Marketing and sales are becoming harder and harder as the consumers have more and more options. They are constantly being bombarded with efforts to attract their attention which makes it harder to stand out. Even when the product and demand are a good match, the consumer may have some other extraneous factor holding them up from making the purchasing decision. That is why sales qualified leads (SQLs) are so crucial to organizations. These are the highest converting leads and must be maximized to increase revenue. For that reason, companies need to look for methods to deliver the highest number of SQLs possible.
The more niche and specific you are with your marketing effort, the more likely you are to reach the target consumer right at the time their demand is strongest. A building contractor that puts a general ad in a real estate trade magazine may get some inbound interest. However, if the firm creates a detailed white paper on different types of energy saving window treatments, they are much more likely to find consumers interested in the very specific choices debated in the white paper. Anyone that takes the time to read such a document is probably serious about making a purchase. Once the sales team identifies them as a real property owner or manager, they almost automatically become an SQL.
Social Network and Platforms
Having a detailed, reliable social marketing strategy is one of the most important ways to generate SQLs in the modern economy. SQLs usually have many connections in common with other leads and are easy to spot through analytics and search strategies.
Companies must identify the ideal strategies to reach leads through A/B testing, demographic testing, different messaging and platforms. The tools, keywords and strategies that work the best, create SQLs. These are identified by the passion and energy of the lead, as well as their existing network.
Often times the places to look for SQLs are the most obvious. Your current clients or previous clients are much more likely to know future clients than any other source. Clients often know companies with the same problem and demand as themselves. Similarly, they are open to incentives that you can offer such as discounts and bonuses for introducing future clients. That makes them a fantastic source for generating SQLs. These warm-lead referrals are almost immediately classified as SQLs.
Use Data and Analytics
Leads that are SQLs have similar characteristics that can be determined over time by analyzing data. Each company may have different metrics for concluding that a certain lead is an SQL. However, there are a few common metrics.
1. The number of times that a client has filled out a contact form. Leads that come back 2 or 3 times for more information and contact indicate that they have greater interest. They sustain that interest over time and have a real demand. However, a lead that has filled one out 4 or 5 times but still has not purchased may be a lost cause.
2. Determine which keywords convert highest. Although a regular keyword search ad has a low rate of conversions, some score much higher. Very niche or specific keywords may do especially well in converting leads to sales. For example, the building contractor’s key word “contractor” is too broad and may yield a very low conversion rate per click. However, something like “5×10 solar shade solar window treatment contractor” would yield a much higher result per click, even though the volume of clicks would be much lower. Rather than mark these rare leads as MQLs, they could be marked as SQLs.
3. Conduct the same experimentation with email marketing as search marketing. Most broad email marketing campaigns have a very low response rate. However, very specific email campaigns that are highly targeted to serious leads may immediately become SQLs upon a response.
4. Create detailed models of prospective clients based on the market and existing client base. Utilize your data or analytics team to model the most likely client in terms of demographics, size, stage, demand and marketing channel. The model will predict a potential client profile that may or may not be expected. Leads that share this profile also become SQLs, even if they are cold leads. The classic example of this strategy is when companies develop organizational tools or online shopping apps that they hope up and coming millenials use and share with friends, only to find that suburban house wives with disposable income end up using these tools more often due to greater demand. In fact, the imaginary client often fails to materialize while the tried and true clients were there all along.
Utilize Other Departments or Partner Companies
Similar to the strategy of accessing referrals, leads that come by way of another division in your firm or a partner firm are extremely valuable. These leads become SQLs quickly because you know that they are already spending money for some related product or service.
Marketing and sales teams must engage with other departments and exchange client lists. Approach these potential leads very seriously with the full profile and ideal sales strategy in mind before any pitch. These SQLs are warm and ready to buy as existing customers.
In Person Meetings
Surprisingly, target clients become much more likely to become real clients when an in person meeting occurs. No matter how brief or tentative a meeting is, putting a name with a face makes an enormous difference in the mind of a client. Rather than an anonymous email address or LinkedIn profile, the sales person becomes real.
That is why attending conferences, industry events, networking, happy hours and other occasions are so crucial. These cases allow the sales or marketing team to form the real connections that will stick in the client’s mind. Once that connection is made and their capability to purchase is verified, an MQL can convert to an SQL.
Do you want to increase SQLs for your company? Request a free audit of your marketing.