Your buyers have a process for buying your product or service just like how you, the seller, have a process for selling. This buyer’s process is often called the buyer’s journey. When the buying and selling processes align, everyone involved feels good about the value of the transaction and the relationship.
Buyer and seller alignment starts with understanding your ideal buyer personas and getting your sales and marketing teams to work together.
Sales and marketing must contribute to defining your lead qualification criteria.
We’ve written about the importance of an agreed criteria between teams as well as systems for sales enablement and content but not about the specific criteria variables and the technology systems needed to make these business functions work effortlessly together.
The lead qualification criteria will provide you with the signs that a marketing qualified lead is ready to be sold.
Criteria for Marketing Qualified Lead
1. Read Your Educational Content
Do you know how many more deals you could bring in if your leads discovered educational blog content solving their problems?
You’re probably not tracking this metric, nor do you have a system in place to establish this type of authority.
Authority is often considered a “soft metric” compared to website traffic and leads, but it’s still very relevant and powerful. Educational content, like blog posts, creates sales enablement opportunities and should be measured.
When prospects read your content and find the answers to their questions by people at your company, the lead will have trust in what you’re saying because you’ve helped them in the past, therefore increasing the probability of purchasing something from you.
Prospects that have read your blog posts are more educated on your market, your industry, and what you have to offer. Therefore, this is a great piece of your criteria to identify a marketing qualified lead.
According to HubSpot, approximately 96% of visitors to your website will not arrive ready to buy, meaning that you need to make sure that wherever someone is on the buying journey, you’re producing content that serves that person’s needs.
Along the way, they find and consume content that is relevant to their stage in the buying process.
2. Converted on Multiple Landing Pages
HubSpot’s “Marketing Benchmarks from 7,000 Businesses” shows that companies do see a 55% increase in leads when increasing their number of landing pages from 10 to 15.
The more landing pages you create, the more opportunities you have to convert visitors and to learn more about them.
To implement the ability to ask more about a lead will require progressive profiling technology.
Progressive profiling technology will enable you to use dynamic form fields, allowing you to set up iterative forms that change the questions that appear based on what you already know about a particular lead.
When a lead converts on multiple landing pages, you’ll have gathered enough intelligence to know if they’re ready to be sold to.
3. Opened Your Emails
Assuming you’re following email marketing best practices, a great indicator of interest are your email open rates—whether that is your blog post sent via email or your automated lead nurturing sequences.
A quick note on automated lead nurturing sequences: These series of emails should give your leads value, draw them closer to your business, and eventually make them buy what you’re selling. Basically, it puts your email marketing on autopilot.
When your leads are opening your emails, it shows that you’re providing a topic the leads care about.
4. Identified as one of your ideal personas
A significant sign that a marketing qualified lead is ready to be sold is whether or not it’s one of your ideal personas.
When the ideal persona or buyer persona is identified, you can be sure that the lead’s demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals align with the types of people and businesses you typically help.
Every business that creates buyer personas and keeps them fresh sees tremendous benefits across leadership, sales, marketing, and product development.
As Inc highlights, “Once a strategy reserved for the Apples of the business world (Apple knew it’s iPad buyer persona before the product was ever built), startups, and small businesses are finding that they too can leverage personas to use their resources more efficiently, as well” (source)
Ideally, your marketing team has previously created a buyer persona for you and this, combined with the other 4 signs listed, means the lead is ready to be sold.
5. The marketing qualified lead views pricing pages
When you are using sales enablement tools or sophisticated inbound marketing software like HubSpot, Marketo, or InfusionSoft, you’re able to actively monitoring your lead’s interest in your pricing page.
Often, this action will trigger internal or external automated workflow emails that engage the interested prospect or create a task for your sales team to reach out.
A lead has viewed your content, has downloaded an offer via a form on a landing page, has opened emails, fits your ideal persona, and now is viewing your pricing or services page.
This is a clear sign your lead is ready to be sold.
Make sure your team is utilizing these tools to gather lead intelligence, because if you’re not, you most certainly are missing out.
With the 5 signs as our criteria, we’ll now explore the technology systems needed to make these work for you.
Automate the MQL Qualification with Lead Scoring
Lead scoring is a scale that represents the perceived value of each lead and ranks the leads to determine where they are in the buyer’s journey.
Using the 5 signs above for your MQL qualification will provide a starting point for your lead-scoring efforts. This is a basic criterion, and keep in mind yours might need to be more complex.
Marketing automation software is the technology base for your lead-scoring efforts.
For the step-by-step walkthrough, we will use HubSpot. The Professional and Enterprise HubSpot packages will enable you to set up manual lead scoring criteria that will automatically grade an entire database of contacts. The score will be listed in each contact’s HubSpot Score property.
Step 1. Manual Lead Scoring
To begin this process, you’ll need to login to your HubSpot portal and navigate to Lead Scoring, found in the Contacts drop-down menu.
Step 2. Input Scoring Criteria
To add your first scoring rule, click either “add a positive attribute” or “add a negative attribute.”
Each lead scoring rule gets a positive or negative point value. When this criterion is met by a contact, he or she is awarded that number of points.
Click “add another positive attribute” and repeat this step for each of the 5 signs listed above.
Step 3. Generate a smart list of marketing qualified leads
With the criteria and lead scoring automation in place, you will need to create a Smart List to organize the contacts that have a lead score equal to or greater than that you set.
Navigate to the Contacts drop-down and click “Lists.” Click “New list.“
Start setting the threshold based on the contact property. The segmentation should include any contact with a HubSpot score greater than your number, and the lifecycle stage is not equal to your post-MQL lifecycle stages.
Predictive Lead Scoring
Predictive lead scoring, available in HubSpot’s enterprise package, will process all of your contacts, compare attributes from engaged and unengaged contacts, and pull together a model that rates your contacts on likeliness to convert.
You might be acquainted with this type of algorithm in a more familiar form: Netflix.
Netflix identifies correlations between the movies and shows that users watch and then “knows” the other content that users might like. Predictive lead scoring is very similar.
This powerful tool can empower your sales team with a finely tuned scoring algorithm to find your most qualified leads.
Below are some examples of the types of data in predictive lead scoring.
Automate the MQL to Sales process with HubSpot
Typically, the two systems required for this collaboration share metrics, and clear pipelines are marketing automation and a CRM. When sales and marketing teams align with technology, the growth in lead generation and sales volume can be remarkable.
To automate this handoff process with HubSpot, we’re going to use its workflow function.
This workflow will automatically:
- Enroll contacts that match our set of criteria (MQL criteria)
- Change their lifecycle stages to MQL
- Send an internal notification email to your marketing team
- Set a task for the sales team to accept the MQL as an SQL or disqualify it
- Based on sales action, set an appropriate (new) lifecycle property
Workflows will help you to align your marketing and sales teams and will create an effective and automated marketing qualified lead handoff.
Step 1. Create a new workflow in HubSpot.
Step 2. Create a “join the list” condition.
Step 3. Add an action
Be sure to click “Save” after each added step.
Step 4. Add a delay
Step 5. Add a notification
Step 6. Activate the workflow
OK, now you may start your selling process
All of the research and performance metrics point to the fact that having a more qualified lead passed to sales can help bring your sales efforts greater effectiveness, all with fewer resources.
Stop wasting time on bad leads that are costing you money. We’ve seen businesses that waste 20–40% of their efforts on bad leads.
By integrating these 5 marketing qualified lead sales signs into your business, you’ll save time, close more deals, and reduce the cost of bad leads.