Tragically, not all leads are created equal. Categorically, leads are very unique and should be understood in their characteristics in order to properly move the lead through the sales process. Every lead costs money, directly or indirectly. In that, it is imperative to understand how a lead should be fostered to maximize the chance for revenue generation.
Leads can be qualified into one of three areas: marketing, sales, or product leads. By qualifying these leads early, you are more likely to properly allocate effective resources that create success.
Marketing qualified leads are contacts who have engaged with your marketing efforts. But these leads are not ready to be sold to. They are interested, but only enough to have slight engagement. Their growth as a lead must be carefully fostered. Think of them like a bunny rabbit in your yard. If you run out to the bunny and try to feed him from your hand, he’s probably going to run off. But if you put out a few carrots, move the carrots closer to the house, at a certain point, and with finesse, he might just eat out of your hand. This is a marketing qualified lead. An overly aggressive approach will devalue the lead.
A sales-qualified lead is ready to purchase. They are in need of a product, have found where to obtain it, and are ready to acquire the good. This is great but is singular in nature. What about the next time that customer wants a product? Are you staying top of mind for them? Sales qualified leads are ideal for one-time, immediate revenue, but often are not converted to future sales. Be careful with the assumption that this type of lead will foster its own growth.
Then, there is the product qualified lead. This is especially important in our industry. Somehow, either by self-promo, referral, or some other method, this person has found out about you and has a product example on hand. The product qualified lead falls somewhere between the marketing and sales lead. They understand the tangibility and even the value of doing business with you, and they might even be ready to purchase, but they still need to be grown as a lead.
Lead fostering is a delicate and time-consuming process, but one that cannot be overlooked. It requires patience and resources to grow a lead into a customer. Because of that, it is necessary to properly allocate your responsibility to each unique lead based on the qualifying considerations.
by Seth Barnett, VP Content Development