As the late Steve Jobs once said “one home run is better than two doubles.” There is nothing like a homerun. Inside fastball, a graceful swing, the crack of the bat, and boom – it’s out of there. The crowd cheers. The batter jogs with swagger around the bases. The team goes wild, the crowd goes wild, and the scoreboard lights up with a run scored. Point. Secured.
A base hit, on the other hand, is still exciting, but there’s some risk involved. Maybe the batter shouldn’t round first and head to second for a double. Maybe there are two outs already on the scoreboard, and we’re down by three. There are a lot of maybes and uncertainty with multiple base hits, and a lot of circumstances that could impact if runs are scored or not.
On any day, I don’t want base hits. I want a homer. And I want to know exactly what factors play into the likelihood that I will knock a pitch out of the park.
In this blog, we’ll focus on how to improve the quality of the communication regarding leads as well as their measurement during the sales and marketing process and why it’s important to paid media and other marketing efforts. We’ll also describe tips to ensure that your team has the right process in place to analyze your “homerun” leads.
What is Lead Validation?
Lead validation is the process of recording the quality of leads that have been generated for a business. Think of validating leads like a batter deciding if a pitch is worthy of a swing or not. Is this pitch high enough, fast enough, outside enough for me to hit the ball right in the sweet spot of the bat? If so, it’s qualified, and I’m swinging for the fences, just as your sales teams will focus their efforts on a high quality lead.
In sports and in marketing: energy is currency. Where we choose to exert our energy has to have a high potential of a strong ROI. Having a consistent lead validation process not only ensures that quality leads are nurtured, it also ensures that time spent on not-so-qualified leads essentially becomes zilch. Meaning that your team spends time on the relationships that matter, and more runs are scored for the home team.
How does Lead Validation Work?
- Most companies manage their leads through a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. Once leads appear in the CRM, individuals involved with the sales process assign a quality status to each lead.
- In Hubspot, for example, a contact or lead can be assigned a variety of quality statuses like Attempted to Contact, In Progress, Connected, Open Deal, Bad Timing, or Unqualified.
- This validation process is most effective when guided by a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), which designates exactly how and why a lead should be coded in a specific way.
- Qualified leads continue on through the sales funnel, while non-qualified leads either continue through the nurturing process or communication is concluded.
- The process may look like this:
- Betty receives a new lead, which has populated as a contact in her CRM system.
- Betty reviews the contact information and sees that the lead aligns with her target industry and that, based on their job title, the point of contact who filled out her lead form has the right decision making power they would need to purchase services.
- Betty’s SOP outlines that she should utilize two portions of her CRM to log the initial quality of the lead:
- This is a “Sales Qualified Lead,” logged in Lifecycle Stage.
- Betty reaches out to this contact via email, and logs the contact as “In Progress” in Lead Status.
- As this qualified contact continues through the buying funnel, Betty updates the contact’s Lifecycle Stage and Lead Status according to her business’ SOP.
What is Considered a Verified Lead?
A verified or qualified lead is a contact that is promising, meaning that the wants and needs of the potential customer align with the product or service offering of the business. This is your businesses’ perfect pitch. A certified off-the-plate meatball.
What is the Purpose of Lead Validation?
The purpose of lead validation is to determine the true value of marketing efforts, while ensuring that time in the sales process is spent nurturing the most promising contacts. Lead validation done well helps marketing focus their efforts on those activities which are delivering the highest quality leads and helps sales focus their efforts on leads most likely to result in new business.
How Do You Verify Leads?
To verify leads successfully, it is important to have a defined, consistent, timely process which includes collaborative communication between sales and marketing teams. “There ain’t no crying in baseball” and there ain’t no point in validating leads without an SOP. Below are tips on elements to include in your SOP to ensure a consistent, timely, and transparent process for your sales and marketing teams.
Tip #1 – A Meatball vs. A Curveball: Determine What IS and IS NOT a Qualified Lead
- Involve both the sales and marketing teams in the process of drilling-down on the characteristics of a qualified lead. Designate specific industries, job titles, business types, or company sizes that contribute to the likelihood of a successful or unsuccessful sales process. Characteristics to consider may also include budget or readiness to purchase.
- While these definitions can change over time, they should be recorded for everyone to reference to ensure consistency in your Lead Validation process.
Tip #2 – Who’s On First: Designate Who Owns the Process
As leads populate in your business’ CRM system, ensure that members of your team are assigned to log each process of the sales cycle. Elements that may be involved in this process could include:
- Assigning a contact owner to the lead
- Logging an initial Lead Status
- Logging an initial Lifecycle Stage
- Ongoing updates to the Lead Status/Lifecycle Stage as the contact continues through the sales funnel
Tip #3 – The Rulebook: Set the Time Frame for Logging & Monitoring
- Lead Validation done in a timely manner also ensures that sales teams can strike while the iron is hot. We recommend maintaining a small window of time between the moment a contact is created and assigning a lead quality to that contact.
- Your team should designate a set window of time for logging, for example, “when a contact is received, a lead status will be assigned to the contact within 1 business day.”
- We also recommend outlining the timing for updates as the contact continues through the sales funnel.
Tip #4 – Batter Up: Communicate Trends to Update Strategy
- As leads are validated, team members may notice trends in job titles, industries, or other characteristics of contacts that dictate whether they are qualified or unqualified leads. Ensuring that these trends and data are communicated to marketing teams will be essential to making sure that everyone is focusing on the right pool of prospective customers.
- If utilizing a PPC strategy, your CRM may have the capability to drill down on granular level detail regarding exactly which campaigns or keywords are driving quality leads. This data is extremely valuable and helps ensure that your PPC spend goes towards qualitative vs. quantitative keywords, leading to BIG increases in potential revenue. Check out this case study on how a solid CRM feedback loop led to a $207K increase in potential revenue for a B2B SaaS company.
The perfect pitch only becomes a homerun if a batter swings, just as a promising contact only becomes revenue if your team knows how to reach and close them. Having a set lead qualification process in place will ensure that leads are nurtured through the sales process and that marketing efforts are catering to the right audience. With the right processes in place…that homerun you’re chasing could soon enough become a grand slam.
Want to knock your process of nurturing quality leads out the park?
Get in touch with (un)Common Logic and get ready to swing for the fences!
Want to learn more about our data-driven, results-oriented approach? Check out our 3 keys to a successful digital marketing plan in 2023 or get more details about our paid media offering.