Attracting and capturing leads is one of the biggest challenges facing B2B companies. However, with an already established Inbound marketing strategy, and with results in attracting leads, the challenge changes. The goal now is to ensure that users who ask for information about their services, subscribe to their newsletters, download their content, and in general, the contacts in their database, are quality leads that turn into business for the company. A large volume of low quality leads or leads with a low conversion ratio to revenue will result in a dissatisfied commercial team and therefore less collaboration between marketing and sales. All of this translates into less results for the business.

The following graphic presents the main challenges in lead generation since 2010. The quality of leads is always present, repeating each year:


Lead Qualification Model

With this challenge in mind, the B2B Marketing team’s focus should be to increase business productivity, attempting to qualify and identify the most relevant leads. To achieve this, we will focus on finding potential customers that my company finds interesting, as well as those who are interested in my products or services. I call this the Double II Model for lead qualification.

  • How interesting are these leads to our company? That is, their profile, their job title (authority and decision-making power), the size of their company, the sector (if relevant to our business), the volume of income, etc.
  • How interested are they in us?  That is, their activity and the type of pages they visit on our website and, in general, their response to our brand and content. We will have to connect this information with its challenges and objectives. The type of content they read will give us clues about their goals and challenges – without having to ask them.

We can visualise the Double II Model in the following way:

Lead Qualification: A Live Process

In order to identify the information we should obtain from our potential clients and thus qualify them automatically, it is important that the lead rating model is a live process, implemented and evolving based on the results. These are some of the sources that will help you define your rating:

  • The sales team’s definition of the lead. In addition to asking your sales team for the profile of the perfect customer, you can participate in sales calls and meetings to find the qualification questions that the sales team is now asking and discovering those which can be automated.
  • Hold regular meetings with the sales team to analyse both the best and worst leads and fine-tune your process.
  • Analyse the SQL (Sales Qualified Leads) segment to understand any repeating characteristics and the information that Marketing can obtain automatically through Nurturing Campaigns.
  • Sales feedback from CRM information. For example, when the sales team rejects a lead, what are the main reasons for this? Is there any way to identify these Disqualified Leads before they reach the sales team?
  • Classify your content based on the user’s intention, i.e. whether the Lead seeks only to gather information, or if they are seeking the service or product that you offer. For example, in the case of a law firm, an article on “What is GDPR” can be classified under informational purposes, while other articles such as “Advantages of implementing GDPR with legal advice” can be categorized as conversion articles.

Lead Qualification Examples in B2B Enterprises

Here are some companies that, through their webforms or web content, try to qualify their leads:

Customer Profile Based Qualification (Interesting)

The characteristics of products or services offered by B2B companies may vary based on the customer profile, or the usage scenario. Precisely, to identify your profile, a good option is what Alkemics does on its website: it offers specific content to the user when they identify themselves as either a brand or distributor. The qualification of this lead can be done automatically following their activity through the marketing automation tool, registering the lead’s choice to later segment it and propose personalized content through the different nurturing campaigns.

need lead qualification - Alkemics

Optimizely also has focused content for specific customer types from its menu. It is important that the content we offer on each profile page quickly differs from the others and that the user understands the value of having a specific page for their profile.

need lead qualification - optimizely

Need Based Lead Qualification (Interested)

If a lead is interested in a demo, or knowing more about your product, it is most likely they will want to give you more information so that you can customise your response. In NewVoiceMedia, for example, the demo webform asks the user to identify the CRM product they use. Online information on this tool makes me guess that leads responding to this question with “Salesforce” are prioritised by the sales team, as NewVoice Media offers a solution designed for this CRM.

need lead qualification - optimizely

In The Motion, a tool used to create video Ads, they ask about the use of Dynamic Ads on Facebook, which is one of the main scenarios for using this tool. This is an important qualification field since the potential client using this option on the advertising platform will quickly understand its advantages and, therefore, it is a lead that must be prioritized by the commercial team.

lead qualification - the motion

Budget Based Lead Qualification (Interesting)

Asking about a potential client’s budget within a webform is somewhat complicated. However, Packlink PRO does this by including in its registration fields the number of shipments per month or if the business works with marketplaces. These answers can help in lead qualification to greater movement of shipments, which is surely more profitable for Packlink.

packlink - lead qualification

As does Leadformly when asking how many leads you manage per month, especially because your pricing model is based on the number of leads the customer has. More potential leads secure greater prioritisation at a commercial level.

Time Based Qualification Questions (Interested)

Pirsonal, a personalized videos platform, includes a “When are you going to start this project?” field in its webform. The level of urgency that the lead can have is an element that can help you in qualification and, therefore, its prioritisation.

time - lead qualification - pirsonal

Iwoca poses the same question, asking when you will need the funds. The combination of the funds, as well as the urgency, is sure to activate commercial allocation rules automatically:

iwoca - budget - lead qualification

How to automatically qualify your leads using Pardot

Marketing Automation tools allow you to configure your rating model based on how interesting this potential customer is and how interested they are in your product / service. In Pardot, this model can be established with two of its main features.

Scoring: How interested is the lead in my products/services?

Scoring is defined with points that your lead will receive based on its activity on the web and response to different campaigns. This is the scoring in more detail:

  • A larger number will signify a greater interest in your brand
  • Pardot brings predefined scoring rules that are editable based on your business, while also allowing you to give a score to your leads for each element of your campaigns (email, webform, landing page, etc.).
  • This score can also be negative. For example, a person visiting the “Work with us” page will most likely not be a potential customer. You can remove points from people who visit these types of pages.

See below an example of the scoring rules predefined by Pardot:

scoring rules in Pardot for lead qualification

Grading: How interesting is the lead to my company?

A new subscriber may have a high level of interaction with your content and campaigns, but not necessarily be an interesting lead for your commercial team or for your company. In Pardot, you can define Profiles and based on the different characteristics of your customer profile, give a greater or lesser grade based on whether or not it meets one of those characteristics. To see more details:

  • In Pardot all leads start with a ‘D’ grade. However, this grade is not visible until you define the rules in the tool.
  • By increasing its grade, the lead can reach A+. This would signify that it is a perfect lead with high commercial potential.
  • When decreasing, a lead can reach an ‘F’ grade, which implies that it is a disqualified lead.
  • Within the same profile we can have different grade levels. To give a very simple example, let’s suppose that a profile defined in my company is the Marketing Manager in construction, but leads with a personal email usually have low quality.
    • Job Title=Marketing Manager (increase the grade by 2/3)
    • Sector=Construction (increase the grade by 1/3)
    • Email Type=Professional/Enterprise (if the email is personal, decrease the grade by 1/3)
      • In this example among my group of Marketing Managers, I will have some with a ‘C’ grade (because they have a professional email) and those who will have ‘C-’ (because they registered with a personal email).

This is what you will see in your list of prospects. This information must be shared with the commercial team so they can get the most out of it:

grading lead qualification

In Conclusion:

  • Achieving qualified leads to produce only relevant opportunities is one of the main challenges for B2B companies. Constant communication with your sales team is important to achieve a better understanding of the market and the customer profile they need.
  • The Double II Model for lead qualification will help you identify interesting leads for your company and those which are interested in your products/services.
  • Lead qualification is a live process that must be improved continually based on the alignment between the marketing and sales teams and the results obtained.
  • Identify the key information you need to qualify your lead and include it in your demo/interest purchase forms, but also in your content forms (and thus qualify your leads in phases).
  • Use Marketing Automation tools to successfully automate your lead qualification process.

If you have doubts about the qualification of your potential clients, do not hesitate to leave me a comment.

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