And they’re labelled “qualified” because your sales team has confirmed it. You know where they are in the sales funnel and what they want to buy—at least that’s the goal.
So how do you generate these quality sales qualified leads?
To answer this question thoroughly, we’re going to take a step back to define what a sales qualified lead is, and illustrate how it fits into the larger picture of sales lead generation.
Then, we’ll dive into five tips on how to generate these leads for your business or clients.
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What is a Sales Qualified Lead?
A sales qualified lead (SQL) is a person who has shown interest in buying your products or services. An SQL is generated and nurtured by inbound marketing strategies and is then qualified for conversion by the sales team. There are many different ways to identify sales qualified leads, and this process varies from company to company.
Today, lead tracking and conversion is mostly automated with customer relationship management software and pipeline management solutions.
Here’s a scenario that produces a sales qualified lead:
A person uses Google to learn about how to bring organic traffic to their website. They come across a blog post on search engine optimization and click the post to read all about it. Once done, they sign up for more tips on SEO and digital marketing services.
This launches a series of emails that go out to the customer. Called an email nurture track, these emails provide the customer with valuable information while also gathering information about them. Once they’ve completed the nurture track, the sales rep begins to track leads with a pipeline management solution.
A robust pipeline management solution is software that tells you when a customer is engaging with your content and even when to pick up the phone and contact them. Ideally, this service is connected to your CRM platform so that you’re always getting up to date information about a customer and everything is tracked in one place.
Sales Qualified Lead versus Marketing Qualified Lead
Now that you have a better understanding of a sales qualified lead, it’s easier to see how it fits into the bigger picture of sales lead generation.
There are many different types of leads. If SQLs are the ones who are ready to pay, then marketing qualified leads are the contacts who are engaging with your inbound marketing efforts.
Marketing Qualified Leads
They’re reading your blogs, signing up for more information, but they’re not quite ready to shell out cash. These are your marketing qualified leads (MQLs), people who are engaging with your marketing efforts and learning more about your products and services.
An example of a marketing qualified lead is someone who is spending time on your site, downloading white papers or guides, and getting emails from the nurture track. With the right pipeline management solution, you can see this entire process and understand when and why a customer is ready to make a purchase. For example, you can see if they opened and read the email and even which products they’re thinking about buying. In other words, you have real-time analytics tracking engagements so you never have to worry about losing track of a lead.
In addition to MQLs, there are other types of leads depending on where a customer is in the sales funnel.
Other types of leads include:
- Product qualified leads (PQL) - A person who has already shown interest in buying your products or services, usually because they are using a free trial of your product.
- Service Qualified Leads (SWL) – A person who is already a customer and has communicated the desire to upgrade a subscription or add more features or services to their account.
Organic Sales Lead Generation Strategies for SQLs
Now that we have a good understanding of SQLs and their role in sales lead generation, it’s time to learn how to generate them.
In context to leads, it’s important to remember that we are first and foremost talking about people. Real human beings. And this is why the concept of “generating leads,” isn’t as cut and dry as purchasing them.
Instead, think about generating leads as nurturing leads.
Why Lead Nurturing is Key to Generating Sales Qualified Leads
To nurture a human being who is interested in your product or service implies that you care about them. It implies that you care about their problems and needs. It also suggests that you care about their budgets and whether or not they can or should even buy your product.
When we think about leads in terms of nurture over generate, it’s easy to see why so many companies invest in strategies designed to cultivate a relationship with their customers. Lead nurturing is a way of building a relationship with your customer, while also boosting the conversions of your leads.
Hopefully, your sales lead generation strategies are organic and already work together to set you up as an expert. If you need help with lead generation ideas, consider content marketing, social media campaigns, or get 20 ways to generate B2B leads.
Lead generation: check.
So think of lead nurturing as what you do after your inbound marketing efforts have paid off and you finally see interest from a potential customer. You want to now turn that interest into a readiness to buy: ideal sales qualified leads.
Three Lead Nurturing Strategies
So what are some ways you can nurture the people who are engaged with your content about digital marketing services?
Here are three of our favorite ways to show that you care about your potential customers and earn their trust:
- Send insightful emails
It’s one thing to create an email campaign that goes out to sales qualified leads. It’s another to send emails with critical insights about their business that they never knew. If you’re a digital marketing agency, Vendasta is a great resource for industry tools you can use to do just that.
For example, at Vendasta, we have a Snapshot Report tool that gives you information about how a website is performing. With this information, you can send an informative email that actually tells a client something about their website they didn’t know. Use this to gain trust and keep them on the track to conversion.
Along with the tool you’ll need for data, you’ll also need a great marketing automation platform to send out those email tracks. (More about that below).
- Track lead flow and engage at the opportune time
It’s impossible to nurture a prospect if you don’t know where they are in the buyer’s journey. In fact, going out of your way to understand and know where they are in the journey shows that you care. This way, the person will get contacted at the right time and will be less likely to feel as though they’re getting a cold call from a sales person.
Invest in the right software and tools that track when a person is engaging with your content and tells you when it’s prime time for conversion so you can contact them.
The same applies after you’ve sent an email campaign. You’ll want to manage and measure your emails so that you can follow-up with a potential customer at the right time. Using marketing automation software, you can get real-time alerts and have conversations that apply to the customer’s needs and wants.
- Align sales and marketing efforts
When you’re finally ready to take a SQL and turn them into a real customer, it’s time to bring out everything you have to show the customer you care. You can do this by making sure your sales CRM and marketing tools are aligned. Ideally, your sales CRM and marketing automation platform is integrated and data is shared between both platforms. This way your sales team will have everything they need to have personalized conversations that present real solutions to customers’ problems.
Marketing Automation and Pipeline Management
So far we’ve shared a lot about sales and marketing tools, which no doubt help to improve and streamline sales lead generation and lead nurturing.
Here, we outline two major types of software that are a must for nurturing and closing sales qualified leads:
A smart marketing automation platform does wonders for lead nurturing. Smart means that it tells you which people are engaging with your content. Once you know your prospects, you can begin to nurture them through personalized content and email drip campaigns that you can access directly through the platform.
Ideally, your sales CRM should come with pipeline management software. With pipeline management, you can easily see potential and probability for your sales qualified leads. And if it’s integrated with your sales CRM, your sales team can easily track communications and internal notes. Today’s best pipeline management software lets you know not only when a person interacts with your store, emails, or reports, but also when they are ready to buy.
Vendasta’s Sales CRM and Pipeline Management Software
If you’re a digital agency or sell digital solutions to small and medium businesses, Vendasta has a white-label sales CRM and pipeline management software that supports sales lead generation and nurturing efforts throughout the entire buyer’s journey.
Unlike today’s leading sales CRM platforms, Vendasta’s software is a white-label solution made for digital agencies and people who sell digital solutions. This means that you can rebrand the product under your own brand.