When you ask salespeople about their biggest gripe about marketing, they complain about not enough qualified leads. You can often tell that this is an issue just by looking at a company’s lead forms. What you’ll typically see is that the the forms ask for too much information and that can hinder conversions from visitor to lead.

Marketers are often measured by the number of leads they generate. Sales people are measured by sales. Marketers don’t want to be held accountable for sales because they aren’t actually selling. Sales people criticize “poorly qualified” web leads. This all leads to a lot of tension.

The Consequences of “Low Quality” Leads

In fact, in a survey conducted by Omniture and InsideSales.com they set up aliases, such as John@xyzcompany.com, and completed the lead or request information form of 700 different companies, several different times. Then kept track of their lead response and nurturing strategies and found:

  • Average email response time: 19 hours, 31 minutes
    *Optimum response time should be within the first hour
  • Average phone response time: 36 hours, 57 minutes
    *Optimum phone response time should be within the first five minutes
  • How many companies even responded?
    *Only 47.3 percent responded via email, and just 7.5 percent responded via phone!

Web-generated leads decrease effectiveness by over 6x in the first hour according to InsideSales.com.

Obviously, there is a huge disaster in the making. Marketers have potential customers who indicated some level of qualification to buy from your company and sales people who practically refuse to respond. In the end everyone loses out.

Five Steps to Solving the “Lead Qualification” Problem

1. Identify which sources of traffic generation are creating improved qualification rates and ideal close rates. You need to have the analytics and a CRM / sales workflow system that helps you close the loop from marketing all the way through the close of the sale.

2. Identify which offer types improved qualification rates and close rates. Understand your personas and what actually matters to them. Spend time testing and refining offers and generating additional content that you can prove matters to your prospects.

3. Improve your method of qualifying and capturing leads. Test your lead forms to find the right balance of questions that keep the quality and lead count up. Use a platform that enables you to capture web activity (pages/content viewed, tool/calculator interactions) and include that information in the customer profile for sales. This usually involves tagging content to identify its value in the sales and buying process.

4. Improve your method of distributing leads. Often times the delay in getting form submissions responded to is your internal process of routing leads to the appropriate sales person. This should never be a manual process considering you lose a leads effectiveness with in the first few minutes. Think about it, the last time you submitted a form on a site, when did you want the response to your inquiry. Now! So do your prospects. Use a platform that will automatically distribute leads based on the profile of the customer you have collected through their visit(s). Distribution is often based on geographic region, company size, product/service they are interested in, etc. Either you can have the prospect fill this out in a form or most of this information can be collected and gleaned by web activity.

5. Improve your lead response time. When marketing aligns with sales using effective content planning, integrating the customer buying process with the company’s sales process, distributing leads that have not been turned off by your processes (and horrendous forms), providing sales people with details that matter to them about the prospect’s interests and motivations and then distribute those leads effectively, their isn’t a salesperson who wouldn’t want to respond to that kind of “qualified” prospect right away.