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4 Back to Basics Tips to Improve Lead Quality

Editor’s Note: Today’s post comes courtesy of Brenda Stoltz, the CEO and founder of Ariad Partners, which provides provides creative, practical, sales-driven integrated inbound marketing, lead generation and strategy services. Follow her on Twitter @BSStoltz.

Sales complaining they’re getting bad leads from Marketing? Are most of your leads going in the garbage pile instead of the MQL (marketing qualified lead) or SAL (sales accepted lead) bucket? If you’re fishing for leads and getting a lot of junk, it’s time to do something about it.

Developing more qualified leads does take more effort up front, but the payoff is much bigger in the end (and a happier sales team is a happier marketing team, right?). Here are some tips to enhance your lead quality, and quantity.

1. Start by weeding them out. Start getting the right leads from the beginning. Anywhere you intake leads, hone your message. Add additional qualification questions on your landing pages to ensure that you only get people who are ready to buy, have the budget, or really fit your target audience.

And just because they aren’t ready to buy right now doesn’t make them “bad leads;” it just means they’re not “sales-ready.” After all: many leads will be qualified, but just not ready to buy right then. Asking the right qualifying questions will help you put each lead in the proper bucket so that marketing does its job to move the lead through the funnel and hands off to sales at the right moment (i.e. when the lead is ready to speak to a sales rep and buy).

2. Ensure that you understand how to write to your audience. The key is paying attention to what you’re delivering. If you write a blog post, make sure anyone who sees your headline can easily understand whether it relates to them or not. Write content that connects to your audience so they’ll be eager to read, comment, and share it.

But how do you know what kinds of content your audience wants? You’ve got to first understand who your customers are. This is where buyer personas are hugely beneficial. The more details you can sketch out about your customers, the better you’ll understand what they want.

Once you understand what motivates your customers and where they spend time online, you can then tweak your inbound marketing strategy to include those social sites and that type of content on your blog.

3. Understand the Buying Process. Your customers won’t have the same behaviors or needs at different points in the buying process. If you know where people are at a given phase, you can better deliver marketing communications.

So a buyer who’s just starting to research solutions to her problem won’t be ready for you to send straight to sales. She’s looking for resources so she can educate herself on options.

Here, you also need to determine whether a lead needs to be in the marketing funnel or the sales funnel. Marketing focuses on delivering valuable content and messages, while sales takes over toward the end of the buying process to close the sale. Turning over a lead too soon will result in a frustrated prospect and a frustrated sales rep.

4. Create Email Campaigns With Impact. Simply sending one email to all subscribers won’t net you the results that you’d get if you developed different drip campaigns based on each buyer persona. So if you’ve identified four types of buyers or four stages people are in when they sign up for your emails through landing pages and whatnot, create separate email campaigns for each so you really hit the mark.

Also make sure your email list is still relevant. If you purchased the list or haven’t updated it in 10 years, there are probably plenty of dead-end leads on that list. Again, this goes back to culling leads through highly targeted landing pages and offers. You want your list to want to receive your emails.

The more time you invest in developing the right leads, the higher your close rate will be. How are you focusing your lead generation strategy?

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