’s seat

Part of delivering high quality leads is also allowing your prospects to guide their own journey. Buyer journeys are complex today, and one CTA might not be right for prospects in different stages of the buying process. By offering multiple CTAs, marketers can learn about what their prospects need, and focus on nurturing the high quality leads that are showing motivation to move further down the funnel. 

Final thoughts

From working to align with your sales team to using qualifying criteria across marketing programs to learn more about prospects, there are many different approaches marketers can take to improve lead quality. When marketers are able to effectively prioritize the leads most likely to convert, all of the other metrics that make for successful marketing and sales teams are more likely to fall into place. Learn more about how to take the first step in improving lead quality—aligning with your sales team—in our guide.

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