Lead Qualification B2B in Zoho CRM

In Zoho CRM you can add any lead statuses that can be linked with typical lead stages in your sales pipeline. You know your sales process very well and all stages can be added here.
  1. Stages – Stages denote the position of your leads in the lead life cycle. There are 5 standard lead stages:
    • Raw Leads – Prospects
    • Marketing Ready – after the first segmentation/profiling
    • Marketing Engaged – after the first successful contact
    • Marketing Qualified – you decide your rules
    • Sales Ready – converted to Contact in Zoho CRM and a new deal is created
  2. Lead Statuses – you can add as many as you need. They can be used for your lead qualification process, too
  3. Workflows – you can define actions, tasks and notifications, assign required fields for a particular lead status
  4. Blueprint – the process management tool for all your stages and data input control. This tool is really great. It enables to organize in a smooth way step by step while lead qualifying.

Below I present an example of blueprint from Zoho CRM for the lead management process.

Know who you’re qualifying

Only on about 2 out of 10 lead qualification calls or emails, I receive, does the caller know anything about my company.  They know the company name but have no idea of what we do, if we have an office, employees, cars, etc.

They immediately launch into their script that focuses on what they want to know for qualification vs. first understanding who we are and what we do.  As a result, my responses are rather curt (sorry callers) as I feel this is a waste of time.

Recently I received even emails after such calls with the competency qualification for my company to be their partner, even I rejected it during the call!

There’s why this matters and certainly is critical when calling senior level executives.  It is well accepted that senior executives expect that you will have done some research on their company that includes, but is not limited to, visiting their website.  The more you demonstrate your knowledge about their company and industry, the more you will open them up to answer the qualification questions.  If this is true for senior level executives, it will also work for others in the decision tree as well.
Do your homework first!

Most of my clients add a requirement for their employees to add an lead’s address, specific fields’ fulfillment and notes after each call or email.

The Zoho BluePrint allows such control in an easy way. You can also add scores and tags for your leads automatically in this process.

Follow-up promptly

A good practice is to send an email within an hour after the first attempt that predicates a call within the next day, and even providing the name of the caller if possible.

This gives you a chance to deepen the follow-up by providing the presentation slides or attaching some additional relevant content.  It also allows time for the research recommended in #1 above. Do not afraid to do a follow-up. Sometimes you need to repeat it 6-8 times.
Follow-up fast, but don’t be creepy. Sending questionnaires will only frustrate your prospect.

Zoho CRM stages help you to control if such activity was done or not. You can add automatically tasks and notification for your employees inside the blueprint or in workflows.

For example the notification will appear after 1 hour of lead’s receiving and a new task is assigned based on the data provided – sending an email or reminder about the follow up call.

Segment your prospects

Most companies have a good idea of who their best market segments are either due to customer profiling and/or input from product and market managers.

The first level targeting matrix is industry code (SIC or NAICS) and company size.

This matrix is frequently called the “sweet spots” for marketing. Yet, many lead qualification efforts do not first distinguish the best prospects from others and spin their wheels on non-likely prospects.

Telemarketing is an expensive tool and should be focused on those individuals who fit the best prospect profile – another reason to do up front research.

Before launching a telemarketing lead qualification process, separate the best prospects from others. To separate a small number of prospects, a lookup process, and/or website visit should tell you if the company meets the best prospect criteria. If the number of responses or inquiries is large, then a data enhancement and profiling step should be done first.

This is particularly true when returning from trade shows with a large number of booth visitors.
For other prospects that do not fall into any sweet spot, an email follow-up is sufficient assuming it contains an offer for a response that might help in further qualifying them for a telemarketing call.

Progressively qualify

One of the failures of BANT was attempting to answer the four qualification criteria during the first contact. As a result, many potential leads were lost due to the inability or the individual to answer the Budget, Authority, Need and Timing questions.

Frequently, the individual just didn’t know these answers and was then scored “not qualified.”
If you are using BANT or a variation of this lead scoring model, don’t attempt to determine the answers to these questions too quickly.

In fact, any of the qualifying criteria might take a period of time before an accurate answer can be given by the individual.

During the meetup I heard about another approach – offering a workshop which will help to find out the scale of problem or needs, their value for the company and its strategy and people involved in this problem.

Most companies are really very careful if they need to pay for a workshop. I think such a solution is good for any huge organization with many departments and deep processes. Most small businesses with 5-20 people in the team will be very opposite to pay for such a workshop. This is my experience.

I use a set of questionnaires which have to be fulfilled by the owner and people involved in the project. It is a much faster and cheaper solution. I have various types of questionnaires for eCommerce projects, CRM setup and introducing Marketing Automation.

For example, a few years ago I was involved in a lead generation and qualification program for a client where it took 6 months for the lead to finally say the timing was right. The software sale was made to the tune of over $60,000 and after sales support. Well worth the wait!
Do be patient and qualify over time.

Come back to old lead lists

It’s only natural for marketers to strive to generate new leads by launching campaigns, attending trade shows, etc.

But at best, only 10% of qualified leads convert to sales and thus 90% or more do not. In addition to buying from a competitor, other reasons exist for lack of sales conversion, and the big one is postponement of the decision and/or no decision. If the sales staff hears that the timing is “down the road,” or some other reason for a “no decision,” they will likely move on and drop the lead.

Some studies have shown that as much as 30-50% of leads do not convert for these reasons.
Most companies do not have a process for passing back the lead if it does not convert to a sale. Therefore, there are many leads that have been generated and qualified, but not converted.  On the premise that “where there was once smoke there still might be fire,” these “old” qualified lead lists will generally outperform newly generated lead lists. The only thing that is required is a “pass-back” system to compile leads that did not convert.  In most cases, these leads never come back to marketing.

If you institute this process, be sure to validate that the individual still is in their position or find out who has replaced them. In B2B, interest in a product or service is almost always institutional and not personal.

Do re-market to old lead lists and use some marketing automation scoring for further communication.

The easiest idea is to use email marketing techniques like newsletter and offers set on regular basis.

I remember one of my client from Czech and Norway who introduced it for their clients and after 6 months the conversion rate from such mailings grew to 35-55%.

Lead qualification is a BIG topic

Try one or all five and your prospect-to-qualified lead-to-sale process and result will improve. eCommerce has plenty of such great examples.

My B2B customers noticed also very good results of consistent communication and follow ups.

You also need to think about the resources you need for it. The marketing automation is not a perpetum mobile. It requires time and effort to setup and manage it.

My next post will be about Zoho Analytics inside Zoho CRM that help to monitor all lead related activities.

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