When it comes to sales lead generation, it’s all about numbers. The more the better, right? Not necessarily. To address this age-old debate between quality vs. quantity, we once again reached out to Susan Williamson, a sales operations consultant at Monolith Software, to get some perspective. Susan notes that it’s only natural for small businesses to immediately focus on the number of deals currently in its sales pipeline; but more prospects do not automatically mean more revenue. Instead, small businesses should concentrate on filling the pipeline with quality sales leads that have a greater promise of becoming reliable clients.

You obviously want your sales team to be diligent and productive, to make as many new contacts and unearth as many potential clients as possible, however the number of calls your sales team makes isn’t as important as the content of the conversations they have. According to a MarketingSherpa report, 73 percent of all B2B sales leads are not sales-ready. It’s more efficient for your sales team to spend time and energy on quality leads, focus on demonstrating value to potential customers and moving them towards close, thereby increasing the success rate of your sales process.

Your company will have its own definition of a “quality lead” depending on the type of client it’s looking for, but typically a quality lead has four characteristics, including:

  1. The buyer is raising his or her hand by filling out the sales lead form (see additional details below)
  2. The buyer has and can outline a buying process.
  3. There is budget.
  4. There’s a timeline.

But how will your sales team find these quality leads? Here are three ways to narrow in on promising prospects:

Ask the Right Questions

Using qualifying questions can help you determine whether your lead is interested and ready to buy. Asking a question about the decision-making time frame can help your sales representative decide when to follow-up on a lead, or send it off to the marketing department for further nurturing.

It’s important to keep the conversation with prospects genuine and flowing. Spending more time with a prospect will give you a better idea of where they belong in the sales pipeline and if they are a quality lead. Reach out to all your prospects and build a profile. From there, you can track their data.

Track User Data

Finding high quality leads is the top challenge for 61% of marketers, but with the right tools, your sales team can filter data to find out more about prospects than ever before. One method of collecting data is to monitor a prospect’s behavior on your online platforms or website. Pay attention to the types of pages they visit, for how long and how they found the page.

Through these marketing analytics, you can often learn what your prospects’ main interests are. You will know what they are and aren’t looking for, which will help you target your approach. The information will help determine if the leads are worthwhile while also helping create content that will resonate.

Score Your Leads

Prioritize your prospects through lead scoring. With lead scoring, you assign points to each lead depending on how closely they align with your ideal buyer’s profile. Typically, sales teams use scales ranging from 1 to 10 or 1 to 5; the higher the grade, the stronger the lead.

This concept comes in to play when you have prospects fill out sales lead forms. Online forms can be placed on your website, social media platforms or sent as an email to future leads that collect basic information like:

  • Name,
  • Company,
  • Industry,
  • Title,
  • Email,
  • Phone number,
  • How they heard about your business, and
  • What other comments or questions they may have for you.

You can also customize the information requested to help determine if the prospect is a quality sales lead for your organization. For example, if your small business can only handle orders of a certain size, you should request a ballpark figure the prospect is looking to fulfill within your sales lead form. If their answer is within your target range, they will receive a higher grade. Providing this information to your sales team ensures they will have a greater understanding of the prospect’s needs and potential business opportunity earlier in the process.

The process of developing online forms and questions can be a bit of a balancing act and it’s important to keep your ideal buyer in mind. You do not want to make your questions too complicated or your form too long, this may scare prospects away or keep others from following the form through to completion. To help find the right balance, create an A/B test between forms and/or questions. Comparing the completion rate will help you determine which route is the most successful.

Developing quality leads takes a lot of time and effort, but hopefully your sales team will start to see the value of choosing quality over quantity, especially when they see a surge in their close rate. Weeding out low-quality leads will increase productivity, speed up completion of your sales cycle and reduce inefficiencies within your sales pipeline; all improving your bottom line. When your sales reps are able to recognize that quality leads are more lucrative, they will start to trust the sales pipeline process and focus increasingly on sales-ready prospects.

Looking for additional resources to help grow your small business?

Check out our resources section for recommended readings, white papers and more.

Jeffrey Kadlic

Author Jeffrey Kadlic

Jeffrey Kadlic is a Founding Partner of Evolution Capital Partners, a nationally recognized and award-winning private equity firm dedicated to driving small business transformational success. His passion is simple: arm and inspire entrepreneurs today with the operational leadership, capital management, and success drivers that competitive markets demand. He is a creator of Evolution’s Five Fundamentals, the systematic organizational change agent that transforms the challenges small businesses face into sustainable and profitable growth.

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