May 14

Lead Qualification: Stop generating leads and start generating revenue

Inside Sales


B2B marketers, stop focusing on generating leads. You’re wasting your time and your sales team’s time.

Now that I have your attention, here’s what you should focus on instead: helping salespeople sell.

How do you do that? By sending them only qualified leads.

Most leads aren’t qualified

Leads are only qualified when they fit your universal lead definition (ULD).  Don’t have a ULD? Before you do any more lead generation, make developing one your highest priority. Start by reading this: Universal Lead Definition: Why 61% of B2B marketers are wasting resources and how they can stop.

For nearly 20 years, I have worked with hundreds of leading B2B organizations to optimize their lead-qualification efforts — this includes phoning inbound leads to find out if they are truly qualified. We have found that calling the “qualified leads” at most companies reveals that a mere 5% to 40% are ready for Sales and up to 95% are not really qualified.

However, too many B2B marketers — a whopping 61% according to MarketingSherpa’s B2B Marketing Benchmark Report — think that filling out a Web form, downloading some information, or attending an event is enough qualification to hand a lead to Sales.

That leaves sales professionals two not-so-great options:

  • Option #1 – Spend hours upon hours calling marketing leads to weed out the 5% to 40% that are ready to talk.

    Ask yourself: Is this the best use of a highly compensated sales professional’s time?

  • Option #2Disregard the leads they get from Marketing and focus on the deals they know will close. (This is the most common scenario.)

    Ask yourself: When Sales ignores leads, how much potential revenue is lost? Understand that leads that aren’t ready to buy immediately represent 80% of your future sales.

The only way to qualify leads is to call them

Every day some kind of software emerges that will help you track customer behavior. This is certainly valuable for lead scoring and prioritizing qualification efforts, but too many marketers rely on that to do their heavy lifting.

When you really need to know all the answers, you must make human contact and speak to them directly. I have yet to find a better way to qualify a lead. In fact, I’ve talked with many of the major marketing automation providers and most have salespeople who follow-up on inbound leads with a phone call.

This human touch takes your organization’s relationship with prospects to the next level. Suddenly, you’re not an email or website anymore. You’re a real company with real people, and people buy from people.

Once you find out directly whether the prospect fits your universal lead definition, you have two excellent options:

  • Option #1 – If they fit the ULD, send them to the sales team so it can do what it does best – work on closing the deal.
  • Option #2 – If they don’t fit the ULD, nurture them until they do. (Want to learn more about nurturing?

Take a look at this article:  Lead Nurturing: Build trust, win more deals by helping prospects – not selling them.)

B2B marketing isn’t about how many names you’re getting; it’s about doing everything you can to optimize your selling time by connecting Sales with the right people in the right companies. Doing this helps your salespeople sell, makes them more productive, and earns your company more revenue.

Related Resources

Universal Lead Definition: Why 61% of B2B marketers are wasting resources and how they can stop.

Lead Nurturing: Build trust, win more deals by helping prospects – not selling them

B2B Marketing: The 7 most important stages in the teleprospecting funnel

Traits of the Best Teleprospectors

Intro to Lead Generation: How to determine if a lead is qualified

How to Do Lead Management That Improves Conversion

About the author 

Brian Carroll

Brian Carroll is the CEO and founder of markempa, helping companies to convert more customers with empathy-based marketing.

He is the author of the bestseller, Lead Generation for the Complex Sale and founded B2B Lead Roundtable LinkedIn Group with 20,301+ members.

  1. Great post, Brian – sending unqualified leads from marketing activities to sales clearly doesn’t work. But call-downs to qualify contacts as sales-ready is also very expensive. It’s important to develop ways to better identify those who want to be called before they are called. Not only does this help significantly cut costs, but it also improves the brand experience – calling people who are not ready to be called can annoy them – undermining the brand experience.

  2. Another nice article Brian. YOu said it clearly on how best to qualify a lead. Yes, I also agree that calling is the only best way for lead qualification. And it’s not about the quantity, but the quality.

  3. Nice post Brian, it’s really very important if the marketing staff is going to qualify their leads first before letting the sales department handle it. Good Lead Qualification saves the compny a lot of time and money, and will help the sales department generate revenue at the soonest time.

  4. My only additional comments would be that if only a protocol could be followed with B2C too that could avoid the level of harassment that some companies level on the public despite being asked to be removed from mailing/calling lists. I agree on the whole, B2B interaction is extremely successful when marketing has researched effectively and sales is able to finalise the right deal for the right customer! But as you commented, how often is this the case?

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