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Mastering lead qualification: a guide to boosting conversions

Nov 15, 2023

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When you’re in sales and you think of lead qualification, you think in terms of BANT: Budget, Authority, Need and Timing. All very useful for marketing too! So let’s keep those criteria in mind, and read on. There’s more to the topic of lead qualification and what you can do with it.

Pardot, now called Salesforce Marketing Cloud Account Engagement is often called the #1 software for lead qualification and for good reasons! This software has more than most thought out the processes, tools and features that digital marketers need to be able to differentiate between its leads. There are many reasons as to why, and I’ll go into this in a bit of detail below. But in our 10 years as a Salesforce marketing automation consultants, we’ve observed that not all companies are on board with this. So here’s our guide to master lead qualification for sales conversion.

The essence of it al lis this: I advise companies to qualify leads based on predefined criteria. This will help them be focused, communicate with relevance, build trust, and realise sales consistency — all of this, with automations in place! In marketing, every moment counts, and efficiency is a serious goal. Come learn with me how this strategy can significantly enhance your marketing efforts.

Leveraging the Potential of Lead Qualification

In your pursuit of success, you understand that not all leads are equal. Some are hot prospects ready to convert, while others may need more nurturing.

By implementing lead qualification criteria, you gain a competitive edge by:

1. FOCUS – Maximising efficiency

Picture a scenario where your sales team engages exclusively with prospects who are genuinely interested and have a higher likelihood of converting. Say goodbye to time wasted on unqualified leads! With established criteria in place, you can concentrate your resources where they matter most.

2 & 3. RELEVANCE & TRUST – Cultivating stronger customer relationships

As someone who values robust connections and clear communication, lead qualification allows you to build more meaningful relationships with your prospects. By understanding their specific requirements and desires, you can provide targeted solutions and create a memorable customer experience.

4. SALES – Amplifying conversion rates

Your strategic mindset recognises that personalised communication is the key to success. By qualifying leads based on factors such as demographics, behaviour, and engagement history, you can tailor your messaging to directly address their needs and pain points. This tailored approach significantly boosts conversion rates.

Lead qualification in Pardot

I mentioned earlier that Pardot is one of the most sophisticated systems out there when it comes to lead qualification. It has 2 main toolsets. One is for lead grading.

This essentially refers to how attractive a lead is to you and your business. How close are their profiles to the profile of your ideal customer?

But also you may have 2 types of ideal customers, say dog owner, and cat owner.

In which case you could set up 2 grading categories.

lead qualification - lead grading and lead scoring in Pardot... so you'll know when your dog owner is ready to buy some dog food

In addition, you can set up lead scoring. These scores give you an indication of how close a customer is buying from you. Based on the score, you can set automations in Pardot to get Sales into action and contact the customer directly.

Crafting effective lead qualification criteria

Now, let’s define those critical criteria.

1. Demographics

The most common factors considered in B2B are: industry, job titles, company size, and location. These details will help you segment your leads effectively and fine-tune your messaging. Yes. Very important to start there.

But also consider… how old his he/she? What’s therefore his generation? What’s therefore most likely his computer literacy level, and his social media uptake.

For B2C, things can get a lot more nuanced even. And some demographics are not even about the person at all, but about ownership. Consider pet owners. Cat owner, or dog owner?

lead qualification profiles and criteria can go beyond demographics and also include ownership

A cat owner is typically a completely different person from a dog owner.

  • A cat goes out on his own. A dog must be walked 2-3x a day.
  • A cat is aloof, mostly. A dog is loyal, mostly.
  • A cat may happily stay at home while you go away for the weekend, with minimal neighbourly care. A dog is taken along for the weekend.

You get the picture.

Because pets are significant to them (and a lot of work), pet owners identify with their role. As pets vary so much, don’t confuse a cat owner as a dog owner.

2. Behavioural analysis

Track user behaviour on your website and interactions with your emails. Are they downloading resources, attending webinars, or abandoning their shopping carts? Analysing these actions provides valuable insights into their level of interest.

3. Engagement history

Review past interactions, email opens, and click-through rates. This data offers vital clues about a lead’s engagement level and receptiveness to your content.

4. Lead scoring

Develop a lead scoring system that assigns numerical values to various criteria. This enables you to rank and prioritise leads. High-scoring leads receive immediate attention, while lower-scoring ones enter nurturing sequences.

Is your pet owner a dog owner? E.g. Grade B+ ?

is she ready to buy dog treats? E.g. Score 300?

What that looks like in Pardot:

How to implement a lead qualification strategy

To fully embrace this lead qualification strategy, consider these practical steps:

1. Collaboration with Sales

Your aptitude for leadership and strategic thinking shines in collaboration. Work closely with your sales team to determine what constitutes a qualified lead. Align your criteria with their requirements to ensure a seamless handover. Also be sure to understand the different personas, as well as what products best befit each lead profile. It’s not always that certain leads are better leads, its often a case that leads are different.

2. Automation of the Process

Leverage marketing automation tools to streamline lead qualification. Set up workflows that automatically assign scores and segment leads based on your established criteria.

3. Continuous Improvement

Your commitment to ongoing enhancement is crucial. Regularly review and fine-tune your lead qualification criteria based on performance data. Stay agile and adapt to changing market dynamics.

In conclusion, by implementing lead qualification criteria, you’re harnessing your natural inclination for efficiency, precision, and results. Your marketing efforts will be laser-focused, converting more leads into satisfied customers while saving time and resources. So, let’s roll up our sleeves and put this strategy into action—it’s the path to marketing success that perfectly aligns with your driven and goal-oriented personality.

Partnering with expert marketing automation consultants

At CloudAnalysts, we understand that implementing an effective lead grading model and integrating it seamlessly into your marketing automation platform can be a daunting task. That’s where our team of seasoned marketing automation consultants comes in. With years of experience under our belts, we specialise in helping companies like yours develop custom lead grading models tailored to your unique business objectives.

Whether you’re using Pardot, Salesforce, or any other platform, we’ve got you covered. Our experts will work closely with your team to create a lead grading framework that aligns with your goals and customer profiles.

Plus, we’ll ensure the flawless execution of this model within your Pardot instance, enabling you to make data-driven decisions and maximise your marketing ROI.

Contact us today to unlock the full potential of lead qualification and see your conversion rates soar. Your success is our top priority, and we’re here to make it happen.

This article relates to a Linkedin education series of CloudAnalysts marketing automation tips. This is tip #13. Follow us on social media.

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