Your social media and digital marketing strategies provide a great way to get potential leads to your website. Once they get there, the website should be structured to capture leads and move them into the marketing-to-sales funnel. As you do this, there are a few key visitor behaviors that will help you categorize leads as accurately as possible.
In a perfect world, your marketing and sales teams are aligned on this process and are closing sales left, right, and center. But let’s face it, if that were the case for everyone, every business would be rivaling Apple in revenue and gearing up to take over the world.
Last year, I wrote a blog about the 4 key things to consider when aligning marketing and sales for success. In this blog, I will explore this topic a bit further.
Let’s start by looking at the two types of leads in the marketing-to-sales funnel:
|Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)||Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)|
When someone submits contact information by downloading a piece of content, requesting more information, or essentially doing anything beyond simply subscribing to your blog, they are more than likely a great candidate for either the MQL or SQL category — but which one?
The first 24-48 hours between the time someone submits information on your site and your decision on how to categorize them and take action (or no action) is crucial. Depending on the type of lead, a sales person rushing to contact them can be just as deadly to their interest (and potential conversion to client) as leaving them be for too long.
Based on their actions and behavior, there are three key personality types that you can use to classify and categorize your newly acquired leads. For this blog, we can name these personalities as Curious Connie, FanBoy Fred, and Go-Getter Gwen. Each of these personalities comes with character traits or indicators that can help you get more precise with the lead nurturing process.
Connie has visited your website, checked out a few pages, read one article, subscribed to your blog, and then left. You may be tempted to classify this as an opportunity for an immediate outreach, but this would be jumping the gun, to say the least.
At this point, Curious Connie should not be considered a strong lead. You may have some of her contact information but there is nothing in this basic set of behavior that indicates further contact is needed. The good news is that her activity should give you some validation that your marketing process is working. For now, Connie should stay as a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL), and a light one at that.
If you notice that she returns with interest in other types of collateral, then perhaps you can consider sending her more content. And if she is still interested after that, you can move her into a different class of lead.
Fred has clearly proven himself as a “fan” of your brand, and you can tell immediately. He visited your website, downloaded some gated content, and has already opened and clicked on some of your marketing emails. He is a much stronger lead than Connie because he is demonstrating a genuine interest in your company’s products and is clearly looking to learn more about your offering with his newly acquired materials.
However, this information-search stage should not be taken as a signal that he would be receptive to an immediate outreach from sales. He is still an MQL, albeit a strong one.
Don’t wait too long to engage him with further marketing tactics. Leads like Fred can still lose interest.
He would probably be receptive to additional information or materials via email, and if he engages further, it would certainly be safe to move him to SQL.
Gwen is the type of lead that landed on your website, explored and downloaded a variety of materials, and then (either within the same session or one close to it) submitted a contact form or request for more information about a product.
Don’t drop the ball on leads like Gwen. You may be tempted to think of this as a perfect opportunity to “educate” the lead by either piling on more information via email or live chat, or simply adding Gwen to a certain mailing list and hoping that, after even more information, Gwen will explicitly request time to talk to sales.
In reality, someone showing this level of interest is as good as it gets.
When you receive a request like this, don’t ruin a potential sale for the sales team. Gwen should become an SQL right away. She doesn’t need to be over-nurtured or over-informed on anything that your business offers, she probably is very close to already wanting what you have to offer.
Based on this persona category, the sales team will understand that they aren’t going in for a hard sell, but they are trying to determine whether or not they are pushing on an open door or a closed one. Worst comes to worst, the sales team has to put Gwen back as an MQL for a while.
Why This Matters
Categorizing your leads with personas allows your marketing and sales teams to understand not only where the lead is in the sales process but what kind of approach would be best suited to push the lead through the funnel. Ultimately, the more precise marketing gets, the more informed sales will be on the type of leads coming down the pipeline, and the more efficient and streamlined your revenue engine will be. The time invested is a win-win-win.