The first person just downloaded your conveyor line maintenance tip sheet! Your first lead! Great! Send it on to sales right away!
Hold on just a second.
Just because someone visited your website and filled out a form does not mean you want to get sales on them, at least not right away and without some qualifiers.
Who is this lead? Are they really interested in your equipment, or did they just stumble upon your manufacturing company because they're an engineering student doing a research paper? Maybe they are a competitor scoping out your recent marketing efforts. You need to get more information before overwhelming your salesforce with leads that go no where.
What is a sales qualified lead?
When a lead is ready to send to your sales team it is considered a sales qualified lead. How you determine when a lead is sales-qualified varies from industry to industry and company to company.
Here are eight indicators that a lead is ready to be considered sales-qualified:
1: Sales Qualified Leads are most often also Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs).
Before you start looking at a leads activity you need to first determine if they are a good fit for your company. We refer to these leads as marketing qualified.
There are several data points needed to determine if a lead is marketing qualified.
Do they have large enough annual revenue to justify buying your equipment? Are they a fortune 500 company or a small co packer struggling to find orders?
Does the lead have the authority to make the purchase? Perhaps the person is an engineer that has influence on the equipment they build their production line out of, but he's not the actual VP of operations that makes the final call.
Are they in the right industry? They may be looking for sampling equipment for a dairy operation while your company focuses on oil and gas.
These questions will be different for every manufacturing company. You should sit down with your sales team to determine what a good fit for you looks like. Then use inbound methodologies and technologies, like form conversions and LinkedIn, to find and capture this data from your website visitors.
2: Sales Qualified Leads have downloaded multiple content offers while browsing your site.
Your lead downloaded a content piece! Great! Now, how many content pieces in total have they downloaded?
If it’s just the one they may still be getting acquainted to your solution or equipment. Given how long equipment sales cycles are, it may be best to keep an eye on them to see if they download more, but they may not want to be contacted by sales, especially if the content the have downloaded is a top-of-the-funnel offer.
If they have downloaded multiple pieces in a short period of time it could mean they are looking to move quickly on a equipment purchase or engineering estimate. In that instance, send them to your sales team pronto.
3: Leads that Download Increasingly Advanced Content Become Sales Qualified
There are 3 stages of the buyers journey: Awareness, Consideration, and Decision. You should develop content specifically for each stage. You can then use the knowledge of which content a lead has downloaded to determine how sales qualified they are. The more advanced the content, the more sales ready a lead is.
That maintenance checklist you made might be great for the awareness stage, but does not mean a lead is ready to make a decision. That cost comparison chart, however? That piece means they are looking to make a decision.
4: Participatory, Live Content Makes Leads more Sales Qualified.
Some of the best content you can create is interactive. Events like webinars or live demos are great bottom-of-the-funnel content. Attendance of a webinar or demo are indicators that your lead is really interested in your specific solution because it means that your relationship with the lead is becoming increasingly close. They will most likely have already done other activities that have made them more sales qualified, but attending one of these events is just screaming for sales to get in touch.
5: A Lead that Continuously Returns to Your Website is Signalling their Readiness.
If a lead keeps coming back to your website you know they are likely further down the buyers journey than a first time visitor.
Multiple visits means what you are saying or the equipment you are selling is resonating with the pain points they have. They are coming back to evaluate you vs other solutions, or they could also be showing their colleagues what you have to offer. This is a good indicator that a lead is sales qualified, especially if it pairs with another qualifying activity.
6: Sales Qualified Leads Look at a Certain Selection of Web Pages: Pricing, Getting Started, etc.
Not all webpages are created equal. Your homepage is going to get the most traffic by far, and a visit is a very low qualifying activity. On the other hand, visits to some pages are extremely informative.
Visits to product and pricing pages indicate that a lead is evaluating your equipment or solutions. FAQ pages or blog posts addressing specific production challenges are also good pages to monitor for activity. You should let your sales team know which pages a lead has visited before they make a call so they can have a more targeted conversation.
7: Leads with High Email Responsiveness Are More Likely to Be Sales Qualified.
Using automation and workflows you can nurture a lead with emails. Seeing how they respond to these emails can signal their readiness for a sales rep to contact them because that means your brand is being seen as important. By tracking your leads as they become customers you can get a better handle on what number of email opens and clicks leads to a sale. If they open and click on many emails in a certain workflow, you can even better direct a sales team on how to connect with them.
8: Sales Qualified Leads Aren't Usually Old Leads.
The amount of time a contact has been a lead can also let you know how open they are to a sales call. A new lead is likely still exploring what your company has to offer, while an old lead is not really interested in buying your equipment.
Finding the right time when a lead is ripe will depend on analyzing your unique companies sales cycle. Manufacturing tends to have a longer sales cycle of months to even a year for large capital projects. Make sure you keep you leads warm over that period of time with good content and, if they keep up their activities, give sales a nudge to drop them a line.