The question of the day: are you finding your actual customers? Naturally, a question such as this should turn your mind towards your prospecting machine and your capabilities when it comes to harvesting leads and creating conversions with cold emails. If you’re still reading this, the answer you gave is either non-committal or no. So let’s get into the nitty gritty and talk about the fine points of what differentiates a qualified lead from an unqualified lead. And how you can fill your sales pipeline with only qualified leads. By better understanding this you can access more quality leads and increase lead conversions.While effectively prospecting your leads is crucial, taking a step back to assess whether or not you’re even appealing to the proper demographics warrants some serious consideration.
What is a qualified lead?
First, who is your ideal customer? The success of your lead engagement hinges upon understanding your buyer persona. Follow Peter Sandeen’s advice on crafting an in-depth buyer persona here. Once you have clearly established who you’re targeting, you should expect these qualified leads to have certain characteristics:
- Have completed, or are in process of completing, your nurturing campaign cycle
- Are in control of their own buying cycle and are completing self-education research
- Have a clearly defined budget to work with and are currently researching solutions
- Have low churn rates because they close on their own terms
Your company’s sales and marketing teams should coordinate to define the parameters of a qualified (and unqualified) lead.
Here are the 4 parameters of the industry-standard BANT method for determining if leads are qualified:
- Budget – Does this lead have the budget for my product/service?
- Authority – What is the lead’s authority within their organization?
- Need – Does the lead need my product or service?
- Timeline – How quickly does this lead need a product or service implementation?
When you filter leads through these four standard criteria, you’re able to paint a clearer picture of whether it is an unqualified or qualified lead – and whether it’s an opportunity worth pursuing right away.
What is an unqualified lead?
By comparison, unqualified leads:
- Are unsure about what you’re offering
- Have not been nurtured enough to close their sales cycle (uneducated about company)
- Don’t know what solution they’re looking for
- Lack the budget for your product or service
While it may be possible to convert unqualified leads into buyers, the churn rate is through the roof. Ultimately, focusing lead generation efforts with targeted cold emails must reach those in a position to afford your service, be in a position to purchase it, actively need your product or service within the near future. There are 6 telltale signs that certain leads are not worth time or energy yet:
6 Warning Signs You Need Better Leads
1) Short call-time
It’s exceedingly frustrating for a sales rep to spend time prepping for a call, only to realize that it’s a waste of time. Expecting a 100% close rate on leads is unrealistic – but certain leads don’t warrant the phone call in the first place. The marketing team is responsible for creating content relevant to the company buying persona in order to generate leads in the right demographics. If this goes undone, expect many short, sales calls – with no return. Cold email outreach must be personalized and full of value for the specific target.
2) Resistance to Scheduling the “Next Step”
After the cold sales email has triggered a response, your sales team will work to move the process along with follow-up sales emails and phone calls. If a lead is resisting this next step in the sales process, it’s the result of some friction regarding your product service, pricing, or the lead’s overall need. By comparison, a qualified lead will be much more inclined to keep contact with your sales reps. After all, you have something they want.
3) Not on Budget
If your lead is in the market to spend $100 and your service costs $500, there’s a serious lack of communication in the consumer/organization relationship. Any qualified lead should understand the pricing structure and what can be expected with your offering. A clearly defined pricing page on your website will clarify this.Will the price drive away some visitors? Yes! This is good, first step towards identifying qualified leads. Your cold email outreach, and sales reps especially, should only be engaging in-budget leads.
4) High Rate of Email Unsubscribers
If you’re receiving a high rate of email subscribers, alarm bells should be ringing. This means the wrong people are receiving your marketing content. This goes back to making sure your buying person is aligned with your offering and your marketing materials. An unsubscribe is a lead qualifying himself. This saves time but it does not get your company any nearer to increasing sales email triggers and developing a sustainable sales pipeline.
5) Low Reconversion Rate
To effectively qualify leads, your marketing content needs to be pushing them down your sales funnel through lead nurturing and marketing automation practices. Lead reconversions allow the leads to further qualify themselves as well as with your company. This weeds out unqualified leads from the ones who will eventually become customers. If you’ve noticed leads not reconverting and engagement with your brand ends relatively quickly after downloading an offer, your premium content is in the hands of the wrong customer. Simply, these leads don’t have a need for you.
6) No Decision Makers in Sales Pipeline
In many cases, the leads downloading your ebooks or trial courses aren’t the decision makers in your company. However, with valuable content, it won’t be a hard sell to bring their boss on the phone to work towards a sale. That said, a portion of your lead engagement should come from C-Level, or above, executives. This is the clear sign you want that you’re reaching the right people with engaging material. This will eventually allow you to effectively target them with cold email outreach most effectively. If any of theses 6 scenarios occur with any frequency within your organization, you have some underlying issues to attend to within your prospecting machine. Being able to efficiently identify and target qualified leads is a necessary step in producing a scalable, full sales pipeline. So what to do if you’re not pipeline is without qualified leads? Simple. Get better leads.
Increasing Conversions with Qualified Leads
You must also engage the qualified leads you have properly. If you’re exhibiting any of these common mistakes when sending cold outreach email, stop right now (link to blog #3).But if you’re cold email outreach is dialed in, and you’re bringing in quality leads, how can you increase conversion rates and fill your sales pipeline?
What Do Qualified Leads Respond To?
There are a limited number of reasons leads respond to your cold email outreach. Sales triggers can be ascribed to 6 factors:
- You: You demonstrate a great personality, a good expertise, and do not appear as a sales rep – you can bring them value.
- Issue: You touch their pain point – they have a problem regarding the email subject
- Nuisance: You represent a form of pressure, your leads can redirect you to another person.
- Curiosity: This is a very strong motive – a new angle or technology, a mystery, etc.
- Reciprocity: Human nature is to give back – assuming you’ve come across as genuine, non-salesy – this is a sign of respect. Giving an unsolicited, free gift is sure to elicit this response.
- Fear: Of an upcoming threat or challenge, or fear of losing control of the subject if they talk with a colleague.
Once you understand the qualified lead’s motives, you can cater your cold email to their specific response criteria. With the scored reads available through IKO System, your sales team will be fully aware of the proper sales triggers to employ within the cold sales outreach. In making emails come off as personalized with great value to qualified leads, you can expect massive returns for email outreach – and more meetings.
Expected Metrics for Cold Emails
With good quality email templates, you can expect a cumulative response rate of 50%, with half leading to qualified conversations (25% total). A single email with a clear CTA can bring a 8% to 12% response rate. If a response rate is under 5%, rework your message. The average open rate for your emails has to reach 40% to 60%. If this isn’t the case, reengineer your subject lines. Sharing a piece of free content in emails, such as an article/report, can create a click-through rate of 30%.
The first step in creating a full sales pipeline will to be develop a robust list of qualified leads. Actively and effectively engaging leads with cold email outreach is the next move. IKO System is the outbound lead generation solution that separates those with a qualified lead list from those with a qualified lead list and an invigorated sales pipeline. Empowering sales reps with the premium technology is the edge any company with a prospective leads list can harness to boost their qualified leads into becoming quality customers. Our big data algorithms and lead scoring technology has a conversion rate 8x higher than traditional prospecting. This just goes to show, finding and targeting the right leads can have huge rewards.